How about something sweet ? This confection, which I’ve known about as long as I’ve known my husband (that would be…19 years or so, yikes), is no longer something I can eat, as it has almonds – but I remember it fondly from our college days (when he made it recently for a work potluck he got roundly scolded for making something his wife couldn’t eat). It’s been handwritten in the back of our old Moosewood Cookbook forever, along with the Sour Cream Coffeecake and the Red Bell Pepper Pesto. I hadn’t realized the story behind the recipe’s name until recently, so I asked him to write a little about it:
It’s amazing how one rarely questions the things with which one has grown up. Take this dessert. Chocolatey and creamy, it’s almost a mousse, but then there are the ground almonds, giving it a firmer texture and a little bit of gritty crunch before it dissolves. That’s not a mousse; it’s caribou. Or at least that’s what we called it in my family.
Only when I got into cooking and baking in college and begged the recipe from my mother did I discover that it had another name – La Reine de Saba (the Queen of Sheba). Once again, I didn’t question the name. I had suspected that caribou was not the actual name, and La Reine de Saba sounded reasonable.
Except that this dessert isn’t like any of the other versions of La Reine de Saba that I have found. Those versions all have eggs, and most have at least a little bit of flour, yielding a dense, fudgy cakelike product. My family’s version is definitely not fudgy or cakelike. But it is mighty tasty.
For the last six months or so there has been a recipe (a clipping from Bon Appetit or some such publication) stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet. I guess I somehow thought that if it was out in plain sight I would actually make it – sort of a triumph of optimism over experience. Turns out that staring at something every day doesn’t necessarily inspire you to do something about it…
I did make it, finally, for a middle-eastern themed dinner party we gave recently. Sort of a miracle, really. The recipe was for muhammara, a Syrian puree of roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses, and it seemed so completely up my alley that I can’t believe how long I waited to try it. I’m usually such a sucker for anything with pomegranate molasses. Continue reading
As so often happens, last time we were at my parents’ house there was a box of pears to deal with. I took what I thought was a modest assortment and hoped they wouldn’t all ripen at once. So far, so good – only two came ripe this week, although I did have to put them in the fridge until I was ready for them.
We had already made and eaten a pear custard pie not long ago, so this pair of pears was treated to our other usual preparation: poached in sugar water in the oven, then stuffed with a mixture of chopped pecans, sugar, brandy, vanilla and sour cream. Unbelievably, this recipe came out of a Betty Crocker cookbook, but it really is a winner: tender, sweet, hot pears with a rich crunchy filling – what’s not to like? Continue reading
I’m not necessarily a big one for making Christmas cookies, but I do like to do some baking over the holidays. In past years I’ve made a lot of biscotti, since it ships well, and occasionally chocolate crinkles. But last winter I went back to making a recipe that was a favorite of my grandmother’s – she picked it up while she and my grandfather were living in Corpus Christi, Texas, during World War II. They’re very simple cookies, but they remind me of her – plus they’re fabulously delicious. If I make no other cookies for the holidays, I will make these.