Friday, August 19, 2016

Queso Fundido Burgers

Yum.  The youngest two found these a little spices, but they liked them enough to eat them anyways. It seems strange to cook the chorizo before adding it to the burger, but it helps get rid of some of the fat in the chorizo.

Serves 5 -6, depending on the size of your burger

Queso Fundido Burgers
adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

2 fresh poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and cut into 1/4" strips (optional-I left these out so the burgers wouldn't be too spicy)

8- 12 oz Mexican chorizo, casing removed
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4" thick
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 canned chipotle in adobo, seeded and finely chopped

jalapeno jack cheese, if desired
hamburger buns
lettuce or mixed greens

Cook the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain on paper towels.  Remove excess fat from the pan.  Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 T olive oil and add the onions.  Cook the onions over medium heat until they are nicely caramelized.  This took me about 20 minutes to get a nice, tender, browned onion.  If using the poblanos, stir them in with onions once the onions are caramelized. Sprinkle with salt to taste, remove from heat, and keep warm.

Combine the cooked chorizo, ground beef, and canned chipotle in adobo in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly (but don't overly mix and compact the mixture too much).  Divide into 5 or 6 burgers, depending on the number and size of burgers desired.

Grill the hamburger over a hot charcoal or gas grill.  If using cheese, add cheese once burger is cooked and cook until cheese has melted.  Heat buns on grill, if desired.

Assemble burgers as desired--I like them with cheese, caramelized onions (and poblanos), guacamole, and lettuce or mixed greens.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rice Cooker Beans and Rice

My library books are due back in two days and there are several recipes I need to save before then.

I haven't used my rice cooker for much besides rice, however, I've heard they are great for all sorts of other cooking as well.  This is my first attempt at something in addition to rice in my rice cooker.

We loved this.  Curtis and I especially loved the addition of plantains and bacon to give it a little extra oomph.

Serves 6

Rice Cooker Black Beans and Rice
adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

1 1/2 c rice
1/4 c onion, chopped or 2 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/4"pieces
chicken broth or water
2 T olive oil
1 large black-ripe plantain, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 oz shredded meat from smoked pork shanks/hocks, or cubed ham, or bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, drained
1/4 c cilantro leaves, chopped

Put rice and chopped onions in rice cooker.  Cover rice with usual amount of chicken broth (water) for the rice cooker.  Pour in two cans of drained black beans and turn on rice cooker.  Taste broth and season with salt as desired.  Turn on rice cooker to regular and cook.

While the rice cooks, heat the olive oil in a pan over med to med-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chopped plantain and cook, until it is browned on all sides.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the bacon (if using) until crispy.  If using other meat, you don't need to do anything to it.

When the rice is done cooking, add the browned plantains and meat.  Fluff to combine and heat for 5-15 minutes.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and top with salsa or queso fresco as desired.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Skirt Steak Salad

When we were in Chicago, I took something off my bucket list.  After years of watching Mexico! One plate at a Time on PBS for many years, I made it to Rick Bayless's restaurant.  Twice.  The first meal we ate in the city was at Frontera.  The last meal we ate was also at Frontera in the Chicago airport.  When we got home, I immediately bought a Rick Bayless cookbook.

A lot of the recipes in the book are "typical" Mexican dishes--enchiladas, tortas, tacos.  I enjoyed this one because it is a salad recipe.

Serves 4 - 6

Skirt Steak Salad
adapted from Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless

8 c spinach (young or small), long stems removed (or 8 oz frisbee or escarole, cut into 2-inch sections)
2 medium large (1 lb) tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 plus 2 T olive oil
1 lb skirt steak

2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c beef broth or water
1 canned chipotle en adobo, finely chopped
1/4 c lime juice

1/3 c queso anejo, grated (or another hard cheese like Romano or Parmesan)

Put the spinach in a large bowl. Strew the tomatoes and avocados over top.  Heat 2 T olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium high heat.  Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper.  Lay in the hot oil and cook until medium-rare (or you can cook longer if you don't like meat medium-rare), about 1 to 1 1/2 on each side.

