Tu B’Shevat begins the night of Jan. 25 and with it the practice of eating certain fruits to honor the New Year of the Trees. My favorite of these is the pomegranate, one of the seven species mentioned in the Torah.
Fresh juice and seeds are widely available now, which reduces the labor and mess of harvesting your own from a whole pomegranate. It’s that ease that inspired the recipes below. Both need time to chill.
Pomegranate Coconut Pudding is parve and its deep lavender color looks lovely garnished with pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios and a bit of coconut. Be sure to use pure coconut milk. Pomegranate Curd is decadent and versatile. Use it as a cake filling, slather it on scones or English muffins, or serve it by itself with gingersnaps or other cookies. Mix the curd with an equal amount of whipped cream for an easy mousse (garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds) or make a parfait by layering whipped cream, crumbled cookies and curd in tall glasses.
Pomegranate Coconut Pudding
14-16 oz. can coconut milk (do not use light)
4-6 oz. pomegranate juice
4 Tbs. cornstarch
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp. almond extract
chopped pistachios, grated coconut and/or pomegranate seeds (optional)
Remove lid from can of coconut milk. Stir until well blended. Pour into a large measuring cup. Add pomegranate juice until total liquid is equal to 21⁄2 cups (20 oz.). Mix well.
Heat all but 1⁄4 cup of the liquid over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Heat to just warm and adjust heat to keep warm. Mix the remaining 1⁄4 cup liquid in a medium saucepan with the cornstarch and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat until warm, stirring frequently until the solids have dissolved. Slowly pour the pomegranate and coconut milk mixture into the pot with the cornstarch and sugar, stirring continuously. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 15 minutes. The pudding should be glossy, smooth, thick and with no raw cornstarch taste.
Take off the heat and let cool a few minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and almond extract. Pour into individual serving cups. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate
until well chilled. Garnish with chopped pistachios, grated coconut and/or pomegranate seeds if desired.
Makes 2 cups
1⁄4 lb. butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
6 Tbs. pomegranate juice
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1⁄8 tsp. ground cardamom
4 eggs, beaten
1-2 drops natural red food coloring (optional)
In the top of a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl placed above a pot of simmering water, add butter, sugar, pomegranate and lemon juices and cardamom. (Keep water at a simmer, do not let the water boil or touch the bottom of the double boiler or bowl.) Stir occasionally. Once butter has melted and sugar is dissolved, mix well. Add 1 Tbs. to the eggs, stirring constantly. Repeat three times.
Slowly pour the eggs into the double boiler, stirring the juice and butter mixture constantly as you combine the two. Keep stirring constantly. Once the eggs are fully incorporated, add the optional food coloring. Keep stirring until the curd is thickened, about 20 minutes. Take off the stove and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (The curd continues to thicken as it chills.)
Note: If bits of cooked, “scrambled” eggs develop when adding the eggs to the hot ingredients, finish cooking and use the back of a spoon to push the finished curd through a strainer to remove them before chilling.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.