Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baked Kataifi Custard

For those of you who requested this truly decadent dessert recipe, here it is. It's to die for. This recipe originated from Zov: Recipes and Memories from the Heart by Zov Karamardian. I have made a couple of minor modifications to the recipe.

Kataifi is shredded filo dough, which can usually be found in the frozen food section of most Mediterranean grocery stores. Traditionally, kataifi is formed into rolls that are stuffed with sugar, spices, and nuts, and then topped with syrup. This simple recipe uses a custard filling that is out of this world. Unfortunately, the baked kataifi always disappeared before I ever thought to take a photo--so no picture of this lovely dessert. Your guests will be surprised to learn that the lightly browned topping is not shredded coconut.

Pastry
8 ounces kataifi (1/2 of a 16-ounce package), thawed if frozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

Custard
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 cups of half and half
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound ricotta cheese
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of orange blossom water or orange blossom syrup (You can also use Grand Marnier as a substitute.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pull apart the strands of kataifi and using a large, sharp knife chop into 2-inch strands.
  3. Place the kataifi in a large bowl and drizzle with the melted butter, stirring to coat the kataifi completely.
  4. Place half of the mixture in the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking dish. (You can also make individual ramekins, if you prefer.)
  5. Stir together the cream, sugar, and 1 cup of half and half in a large saucepan.
  6. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1 cup of half and half and the cornstarch until smooth.
  7. Bring the cream mixture in the sauce pan to a boil, being careful not to burn.
  8. Whisk in the ricotta cheese until smooth.
  9. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
  10. Continue whisking until the custard comes to a simmer and thickens (about 2 minutes).
  11. Pour the custard into the baking dish and evenly top with the remaining kataifi.
  12. Bake until golden brown (45 minutes to an hour). If you are making individual ramekins, reduce the baking time.
  13. While the Kataifi custard is baking, make the syrup by mixing the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a heavy sauce pan. Boil about 3 minutes. Whisk down any sugar crystals and remove from the heat.
  14. Stir in the orange blossom syrup/water.

Serving: Cut the kataifi custard into squares and transfer to plates. You can garnish with chopped nuts or fresh raspberries or mandarin oranges. Drizzle a little syrup over the custard.

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