Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Kataifi with Cream Filling
This is a Lebanese dessert from Claudia Roden's Arabesque. It's an intriguing cookbook with gorgeous photos and interesting Lebanese, Turkish, and Moroccan recipes.
This particular recipe was slightly difficult to interpret. It's essentially a milk/cream pastry cream thickened with rice flour sandwiched between generous amounts of buttered kataifi (shredded filo dough.)
The recipe doesn't tell you how exactly to add the rice flour paste, and if you just throw it into the cream it will curdle into dougy chunks. I solved this problem by whisking small amounts of the hot milk into the flour until it was liquidy enough to add to the rest.
Afterwards, you coat the pastry with a generous amount of sugar syrup cooked with lemon juice and orange blossom water. Occasionally, I think orage blossom water makes desserts taste like soap. I was very pleasantly surprised when this pastry tasted delicate and not overly sweet!
The taxi cab just happened to be outside my window. I thought it was fun.
Kataifi with Cream Filling
For the syrup
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
For the cream filling
1/2 cup rice flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp sugar
For the pastry
1 pound kataifi pastry, defrosted
2 sticks of 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
To garnish, 2/3 cupped chopped pistachios
Make the syrup first. Boil the sugar with the water and lemon juice over low heat for 5-8 minutes, until it is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the orange blossom water and cook a moment more. Let it cool and then chill in the refrigerator. (If you have overcooked the syrup and it becomes too thick to pour, you can rescue it by adding a little water and bringing it to a boil again.)
For the filling, mix the rice flour with enough of the cold milk to make a smooth, creamy paste. Bring the rest of the milk with the cream to a boil, preferably in a nonstick pan. **Add rice flour paste, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Leave it on low heat and continue to stir for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is quite thick, being careful not to scrape any burned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining sugar and stir well.
Put the pastry in a large bowl. With your fingers, pull out and separate the strands as much as possible. Melt the butter and when it has cooled slightly, pour it over the pastry. Press down firmly and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Just before serving, run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen the sides, and turn it out onto a large serving dish. Pour the cold syrup all over the hot pastry and top lavishly with pistachios. Alternatively, you can pour only half the syrup over the pastry and pass the rest in a jug for everyone to help themselves to more. (I used half.)
** this is the part where you can curdle the flour mixture. I recommend adding hot milk to it seperately, whisking, and then pouring it back into the pot.
at 2:12 PM