Friday, March 6, 2009

Baked Apple and Fruit Charlotte

As legend has it, this famous molded dessert was named after the wife of George III, England's famous "mad" king.
It is traditionally set in a tall, bucket-shaped mold.

14 slices of white bread crust removed
½ cup of unsalted melted butter
4 medium granny smith apples peeled cored and finely sliced
4 medium tart cooking apples, peeled cored and finely sliced
½ cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup of raisin, ¼ cup of mixed dried fruit
2 tbsp of marmalade
1 tbsp grated lemon or orange peels
¼ cup smooth jam

Brush a 5 cup charlotte mold with softened butter, cut six slices of bread in half to form rectangles, cut fives slices in half at a diagonal to form triangles . Reserve the remaining three slices of bread.
Turn the mold upside down and place the bread triangles on top. Overlapping the edges to completely cover the top of the mold. Hold the triangles in place and using the mold as a guide, trim the excess edges with scissors so the triangles will fit inside the bottom of the mold exactly.

Melt 1/3 cut of butter and brush the trimmed triangles with butter, then line the bottom of the mold (the actual recipe asks for 2/3 melted butter to dip all the bread slices, we are brushing instead to save some fat) also brush the rectangles with butter and arrange around and the sides, overlapping the edges until the mold is completely covered, filling any gaps with the bread trimmings. Brush the reserved slices of bread and set aside.

To make the filling; melt the remaining butter in a large skillet, add the apples, cover the pan with parchment paper and then a lid, and cook the apples over low heat for 15-20 minutes, for an applesauce consistency. add the brown sugar and stir over high heat for 5 minutes, or until the mixture falls from the side of the spoon in wide drops.(I like my apples a bit firmer-depends on your choice how much you cook them) Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg , walnuts and raisin. Remove from the heat and add the marmalade, and the grated zest. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375F ladle the filling into the mold until half full cover the filling with half of the reserved bread slices, press down firmly , then add the remaining filling. If the filling is not level with the mold lining, trim the bread with the tip of a small knife or scissors, cover with the remaining reserved bread, filling any gaps, press in gently and cover with foil.
Place the charlotte on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and firm. Allow to cool completely before unmolding onto a serving plate.

Warm the apricot jam and 2 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture over the surface of the charlotte to give a light glaze...

Note: a soufflé dish or a 4 inch deep cake pan can be used instead of a charlotte mold.
If the jam is very fruity, it will be easier to brush onto the charlotte if it has been strained after warming.
For extra kick, you can replace the raisin with 1-2 tbsp chopped candied ginger and the nutmeg with ground ginger
I add some liquor in my filling

You can serve the charlottes with whipped cream mixed with 2 tbsp of calvados.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Layered Rice Pilaf with Chicken & Dried Fruits

This recipe comes from my friend” , I was looking for a rice recipe containing dried fruit with the pilaf, and Farida’s Recipe was very unique with balanced flavors in addition to using Saffron. I hope you will prepare this dish one day, and enjoy the tasty flavours of this Pilaf.
Serve 4
1 ½ cups of basmati rice or long grain white rice
2-4 tablespoons of melted butter
600g of boned chicken pieces (breast and thighs)
¾ cup of peeled chestnuts (I didn’t use since it’s not the season)
½ cup dried apricots halves
½ cup of dried sour plums, I used dried prunes
½ cup pitted dates
1/3 cup golden raisin
1/3 cup dried cranberry
1 onion sliced in half circles
¼ tsp of ground saffron threads dissolved in couple spoons of hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups home made chicken stock

I cooked the rice following the Lebanese rice pilaf; I wanted the rice to have the chicken flavours. Farida boiled the rice separately then steamed it with the rest of ingredients. If you want to see Farida’s recipe please visit her blog for instructions

Wash the rice couple of times till the water runs clear, and then soak it in warm water with salt.
Prepare your stock : on purpose I used boned chicken pieces to do my home made stock, I boiled the chicken adding a whole onion with some cloves inserted in the onion, a cinnamon stick, bay leave, black pepper corn, salt, a celery heart , couple of parsley sprigs, a piece of nutmeg and couple of whole cardamom, the stock was excellent. Half way through the cooking I took the chicken out, deboned it, and then returned the bones to the stock to continue cooking.
Soak the saffron in hot water to dissolve.

In a heavy bottom pot melt 1tsp of butter and start frying on medium heat the dried fruit starting with the apricots, prunes and dates, then add the cranberry and finally the raisin, make sure that you stand by the pot and stirring so the fruit will not stick to the bottom of the pot they will burn quickly. Move them to a clean plan, add the onion and 1 tsp of butter and cook for couple of minutes to welt and the chicken pieces and stir if more butter needed you can add another spoon or so, cook for couple of minutes to change color, move to a bowl.
Drain the rice using a fine strainer, add them to the pot with 1 tbsp or so butter and start frying them, in the beginning the rice will be wet and needs to dry before its starts to fry, frying the rice before cooking will give it a better taste , stir the rice to avoid sticking in the bottom of the pan, it will take couple of minutes before the rice started to dry and toast, you can feel it, using a wooden spoon keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Move the rice to another bowl, return the chicken and onions to the pot, and spread them in the bottom of the pot, sprinkle little salt and pepper and cover them with half the amount of rice, then cover the rice with the dried fruit. Pile the rest of the rice on top of the fruits. Add 2 2/3 cups of stock and the saffron water, and let the rice simmer on medium low heat, adjust the seasoning. Don’t stir the rice, when the water dries, shut the stove, and leave it to rest for 5-7 minutes it will continue to steam.

p.s.: the same dish can be prepared using lamb meat, and usually in all the Middle East Region this dish is popular with lamb , you can fry the lamb or bake it till it get golden brown, then boil it to make a nice stock to use it in this dish.

In Iraq, Iran and the Region they prepare this pilaf during celebrations, specially wedding celebrations