Pecan Pie – necessary for Thanksgiving

In my family, you always got what you wanted for your birthday meal. That included dessert. In my case it was tacos with corn tortillas and all the fixing and then … guess it, and it makes to no sense at all – pecan pie. I think I might have been a very strange person when you get right down to it. Yeah, I was, and still am, strange. But at this point in life I really do not care anymore.

D&D_2326I have made the recipe for at least five years and possibly more, but I like the idea of making the custard on the stovetop before filling the crust. It is a little bit of extra security in making a pie. The custard is half way there and then you bake – lovely when it is all said and done. And there is the other requirement – the Boy always wants this for Thanksgiving and to be honest, I cannot blame him, because I do too.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted – Renfroes
1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in the pie plate for 30 minutes*

Adjust oven rack to second-lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a sauce pan, heat syrup, brown sugar, cream, and molasses oven medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and salt and then whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.

Take pie pan out of the fridge and put the pecans in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and place in oven, but immediately reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center is slightly jiggly, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Cool pie on a cooling rack for at least and hour and then set in the fridge for at least 3 hours more, but a day would be better. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

D&D_2342This is lovely gooey in a non cloying way – I think it is the lack of corn syrup. Maple and molasses bring so much depth to the pie. Really do not think I will ever do anything else but this.

*Used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and it worked really well (need to figure out what to do with the other one, hm?). Just make sure you put it in a glass pie pan (Anchor) and put it in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Makes a difference. Oh, and do chill it for 30 minutes. Again, makes a difference.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country or whatever – why do they need two names after all. It is just confusing. At least to my little blonde self.

22 November 2017

Tomato Soup

I am hard pressed to think of a tomato soup I won’t at least try^. It is my favorite kind of soup to make, granted I prefer a bisque and in my mind, most bisques do fine with out the cream. Somehow when you get to the point of adding cream, I taste the soup, and it does not seem necessary. Also, this makes reheating a little less precarious.D&D_2185

2 Tbs olive oil
3 small yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried basil
32 ozs water with about a heaping tsp of Better than Bouillon* (veg)- heated
2 – 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes with the juice
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

garnish – chives? parsley? scallions? chevre? croutons? grilled cheese croutons?

In a large pot heat olive oil. Add onions and cook until soft, add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until soft, but not browned. Add dried herbs and stir for 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes with juice and crush the tomatoes with a potato masher. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce to low, add sun-dried tomatoes and simmer 30 minutes. Let cool briefly, add balsamic vinegar, and then purée with an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. A little swirl of good olive oil can be very nice.

Garnish with chives and cheese toasts. Or what ever floats your boat.

Serves 6 (I really think more than that)

^Exception – any tomato based soup with meat in it. I am a real vegetarian when it comes to soup – just don’t like the texture of meat in a soup. Blech.

*This stuff keeps forever the fridge. Thanks America’s Test Kitchen for the recommendation.

Well, this soup seemed to be made just in time. The Boy had a head cold with a sore throat and this was just the thing for him. It also made plenty enough that I could take two meals worth to the office. It became my favorite lunch hack of October I think. I made a blue cheese/cheddar toast to put into the soup at work and it was really very good.

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Tomato Soup Lunch Hack

Next time, I’ll see if someone would like to split it with me, because it is quite a lot for just me and The Boy. But sharing is always a good thing, I think.

I think my only problem were the tomato seeds – maybe I should press it through a fine mesh strainer next time. We’ll see. There are so many other tomato soup recipes to try, it might be a while till I get back to this one. But it will definitely stay in the rotation, especially since it can be made any time of year – yeah – canned tomatoes!

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

I am adjusting this recipe to fit with the things that work with the “Best Reuben Sandwich” from America’s Test Kitchen. Like making your own “dressing” which includes the mayo, sour cream, and chili sauce. Also using Boar’s Head sauerkraut and draining some sweet relish – though I will not go so far as to chop up my own sweet gerkins. Makes no sense. D&D_1861

I had to order the bread bowl from the Publix a day ahead of time, so consider that in your planning. I think a Rye boule would work equally well if you are so inclined.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chili sauce
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup drained sauerkraut -Boar’s Head
3 tablespoons sweet relish, drained very well
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup diced cooked corned beef – Boar’s Head from the deli @ the Publix
salt and pepper
1 large (1#) pumpernickel boule, top sliced off and center hollowed out

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, chili sauce, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and relish into a large mixing bowl and stir together until completely combined. Fold in cheeses and corned beef until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper and stir together. Scoop mixture and place into the hollowed bread bowl and place onto a baking sheet.

Place dip in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until dip is hot and baked through. Serve immediately with bread bowl by making slices of the bread into the dip – really good. Yep.

Source: Spoon Fork Bacon with some America’s Test Kitchen influence.

15 April 2017 – For Easter this year. Used my super amazing tomato knife* to slice through the bread to make bites and it worked really well.

* Victorinox 125th anniversary limited edition 4 1/2″ tomato knife. Sharpest damn thing ever – mind your fingers. So not kidding.

