Monday, January 7, 2008

Martha Stewart's Cranberry Upside Down Cake

I cannot take any credit for this - it is all Martha Stewart and is so perfect that it needs no modifications. I've made it 4 times in the last month, and it's always eaten up before I get a chance to take a photo! If you don't have allspice, substitute with a little ground ginger and ground nutmeg.
The topping is made by simply baking cranberries placed in a layer over sugar and spices at the bottom of the pan. As the cake bakes, the sugar caramelizes, forming a rich syrup.

Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Serves at most 8, not very hungry people

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 3/4 cups cranberries (or any other berry, frozen or fresh)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and allspice. Sprinkle mixture evenly over bottom of pan; arrange cranberries in a single layer on top.

With an electric mixer, cream remaining 6 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, until well combined.

Spoon batter over cranberries in pan, and smooth top. Place pan on a baking sheet; bake cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes (or more!! Make sure it really is cooked in the middle). Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert onto a rimmed platter.

Etli sebze dolması (stuffed vegetables)

Uncooked rice
Dried mint
Tomato paste
Ground turkey or beef

As you notice, there are no measurements for this recipe. Choose the number of vegetables you would like to stuff and start from there. Cut off the tops of the onions, tomatoes, and peppers and dice the tops and put them into a bowl. Hollow out the tomatoes, onions, and zucchinis, and dice pieces of vegetables that you have removed and add them to the bowl. You can use a melon baller to help you hollow out the zucchinis and onions ~ do not hollow the zucchini all the way through, you must leave one end closed. You can stuff only one type of vegetable if you wish. Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard.

To the bowl of diced veggies, add half as much meat and a quarter as much rice. For example, if you have two cups of diced vegetables, add one cup of meat and ½ cup of uncooked rice. Now add dried mint ~ to the example quantity, you would add about 2 tablespoons of dried mint. Adjust accordingly. Add salt according to your personal preferences. To the example amount, I would add about a teaspoon of salt. Do not get bogged down in the measurements. It is hard to make this dish go wrong.

Now, pull up your sleeves and mix the vegetables, meat and rice together with your hands! If you want to make this dish vegetarian, you could substitute the meat with mushrooms, but you would need to add a few spoonfuls of olive oil to the mixture. This would not be traditional in Turkey, however. Once the mixture is uniform, stuff the hollowed-out vegetables with the mixture. Press the mixture firmly into the vegetables to completely fill them. You may have extra ~ this extra can be frozen and used later. The moisture from the vegetables and meat that is released as the dolma cook will be absorbed by the rice. Put the vegetables open-end up into a saucepan that has a lid. Add about one inch of water to the bottom of the pan and to this add a few spoonfuls of tomato paste. Cover the pan and heat it on medium-low heat until the vegetables are cooked ~ about half an hour. Serve hot with plain yogurt.

OR 5 minutes in a pressure cooker! (quick release method)

**The basic ingredients of the stuffing are the tomatoes, tomato paste, rice, meat, and spices. If you want to stuff only peppers or some other vegetable, you will still need to include these ingredients in your filling.

Tamale Pie

I have been craving chicken tamales from the Olympia Farmer's Market since... the last time I ate one, in September 2005. There aren't any good Mexican restaurants that I know of out here, and it's not too easy to get supplies to make things at home either, such as the requisite dried corn husks. All of a sudden, I remembered hearing about something called Tamale Pie. I looked it up last night and found lots of completely different recipes for it. Today, I decided to make it from one of the recipes. To my dismay, we were almost completely out of corn meal and I don't have a car today so buying it is not an option. So I substituted some fine bulgur for some of the corn meal. I also didn't want to use ground beef, so I used some chicken. And I basically went on to almost completely change the recipe, minus a few of the ratios and the cooking temperature and time. I have already had a slice and it's delicious. I am excited about the possibilities for this one - the filling has so many options, so I'll be back with this one in the future.

Saskia's Almost Tamale Pie

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 banana pepper, chopped

  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 T olive or canola oil

  • 1 pound ground turkey or sliced chicken

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped plus one tablespoon of tomato paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • cayenne powder, to taste

  • cumin, to taste

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon powdered paprika

  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese, any type

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil until just tender. Crumble the ground turkey into the skillet or add chicken pieces, stirring, and brown. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cayenne and cumin powders. Cook over low-to-medium heat for about 20 minutes.

While the filling mixture is simmering, bring 3 cups of the water to a boil. It is handy to do this in a nonstick pan or skillet. Slowly pour the corn meal and bulgur into the remaining 1 cup of cold water, stirring until smooth. Add the salt and paprika powder to the boiling water, and then, stirring constantly, add the cold corn meal mixture to the boiling water. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil a casserole or baking dish. Using half of the cornmeal-bulgur mixture, line the dish. Fill with the filling mixture and cover with the grated cheese. Using the remaining half of the cornmeal mixture, cover the top of the pie. Sprinkle with cilantro and press the cilantro into the cornmeal mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes about 6 servings.