24 June 2012

Great Aunt Ruth's Raspberry Cream Pie


As I write this we are sitting in a hotel room, waiting to take off for our new home in Algiers. All our things have been packed up and either shipped ahead of us or put into storage, so we'll be living out of suitcases for quite a while. (Watching all our furniture get wrapped in masses of brown paper and tape was a bit like watching a Christo installation).

In the meantime, we'll leave you with Paul's Great Aunt Ruth's raspberry cream pie. This pie is super simple and easy to make and perfect for summer. Basically, the pie relies on a reaction between lemon juice (acid) and sweetened condensed milk, which thicken into a custard. This easy custard formation is one of the things sweetened condensed milk was invented to do. Raspberries are blended into the custard, and before serving the whole pie is topped with spiked whipped cream. We usually make this a few times during the summer, especially for barbeques. 

We hope to be back blogging about markets in Algiers as soon as we get settled. Until then, we encourage you to have some pie!


Paul's Great Aunt Ruth's Raspberry Cream Pie
The raspberries will sort of fall apart and melt into the custard, which is a good thing.

1 pre-baked pie shell, from your favorite recipe
1 bag (16 oz) frozen raspberries, defrosted
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pint heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar,  or to taste
a dash of framboise (raspberry eau de vie), or vanilla extract

1. Prepare your pie crust and let cool.
2. Drain off 1/4 cup of juice from the bag of frozen raspberries. There will still be a little bit of juice in the bag with the raspberries.
3. Combine sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice in a bowl. Fold in the raspberries, combining well. Pour into pie shell and chill for at least 3 hours in the fridge, until set.
4. Whip cream to soft peaks. Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating cream to stiff peaks. Fold in the eau de vie. Top pie with whipped cream. Chill until ready to serve.

20 June 2012

Looking Back on Spring






Rhubarb Crumble Cake loosely based on this recipe.

Roasted Carrots, Ricotta Dumplings, and Hazlenuts with Honey and Aleppo Pepper
I made this up sometime this spring and it was delicious. Sadly I don't remember the ricotta dumpling recipe I used, but I'm sure you could find a decent one online and replicate this. 

14 June 2012

Eggplant Oop


For the record, oop is a Burmese cooking term referring to cooking something without liquid in a tightly sealed pot. It is similar to what the French would refer to when "sweating" a vegetable. So wait a minute, how did a Middle Eastern cooking blog end up in Burma? Well for the simple reason that this was described as "the best eggplant dish ever," and any self respecting Middle Eastern chef has to be an eggplant aficionado.

I'm going to start off by saying that this is not the best eggplant dish ever (for that I might give honor's to Margaret's Eggplant). It is however, a very good eggplant recipe, an addictively spicy spread, and just a good thing to have hanging out in the fridge for healthy snacks.

The eggplant, mixed with spices and a tomato cooks down for over 2 hours until it is a thick spicy almost treacly mass. This is traditionally served as a sort of condiment, and if I make this again I would cook this down ever further to make it thicker and richer. It is quite spicy, but not unbearably so, and a I really enjoyed eating it as a dip when mixed with a good dollop of thick yogurt. How very Arab of me.

Eggplant Oop
The cooking here is very simple but you really do have to stir it every 10 minutes or so. It's a good thing to make on a Sunday afternoon when you're cooking other food for the week.

3 Thai bird chilies, sliced (or 2 of you can't handle the heat)
1 diced shallot
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 lbs eggplant chopped (either 4-5 small Asian style eggplants or 2 large eggplants)
diced mint or cilantro, for garnish

1. Place chili, garlic, shallot, and salt in a food processor or mortar and pestle and puree to a fine paste.
2. Heat the oil in the bottom of a 4 quart heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. Add the puree mixture and cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato, turmeric, and eggplant, stirring everything to combine. Cover the pot and let simmer. Stir every 10-15 minutes, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for around 2 hours, until thick and concentrated. Let cool, sprinkle with mint or cilantro.
3. Good as a sandwich spread or simply as a cold dip. I imagine it would make a good sauce for noodles if you wanted.

03 June 2012

Marginalia: Reflections on Cleaning Out the Library

Cleaning out the library, I find little notes stuck into books, wonder why I have so many copies of Henry II. In one I find a train ticket, from the time my friend Tasha and I went into the city to look for prom dresses. My grandfather's handwriting, tiny, claiming each of his books as his own. 1939, 1951, 1982. The large slightly torn anthology of e.e. cummings, which has been in every place I've called home for as long as I can remember. The bindings of Bertram's Animals have fallen apart but still notes the year it was read to my mother, and the year my mother read it to me.

I love my mother's notes, so often quotidian, marking the passage of time, funny as she describes an ugly airport, notes a drought as "pluvial neglect," or marks more poignant dates. I thought I would share a few of them here.

DSC_0032  DSC_0028 DSC_0040   
Burning Down                    A Bend In The River               Evening
The House                          V.S. Naipaul                          Susan Minot
Charles Baxter                  

DSC_0038   DSC_0026  DSC_0034  
Train                                     Genesis                             The Liberated Bride
Pete Dexter                            Jim Crace                         A.B. Yehoshua

DSC_0048  DSC_0020  DSC_0046
A William Maxwell                  Runaway                        No Country for Old Men
Portrait                                  Alice Munro                    Cormac McCarthy

DSC_0016  DSC_0036   DSC_0022
The Pesthouse                       All My Friends Are                 Falling Man
Jim Crace                               Going to Be Strangers             Don DeLillo
                                                Larry McMurtry

DSC_0018  DSC_0030   DSC_0024
Out Stealing Horses              The Almost Moon                 Peace
Per Patterson                         Alice Sebold                      Richard Bausch

I found this one in a favorite volume of Thomas Lynch. I opened the book to read:
"better a tidy science for a heart that stops, than the round and witless horror of someone who, one dry night in perfect humor, ceases measurably to be."