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Jan 1, 2007 03:18 AM

Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Simple Cheese Course/ Desserts and Pastry

January 2007 Cookbook of the Month: the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers and Gerald Asher. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on a simple cheese course and on desserts and pastry here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating.

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  1. Made a whole dinner from the book tonight, with lots of help from daughter-out-law. Chard/onion Panade, Caesar Salad and dessert.

    Dessert was the sliced oranges drizzled with honey steeped with a bit of rosemary and dates stuffed with mascarpone, pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Wow for both.
    It's funny, a friend lent the book to me a while back and I only cooked one thing from it in the 2 weeks I had it. Now, I can't wait to try other stuff. Fabulous.

    4 Replies
    1. re: oakjoan

      What kind of dates did you use oakjoan? I made the same dish last night (used sliced clementines drizzled with grand marnier (didn't have orange flower water)) and at her suggestion, some different dates (al noor?) and I wasn't wowed. I think it would have been better with the medjool I was originally contemplating.

      1. re: oakjoan

        Thanks for your report, oakjoan. The oranges w/ rosemary honey sounded so good to me the other night; I'll def. have to make these soon! I never noticed the date recipe in the cookbook; I'll have to search for it.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          It's right near the orange rosemary recipe....part of a recipe which I didn't make -- well half of it I didn't....something with mandarines or tangerines, etc. Just did the dates. Be sure to put in the whole amount of mascarpone, as the sweetness of the dates can overwhelm.

        2. re: oakjoan

          These were wonderful. I wouldn't have made these but for this thread. I felt like this was my "virtuous dessert" as there was no chocolate or butter in the dish. I omited the orange flower water but did use a bit of cointreau. I also didn't peel the oranges to her directions. I had these wonderful clementines that I tried to peel, but the juice ran everywhere. So, I just made pinwheel using the slices. I also only used three clementines. I especially liked the contrast of the soft dates and cheese, offset with the crunch of the pomegranate seeds and pistachios.

          Pic of dessert without cointreau:

        3. I used medjool (and had to pit them - of all the danged nerve, eh?). I reall do think the type of date makes a difference. These medjools were really sugary and moist. Lucky to have Berkeley Bowl with selection of dates in the bins.

          I didn't make the orange flower water oranges since I didn't have o.f. water either. I made the orange slices drizzled with rosemary-steeped honey. I think it was the combo that did it....altho I munched a couple of leftover dates this a.m. and found them really great. The unsweetness of the mascarpone with the sweetness of the dates and the crunchiness of the pistachios was what did it. Also amazing was the fact that I found a pomegr. left over from an old organic CSA box!

          1. Lemon sorbet--
            I wouldn't bother posting about this simple recipe, except that it was very good and I've had great results from her sorbet recipes. I haven't made enough sorbets to know if this one varies greatly from sorbet recipes in general, but I love that when I make my own, I limit the amount of sugar so that taste of the fruit comes through. Next time, I'm trying the honeydew sorbet.
            It's a great way to end a rich, porchetta-centered meal!

            1. the zuni recipe that i've been making constantly is the dried figs in red wine (page 282). it's probably the single easiest thing in the book, and it is completely divine with cheese.

              1 1/2 cups red wine (here judy rodgers is uncharacteristically permissive)
              2 bay leaves
              1 strip of orange zest (wide and 1 inch long, removed with vegetable peeler)
              8 oz dried figs
              1 teaspoon honey

              paraphrased instructions:
              simmer wine and bay leaves until wine is reduced to 1/2 cup.
              while simmering, cut the figs in half, add figs and orange zest to a jar with a tight fitting lid.
              add honey to the warm reduced wine, pour over figs.
              cover, shake, refrigerate.

              have i mentioned that this is totally amazing with cheese? Off to make brandied raisins...

              5 Replies
              1. re: rose water

                Drunken Raisins (p282)

                Just barely cover raisins with brandy, port or grappa, add a little water on top. Shake. Taste in an hour and add sugar or honey as needed.

                It's been an hour. OH MY...this is life-changing stuff. i'm supposed to cover and let it sit for a day, but i think dessert is going to have to be greek yogurt topped with this decadent deliciousness.

                1. re: rose water

                  Sounds like the alcohol is flowing in the rose water household! I love the name "drunken raisins"; too bad I can't stand raisins (although drunken might be ok and "life-changing" is pretty convincing...). I've had another hound make me those figs before, and you're right, they're fantastic w/ a cheese course!

                  What kind of cheese do you like to serve w/ them?

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    i can't stand raisins either! i think this is a great final resting place for all the sad-looking ancient dessicated raisins tucked away in my cabinets. but who knows, maybe i just like the sweetened brandy! these were fantastic on top of some 2% fage yogurt--even my partner, who was overwhelmed by the booziness (which supposedly mellows), liked them.

                    the figs go well with parmigiano reggiano, and okay with manchego. they're also great on top of yogurt and oatmeal.

                    in Zuni, she recommends pairing with the following:
                    Brin d'Amour and Fleur du Maquis (French sheep milk cheeses)
                    Garrotxa (Spanish semi-hard goat milk cheese)

                    one small tip--when you cut the fig in half, it tends to smoosh it closed, but the insides are what soak up the wine, so i cut, then squeeze them open a bit (if that makes any sense).

                    1. re: rose water

                      a few days later and the raisins have mellowed out a lot. they just taste like juicy, extra flavorful raisins. lovely on greek yogurt.

                      1. re: rose water

                        Thanks for this report - I'm glad the Favorites tab is finally working right and notifying of new posts, or I would have missed this one! I've made the drunken raisins before, but your figs look so good. that I'm going to make them this weekend.

              2. Chocolate Pots de Creme

                I wasn't going to make this since I have made it many times before and I wanted to try new recipes this month, but I couldn't help myself. This is a simple, foolproof recipe that really brings out the flavor of whatever chocolate you use, so use one you like to eat plain. I used Scharffenberger bittersweet. I refrigerated the pots overnight this time. We ate them cold and it was almost like eating ganache. My husband the chocoholic swooned.