Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the tag “Cooking”

Amazing Armenian Stuffed Pumpkin

When my Armenian husband and I were first dating, he made this much-beloved traditional stuffed pumpkin filled with rice, dried fruits, nuts, and spices, (called “Ghapama” – which means ‘cooked in a covered pot’) and brought it to an Armenian party…. which caused all the mothers to swoon with delight and pull him aside to tell him about their daughters.  This dish basically has legend status, there is even a popular song about this dish! (“Hey jan ghapama, hamov hodov ghapama” – which means ‘Dear Ghapama, tasty, fragrant ghapama’.)  The song claims that when ghapama is made, over 100 guests will come – judging by the response every time we bring it, I can totally understand that!!

I just made this for a holiday party, and was asked for the recipe, so am posting it here for everyone.  Please note that I didn’t measure things, so quantities are approximate at best.  Also note that there is no ‘standard’ recipe for this dish – it’s a pumpkin stuffed with rice, fruit, and nuts – beyond that, the details depend on the individual cook.  So feel free to substitute any fruits, nuts, and spices you personally like (can even use an acorn squash instead of a pumpkin)!  This is my personal twist on the traditional version – with more of a Middle-Eastern/Fall Harvest flavor.  This is such an easy recipe, but makes a dramatic and delicious presentation for any fall/holiday party!

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Darcy’s Version of Ghapama!

Ingredients:
1 medium regular pumpkin, or 2 smaller pie pumpkins
2 cups basmati rice
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
½ cup each: chopped dates, pomegranate-flavored dried cranberries (Craisins), mixed raisins
½ cup glazed pecans – pieces or coarse-chopped
1 cup walnuts – pieces or coarse-chopped
1-2 Tbsp. each: brown sugar, molasses, pomegranate molasses, date molasses
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup candied orange peels in syrup (both the syrup and the peels) (I love the Italian ‘Toschi’ brand!!)
½ – 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger powder
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
¼ cup hot water

Directions:

1. Wash and dry the pumpkin(s). Cut off the top in a circle  – it will be the lid.
2. Scrape out all the guts.  Rinse and save the seeds for roasting if you want
3. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add rice, stir, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook rice for about 15 minutes. Rice should NOT be completely cooked. Drain any excess liquid.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the partially cooked rice, fruit, nuts, spices, and sweeteners.
5. Loosely stuff the rice mix into the pumpkin; pour the ¼ cup hot water over the top of the filling.
6. Line a baking pan with heavy duty aluminium foil.  Put the pumpkin in the pan, put the top of the pumpkin back on and bake at 350°F for about 2 hours or until soft. Insert a toothpick into the pumpkin to determine tenderness.

You can either plate this as a whole pumpkin and let guests scoop everything out (you eat the soft pumpkin flesh with the rice) or you can cut the pumpkin into starburst-like wedges when you serve.

* A final note: The more ‘exotic’ ingredients can usually be found at your local Middle-Eastern market.

 

 

QUICHE!

It’s that time of year again… The start of my baking/cooking season, when I have to suddenly make tons of delicious food for an array of holiday parties we’re invited to.  This week, my husband asked me to make food for his whole law school class (it’s his turn to bring dinner.  Aren’t they cute?!)  I needed something that would feed everybody and travel well.  He requested my quiche lorraine (and the cranberry eggnog cake I made last year for his LSAT party) and ordered 6 of them.  I decided to switch it up a little and bring 3 different quiches (2 of each), rather than 6 the same.  So we had:

quiche lorraine with bacon and onions, and a mix of jarlsburg, butterkasse, and welsh chedder cheeses

Florentine quiches with farmer, riccotta, and feta cheese creamed with fresh basil and topped with roasted red pepper and halved kalamata olives

and Indian spiced quiches with red and russet potatoes, peas, spinach, and Beecher’s Marco Polo black and green peppercorn cheese flavored with traditional Indian spices

(REALLY sorry!!!  All my photos are missing – phone seems to have self-deleted…)

Everyone LOVED the quiches, the teacher liked it so much she took all the leftovers home, and bonus compliments, the chef student cleaned his plate and the Indian student told me I’d nailed the Indian spices and it tasted like home!  The best thing about quiche is that it is shockingly easy to make, nearly fool-proof, and since no one makes it, everyone will think you’re a cooking goddess!!!  (That’s almost as good as being a chef!)