Reduce the heat to low.  Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds, until very fragrant.  Pour the broth (or water--which is what I used) in to the pan and release any browned bits.  Remove from heat and stir in the chile, lime juice, and 1/4 c olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the steak into roughly 3-inch lengths, then cut each piece across the grain into 1/4-inch strips.  Add to the bowl with the spinach.  Pour warm dressing over the top and toss to coat.  The warm dressing will help the spinach wilt a little  Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Food Cart Curry Chicken

Another wonderful, family favorite from Ruth Reichl.  This jumped immediately into our rotation as a flavorful, fast easy weeknight meal.

Serves 6

Food Cart Curry Chicken
adapted from Ruth Riechl's My Kitchen Year

1 1 /2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, sliced into rings
1/4 c olive oil
2 T lemon juice
fat 1/4 t coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T curry powder
2 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1/2 t dried), leaves removed and coarsely chopped
fat 1/4 t paprika
3/4 t cumin
1 t salt

white rice
mango pickapeppa sauce

Using an immersion blender or small food processor, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, coriander seeds, garlic, curry powder, oregano, paprika, cumin and salt to make a paste.

Put the onions and chicken pieces into a large bowl or plastic bag.  Pour the curry paste over top and coat each piece of chicken thoroughly.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight (true confession time--sometimes, this only marinades for 15 minutes, it's still great).

When you are ready to eat, heat up a wok and add 2 T vegetable, grapeseed, canola, or sunflower oil.  Add the onions and garlic to the hot wok and stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over white rice with some spicy sauce if desired (my favorite is the Mango Pickapeppa Sauce--however, that is not Curtis's favorite).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pork Tinga Tacos

Once upon a time, I made crockpot meals.  I'd put things in at noon, do kid driving/practices and end up with a tasty dinner when we all made it home.  These days, that is just a fairy tale-at least when I need make ahead meals most.  I've had challenges getting things in the crock pot before school (partly because I am too exhausted the night before) and 7 am to 4 pm is too long to leave most anything in the crockpot (at least my crockpot who's low temp works more like a high temp).

This summer though, I've made an amazing discovery.  Getting a meat dish in the crock pot in the mornings before we go to swim meets means when we return, our house is fragrant and I have supper ready.  I usually let the meal cool a bit, then put it in the fridge until supper time (reheating it right before eating).  Perfection.

It's been the summer of the taco.  We're eating tacos about once a week, mostly because they're easy, I found mixta (a mixture of corn and flour) tortillas we love, and everyone loves tacos.  It's a fix your own meal kinda meal so if I am wanting more veggies, I load more cabbage salad on mine.  The boys can skip the cabbage salad entirely and just have meat and cheese.  

This serves 6 - 8

Pork Tinga Tacos 
adapted from Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless

1 lb potatoes (red or yellow--not Russet baking potatoes), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 -2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and thinly sliced
1 T chipotle canning sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t died oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick

tortillas (corn, mixta, flour--your preference, but corn is best)
queso fresco, crumbled
avocados, flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces (avoid pit and skin)
guacamole (unnecessary if you're using avocados)

Spread the potatoes over the bottom of the slow cooker.  Cover with pork.  In a large bowl (or if you're lazy, just dump everything straight into the slow cooker), combine tomatoes, chipotles and chipotle sauce, Worcestershire, oregano, garlic, onion and 1 1/2 t salt.  Pour the mixture evenly over the meat and potatoes.  Cover and slow-cook on low for 6 hours (Know they slow cooker!  The original recipe said cook on high, but I know high for 6 hours would ruin my meat).  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

To serve, put a spoonful of pork and potatoes in the center of a heated tortilla.  Top with queso fresco, avocado chunks, salsa, guacamole or whatever else you desire.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hot Fudge Sauce (to beat all other hot fudge sauces)

We have favorite brands of products.  I am rather devoted to those which I love and often I would rather by none at all rather than a different brand.  Thus, I found myself without the promised chocolate sauce for Madeleine's birthday angel food cake.

