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Step by step to Mexico's classic custard ... or Morocco's exotic cousin of chicken pot pie.

Step by step to Mexico's classic custard . . . or Morocco's exotic cousin of chicken pot pie

Both sophisticated and inexperienced cooks will find lots to try in Sunset's newest cook book, Easy Basics for International Cooking (Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, Calif., 1984; $16.95). Results will be authentic to the seasoned traveler, yet they're easily achieved by the novice.

A companion to Sunset's Easy Basics for Good Cooking, this book crosses borders of five dozen countries and regions, exploring more than 375 recipes in 224 pages with 236 step-by-step color photographs. Woven through the pages is commentary that relates one cuisine to the next by pointing out similarities of technique and ingredients, making the foreign familiar and paving the way to success.

For example, Hungarian langos and American Navajo fry bread are made in almost the same way. Indonesian gado gado sauce becomes less intimidating when you know peanut butter is the base, and pastel de Montezuma is just the Mexican way to use leftover turkey or chicken in a casserole.

The editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine selected dishes for this book to suit a wide range of tastes. Without sacrificing authenticity, they carefully streamlined procedures when testing the recipes to ensure excellent results with the fewest steps possible. You'll find most of the suggested ethnic ingredients in well-toocked supermarkets, but alternative everyday choices are also given.

The book is organized for easy meal planning, starting with appetizers and ending with desserts. Numerous short sections, scattered through the chapters, discuss barbecuing, how to get liquors to flame, how to freeze fruit ices, and other ideas that apply to several recipes.

Examples of the clarity of presentation found in this book are the two following recipes. Consider baked custard. It isn't international; it's universal. Almost every cuisine has a mixture of liquid baked with eggs to delicate firmness, from the lean and fragile Japanese chawan mushi to the rich French pots de cremes.

Flan . . . Mexico's caramel custard

The custard that Mexico has adopted as its own is flan. You also encounter variations of this caramel-crowned dessert in other former Spanish colonies, in Europe, and in the Middle East. If you've made flan before, you know that caramel is the secret to both the sauce and the ease of unmolding the custard. But if you haven't, the new book's photographs, as you see on the next two pages, are definitely more helpful than words alone.


1/3 cup sugar

6 eggs

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups whole milk Boiling water

Preheat oven to 350|. In a small nonstick frying pan over medium heat, melt the 1/3 cup sugar, shaking and tilting pan to mix sugar as it melts. Cook just until sugar is amber colored and completely melted. (If sugar turns darker or begins to bubble and foam, it's probably scorched. Start over with fresh sugar.) Immediately pour syrup, all at once, into a 1-quart straightsided baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and 1/2 inch up sides. Place dish in an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan; set aside.

In a bowl, beat eggs, the 6 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla until blended but not frothy. Add milk; stir well. Pour into caramel-coated dish. At once pour boiling water into baking pan to a depth of about 1 inch. Bake on center rack of oven for 40 minutes or until center of flan jiggles only slightly when dish is gently shaken.

Remove dish from water at once; cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then refrigerate (caramel liquefies as flan cools). If made ahead, cover with plastic wrap when cooled and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To serve, run a knife between flan and dish. Cover dish with a rimmed serving plate; hold plate in place and quickly invert flan out onto plate. Caramel will flow over flan. Cut into wedges; spoon caramel over each serving. Makes 6 servings.

Bastilla . . . Morocco's poultry pie

Even though bastilla gets spelled lots of ways, it has a specific meaning in Morocco: poultry pie baked not in a crust, but in crackling sheets of fila. Pigeon is a traditional filling, but more readily available chicken is also used.

Fila is also a word that has many other spellings--filo and phyllo are two. These thin sheets of pastry are used in many cuisines in Mediterranean countries and the Middle East, making complex-looking dishes--such as the Moroccan pie pictured on page 114--very easy to make.


1 broiler-fryer chicken (3 to 3 1/2 1b.), rinsed and drained

2 medium-size onions, chopped

1 large can (49 1/2 oz.) or 6 cups regular-strength chicken broth

1 cup chopped parsley

1 cinnamon stick (about 3 in. long)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

6 eggs

8 sheets fila

4 tablespoons (1/8 1b.) butter or margarine, melted

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup finely chopped blanched almonds

Powdered sugar and ground cinnamon

Chop chicken giblets and place in a 5- to 6-quart kettle; add chicken neck, chicken, onion, broth, parsley, cinnamon stick, ginger, pepper, and saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken pulls easily from bones, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Lift chicken and neck from broth and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove and discard the skin and bones, then shred the meat into bite-size pieces.

Bring broth to a boil over medium heat. Lightly beat eggs; pour slowly into broth, stirring until curds form, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine strainer placed over a bowl. Let stand until well drained; reserve broth for soup or other uses. Discard cinnamon stick.

Stack fila; keep covered with plastic wrap while you work. Brush some of the butter on bottom and sides of a deep 10-inch pie pan. Overlap 6 sheets fila in pan to cover bottom and extend 8 to 10 inches beyond edges. Brush fila with butter. Sprinkle granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon over fila; top evenly with chicken. Spread egg mixture over chicken, then sprinkle with almonds. Fold edges of fila over filling; brush top with butter. Fold remaining 2 sheets fila in half crosswise and place on pie. Tuck edges inside pan; brush top with butter.

Bake in a 425| oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Shake pan to loosen pie. Hold an unrimmed baking sheet loosely over top of pie and invert pan. Lift off pan; return pie to oven and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Invert pie onto a platter; let stand 5 minutes. Sift powdered sugar generously over top, then decorate with crisscrossing lines of ground cinnamon. Makes 8 servings.

Photo: Hard, wipe-clean cover has spiral binding so book lies open flat

Photo: 1. Shake and tilt pan to mix sugar as it begins to melt, caramelize, and turn straw-colored

Photo: 2. Hold baking dish in one hand, syrup pan in the other. Pour in caramel all at once, tilting dish quickly to distribute hot syrup evenly over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides

Photo: 3. Set caramel-coated dish in a pan. Pour custard over caramel. Don't worry if caramel cracks--this won't harm the finished product

Photo: 4. Pour boiling water into pan to a depth of about 1 inch. Hotwater bath insulates flan for even cooking as it bakes

Photo: 5. Caramel liquefies when flan cools and makes softly set custard easy to unmold; it also makes a glistening top and sweet sauce

Photo: 1. Saffron threads, cinnamon stick, and other spices season whole chicken as it simmers in kettle

Photo: 2. Pour eggs, scrambled and firmed in flavorful broth that chicken cooked in, through strainer. Drain well to keep bastilla from getting soggy

Photo: 3. Layer chicken, cooked eggs, chopped almonds in a deep pie pan lined with sheets of butter-streaked fila, arranged like spokes of a wheel

Photo: 4. Lay more fila sheets on pie and tuck edges down inside rim. Brush top with butter; you can wrap with plastic and chill up to 4 hours

Photo: 5. Sprinkle ground cinnamon in crisscross pattern over powdered sugar-dusted warm bastilla. Drop spice in small pinches or shake through a fine-tip paper cone

Photo: 6. Moroccans traditionally serve bastilla as a first course, but it also makes a hearty main dish. Serve with forks-- or Moroccan-style: plunge fingers into pastry and tear off bite-size pieces
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes; excerpt from Sunset's Easy Basic for International Cooking
Date:Oct 1, 1984
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