Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dried Fruit Compote

Based on a Martha Stewart recipe. This is a crowd-pleasing dessert that goes well after a heavy meal such as at Thanksgiving, Easter or Passover. It's parve, vegan and gluten-free and has no nuts, no wheat and no chocolate. Quick and easy. Suitable for a pot-luck. Make it a day or two ahead or just before the meal.

3 c. apple cider (the result is very sweet so maybe substitute
      part water next time? I used Martinelli's cider
      but would use unfiltered fresh cider in season.)
6 dried pears halves (I cut each pear-half lengthwise into four
      strips, then crosswise into thirds)
12 dried apricots (they also are halves but Martha doesn't
      mention this; I cut them crisscross into quarters)
6 dried pitted prunes, optional (Martha doesn't mention prunes
      but I like the taste and the contrasting dark note to
      what is otherwise all orange-red. I cut them in sixths.)
3/4 c. dried cherries (about 5 oz.)
3/4 c. dried golden raisins (about 5 oz.)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2" piece of raw ginger, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more or none: the spicy taste
      seemed to fade away with cooling, so maybe add it after
      cooking? Martha used a pinch of freshly ground white pepper
      which might survive the simmering better.)
* Fruit choices and amounts are pretty much Martha's. You could vary them based on taste, availability, price, etc. For example, pear halves and dried cherries may be harder to find and more expensive than other dried fruit.
-> Chop larger fruit into pieces a little larger than a raisin. Peel the ginger. Zest and juice the lemon. (My zester is hard to use so I just grate the peel on my vintage flat grater).
-> Put all ingredients in a saucepan (2-3 quarts), except maybe not the pepper.
-> Bring to a boil and then, per Martha, "[r]educe to simmer, and cook until fruit is soft and liquid is thick, about 20 minutes."
After 20 minutes my fruit was soft but the liquid was still thin. I gave it another 10 minutes and then tried raising the heat to a gentle boil. After an hour had elapsed - and the liquid was not much thicker than the cider I started with - I took it off the stove. Fortunately, the liquid thickens and is mostly absorbed as the compote cools. I therefore conclude that it would be fine to simmer or gently boil for 20-30 minutes and not to care whether the liquid gets syrupy. If there's still too much liquid after the compote cools, drain some of it and toss or reduce, and the next time use less cider.
-> Remove pot from stove and remove the cinnamon stick and piece of ginger (cook's bonus if you like ginger). Stir in pepper flakes now if you didn't add them before.
-> Martha says "Serve hot, cold or at room temperature." I cooled my compote in the pot with the lid cocked a bit to release steam, then refrigerated it in a covered serving bowl. I took it out before the meal and served it at room temperature for dessert with almond paste macaroons and Phil's Baba's Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe to be posted).
Makes great leftovers. Also could be used over ice cream.
Prep: 10 mins. Cooking: 25 mins (Martha), ~65 mins (me). Optional cooling time: ~30 mins.
rjm 20170412

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Flank Steak (easy, fast, delicious)

              R3A2 5-INGREDIENT MARINADE
               Perfect for Flank Steak
  (based on Ann Arbor Hadassah Cookbook's Marinated Flank Steak)

This marinade can be used with 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of
      Flank Steak (or even 2+lbs)
      Boneless skinless chicken breast
      Fish (salmon steaks work well, or any fillets. Optional:
           replace some of the ginger with lime or lemon zest.)

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. dry wine, any color but I usually use red
1/2 T. sugar (or a little less), which acts as a tenderizer
Ginger, raw (1+" long x ~3/4" diameter) peeled, chopped small       OR 1/2 tsp ground ginger but I prefer fresh.
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped same size as the raw ginger

(The original recipe had double all these amounts, but you don't need that much for a flank steak that serves 4 or even 6.)

1. Prepare the ginger by removing the skin with a carrot peeler and chopping small, maybe largest dimension no more than 1/8".
2. Put the meat, chicken or fish in a glass or stainless baking dish (not aluminum: too reactive).
3. Pour on the liquids, sprinkle on the sugar, and drop on the ginger and garlic. I like to rub the ginger and garlic in a little with the back of a spoon.
4. If I think of it half way through or even as late as when I preheat the oven, I scrape the ginger and garlic into the liquid, turn the meat over and then spoon the ginger and garlic onto the 2nd side, again rubbing it in with the back of the spoon..

Marinating Time per A2 Hadassh Book for flank steak:
      3-4 hours at room temperature or
      all day or even overnight in fridge.
If you have less time, it's OK, too.

5. When ready to cook, preheat grill or oven.
6. Remove from marinade (but don't toss it quite yet)
7. Broil on the grill or the oven, basting with a little marinade when you turn it over. -OR- Bake at 425: put a little marinade, but not all, in the baking dish to prevent sticking, and baste with soe more marinade part way through. If you bake, you don't have to turn the meat over unless you really want to.

Broiling Times:
If it's flank steak, 4 minutes on a side for rare.
If it's chicken cutlets, 5 minutes on a side.
If it's fish, depends on thickness and desired doneness.

8. For flank steak, cool a few minutes to make it easier to slice, slice about 1/2" thickness, and serve. Chicken and fish can just be served straight away.

Good cold. Great for leftovers.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 3 hours to overnight
Broiling time: 10 minutes
First typed 20020714 rjm, rev 20170315