I knew I had made Dorie Greenspan's chocolate sauce before and loved it, but this is the summer of Ruth.  I turned to my summer cookbook and found a hot fudge recipe.

After one child guest told us it must be made out of all fake things because it had corn syrup in it (someone asked how I made it), I took a deep breath and went to my happy place.  I didn't have to wait long for her (and everyone else) to get over the "fake stuff" and talk about how wonderful the sauce was.

If you make this, use the best chocolate you can.  We used our Chicago chocolate (from Blommer's--a chocolate factory who filled our Architectural boat tour with a wonderful aroma) and this sauce was amazing.  I may be hording it a bit in the fridge and hoping everyone else forgets about it so there is more to myself.  I don't think that's really possible though.

Makes about 2 cups

Hot Fudge Sauce
adapted slightly from Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year

2/3 c heavy cream
1/3 c brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cocoa powder (Dutch processed is preferable)
1/2 c light corn syrup
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (coarsely chopped or in chip form)
2 T butter
1 t instant espresso powder
1 t vanilla

Combine heavy cream, brown sugar, salt, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat.  When the mixture has reached a smooth consistency, stir in the corn syrup.  Continue to stir frequently over medium heat and add the bittersweet chocolate.  Stir constantly and bring the sauce to a near (or slow) boil.  Once the sauce is thick and rippling, stir in the butter and instant espresso powder.  Once the butter has melted and is incorporated, stir in the vanilla.  Keep warm until ready to pour on ice cream (if it's soonish) or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator until you need it.  Microwave cooled sauce briefly to heat up and soften.  Pour over ice cream or angel food cake (and berries!).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spanish Tortilla (or at least as Spanish as I get)

Some days, I leave space in my menu for an "Iron Chef" day.  I purposefully plan no meal and decide I am going to figure out something to cook just using the ingredients from my pantry/fridge.  

For this addition, I had a ton of potatoes and was hoping to avoid using meat (we have a meat heavy menu the rest of the week).  Spanish tortilla came to mind and I started googling recipes.  I decided quickly that I didn't want to make an authentic tortilla because of the amount of olive oil and flipping the entire tortilla and getting it back into the pan.  Amanda Hesser and food52 came through for me.

We topped it with salsa and we mostly liked it.  Curtis and I thought it should have Manchego with it, but that would have defeated the Iron Chef aspect (and involved a trip to the grocery store).  I had this the next morning for breakfast as well.  

Serves 4 - 6

Spanish Tortilla
adapted from Amanda Hesser at food52

2 lbs potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
8 eggs
1 t smoked paprika
1/3 c Parmesan, grated (or Manchego would be wonderful)
1 1/2 T butter

Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until they are just tender, about 20 - 25 minutes.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thin, 1/8" slices.

While potatoes are boiling, heat 1 1/2 T of olive oil in a skillet (I used my all clad skillet).  Saute the the onions with a little salt until they are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Place in a large bowl and let cool.  Preheat the oven to 400.

In a bowl, beat the eggs until they are frothy and well blended.  Set aside.

Put a layer of potato slices over the onions in the large bowl.  Make sure each slice is separate.  Pour a little egg over top and stir gently to make sure each potato slice is coated.  Repeat the process until all the potato slices have been added and each slice is coated with egg.  Gently fold in 1 t salt and smoked paprika.

In the same skillet you sauted the onions in, melt the butter and add remaining olive oil over medium heat. When butter is melted, gently pour in the egg and potato mixture.  Even out the top with a spatula and sprinkle with cheese.  Cook over medium high heat until eggs are set at the edges.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the center is set.

Remove from the oven, let cool for a bit, and invert on a plate if desired.  We took the easy way and serve it straight out of the pan (watch for the handle! It's hot).  Top with salsa with good green olives on the side, if desired.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Caramelized Vietnamese Pork

After a self-imposed cookbook moratorium for a while, I got a couple new cookbooks this spring.  I have been so thankful I did.  The first one was Ruth Riechl's My Kitchen Year.  Seriously folks, we have loved almost every recipe I've made from here (and I've made a few).

