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Easy tarts hit Halloween mark

These Pumpkin Tarts approach perfection for an easy Halloween dessert. You don't even have to cook the filling, and the phyllo crusts are a snap to make.

The only thing you have to remember when working with phyllo sheets is to follow the directions on the box very carefully.

You will find phyllo in the freezer case of your market, and it should be defrosted in your refrigerator the night before you plan to use it.

Remove the phyllo from the refrigerator three to four hours before you plan to make the tart shells and keep the sheets covered with a damp towel while you are working with them to keep the unused phyllo sheets from drying out.

If you don't want to bother with the tart shells, serve the pumpkin filling in sherbet glasses.

Lighter dumplings

Question: I found this recipe in the paper and was wondering if you could reduce the fat in the dough. Thank you. _ Mildred Lubbers, Westmont, Ill.

Answer: These noodle-textured dumplings are delicious, especially when served immediately after making them.

I decreased the fat and I was also able to decrease the sugar by using red Delicious apples, which are naturally sweeter.

Jeanne Jones is a consultant on menu planning, recipes and new-product development for major hotels and spas. She is also the author of 18 cookbooks.

Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, the Times, P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, CA 92038.

Boiled Apple Dumplings

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

cup solid vegetable shortening

cup plus 1 teaspoon water (approximately)

9 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1{ cups peeled, cored and sliced apple (about large)

3 cups milk

Stir flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut in shortening until dough resembles coarse meal. Add water slowly until dough comes together. Roll out on a floured board to a 12x18-inch rectangle and cut into six 6-inch squares.

Combine sugar and cinnamon until well-mixed. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar mixture onto each dough square. Add about \ cup apple slices to the center of each square and fold in edges of dough to the center, pinching the seams to seal.

Drop in gently boiling water, cover and simmer 35 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the dough comes out clean. Serve in a bowl with { cup milk and 1 tablespoon sugar mixture sprinkled over the top. Makes 6 servings.

"Delicious" Apple Dumplings

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

\ teaspoon salt

{ cup of stick corn-oil margarine

cup ice water (approximately)

5 tablespoons plus 1{ teaspoons sugar

1{ teaspoons ground cinnamon

} pound (about 2 medium) red Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (1{ cups)

3 cups low-fat milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. With a fork, cut in margarine until dough resembles coarse meal. Stir in water slowly until dough comes together.

Roll dough out on a floured board to a 12x18-inch rectangle; cut into six 6-inch squares. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons sugar mixture.

Pile \ cup apple slices in center of each square and fold up edges to the center, pinching the seams to seal. Drop dumplings into gently boiling water, cover, and simmer 45 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick inserted into the dough comes out clean. Serve in a bowl with { cup milk and 1 teaspoon sugar mixture sprinkled over the top. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: original recipe, 586 calories, 17 mg cholesterol, 30 gm fat, 457 mg sodium. Revised recipe, 473 calories, 9 mg cholesterol, 19 gm fat, 343 mg sodium.

Pumpkin Tarts

Filling:

2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin

2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese

\ cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

\ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Shells:

8 sheets phyllo dough

Ground cinnamon

Non-stick vegetable spray

Combine all filling ingredients in a food processor with a metal blade and blend until satin-smooth. Refrigerate covered several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Trim the edge off 8 sheets of phyllo dough to form a square, discarding the remnants. Quarter the resulting square to form 4 piles of 8 sheets of phyllo dough; you now have 24 smaller squares. Place 1 square of phyllo dough on the counter, spray with non-stick vegetable spray and dust lightly with cinnamon. Place a second square on top of the first square, fanning the squares so that all corners are separated from those that have come before. Continue in this way until you have built-up 4 layers; this is one "tart shell." Repeat to create 8 tart shells.

Spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick vegetable spray. Arrange eight {-cup ramekins or custard cups, inverted, on top of the baking sheets and spray each ramekin with non-stick vegetable spray. Place one tart shell on top of each inverted ramekin. Press down onto sides of cup. (Note: Be sure edges of dough do not overlap or touch, as this will cause them to stick and break when you remove them from the ramekins after baking.)

Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, cool slightly and lift each phyllo shell off the cup, placing it right-side-up on a serving dish or individual plates. Spoon or pipe { cup pumpkin filling mixture into each tart shell. Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains approximately 197 calories, 19 mg cholesterol; 5 gm fat; 156 mg sodium.

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