Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cazuela (A Casserole Pudding) Gluten Free

Cazuela means cooking pot in Spanish, according to Wikkipedia. Recipes seem to be for a kind of chicken stew using squash or pumpkin, cooked in the pot. Apparently, this kind of cazuela is a Chilean speciality. If the searcher uses his or her brains and puts in Puerto Rican dessert, one discovers almost the identical recipe that appears in the NYT Heritage Cookbook. The brains come in where we make some connections, as I used to say at school. The recipe sounds Spanish, and is from New York. Who spoke Spanish in New York in the 50s and 50s? The Puerto Ricans.  So, rather than a stew with squash or pumpkin, you have a dessert of squash or pumpkin.
One of the lessons of this blog activity is, things that have been overlooked can be really good, like cazuela, the dessert.
Over the years. I looked at the first couple of lines of the recipe and turned the page. Canned pureed sweet potatoes and canned pureed pumpkin. Meh. But we are getting down to the wire. I was not going to make, for example, plum pudding. It is also a somewhat stick to the ribs kind of dessert, not something for the hot months. Although it has been warming up in recent days Saturday, it turned cold again, so I figured cazuela would be a perfect dessert for our unexpected dinner party.
If you are reading this, you may be scratching your head and saying, "Canned pumpkin? You can't get canned pumpkin in April."  Correct, gentle reader. But you can get butternut squash, used as a substitute for pumpkin by a gentleman who runs a wonderful Afgani restaurant in the Virginia suburbs. And, if he can use it, so can I!
Saturday afternoon after riding and lunch, I went to the fish store for Sunday night's dinner, and the oysters, and thence to Safeway for the rest of the Saturday meal. When I got home, I set the butternut squash to steaming, using a metal bowl turned upside down in a saucepan. The squash rested on the bowl and steamed nicely.
In a leisurely sort of way, I made the dessert and put it in the oven, then, around five o'clock,  turned my attention to the main course, which was chicken stuffed with wild rice.
Wild rice? Holy shit. Wild rice takes hours to cook. I should have started it along with the butternut squash. Also, the chicken, which was a Perdue Oven-Stuffer-Roaster, not a capon, but basically the same thing, was a hefty little number, weighing in at some five pounds. The instructions said cook for 25 minutes per pound. We wouldn't eat until after 9. Well, we ate the main course around 8:30, which was remarked on by my brother, the rest of the guests being too polite to mention it. I turned up the oven to 400 degrees and speeded up the cooking.
Back to the cazuela. I cut the recipe in half because we did not need to serve ten people. One butternut squash and a large can of sweet potatoes did the trick. This is definitely a dish made for the Cuisineart.The directions say put the cooked pumpkin and potatoes through a "food ricer." I have only the vaguest idea what that might be. Use the Cuisineart.
 Buzz up the sweet potatoes and the squash and mix all the rest in. It has a sweet taste because of the sugar and the coconut milk. Because the spices are infused rather than just added, the seasoning is
rather, shall we say, subtle. In the future, if I ever made this again, and I might if I had leftover sweet potatoes and canned pumpkin, I would just add the powdered spices and zap it up a bit.
  This recipe requires parchment paper. Parchment paper is stuff that comes on a roll, like wax paper, and is used occasionally for baking. You can get it in the aisle along with the aluminum foil, plastic wrap and wax paper. That is, of course, if you don't have plantain leaves, having not returned from the islands recently.

This is what a baking pan lined with parchment paper should
look like.


4 cups pureed fresh or canned sweet potatoes
4 cups canned pureed pumpkin or pureed fresh pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour (I used rice flour, which is gluten free.)
1/2 cup water
1 small piece fresh ginger, mashed or one-half teaspoon dried ginger
1 four-inch-long stick cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon aniseed
5 cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the pureed potatoes and pureed pumpkin with the coconut milk, butter, eggs, sugar, salt and flour. Blend well.
3. Combine the remaining ingredients  in a saucepan and bring the boil. Simmer five minutes and strain into pumpkin mixture. Blend well.
4. Butter an earthenware casserole or baking dish. Line it with plantain leaves that have been rinsed and dried or with parchment paper. Butter leaves or paper generously. Pour in pumpkin mixture and fold leaves or paper over the top.
5. Bake about one and one-half hours. Let cool completely before unmolding. Remove leaves or paper and serve. Makes then servings.

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