Archive | February 2016

More Southern pecans

http://www.bakesyartofbiscuitry.org/on-the-cookie-trail-journey-around-the-southern-states/ pecan pots 3I was very pleased to be lent an old cookery book recently. Old cookery books are just the best – social history seen from the kitchen!  This guy was captain of a freight ship and sailed into New Orleans in the early 70s and picked up a Cajun Cookery book for his wife ! They divorced years ago – not because of the book I have to add. Recently he was having a clearance of his loft and happened to mention this book to me.

It is called ‘Louisiana Lagniappe’ and is a collection of Cajun recipes put together by one. Mercedes Vedrine in the early 70s. However the recipes themselves are even older as she had been publishing local recipes since the early 60s. This is in fact a compendium ! It is illustrated by J.A Allen with homely drawings ! I’ve just made some Petites tourtes de Pecan’ for the old seafarer – but I haven’t done with the book yet – it is a total joy! ( or maybe I am a sad person!)  Here is the recipe

PETITES TOURTES DE PECAN

( or ‘ Little Louisianan Pecan pots’)

Equipment

1 mini muffin tin

hand or machine mixer

Method

Set oven temperature 325 degrees F/165 degrees C/Gas mark 3

Ingredients for pastry

1 package cream cheese ( 3 oz)

4 oz. butter ( it was ‘oleomargarine’ in the original recipe!)

5 oz. 142 gm (1 cup) plain flour.

  • Cream butter, cream cheese until well blended. Add sifted flour and salt and mix well.
  • Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Ingredients for Pecan filling

1 cup/ 240 gm  ground nut meats ( I love the terminology here! – just grind up the nuts!)

1 cup/198 gm. brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsp vanilla

  • Cream butter and sugar together.
  • If using an electric mixer – scrape down the mix from the side of the bowl before adding beaten eggs/ ground nuts and vanilla.
  • Mix together well.

The mix will produce 30 small ‘tourtes’

Method

  1. Take the cooled dough out of the fridge. You will find it is very light and easy to handle. You have enough dough to make 30 little ‘ tourtes. Begin by dividing the dough into two – then into three. Alternatively non mathematical method is to take a small ball of dough about 2cm across. First roll it – then gently spread it in your palm so it makes a little pattie. Then push it into the mini-muffin tin and work it gently to bring it up the sides. You should have a thin shell, lining each part of the tin.
  2. Using a teaspoon, fill each shell with pecan filling ( give it a good stir round before you begin each time). Each shell should be approx 3/4 full.
  3. Bake at 350 F degrees/180 degrees C( 170 fan-oven) Gas mark 4. for 25 minutes.
  4. Cool in tins for five minutes before lifting. Yield – 30 small pots!

Recipe is courtesy of Mrs. Marvin Young Jr.

Pecan Pralines – southern comforts

Who’d have thought it? – German Christmas cookies in the Deep South?

Years ago I had the opportunity to take a day’s cookery course in the French Quarter in New Orleans. What a wonderful way to spend a day ! Recently I found the recipe they gave me for Pralines and so tried to recreate them in my kitchen. After a couple of misses ( the mixture was too thick – add more milk!!) I actually produced something which was delicious and very more-ish !!

Ingredients

340 grams white sugar

170 grams soft brown sugar

1/4 pt milk

86 g butter

340 g lightly toasted and chopped pecans ( place in a hot oven for 15 mins to toast)

1 tbsp vanilla

Equipment

1 large saucepan

3 baking trays lined with non-stick parchment

1 sugar thermometer ( preferably one which clips onto the side of a pan)

2 large spoons

Method

1.Set the oven to 275 º ( (130 degrees C). Place the pecans on a baking tray and bake for e25 mins. until they are fragrant.  remove from oven – allow to cool, then chop into small pieces.

2. Combine all ingredients – including the pecans in a large pan and bring to the boil. Clip the sugar thermometer onto the side of the pan or keep it to hand to check the temperature.

3. Stir constantly while the mixture is boiling, Stir until the mixture becomes thick and cloudy. The pecans will stay suspended at this stage.

4. When it reaches ‘softball stage’ ( 238-240F – 118 C degrees) – remove the pan from the heat. I wouldn’t recommend doing this without a sugar thermometer as it is so accurate – however if you don’t have one,  the way to test ‘softball’  is to drop a small spoonful of mix into a glass of cold water – it will stick to the side if it is the right consistency. Then remove carefully with a spoon – it should form a ball quite easily.

5. Lift the pan off the heat and spoon out the mix onto prepared sheets. You could produce between 20 and 40 Pralines depending on the size you choose. Small is probably better as they are very sweet indeed!

6. Allow them to cool on the tray before lifting them onto a metal drying rack with a spatula.

To store

Wrap each praline in a piece of non-stick parchment and then place side by side in a sealed plastic container. The pralines will stay fresh for at least two weeks.

Pack them prettily and give them as presents – they are heady vanilla-sugar combos but are delicious !

You could use almonds in place of pecans if they are difficult to find – I believe the original French cooks used almonds originally.

Screw up ! If you let the mixture get too thick – remove from the heat – add some milk and stir it in before bringing back to boil again ! It’s certainly worth a try ! it worked for me !