Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust and Gluten-Free Teff Variation

Here we are again with one of my favorite winter holiday culinary ingredients — cranberries. Homemade cranberry relish is just right to tame the edges of a rich, holiday meal. But, we can do so many more things with cranberries than make a relish. So, I’m baking a bright, festive “Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust” this Christmas. If you are looking for an easy, yet elegant dessert to finish a holiday meal or want a change from pumpkin pie, this is it. The tart is simple to make; using only a few household ingredients. It is hard to mess up this tart. The rich, shortbread-style cookie crust balances tart cranberries which have a taste of satsuma zest (satsuma is a type of orange) added in. Plus, I made a variaton of the crust using Teff flour — an ancient Ethopina grain, so that tart is gluten-free. I will enjoy several versions of this tart from now until Christmas!

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Easy Cook: Persimmon Custard

Today I’m making egg custard with an autumn twist. I have several persimmons remaining on my backyard tree and decided to add one to the custard which I am cooking. It gives the custard a unique “kick” for an interesting change. Custard is probably one of the most revered and beloved “comfort foods” around. I am sure that this custard will quickly disappear when my husband figures out that it is in the refrigerator — he absolutely loves custard. While rummaging around for custard recipes, I found several variations. This recipe is cooked on the stove — rather than a baked — which saves alot of preparation time. Although custard recipes traditionally do not contain cornstarch, this ingredient helps the custard thicken since it is not baked in the oven. I really like this recipe. It is fast and relatively easy to prepare. The custard is creamy and smooth without an “eggy” taste.

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Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

It seems like I always purchase one too many sweet potatoes for the recipe that I’m making. I hate to waste food. Here’s a coffee cake recipe which uses just one sweet potato. I have been sharing Louisiana cuisine and beyond on my blog since my blog began. “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping” is one of the first recipe ideas which I posted and it is still one of my favorite recipes. Today I made the coffee cake again using my last sweet potato. This coffee cake is full of pumpkin pie-type spices. The batter it includes both brown sugar and molasses. Add a crumb topping with aromatic pecans and the result is an absolutely delicious coffee cake. Watch out — it is hard to resist a second piece.

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Sage Ice Cream

What do you cook when a friend gives you a large bunch of fresh sage which she grew in her Louisiana garden? Why, let’s make “Sage Ice Cream.” The unexpected gift of fresh sage sent me scurrying for recipes since I wanted to use the sage while it was still fresh. Several years ago, we ate lunch at a trendy restaurant/bar in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. The dessert consisted of Sage Ice Cream and Pumpkin Empanadas. I have long since forgotten the name of the restaurant, but not the dessert. Both the ice cream and empanadas were unique and memorable. I recalled the delicious sage ice cream and decided to make my own. To accompany my ice cream, I quickly baked some tasty sugar cookies using Bisquick (since I am on a Bisquick “kick”). Enjoy!

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Love ‘N Knishes Cheesecake with Blueberry Swirl Sauce

I love cheesecakes. It is one of my favorite desserts. There are so many variations to the cheesecake theme that I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas for blog posts. My cheesecake recipe this week makes a delightful little dessert which is incredibly easy to mix up. Plus, it is rather unique — as there is no sugar in the bottom layer. At first I thought I was reading a misprint of the ingredients. But, I followed the instructions exactly and everybody loved the resulting cheesecake. Sometimes “sweet” isn’t always the best thing. I added a blueberry swirl topping and sauce made with fresh blueberries from this year’s crop. I hope you will try making this recipe, too, and I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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“Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Custard Sauce”

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m making “Irish Bread Pudding.” You may ask, what is so Irish about bread pudding? I am making my favorite New Orleans-style bread pudding recipe and I am adding Irish Cream to the custard. Irish Cream is a liqueur containing whiskey, cream and various flavors such as coffee and vanilla extracts, sometimes chocolate. To be labeled legally as “Irish Cream Liqueur,” the whiskey must be produced in Ireland. Bailey’s Irish Cream is the quintessential Irish brand of this liqueur. When the Irish Cream Liqueur is added to this extra-rich bread pudding, the dessert really has some kick. And as some interesting trivia, New Orleans actually has a significant Irish population. The first Irish immigrated to this city in the late 1700’s, attracted because of Catholic traditions. More Irish settled in the city during the potato famines. The first Patrick’s Day celebration was held in 1809  So, let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a festive manner with this “Irish-inspired” dessert.

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Tipsy French Quarter Praline Pecan Cheese Spread

Decadent, audacious and over-the-top sums up Mardi Gras festivities and the carnival season, in my opinion. The parades and Mardi Gras balls have a party-like atmosphere with lots of revelry, good times and costumes –some elegant, others more brazen and some just plain silly. This over-the-top appetizer, “Tipsy French Quarter Praline Pecan Cheese Spread,” fits right in. It is so, so rich. Like Mardi Gras, this appetizer is decadent, delicious and addictive. It is full of sugar and calories — but we’re indulging during these festivities. And Lent is coming soon. The cream cheese base has savory seasonings while the praline topping (brown sugar, butter, nuts and bourbon) is very sweet. Oddly enough, the sweet and savory flavors complement each other.

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Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with Burnt Caramel Glaze

“Crème Brûlée” is a very popular and trendy dessert frequently served in restaurants in New Orleans. It is a creamy, smooth baked custard with a crispy burnt sugar glaze. In the past, I’ve posted recipes for a healthy crème brûlée version using yogurt and fruit and for a recipe for a custard-type “Pumpkin Flan.” Now, with Valentine’s day approaching, I’m making the real deal. This recipe is full of eggs, rich cream and scraped vanilla bean. It will stand up to any crème brûlée recipe served in a restaurant.

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A Small Orange Streusel Coffee Cake

Here is coffee cake recipe which is just right for the holidays, “Orange Streusel Coffee Cake.” For a Louisiana twist, I am using satsumas growing on the tree in my backyard in the recipe. Coffee cakes are easy to make, they are tasty and the citrus flavor in this recipe gives a holiday flavor. As the cookbook author stated, “you can’t fail.” That’s my kind of cake. With a streusel topping, you don’t need an icing. This coffee cake makes for a simple “hurry-up” breakfast during the holiday season, a pastry for an afternoon break or a dessert for supper. Just add a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped topping.

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DIY Christmas Gift Project: Cookie, Muffin and Bar in a Jar Mixes

What unique gift can you give the family who likes to cook? This year, I am making each family member an individualized “Cookie Mix, Muffin or Bar in a Jar Mix.” The basic premise is to include the dry ingredients for the dessert in the jar. The “chef” provides the eggs, butter, vanilla extract etc; which are added to the mix and baked. Of course, you must include the instructions on how to prepare the baked desserts. Sort of like a boxed cake or brownie mix but much more creative (and homemade). The sky is the limit on what recipes can be adapted for this DIY Project and what ingredients can be added. Hey, you can’t find a store -purchased box mix for Matcha Muffins. Here is a batch of my “Macha Muffins with Cranberries” made from my “Jar Mix.” Not only is this a creative gift, but the muffins are extremely tasty, too.

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