Last night, the recipe was a caramelized pork.  A brief disclaimer.  I ignored the advice Reichl gave at the bottom of the recipe which was to not double the recipe.  However, I had to.  The recipe served two and I have five hearty eaters.  My end product may not have turned out exactly like hers did, but we all still loved it.  At the end of the meal, I had multiple people telling me to make this again.

Serves 4 - 6.

Caramelized Vietnamese Pork
adapted slightly from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

2 T rice vinegar
1 t sugar
1 medium to large cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, halved and cut into half moons
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 - 2 lbs pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (easiest done if pork is at least partially frozen)
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 T sugar
1/4 c fish sauce
fresh mint, coarsely chopped (about 2-3 sprigs)
fresh basil, coarsely chopped (about 2 -3 sprigs)
chili garlic sauce or sriracha
crushed peanuts (optional)
lime wedges

cooked rice to serve 4 - 6

Pour rice vinegar in a bowl and add 1 t sugar and a pinch of salt.  Gently stir in cucumber and ginger  Allow to soak while you make the meat.

Heat a wok over medium-high to high heat.  A water droplet should dance on the surface of the wok and then disappear.  Add some grapeseed, peanut or similar oil and toss in onion and garlic.  As soon as the onion and garlic are nice and fragrant, add the pork and 2 T sugar.  Stir-fry, tossing every few minutes for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the pork has crisped into little bits (I never achieved this due to an overfull wok.  After the pork had cooked for a bit, I poured the extra juice off the bottom of the wok to give the pork a chance to brown.  I simply cooked the pork until it began to brown.  We were hungry, I was out of patience, and didn't want to burn the meat).

Take the wok off the heat and stir in fish sauce until it is absorbed.  Season with black pepper.  Remove the ginger slices from the cucumber.  Add the cucumber slices and the marinade to the pork. Stir.

Serve with rice.  Top with mint and basil (necessary for a more Vietnamese taste), chili garlic sauce if desired, lime wedges, and crushed peanuts, if desired.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Urad Dal

Summer vacation is one small week old.  It has taken me less than that week to catch up on my sleep, revel in unscheduled time, to forget how to jungle multiple events in close proximity in each other, and to flip through cookbooks excitedly because I have more than an hour to make supper and enough energy to try something different.

Summer vacation also means I am going to try to post as many recipes as possible.  I've learned this blog isn't so much for other readers as it is for me.  It's become a huge data base which has helped me immensely in meal planning.  When life gets harried in August and September, I'll probably need help remembering which recipes helped get me through this spring.

That said, there's a little bit of pressure about what recipe to post first after a three month hiatus.  Should it be one from one of my favorite new cookbooks or one that I've made all year and I just forgot to post.  I'm going for the latter--nothing terribly exciting, just delicious and comforting.

M doesn't like lentils any more.  Her comment tonight was "I feel bad for the people around the world who have to eat this all the time."  That was followed by, "You're lucky I'm hungry," which was uttered as she loaded heaping spoonfuls of rice and lentils onto her plate.  Sometimes I ignore what she likes and make what Curtis and I like.

This calls for black lentils (or urad dal).  Those are easy for me to find thanks to the close proximity of Whole Foods bulk section.  If you don't have an extensive bulk section with non traditional grains/legumes, just use regular lentils.  I'd recommend the green versus the red or brown because they tend to hold their shape better.

This serves 6 or so.

Urad Dal
adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

1 1/2 c black lentils
1/4 c butter (or ghee)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 T garam masala
4 1/2 c water or chicken broth
5 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes)
2/3 c coconut milk
2 T lime juice
1 - 2 c cilantro, chopped
rice to serve 4 - 6

1 - 2 oz crispy fried shallots (optional)
1 1/4 c coarsely shredded unsweetened coconut, the fresher the better (optional)

Melt the butter in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft, brown, and deliciously fragrant.  Add the garlic, ginger, and garam masala and cook for 4 more minutes, stirring constantly to prevent  them from scorching.  Add the black lentils, water or broth, and 1 t salt.  Bring to a boil (turning up the heat if necessary) then simmer (turning down the heat if you just turned it up) for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but still hold their shape.  You are not going for mush.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.