Reuben Roll Ups

I do love a good reuben. I think my favorite recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country. I find that I have not posted that here – an oversight I will have to remedy. But the flavors of a Reuben are some of my favorites. I make a Reuben casserole that is just – I will say it again – stupidly good. It is not exactly pretty food (no, really, it is not), but if you like a Reuben, it is pretty amazing. And the left-overs are, well, let’s just say they are better than the day you make it. I guess I make this in the early spring because it is still cool enough that a casserole works, and it seems to fit with St. Patrick’s Day – I mean, corned beef after all. Again, I have taken lessons from America’s Test Kitchen’s Reuben sandwich – read: no bottled thousand island dressing is involved.dd_1801

I am not typically a fan of crescent rolls, but it seemed to work here. Maybe allowances can be made? We shall see.

1 package of crescent rolls
4 ozs corned beef
4 ozs Swiss cheese
1 cup Boar’s Head sauerkraut*, drained and squeezed dry
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs chili sauce
2 Tbs sweet pickle relish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the crescents. On each roll, place 1 Tbs sauce, 1/2 oz corned beef, 1/2 oz Swiss cheese, and 2 Tbs sauerkraut. Roll up and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 13 – 15 minutes or until slightly browned.

Serve with extra sauce because that just makes it a lot better.
Modified from : spendwithpennies.com.reuben-roll-ups/

*My go to sauerkraut. Always.



Thermopen

This was a bit of a splurge but it has been so well worth it.  I first saw this instant-read thermometer on America’s Test Kitchen and did not order it at first because the price put me off. I had a little thermometer that I really kind of liked and it worked just fine, but it was a bit pokey in indicating temperature and kind of meh, but it was ATK best buy and I did get along with that for several years.  So when America’s Test Kitchen sent an email that they were giving a discount on their “most trusted” Thermopen, I just had to go for it.

And I am glad I did. I am beyond thrilled with my Thermopen. No kidding. It is great for casseroles and even better for meat temperatures.D&D_0320But it is best for me for pound cakes. I know the skewer thing works, but this makes me feel so much better.

Nothing worse than slicing into a pound cake and finding out it is a bit raw inside. Blech. Yeah really blech.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Bars

So when I buy buttermilk to bake something I try to find other things to make with what is left. I know, I know, you can freeze leftover buttermilk, but I never seem to do it.

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Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

 

It is funny I do not remember my mom making anything with buttermilk – really nothing. Not even biscuits and that is strange for a Southern woman. I do not have it on hand all the time, but most of the time.

Most recently, I have used buttermilk in Savory Herb Muffins and in Basil Sun-Dried Tomato Mozzarella Bread, and of course, Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze which was the original intent of the buttermilk purchase. And now another recipe with just a bit of buttermilk in it.

In the grand scheme of things, it is kind of a test. What can you do with it, and make it different. Not just cake or biscuits or whatever – try to make a variety of things. I am sure the next time I have buttermilk (like now) homemade ranch dressing will be in my future as is often the case in the spring. And that always means spinach and mushroom quiche. One of my favorite things ever and a recipe I have had since before the boy was born – way before.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped pecans (Renfroe’s, of course)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 inch baking pan*, spray with baking spray and line with parchment and spray again.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. In a small bowl, crack egg, add canola oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add flour a little at a time. Stir in chocolate and pecans.

Spread dough, it will be thick, into pan making sure to get dough all the way into the corners. Bake 30 – 35 minutes until center is set and the edges are golden. Cool bars in pan and the cut into bite-sized pieces with a plastic knife because you do not want to jack up the pan with a metal knife.

Source: Baking Bites – one of my favorite baking sites. Must, at some point, figure out how many recipes that I have used from this site. I think there will be several.

* Love William-Sonoma Gold Touch Pans – they really are the best. Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for showing me how amazing these pans are. They really live up to all the hype.

Spiced Kumquat Chutney

So my lovely mother-in-law gave me a nice bag of kumquats and I had no earthly idea what to do D&D_1043with them until I saw a Bon Appetite article for citrus you don’t use but you should. Lots of citrus ideas of lots of citrus I have no access to, but I do have a bag of kumquats. So let’s get to it.

12 ozs kumquats, quartered lengthwise and seeded (who knew from seeds?)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 shallot, minced
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 star anise in cheese cloth to be removed later – or just fished out. That’s what I did.

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Boil until kumquat skins are tinder and mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove star anise. Transfer to a bowl until cool. Cover and store (in a mason jar) in the refrigerator. Can be kept for two weeks.

D&D_1171Notes: I really like this, but the cloves are a bit strong. Next winter I may leave that out. Even though kumquats grew around me all the time as a kid, I’ve never really bothered with them. Do hope to get a nice supply next winter. Always hopeful.

On an aside: star anise is one of those spices I keep whole and don’t get to use often. But it is nice to have when you need it. I also keep whole nutmeg. There is nothing better – those things last for damn near ever. Just use a microplane grater on it. Thank you AB – but I had a few of these before I ever “met” you.  And on the recommendation of America’s Test Kitchen I keep fresh peeled ginger in a jar of sherry in the fridge.  Fresh ginger any time you want it.

All the thing you learn as you get on in cooking. Excellent.