The quiche lorraine is based on a recipe from an ancient cookbook my mother handed down to me – no idea what the cookbook is, the cover and identifying information was gone before I was born.  The Florentine quiche is based on this recipe I found at Chowhound, and the Indian spiced quiche is based on this recipe I found at Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts.  (Imagine my happiness when I decided to make an Indian spiced quiche, went looking, and found someone had already tried that exact thing!)

I always use either a store-bought graham cracker crust or a store-bought shortbread crust.  Why?  Because they are easy, travel well (come with their own lid!), disposable pie plate, and the flavor goes beautifully with both sweet and savory quiches.  Yes, I can make my own dough, but why add an hour to the operation for no reason?  These days I only make my own pie dough for real fruit pies.

I find quiches are always better made the day before and refrigerated overnight and served cold.  It gives the flavors more time to settle and blend, and the cold pie is then both filling and refreshing.

ON TO THE RECIPES:  These are the recipes with my changes incorporated.

Quiche Lorraine (makes 1 9″ pie):

1 graham cracker crust
1 1/2 cups cheese – this time I used equal amounts of butterkasse, jarlsburg, and welsh chedder
1/2 pound lean smoky or Canadian bacon – OPTIONAL -simply omit for vegetarian version
2 large onions, diced
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
dash cayenne pepper
generous dash nutmeg

Fry or bake bacon until crisp, remove from fat and put on papertowl-lined plate to drain. Dice.

Saute onion over medium-high heat until gently browned.

Preheat oven to 375.

Coarsely grate or finely slice cheeses. Layer in graham cracker crust, alternating cheese, onions, and bacon.

Beat eggs gently, add milk, cream, cayenne and nutmeg, combine, pour gently into crust over the fillings.

Bake about 35-60 min until golden brown and egg is set.

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Indian Spiced Quiche (makes 1 9″ pie):

1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 large red potato, peeled and diced
1 15oz can sweet peas
1/2 cup steamed fresh spinach (steamed until just limp and dark green)
1 small onion, chopped
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Beecher’s Marco Polo peppercorn cheese
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 graham cracker crust

Fill a sauce pan with diced potatoes, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat toast spices for 2 minutes. Stirring frequently. Add onion, cook until onions are gently browned. Toss in the cooked potatoes, peas, and wilted spinach, stir to coat with the spices.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl beat eggs, milk, and cream together. Mix in the finely sliced or coarse-grated cheese. Add the potato mixture, and stir to combine. Pour egg mixture into prepared pie plate. Bake for 35 minutes, or until eggs are set.

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Quiche Florentine (makes 1 9″ pie):

4oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
4oz Farmer’s Cheese (a crumbly white firm brick cheese)
1 cup + 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I prefer the Bulgarian feta – skip the grocery store overpriced junk, and find your local Arab market for fresh, delicious, reasonably priced feta options)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons packed, coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half lengthwise
1 medium red bell pepper, roasted (directions below recipe)(or substitute purchased roasted red peppers – the Arab market should have some good ones)
1 graham cracker crust

Add the 3 cheeses (reserving the 1/4 cup of feta for the topping), the basil, and the thyme to the bowl of a food processer with a blade attachment and process until the mix is smooth and combined – about 1 minute. I found I had to pulse the processor and keep stopping to scrap down the sides.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs until scrambled. Add the cheese mix. Mix thoroughly. Pour into the graham cracker crust. Arrange the roasted red pepper strips in a pretty design on the top, add the olives to the design, sprinkle the top with crumbled feta.

Bake until the feta on top turn golden brown and the eggs are set – about 40 minutes.

 

To roast the pepper(s):

Heat the broiler to high, and place the pepper on foil-lined shallow pan on a rack near the top of the oven.
Roast, turning occasionally, until the peppers blister and blacken on all sides – about 20 min.

Remove from oven and place in a medium heatproof bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit until cool enough to handle and skins peel off easily – about 30 min.

Remove and discard the skins, seeds, and membranes of the peppers. Slice into 1/2″ strips and set aside. You can drizzle with olive oil and dash of salt and pepper to season if desired.

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I’d love to hear from you if you try any of these recipes or have your own favorite quiche recipe to share!

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