Category:  Desserts, Creams & Sauces

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Mexican Pumpkin Treat

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Vegetables On November 5, 2012 0 Comments

I’ll never forget the first time I tasted fresh pumpkin (without it being so over processed). My experience took place in a fabulous country: Mexico. As I looked inside my clay bowl, those chunks of pumpkin didn’t look that appealing.

However, Mexicans have a way of transforming boring, bland pumpkin into a treat by cooking it in  sugar syrup made with water and piloncillo (this is natural brown cane sugar). And, those exotic cinnamon sticks are added to the boil.

Yup! Just three ingredients are needed here to satisfy my big sweet tooth!

Prep time: 40 to 50 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
3 cups cold water
2 piloncillo cones* (Mexican natural brown cane sugar)
2 cinnamon sticks, cut in half
Dash ground cinnamon
One 2-pound fresh pumpkin

Make the sugar syrup:

1. In a 2-quart sauce pot, combine the water, piloncillo cones, cinnamon sticks and dash ground cinnamon

2. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the sugar melts down. Set aside, uncovered, to cool.

3. Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin in fourths. Remove and discard the stem, seeds and fibers. Peel the pumpkin (this is optional, since it is left unpeeled when this recipe is prepared in Mexico).

4. Cut pumpkin into 3-inch chunks; transfer pumpkin chunks to a 6 to 8-quart saucepot.

5. Pour the sugar syrup over the pumpkin in sauce pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

6. Cook on medium-high heat for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork-tender.

7. Cool and serve Mexican Pumpkin Treat warm or,  alternatively, refrigerate a day ahead and serve cold.

*Piloncillo is hardened, natural brown sugar shaped in cones. The cones measure about 5 inches and can be found in Latin American supermarkets or grocery stores.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

July 4th Sorbet with Balsamic Cream®

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fun Foods, Holidays On July 2, 2012 0 Comments

We’re celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday, July 4th. It’s so nice to have a break from work mid-week. And I mean ALL WORK, including the kitchen.

Along that line, I thought I’d end my holiday cookout by scooping some sorbet or ice cream onto a plate, adding a drizzle of Balsamic Cream®, followed by a garnish of berries. That’s as hard as I’ll work for this July 4th Sorbet with Balsamic Cream® recipe.

Enjoy and stay safe!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
One pint raspberry sorbet (vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt can be substituted)
Balsamic Cream® (also known as Crema di Balsamico®)*
Strawberries, for garnish
Blueberries, for garnish
8 sprigs mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

1. Place a scoop of sorbet on each of 4 individual bowls or dessert plates.

2. Add a drizzle of Balsamic Cream® and garnish with strawberries, blueberries and mint leaves.

3. Serve immediately.

*Balsamic Cream® can be purchased at Wholefoods Stores® or online at Amazon.com®.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Guava & Cream Cheese (Cascos de Guayaba con Queso Crema)

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams On April 23, 2012 0 Comments

Directly from tropical Cuba, Guavas & Cream Cheese is a unique dessert. Don’t know about you, but I wasn’t aware of this dessert until I discovered Cuban cuisine.

The fresh guavas are stewed with sugar and topped with cream cheese in individual serving bowls. It’s as easy as that!

Make this unique dessert and it’ll be the hit of your next dinner party – Buen Provecho.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 to 12 ripe guavas
1 to 1-1/2 cups water
1 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
6 to 8 sprigs of fresh mint leaves

1. Wash and dry the guavas.

2. Cut each guava in half; remove and discard inner pulp and seeds.

3. Place the guava halves, hollow or concave sides-up, in an 8-quart sauce pot.

4. Cover the guavas with enough water so that it rises up the fruit halfway.

5. Bring them to a boil and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the guavas.

7. Cook on low heat, uncovered, until sugar has turned into a thick syrup. Cool completely.

To assemble:

1. Place 4 guava halves in each individual glass or porcelain serving bowl.

2. Divide the cooled syrup evenly among each serving.

3. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

4. At serving time, add 1 teaspoon whipped cream cheese to each guava half. Garnish mint leaves.

Text & Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Snowballs

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods, Holidays On December 11, 2011 0 Comments

ENTER OUR KITCHEN, WATCH & LEARN

Every year in December, my thoughts return to Montreal where I spent my early childhood. In Canada, the holiday season was synonymous with my cousins and me enjoying those great snowball fights.

