I found out about this event a few days ago. Sounded very interesting especially since Turkey was the first country mentioned and I am going to visit Istanbul for the first time in December!
Prior to this dish, you would have mentioned pumpkin dessert to me, and frankly you would not have gotten a very enthusiastic response. NOT ANYMORE. I guarantee that you will swoon (like I did) when you taste this! I am now going to have to serve it at Thanksgiving dinner, and that’s all there is to it! This dessert encapsulates all that one is looking for in a pumpkin pie, sweetness,richness, smoothness, the wonderful taste of a mellow fruit, with none of the unnecessary additions, such as a crust or eggs or extra spices. Pure flavor. Deep pleasure.
All that is required is roasting a few slices of pumpkin, caramelizing them with some sugar and placing a dollop of thick cream or kaimak on top!
Recipe is from Seductive Flavours of the Levant by Nada Saleh. She brought this recipe back with her from Turkey. I have always been awed by the legacies of the Ottomans who ruled our region for 400 years and had heard stories from my grandmother about al-atraak, as she called them. Not very happy stories I am afraid, but at least in the culinary realm, there is so much that we can be thankful for as we learned a lot from their extraordinary culture.
I have adapted this recipe by roasting the pumpkin slices instead of cooking them on the stove and using brown sugar.
INGREDIENTS: This quantity will serve 4
4 (or more) pieces of pumpkin, peeled and placed side by side in a pan
brown sugar (or white sugar) as needed (depends on how many slices of pumpkin you use), about 1 1/2 cup
cream: can be kaimak, or mascarpone, or homemade ashta or heavy whipping cream, whipped
- Cut the pumpkin, starting at the top, and cut in smallish slices (about 5X7 inches)
- Peel the pumpkin slices (I was feeling lazy and I left them un-peeled, OK, you just peel them later!
- Place the pumpkin slices in a pan large enough so that they can all fit in one layer
- Cover the pumpkin slices very generously with sugar, cover the pan and let it sit overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350F and roast the pumpkin slices, basting them with the sugar syrup every so often.
- Bake until the pumpkin slices are thoroughly cooked and soft, about 45 minutes for 4 large pieces.
- Turn the broiler on and let the pumpkin slices broil and caramelize for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Serve warm with a dollop of kaimak, or whipped cream or mascarpone cheese.
Kaimak is a thick cream that can be found in ethnic or middle-eastern stores. A good substitute can be mascarpone cheese.
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