Magazine article Working Mother

Thankfully Simple

Magazine article Working Mother

Thankfully Simple

Article excerpt

BETH HENSPERGER, a San Francisco Bay Area caterer and author of 18 cookbooks, has turned her do-ahead expertise into The Gourmet Potluck. Full of recipes that appeal to kids and grown-ups, it's a handy resource for busy moms who are asked to bring a dish.

Sweet Potato Apple Torta



Wonderfully simple, this show-stopping dish has a surprise kids will enjoy: apples and cheese layered between the potatoes. Reheat leftovers for a neat day-after treat.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus a sprig for garnish

3 or 4 thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts (½ cup)

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon flour

½ teaspoon sugar

¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Pepper to taste

3 sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds), peeled and sliced 1/8 -inch thick, widthwise or lengthwise

1 large tart green apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled and thinly sliced

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Brush some of the melted butter inside a 9-inch round springform or cake pan. Place thyme sprig in center of buttered pan. If using springform pan, wrap outside with heavy-duty foil to prevent leaking. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. In a bowl, combine chopped thyme, scallions, Parmesan, flour, sugar, salt and pepper.

3. In buttered pan, arrange a single layer of sweet potato slices in concentric circles, overlapping slightly, without disturbing thyme garnish in center of pan. (When torta is unmolded, this layer will be on top.) Next, layer half the apple slices, then sprinkle on half the Parmesan mixture and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

4. Use half the remaining sweet potatoes to make next layer, then top with remaining apple slices and remaining Parmesan mixture and drizzle with some butter. Finish with remaining sweet potatoes. Drizzle with remaining butter. Press down gently to flatten.

5. Cover pan with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

6. Let hot torta sit 5 minutes before unmolding To serve, invert onto platterand cut into wedges.

NOTE: You can make this dish a day ahead if traveling, bring it in the pan, reheat and then unmold.

Cookbook of the Month. The Gourmet Potluck: Show-Stopping Recipes for the Buffet Table, by Beth Hensperger © 2006. Reprinted by permission of Ten Speed Press.

Baked Saffron Rice With Almonds and Golden Raisins


Rice is always nice, but rice with almonds and raisins is even nicer. Make this dish up to three hours ahead and serve with leftover turkey for an easy dinner a day or two after the holiday.

5 cups chicken broth or water

Generous pinch saffron threads

1 cup golden raisins

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped

3 cups basmati, long-grain white or converted rice

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat broth to boiling in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add saffron and raisins, and set aside.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add almonds and cook carefully, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

3. Add remaining 6 tablespoons butter to skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir 2 or 3 minutes to coat with butter. Transfer rice to shallow 4-quart casserole and stir in broth mixture, almonds, salt and pepper. Cover tightly with lid or heavy-duty foil. Bake in center of oven until all liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour.

4. Remove cover, fluff with fork and serve warm or at room temperature. …

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