Here in Los Angeles, these delicious Snowballs are made with bananas that are cut into chunks, rolled in sour cream and then in coconut. Rather than throwing these Snowballs at anyone, it’s best to serve them on a festive platter, surrounded by lush, fresh strawberries.

While Snowballs are fun to make, if anyone’s around during the process, these treats will never make it to your holiday table. But if they do, they’ll be the hit of the party – guaranteed!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes: 15 snowballs (or pieces)
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
Juice of one lemon or lime
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
3 cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut®
1 quart fresh, whole strawberries

1. Peel and cut the bananas into one-inch chunks (approximately 5 chunks per banana).

2. Place bananas in a shallow bowl and gently toss in the lemon or lime juice.

3. In a separate, shallow 10-inch bowl, gently stir together the sour cream and Amaretto liqueur; set aside.

4. Place coconut in a separate 10 or 12-inch shallow bowl and set aside.

5. Using two forks, lightly coat each banana chunk with the sour cream mixture followed by the coconut (roll each banana chunk in the coconut until it is thoroughly coated and looks like a snowball).

6. Place snowball on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining banana chunks and arrange in a mound on the serving platter.

7. Fan each strawberry by making two vertical cuts into it. Arrange strawberries in a circle around the Snowballs.

8. Refrigerate Snowballs up to three hours (covered in plastic wrap) or serve immediately.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

TiramiFlan

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On October 1, 2011 0 Comments

As a longtime Californian, I’ve traveled across the border to Mexico quite often. Its happy people, history, culture and foods fascinate me. No doubt, my Italian cooking has been “influenced” by the exotic foods of Mexico.

For example, two weeks ago I wanted to make an Italian dessert known as Tiramisu, but I was out of ladyfinger cookies. Nothing could stop me from making something that tasted Tiramisu-ish! When I combined mascarpone cheese and espresso coffee with Mexican custard ingredients, this exquisite TiramiFlan was born!

Active prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 55 to 60 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours or overnight refrigeration

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
One 14-ounce can condensed milk
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup strongly brewed espresso coffee, cooled
One 10-inch glass pie plate
One 13x13x4-inch square baking pan (pan sides must be at least 4 inches high)
8 to 10 strawberries, for garnish

MELT THE SUGAR & PREPARE THE PIE PLATE:

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

2. Place sugar in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat setting.

3. When sugar begins to melt, quickly change heat setting to low.

4. Lift, tilt and shake pan constantly to avoid blackening the sugar.

5. With a wooden spoon, gently stir the sugar – it will continue melting. When sugar turns amber throughout, immediately pour it into a glass pie plate.

6. Immediately lift and tilt plate until bottom and sides are coated with melted sugar; set aside.

PREPARE & BAKE THE FLAN:

1. Meanwhile, bring a full kettle of water to boil on medium heat. While waiting for water to boil, proceed to the next step.

2. In a stand mixer or in a 5-quart mixing bowl, beat together the condensed milk, Mascarpone cheese, eggs, vanilla and brewed espresso (on low speed); set aside.

3. Place the 13x13x4 square baking pan on an oven rack that is positioned in center of oven; pull the oven rack with the pan halfway out of oven.

4. Place the sugar-coated pie plate in the center of the square pan.

5. Immediately pour the liquid flan mixture into the pie plate.

6. Gently and carefully pour the boiling water into the square pan until water rises 2/3 of the way up sides of pie plate.

7. Carefully and slowly push the oven rack back inside oven.

8. Bake the flan 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, insert a pointed knife in center of flan. If knife come out clean, the flan is done. If not, cook an additional 10 minutes.

9. Carefully transfer the square pan with water and flan to kitchen counter to cool 30 to 40 minutes.

10. After 40 minutes, remove pie plate from water and set on counter.

COOLING THE FLAN:

1. When the flan is room temperature, refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR UNMOLDING THE FLAN:

1. After the flan has cooled 4 hours or overnight, pour 4 cups hot water in a 13x13x4 square baking pan or extra large glass bowl.

2. Gently place the flan pie plate in the hot water for 2 to 3 minutes. With a rounded knife or a spatula, gently loosen the sides of the flan from the plate.

3. Lift the plate out of the water and wiggle or shake it. When the flan has loosened from sides of plate, set it on a counter.

4. Place a large serving platter over top of the flan plate and, with one hand underneath flan plate and the other hand securely on top of the platter, make a quick flip.

5. At serving time, garnish the TiramiFlan with strawberries.

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real