This is the bouldered and dramatic intersection of two of my favorite things: cinnamon baked…
I am feeling press ganged by Fall. First it was the early appearance of pumpkin spice flavored specialty items. It used to be you had to wait until September or October to get your hands on something apple caramel flavored, or spiced with pumpkin pie. This year they started appearing in July.
Then on the last Sunday in August, I walked into the grocery store and was confronted with serried ranks of Halloween candy on display a precise 60 days before All Hallows Eve.
The weather seems to be getting in on the action too. Two weeks ago we were limply glowing in the heat and taking two showers a day. This week I pulled out gloves and a coat because it was a balmy 45 when I left the house to go to work. The leaves haven’t quite started turning yet, because so far it hasn’t been below freezing at night, but I can feel it coming soon. Normally I make it until November before I cave and turn my heat on, this year I’ll be lucky to make it to October.
The one upside to the turn in the weather is that it is once again tea drinking weather. All summer the after-Dinner tea tray is absent because it’s (hopefully) too hot to contemplate ingesting a hot liquid. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to the weather getting colder, and the gradual disappearance of summer fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s markets. On the other hand, it does mean the reappearance of heirloom squashes like delicata and rugosa.
This week we clung to the last vestiges of summer with all kinds of summer produce roasted and simmered and pureed and marinated in alcohol.
Gird your loins and loosen your belt a couple of notches, Birthday Season 2015 has officially commenced.
Bitter Peach Champagne Cocktail
Chilled Coconut Corn Soup
Chicken Kathi Rolls
Salad with Roasted Peach Dressing
Chocolate & Coconut Cream Pie Bars
Bitter Peach Champagne Cocktail
(for each glass)
When friends of ours moved into their new house 9 months ago they discovered that the previous owners had kindly (?) left them an enormous bottle of champagne, with a note saying “Celebrate!” pinned to it. This bottle has lurked in their fridge ever since, and in a quest to do something useful (?) with it, they volunteered it to Dinner. They also, oddly, had a bottle of Aperol so this cocktail seemed like a good way to use up some of their bottle of Aperol, and take care of their pesky champagne problem.
The end result was fine, but I don’t think any of us would make it again.
½ oz peach nectar (usually you can find this in the Latin American/Mexican foods section of your grocery)
½ oz Aperol
1 ½ oz grappa
2 oz (or more) champagne
Sliced peaches & raspberries
Combine the peach nectar, aperol, and grappa in a wine glass. Pour the champagne over the top. Garnish with slices of peaches & raspberries.
Chilled Coconut Corn Soup
Recipe previously given: They’re Eating People!
Chicken Kathi Rolls
(makes 21 rolls – give or take)
1 ½ lb ground chicken
1 small red onion, finely minced (about 1 cup)
½ tart apple, peeled & finely minced (about half as much apple as onion)
4 cloves garlic, grated
2” piece ginger, peeled & grated
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp amchoor (sour mango powder)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup minced basil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3-1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped*
Egg roll wrappers
Cooking spray/vegetable oil
In a little vegetable oil saute the onion, apple, garlic, and ginger until the onion is softened but not browned. Add the curry powder and amchoor and saute for a minute to bloom the spices. Add the ground chicken and soy sauce and cook, breaking up the meat, until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid has cooked out. Add the basil, dried cherries, and lemon juice. Stir to combine, and cook until the liquid has cooked out and the mixture is starting to caramelize on the bottom of the pan. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt/pepper/honey/lemon juice as needed. Allow to cool (you can make this in advance and refrigerate until needed).
Preheat oven to 425. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with one egg roll wrapper at a time, place the wrapper on a clean counter so that one point is facing you (so the wrapper is on a diagonal). Place 3 Tbsp of the cooled meat mixture just slightly below the center of the wrapper (so it’s closer to you). Using your finger brush a little water around all four edges of the wrapper. Fold the lower edge of the wrapper over the filling, fold in the sides, and then roll over until the roll is formed. Place, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the filling is used.
Spray the rolls lightly with cooking spray, or brush with a little vegetable oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping the rolls half way through and coating the other side with oil before replacing in the oven.
Serve hot, with your favorite Indian condiments – I used a sweet date-tamarind sauce, a spicy mint-coriander chutney, and a mild mango chutney.
Chocolate and Coconut Cream Pie Bars
(9 x 9 pan – how many that serves depends on how large you cut your bars – I cut mine into 12 pieces, but you could do 9 or 16 depending on how glutinous or virtuous you were felling)
We always like to post-game recipes – particularly dessert recipes – what would we change, how could you use elements to make a different dessert.
We contemplated whether the shortbread layer could be thinner, or the chocolate layer thicker, whether you could/should add some unsweetened coconut to the shortbread, or omit the toasted coconut from the top of the dessert. We theorized that you could use the coconut pudding portion of the recipe in a trifle with cubes of angel food cake, crushed Cadbury Chocolate Fingers, and whipped cream. But honestly, we all more or less concluded that this was a dessert that was pretty much perfect as it was. It was a really well balanced combination of flavors and textures. I wouldn’t recommend attempting to eat it with your fingers, but otherwise, pretty much perfect.
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
11 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9×9 baking dish, and then line with a foil or parchment sling. Butter the sling.
Combine the flour and powdered sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the pieces of butter and blend until they form a dough.
Press the dough into the prepared baking dish in an even layer.
Bake for 16-18 minutes until the crust is light brown. Cool on a wire rack.
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
While the shortbread is baking, place the chocolate for the ganache in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan (or microwave it for a 30 seconds or so). Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes. Whisk until all the chocolate has melted, and a shiny, smooth ganache forms.
Once the crust has cooled for about 10 minutes, pour the ganache over the crust and smooth to the edges.
Place the chocolate covered crust in the fridge to chill until the ganache is set into a firm layer and the crust is cooled completely.
Coconut Cream Filling
½ cup half-and-half
1 ½ cups whole milk*
2 cups coconut milk
2 2/3 eggs (yes, this is annoying – I’m cutting down a recipe – sorry)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
While the crust is chilling, make the coconut cream filling
Combining the half-and-half, milk, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until it is very thick.
Strain the pudding into a bowl, and then stir in the vanilla extract and sweetened flaked coconut. Cool slightly – stirring occasionally – and then pour/spoon the filling over the chilled ganache. Press a layer of saran wrap onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming, and then refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours – but overnight is better).
* You can use any ratio of half-and-half to whole milk that you prefer, so long as it all adds up to 2 cups in the end. The original recipe called for all half-and-half, but I thought that sounded like it would make a pudding so rich that it would be more unctuous than was really enjoyable. Your mileage may vary on this.
Whipped Cream Topping
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/3 cup coconut, toasted
When you are ready to serve the bars, make the whipped cream topping.
Combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the chilled bars and sprinkle on the toasted coconut.