Serve on top of rice with a generous sprinkling of cilantro and shallots and coconut if desired.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps

Over the years I have gotten more discerning about my cookbook purchases.  I've purged old cookbooks and resisted buying ones that I was unsure that I would ever cook from.  In fact, I had decided I had enough cookbooks and could get by with the good, old internet.  Then I came across Ruth Reichl's newest cookbook/memoir, My Kitchen Year.  It was listed on several best books of 2015, so on a whim, I used my Barnes and Noble gift card to buy the book.  I figured if nothing else, it would be a good read, having enjoyed Reichl's other memoirs a great deal.

It has quickly become a trusted and true source.  I've made four or five recipes from it already and have been thrilled with all but one of them, which is pretty good success rate.  She has a mixture of vegetarian and meat based, international flavors and totally US fare.  There is equal number complicated with fancy ingredients as simple mostly pantry ingredients.   It was totally worth the buy, from both a literary (the memoir is about the year after Gourmet ceased to exist) and a cooking standpoint.

Thursdays are our current crazy days--three kids in three different directions over the same time frame.  From when Isaac leaves at 5:10 for gymnastics to 7:15 when Madeleine returns from piano, we are all over the place.  It makes a meal difficult when I arrive home from school at 4:15.  I've deemed Thursdays leftover or sandwich night.  Until this recipe came along.  I had the meal ready in less than hour and it was equally good reheated at 7:15 when kids were eating a second supper as the first time around.  Plus, it felt so special.

I found a kimchi I loved at Whole Foods.  I am sure it's not terribly authentic, but both Curtis and I love it (I love it so much I put it directly onto rice and just eat kimchi and rice).  I am thrilled to find a brand I like.  Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side/condiment.  When it is made correctly, it contains lots of helpful fermented bacteria that makes for a healthier gut (like in yogurt, sauerkraut, probiotics).  The brand I found is WildBrine.  Kimchi quickly has found itself a permanent home in my fridge.

This serves 5-6.

Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

6 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T sesame oil
3 t sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 bunch scallions, minced
1 1/2 lbs skirt or hanger steak, partially frozen and sliced thinly across the grain

1 head Boston lettuce
cooked white rice
chili garlic sauce or Sriracha
toasted sesame seeds
sliced scallions
slice onions

Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, and scallions.  Stir in the sliced steak and marinade 15 minutes to an hour (I did just 15 minutes because I was pressed for time).

Heat a wok with a bit of oil.  Drain the steak and add just the steak to the wok (discard the marinade).  Sear the meat for 3-4 minutes or until it is cooked.

To serve, take a lettuce leaf and gently lay some cooked with meat in the middle.  Top with kimchi, Sriracha, toasted sesame seeds, scallions, or sliced onions (pretty much anything you want).  Wrap the lettuce around it (John calls it tacos), and eat with your fingers if the lettuce leaf holds together.  Serve with a side of rice.  Of course, you can do as my kids did and put a little rice directly into the lettuce leaf as well.  The leaf probably won't hold together to use your fingers with it, but it's just as tasty if you eat it with a fork and knife.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Peanut Butter Pie

Sometimes, I look here for a recipe I've been making for decades and am shocked to find it missing.  This pie is one of those.

Peanut Butter Pie such as these can only be found in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the best of my knowledge.  I've inquired about them in a many a fine pie restaurant to no avail.  I've googled Peanut Butter Pie recipes and ended up with strange things that require a freezer or a mousse or a chocolate cookie crust.  Oh no.  This recipe has none of those things.

There used to the be this restaurant when I was a kid called Evers Restaurant.  It was one of those fabulous buffet only type of restaurants, with Thursday and Friday nights being seafood nights (I had my first crab legs there).  In addition to a smorgsboard of meats and starches and veggies, there was a vast assortment of pies, peanut butter pie being one of them.  Of all the dishes Evers served it is the peanut butter pie I remember (well, and those crab legs).

