Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour
Old favorites in new pots
It isn't too early to start hinting. It is a rare Santa who cooks up his shopping list in November and past experience has shown that it is wise to start feeding Santa ideas very early. You know...before the great guy has made up his mind to give you something completely useless, like a trip to Hawaii.
One of the items on my want list is a Calphalon omelet pan. Probably all of us have gone through a number of omelet non-stick coated pans during our tours of kitchen duty. Mine all seem to be quite light and thin and the coating always seems to nick, scratch or somehow become damaged. Eventually the pans have to be relegated to the kids' playhouse or sandpile. Your experience, too?
I've strategized this carefully and put a little bug in Santa's ear to let him know that Calphalon is guaranteed to live forever and always to be nonstick. (Men like to think their purchases are practical.) And the mighty pans are mighty heavy which means even cooking. If this sound like a commercial it's because I was lucky enough to be in Chicago, visit the Calphalon showroom, and take a lesson in their fabulous kitchen. Next time the winds of fortune send you to the windy city put that on your fun-to-do list.
Meanwhile, while waiting to see if Santa listens, I'm trying out recipes for the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. In "Country Living" magazine I found this fabulous persimmon pudding recipe which will be on the table for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both. I cooked this in a Calaphon steamer, which is designed for steaming vegetables or fish, but the rack makes it perfect for puddings, as well. I have steamed pudding molds which I love to use not just because the puddings are so pretty but because it is easy to store the puddings in the refrigerator right in the mold. They will stay fresh at least a week. The puddings also freeze well and are easy to reheat in a microwave. Or return the pudding to the mold, cover and steam for about 20 minutes. You can also bake this recipe if Santa has never appeared with a pudding mold in his bag.
PERSIMMON PUDDING WITH RUM SAUCE
Steamed puddings are foolproof. If you don't have a mold bake this in a greased and floured 8 x 4-inch loaf pan in a 350 F. oven for about 45 minutes. When you can't find fresh persimmons, you can use dried fruit to make the pulp - 3 oz. of dried or 2 fresh persimmons will each yield 1 cup of pulp.
1/3 cup butter, softened
Grease and flour a steamed pudding mold with a tube; set aside. Beat butter and sugar until well combined. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in persimmon pulp (remove pulp from skin with a spoon and mash slightly*) and brandy, lemon juice and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon; stir into egg mixture until moistened (batter will appear curdled). Fold in walnuts and raisins. Pour batter into mold. Cover with lid or with foil, pressing against outside of mold to seal well. Place on a rack in large kettle with a lid. Pour boiling water in kettle to about 1-inch. Cover kettle and steam pudding for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centercomes out clean. Remove from kettle and let stand on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from mold and let stand 30 minutes. Serve with Rum Sauce, caramel sauce or whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.
*Or, cover 3 oz. dried fruit with 1 cup boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes; drain but keep the water. Place persimmons in blender with l/4 cup of the water. Cover and blend until almost smooth. Place in measuring cup and stir in enough of the remaining water to make 1 cup pulp - should be the consistency of applesauce.
Very easy to make and delicious with puddings, cakes or topping a pumpkin pie.
2 ounces cream cheese
Beat cream cheese and butter together. Gradually beat in sifted confectioners sugar. Beat in rum. Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Cover and chill until serving time. Makes enough for 8 servings.
4 IN 1 VEGETABLE MEDLEY
Chicken broth can be substituted for the vermouth, if you prefer.
1 large onion, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large pan sauté onion in butter until just tender. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and place in ungreased baking dish. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are just tender and some of the liquid has been absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.