Quince-Apple Mermelada Tartlets

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Quince, “the golden apples of the sun,” have long symbolized fertility, abundance, and wealth. The trees grow best in a Mediterranean climate and can produce for decades. Given their hardy nature, it’s no surprise that quince trees flourish at Tres Estrellas.

Look for pale-gold quince in fall. Even when ripe, the fruit will be rock-hard and very tart. Mexicans eat raw quince thinly sliced, with a squeeze of lime and some salt. It is even better slowly cooked with apple and spices until it reaches the pale-pink sweetness of mermelada.

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    • 2 green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
    • 1 quince, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
    • ½ cup dried cranberries
    • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
    • 1 cup organic apple juice
    • One 2-inch cinnamon stick
    • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
    • 6 tartlet bases
    • Whipped cream

Directions:

1. In a medium pan, heat the oil and sauté the apples and quince for 5 minutes.

2. Add the cranberries and nutmeg, and cook a few minutes more to soften.

3. Add the apple juice, cinnamon stick, and syrup. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, until the liquid evaporates, about 25 minutes.

4. Remove the cinnamon stick, put half of the mixture into the bowl a food processor, and puree. Stir the pureed mixture back into the remaining fruit.

5. Top each tartlet base with a dollop of mermelada and some whipped cream. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftover mermelada.

 Variations

※ Make with firm green apples alone, and cook only until tender and all the liquid has evaporated—about 15 minutes.

※ Sprinkle the tartlets with cinnamon,  or chopped nuts, such as pistachios or almonds.

Tartlet Bases

Serves 12

Crust Ingredients:

      • 1 cup rolled oats or low-fat granola
      • ½ cup sliced almonds
      • ⅛ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
      • Zest of 1 orange
      • 1 egg white
      • ½ cup agave syrup or maple syrup

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the oats, almonds, nutmeg, and orange zest 10 times to break up the oats and nuts. Add the egg white and ¼ cup of the agave syrup and pulse a few more times to make the dough stick together. You will still see whole bits of oat and almond.

3. Lightly oil a baking sheet, or line with a nonstick silicone mat. Set a 3 ½ -inch round cookie cutter or tart ring onto the pan. Scoop one slightly rounded tablespoon of dough into the ring. Hold the ring with one hand and carefully tamp the dough down with the back of a dampened spoon, pressing the dough to the edges of the ring to make a clean edge, then lift off the ring. Repeat until you have 12 tartlets.

4. Bake the tartlets until crisp and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately run a thin spatula beneath each tartlet to loosen from the pan. Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. You will only need six tartlet bases for this recipe. Reserve the rest for another use.

Enjoy!

Orange Saffron Pine-Nut Bread

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Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon Spanish saffron threads
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup agave syrup or maple syrup
  • Zest of 2 large oranges
  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 4 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

 Directions:

1. Soak the saffron threads in 1/2 cup of the water for 30 minutes.

2. Combine the remaining 3 1/2 cups of water and the yeast. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir the syrup, orange zest, saffron, melted butter, and salt into the yeast until thoroughly combined. Add the wheat flour and mix until smooth.

4. Stir in the pine nuts and most of the all-purpose flour, reserving 1 cup. The dough should be a little sticky. Flour the countertop with some of the remaining flour and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding flour to the surface as needed to make the dough manageable. You may not use all the flour, or you may need a little more. The final dough should feel moist and a little tacky, but not sticky or wet.

5. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn over once to coat, and cover with a barely damp tea towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

6. Punch down the dough. Divide into 2 equal portions. Spread or roll each portion into a rectangle and pinch the edges together.

7. Place each loaf in an oiled loaf pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the loaves have doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.

8. Bake in a preheated 375-degree F oven for one hour, or until the tops are browned and the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Enjoy!

Friday Cookie Recipe

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Makes four dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup wheat flake cereal
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • Chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, then the milk, beating until combined. (The milk will not quite combine with the butter well and the mixture will look a little separated, but this is fine.)
  • In a separate bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, cereal, pastry flour, almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Add the chocolate chips and cranberries.
  • Add oat mixture to the milk and eggs mixture, and mix on the lowest speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Use a tablespoon measure or small ice cream scoop to scoop the dough onto lightly oiled baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each scoop.
  • Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.
  • Bake for 14 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Flan

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Traditional flan is creamy, rich, and heavy. This lightened version is based on naturally sweet butternut squash puree with a zing of orange in the syrup. Baked pureed yam may be substituted for the squash.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

⅓ cup plus ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

3 cups milk

4 extra-large eggs

¾ cup cooked, pureed butternut squash

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Seasonal fruit

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a small saucepan, combine ⅓ cup of the brown sugar and the orange juice, and cook over low heat until the sugar is melted and bubbles form across the surface of the syrup, about 3 minutes.

3. Divide the syrup evenly among six 6-ounce ramekins.

4. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and ¼ cup brown sugar. Heat over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool.

5. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the squash, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest. Stir in the cooled milk mixture. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any traces of the squash fiber.

6. Divide the custard evenly among the ramekins, filling to within ¼-inch of the rim.

7. Place the ramekins in a rectangular baking pan with high sides and carefully pour 1 inch of boiling water into the pan. Cover with foil and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the custards are no longer jiggly in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, take off the foil, and let the custards cool in the water bath. Once they are cool, remove from the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

8. To unmold, press gently around the edge of each flan to break the seal. Invert onto a dessert plate. If you prefer, the flan may be served right in the baking dish. Top with seasonal fruit.

Enjoy!

Mayan Hot Chocolate Recipe

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Chocolate (xocolatl) was originally developed by the Mayan people of southern Mexico, long before the Spanish conquest. This creamy hot chocolate is based on an authentic Mexican drink recipe and has a secret ingredient.
Also dark chocolate in small quantities offers real health benefits!

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash pulp
  • 3 ½ cups milk
  • 3 ounces Ibarra brand Mexican chocolate
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

1. In a blender, puree the squash with 1¾ cups of the milk until perfectly smooth.
2. In a large saucepan, mix the remaining 1¾ cups of milk, chocolate, and spices. With a whisk, stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted, then add the pureed squash. Do not boil. Strain through a coarse sieve to remove any trace of the squash fiber.
3. Reheat gently in a heavy saucepan. Serve in little demitasse cups, with a crisp cookie for dipping.