Years later, I worked at a summer camp, whose one of many specialities was peanut butter pie.  Since they served 100 kids plus 20 counselors and additional staff, the pie wasn't make in traditional form.  It was more of a peanut butter pudding (think banana pudding).  It was served out of a large (18" x 24") pan.  The peanut butter crumbs were on the bottom, followed by vanilla pudding, whipped cream and more peanut butter crumbs.  I remember distinctly sitting in the staff kitchen with my friend, Chad, and eating peanut butter pie (even though it wasn't really a pie, that's what we called it) straight out of the industrial sized pan.  Do I need to tell you I gained a bit of weight that summer?  That pie was good.

Peanut butter pie has become our pi day staple.  On March 13, I usually look at Curtis and ask him if he knows what the next day is.  He usually grins and says, "Peanut Butter Pie."  It's a Novinger family tradition.  

There are two ways to make this recipe--one with instant everything which makes this pie a snap to make.  I tend to take the long way because it just tastes so much better.  However you make it, there's no judgement here.   It just needs to be made.

Happy Pi Day!

Peanut Butter Pie
Yields 1 pie
adapted from various sources (Melissa Clark's pie crust and the Shank cookbooks peanut butter crumbles and pudding)

Your favorite pie crust (I use the one on this blog)

Peanut Butter Crumbles
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter

Vanilla Pudding (or use a package of pudding--follow directions for pies)
3 1/2 c milk + 1 c milk
1 c sugar
1/2 t salt
3 T cornstarch
6 T flour
6 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 T butter
2 t vanilla

Whipped Cream (homemade or store bought)

Bake the pie crust.  For my usual crust, I bake it at 375 with foil and pie weights inside it for 20 minutes.  Then I remove the foil, etc and bake an additional 10 minutes to crisp and lightly brown it.  Cool crust.

Mix together the powdered sugar and peanut butter.  Put 2/3 of the mixture into the empty baked pie crust.  Set aside.

Make the pudding:  Heat 3 1/2 c milk to boiling.  While the milk heats, combine the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and flour.  Pour the additional cup of milk into the sugar mixture and stir to create a slurry.  Pour the milk and sugar mixture into the boiling milk.  Return to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Pour one cup of the hot milk mixture slowly into the egg yolks, beating constantly while pouring.  Pour back into milk mixture, stirring constantly.  Return to heat and boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and immediately add butter and vanilla.   Pour into peanut butter crumble lined pie crust.  Cool in the refrigerator until the pudding is chilled throughout.

Spread whipped cream evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining peanut butter crumbles over the top of the pie.  Eat immediately.  Refrigerate any improbable leftovers for a wonderful next day breakfast.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chocolate Cake Fixings

I've been making my mom's chocolate cake recipe for years.  I don't believe the recipe is here, but I know exactly where it is, so I never have a hard time finding it to making it.

However, as time as gone by, I've played with the icing and filling.  Since I don't make cakes on a regular basis (and even less now that I am teaching), I wanted to put my filling/frosting options in the same place.  This will prevent me leafing carefully through my binder of recipes that I've gleamed from online, cooking magazines, and who knows where else.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Filling (for between chocolate cake layers)
(for a three layer cake)
from Food and Wine magazine

1 t unflavored gelatin
1 T water
1 c chilled heavy cream
1/4 c coffee or coffee liqueur
4 large egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl (this is not the bowl you will end up using for the filling), use a handheld mixer to whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Refrigerate until chilled or until you ready for it. (at least 10 minutes)

In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the coffee liqueur until hot.  Stir in the softened gelatin until it is dissolved.

In a second medium bowl (this bowl will contain the finished mousse), beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until a ribbon forms (it should be pale and thickened), about 5 minutes.  While beating the yolks, gradually add the gelatin mixture.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.

Peanut Butter Frosting
(enough for 1 1/2 doz cupcakes or the filling of a three layer cake)
from Ina Garten

1 c confectioners sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter
5 T butter, at room temperature
3/4 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/3 c heavy cream

Put the confectioners sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-low speed using an electric mixture until creamy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Long Lost Brussels Sprouts Salad

Years ago I used to make this recipe.  Repeatedly.  I loved this recipe and it reminded how versatile the maligned, to frequently overcooked brussels sprout was.  Then the recipe was gone.

