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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cheesy Ham Poof (Cheesy Name) and Nantucket Cranberry Pie

I love everything about brunch; the time of day,  the relaxed atmosphere, the foods. Especially the food.

For Easter today, I made almost everything ahead of time or at least assembled it to bake. I turned the ovens on as soon as we got home from church, filled 'em up, and got to relax a bit with guests for a while. Here are two recipes I used.

My favorite was the Nantucket Cranberry Pie, a tried-and-true coffeecake of sorts. It's easy and really tasty. It's especially nice for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it's too good to limit it to those holidays. It's one of the reasons I stock up on cranberries in season and throw them in the freezer for use all year.

  My sister had tasted a friend's version, and when the friend neglected to share the recipe, she discovered it at If, like me, you keep vanilla sugar or citrus sugar on hand, they work well in the filling.

The "Cheesy Ham Poof" has a name that's kind of embarrassing, and I think I originally called it a "cheesy, eggy, brunchy thing." But I confessed the real name, and we had fun with that. And it's good, so who cares what it's called. The recipe is from Clifford Wright's cookbook Bake Until Bubbly. I added the potato.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

For the Filling:

Butter, to grease the pie plate
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional, I've never added them)

For the Topping:

2 eggs
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

For the Filling: 
Place the cranberries in a buttered, 9-to-10-inch pie plate (If you really like scraping yummy stuff off pie plates later, skip that step). Toss the sugar and walnuts over the berries. 

For the Topping:
Cream the eggs and the butter with the sugar. Add the flour and almond extract to the mixture, lightly stirring 
with a fork just till combined. Spread the topping over the cranberry mixture and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, till golden and set. If desired, serve warm with whipped cream (I've never done that, and it's fine plain and at room temperature). 

Cheesy Ham Poof

 6 large eggs  
 ½ cup all-purpose flour 
1 ½ tsp. baking powder  
1 cup whole milk (I used 2% with a bloop of low-fat "half-and-half" added)
1 cup finely chopped cooked ham 
3 oz. cream cheese (neufchatel is fine), softened
2  cups shredded cheddar (sharp or mild)
1 cup cottage cheese (fat-free works fine)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter (or margarine), melted
3 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped 
1 large potato, cooked, peeled, chopped and browned (optional)
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper  

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly better a 9×9x2 inch baking casserole.*

In an electric mixer bowl, beat the eggs for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and baking powder. Beat in cream cheese and then cottage cheese. Slowly beat in the milk. Add the ham, cheddar cheese, butter, scallions parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Continue mixing until well blended, about 3 minutes at medium speed. 

Transfer to the casserole and bake until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes (start checking at 45 minutes). Serve warm. (Clifford Wright suggests in his cookbook to serve leftovers cold, cut in small squares, for an appetizer similar to the Spanish tapa called a tortilla).
*If doubling recipe, use 13-by-9 baking dish.  It takes about the same time to bake.

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