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In this episode, Christopher Kimball and Milk Street Cook Erika Bruce show us the secret to making perfect puffed Pita Bread at home. Milk Street Cook Catherine Smart demonstrates how to make Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan), and Milk Street Cook Rayna Jhaveri teaches us how to apply Middle Eastern flavors to salad with a recipe for Fattoush.
In addition Reem Kassis—author of “The Palestinian Table”—joins us to talk all things Palestinian cuisine and reveals a quick 30-minute dessert.
Reem Kassis' Toasted Bread and Pudding with Cream and Pistachios
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 5-10 minutes
Makes: One 9-inch/23-cm round cake
For the base:
Vegetable oil, for greasing
5 oz/150 g ready-prepared toasted bread, such as melba toast
1¼ cups (9 oz/250 g) superfine (caster) sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 oz/25g butter
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
For the topping:
9 oz/250 g mascarpone cheese (or use ricotta for a lighter version)
½ cup (4 fl oz/125ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 cup (4 oz/120 g) unsalted pistachios, coarsely ground
Raspberries, strawberries, or pomegranate seeds (optional)
1. Lightly grease (use a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil) a 9-inch/23-cm round springform pan and set aside.
2. Put the toast into a large bowl and crush with your hands into small bite-size pieces. Alternatively, pulse to a very coarse crumb in a food processor. Set aside.
3. Put the sugar, 1¼ cups (10 fl oz/300 ml) water, and lemon juice into a small, heavy pan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3–4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, add the butter and orange blossom water, and stir until the butter is melted.
4. Pour the syrup over the toast, mixing very well with a spoon, until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to the greased pan, smoothing out into an even layer, and set aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment, whip the mascarpone, heavy (double) cream, and orange blossom water together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy with stiff peaks, about 1 minute. Avoid over mixing.
6. Evenly spread out the cream mixture over the bread base, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the pistachios over the cake. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving, until the cream is set.
7. To serve, remove the cake from the springform pan and place on a cake platter (do not attempt to remove the springform pan base). If using, top with preserved blossom flowers, raspberries, strawberries or some pomegranate seeds for color.