A year had passed since I made it and I could not remember where the recipe was located.  I scoured by cookbooks and my frequently used food blogs.  I goggled it countless times to no avail.  The recipe I remembered had disappeared.

On a whim yesterday, I goggled brussels sprouts salad.  I remembered it was simple, had nuts, and cheese in it.  That was all.

There it was--on the second page of my goggle search my missing recipe, gone for five years, at least, waited for me.  I recognized the blog name--not one I frequented, but one I had found a few good recipes from.

I do not want to lose this recipe another five years.  It's too good.  It's too simple.  I made this in the fifteen it took me to sear my kofta.

Long Lost Brussels Sprouts Salad
serves 4- 8, depending on how much people love brussels sprouts

1 stalk of brussels sprouts (approximately 24 or maybe a lb), shredded (I use my food processor blade)
1/2 c Parmesan, grated (the good stuff here, folks.  As in the stuff that comes in a wedge, not in a can)
1 c toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
9 T olive oil (again, the good stuff)
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the shredded Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the grated cheese and toasted walnuts.  In a small jar, vigorously shake the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over the salad and toss to coat all the Brussels sprouts.  If you feel like the salad needs more dressing, make more dressing and coat to the desired amount.

Will keep a day or two max, but it really will be eaten before then.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter Veggie Tempura

I discovered a problem with my current cooking system.  Due to my working girl schedule these days, I no longer spend as much time looking through cookbooks as I once did.  I find myself making the same meals over and over--mostly just using this blog and my pinterest boards for menu planning.

Thus, I am back to adding some new recipes to the blog, in hopes of mixing up the menu planning a bit.

Of course, my cooking boyfriend, Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for veggie tempura is my return to blogging recipe.  It's what's for supper tonight.

Winter Veggie Tempura
adapted a bit from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Dipping Sauce
6 cardamom pods
grated zest and juice of 4 limes (about 1/3 c lime juice)
1 fresh green chile (optional)
2 3/4 c cilantro, leaves and tender, thin stalks
1 T sugar
4 T sunflower oil
1/2 t salt
2 T water

approximately 2 3/4 lb winter veggies:  our favorites are:

  1. leeks, white part sliced 1/4" thick
  2. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
  3. broccoli, divided into medium florets (cauliflower would be good too)
  4. carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8" sticks
1/2 c cornstarch (plus possibly some extra)
1/2 c self rising flour (to make use 1/2 c regular plus a fat 1/2 t baking powder and small pinch of salt)
3/4 c seltzer or sparkling water
2 t grapeseed oil
3 C sunflower oil (for frying)

cooked udon noodles

To make the sauce, break the cardamom pods using the flat side of large, heavy knife.  Discard the pods and put the seeds in a food processor.  Add the remaining dipping sauce ingredients and blitz to get a smooth, runny sauce (you could also create the sauce using an immersion blender).

Mix the 1/2 c cornstarch, flour, seltzer, and grapeseed oil, along with 1/4 t salt in a bowl.  Whisk well to get a smooth runny mix.  On a dinner plate, sprinkle some additional cornstarch for coating the veggies.  

Pour the 3 c sunflower into a heavy saucepan or black skillet (I fry everything in my black skillet).  Place over high heat until oil is hot and then reduce heat to medium.    If you are unsure if the oil is hot enough, test the temperature using a candy thermometer.  The thermometer should register between 325-375 degrees.  

Toss each vegetable in the cornstarch.  Shake to remove any excess cornstarch and then dip into seltzer water batter.  Shake gently and then carefully ease the veggies into the oil (a few pieces of at a time--don't overcrowd the pan).  As the veggies fry, gently turn them over to fry evenly.  Leeks will take only about a minute.  Sweet potatoes would take 2 or more minutes.  Once they are cooked transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Serve on rice or over udon noodles (our favorite).  Steamed veggies on the side are also a good counter balance to the tempura veggies as well.