Sunday, February 16, 2014

Past Perfect Fruitcake

Normally, one associates fruitcake with Christmas. I am always looking for ways to sneak in various recipes however. Bob and I were scheduled to provide the food for the hospitality hour at church back at the end of January. Unfortunately for the production of Past Perfect Fruitcake I went back in the hospital that week. Bob produced the whole, unusually lavish snack himself, but did not make fruitcake.
This week, a friend of ours at church asked for help with the newcomers' brunch. Saint Margaret's is trying to increase membership and make newcomers feel welcome, hence a lovely social event mostly provided by a neighboring Greek deli, but with fruitcake for dessert.
Now I have to confess, the fruitcake did not seem to be flying off the table. Maybe people did not feel that fruitcake went with Greek food.  I hope the guys at the homeless breakfast program will enjoy it. What this is, for fruitcake lovers, is jewel-like crystallized cherries, crystallized pineapple and pecans in a very light batter. My husband tried to slice it but it crumbled. An inventive man, he hit upon serving the crumbly bits in cupcake papers where they looked very decorative. Please note, you will need baking parchment, which you can usually buy at the grocery store in the same area as the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. If you can't find baking parchment, you can use waxed paper.
Culinarily speaking, this recipe is just dump in ingredients, mix and bake. Simplicity in itself.
You may want to wait to serve this at Christmas, or you could serve it as part of a winter dessert buffet. You may not want to serve it with Greek food.

Past Perfect Fruitcake

4 cups shelled pecans
2 cups unchopped crystallized cherries
5 slices crystallized pineapple, each slice cut in eights
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Grease the bottom and sides of a two-quart cake tin (I used a cheesecake pan.) and line the bottom of it with brown paper or parchment paper.
3. Combine the pecans, cherries and pineapple in a mixing bowl. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a sifter and sift the dry ingredients over the fruits.
4. Combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in another mixing bowl and beat until blended. Pour this over the fruit and stir with a slotted spoon. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake one and one-half hours. At the end of that time, set the cake pan into a pan of boiling water and continue baking fifteen minutes longer. Makes one dozen servings.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Halibut with Orange (Gluten Free)

It is impossible to go wrong with this dish, unless you don't like cream and cognac. In which case, I sympathize. This recipe actually marked my reintroduction to blogging. I had a double hip replacement on January 6, and since then, have been in and out of the hospital because one side was not healing properly.  But now, my stitches are out, I have traded in my walker for a cane, and weather permitting, can walk up to a half a mile or more a day. I have started to cook again.
Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been permitting a lot of the time. This results in an elevation of the crab level that makes being in my general vicinity a hazardous occupation. Today I informed my poor, long suffering husband that if I didn't do something NOW, I would shoot him out of mere boredom. Let me say right now that I possess nothing more lethal than a rubber band to shoot him with, nor would I shoot him in any case. But I felt like shooting something.
Since he is a sensible man, he suggested a walk down to the coffee shop. Half an hour out in the cold, damp air and a cup of hot chocolate had me right as rain, with all violent urges blown out of my head by the wind.
So that's why there have not been any posts to the blog since Christmas.
Now, the halibut. Our son the lawyer had a birthday. He's a touchy man to shop for unless you buy him a book, so I conferred with his wife and got him a gift card to Black Salt, a seafood restaurant on MacArthur Boulevard with an adjoining fish market. Aha, said I, time to move the blog along, so I chose this recipe as being relatively simple.
Regular readers may remember how I am always bitching about the prices at the Fishery on Connecticut Avenue. Well, I take it all back. Black Salt is even more expensive than the Fishery, although in their defense they do have a stunning display of our underwater buddies decorating their fish counter. I haven't seen anything like it since Bob and I went to Berlin. It reminded me of Harrod's food halls. We went home with a $36 pound of halibut.
Bob did the cooking. He had a few choice words for the recipe, and how it left out essential instructions. After one bakes the fish, one needs to drain off any cooking liquid to add to the sauce. Hewlett didn't see fit to mention that, per usual. If you are concerned about calories, half and half may easily be substituted for cream with no loss of flavor. I actually forgot to tell Bob to buy cream, but we did have half and half. It was still delicious.

Halibut with Orange

2 pounds halibut fillets, cut into four serving pieces
1/3 cup butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
2 tablespoons cognac
1 teaspoon very fine, julienne strips of orange rind
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 orange, cut into very thin slices

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the fish in a buttered shallow baking dish. Brush with half the butter and season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake twenty minutes, or until fish flakes easily. Drain any cooking liquid and reserve to add to the sauce.
4. Heat the remaining butter until it is lightly browned. Stir in the cognac and orange rind. Stir well. Stir in the cream and any liquid from the cooked fish. Bring to a boil and reduce by boiling if too thin. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the parsley and pour over the fish. Place the orange slices along length of fillets for garnish. Makes four servings.