Butterscotch Pudding – Gourmet

D&D_1886I love homemade pudding and it really could not be much easier if you get right down to it. There are two schools of thought to this – the egg yolk version or the cornstarch version. They both have the merits and to be honest, I am not sure I have a preference excepting that the egg version can leave you with some egg bits in it and that is never good eats.

1/2 packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbs plus 2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently, then boil, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, then cover surface with buttered wax paper and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.

2 June 2017 – just trying to be normal for a little while, but this is a difficult time for me. I am not sure it is working at all. Nope, not likely. But the pudding is pretty damn good. At least the best that I can expect.

Yes, while I am posting this in August, my June was quite difficult.  We will say lupus and be done with it.

Oh, I totally forgot, I made little mini cups of pudding for the office and I could not keep myself away from them … but I did my best and I think the rest of the office enjoyed them. At least I hoped so.

D&D_1905

Tomato Bisque

D&D_1907It is funny, or maybe just odd, that I do not like raw tomatoes, only cooked ones. Tomato sauce, yes, tomato bisque – absolutely. Sliced tomato on something – I’ll pass. Tomato bisque is a soup weakness for me. Another odd thing, I only like vegetarian soups. Not sure why that is, but it is a thing for me. I think it because when there is a protein in a soup, it is likely to get over cooked – at least to my taste. I might also be that I just prefer to make vegetarian soups – in this instance meat just seems to get in the way.

Growing up I do not remember a lot of homemade soups with the exception of homemade vegetable soup which I was never a huge fan of – my mom would put all kinds of veg in that I just didn’t care for – yes, lima beans. But if we had any tomato soup it was from a can. That’s not terrible, but making decent tomato soup is so easy and takes less than an hour, I just don’t see any reason not to make it from scratch especially when you have most of the things on hand to start with.

This is a cream soup, but to my mind it is a bisque but I realized that I really had never looked up the definition of a bisque. So here it is. Not what I was expecting to be honest.

Bisque – A thick rich soup usually consisting of puréed seafood (sometimes fowl or vegetables) and cream. p.57 Food Lover’s Companion 

Adapted from this Creamy Tomato Soup recipe in Bon Appetit via alexandracooks.com and modified by me, because I am, after all, me. Yep, that is what I do.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 sprigs thyme
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely grate Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chicago Italian bread

Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic and add salt to help soften everything. Cook until onion is completely soft. Add tomato paste and increase heat to medium and cook until pasta starts to darken in color and you can smell it.

Add tomatoes with juices from the can – you can crush the tomatoes with your hands or with a potato masher – and 4 cups water to the pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces, 45 minutes or so. Remove soup from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Purée soup with an immersion blender.

Reduce heat to low and stir in ¼ cup cream – let simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed – salt, freshly cracked black pepper, more cream. Simmer 10 more minutes and taste again.

I think this time I am going to make little cheese toasts with Parmigiano Reggiano on sliced Chicago Italian and add a little swirl of 14 year old sherry vinegar.

8 June 2017

Chocolate Guinness Cake – Nigella

I cannot help myself, but I really like Nigella. I know people get weird about the “domestic goddess” thing, but she has always seemed like my kind of cook – do not take it too seriously and have a good time, and that is what I really try to do.

I have her cookbooks “How to Eat,” and “How to be a domestic goddess.” Oh, and “Nigella Summer.” I would love to have such a cool name. When you have a name that many people have – my name, it is kind of annoying. Thankfully my mom was ahead of the curve. There were no other Jennifers in my classes, but lord help you if you were a few years younger than me, there were Jennifers aplenty. Sometimes it helps to be in the forefront of a popular name. And then it is still kind of a thing that I would like a unique name. I guess that is why Jj works for me.

D&D_1945I am always looking for the ultimate version of a Guinness cake, so let’s see how this one stacks up to the other I made last year. I know it is not strictly the Guinness time of year (March), but I don’t really care. It’s what I want to make so it is what shall be made.

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9″ springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place on wire rack and cool completely in pan.

Break up any lumps in confectioners’ sugar – I sift. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on platter. Ice top of cake only to resemble a pint of Guinness. Because that is just really cool.

Quaker Oatmeal Raisin (Walnut) Cookies

I am a total sucker for oatmeal/raisin/walnut cookies in just about any form imaginable. I am not sure why that is, because I do not remember eating loads of these as a kid and don’t remember my mom making them either. I guess it’s one of the strangely good combinations that as an adult I prefer over, say, chocolate chip or something.D&D_2006

It also does not hurt that somehow I think these cookies must be good for you. You know, oats are good for your heart, nuts are good for you, and raisins and just plain tasty. I eat these for breakfast and can feel really good about it. That might just be the best part of all. And it’s all total bullshit, but I can just about convince myself that it works. Yep, I can.

14 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 cup raisins + a little more
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts + a little more

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, and mix, then add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and then oats and mix well to combine. Stir in raisins and walnuts.

Using a cookie scoop (#30), scoop dough onto baking sheet and flatten them a bit. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool 1 minute on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

source: Quaker Oats Company

Andouille in a Blanket … w/ mustard chutney

I just had to make this because I and the MotH love andouille. I mean, honestly, who does not love it? I guess, well, no one. Andouille, originally a French sausage, is best know in the US as its Louisiana cousin. The best andouille, in my opinion, is from the area in and around Lafayette Louisiana. That is also where the best boudin comes from, but that is a whole other post.

This is like the grown up version of pigs in a blanket. And can we just gild the lily with a chutney mustard sauce. So … I shall say it again … stupidly good. This made a great dinner for us one Saturday night as we had had a late lunch and only needed a little snack, but it was a damn tasty snack. D&D_1979

7 ounces all-butter puff pastry, thawed and cut into four 5-inch squares
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
4 andouille sausages (3 ounces each)
1/4 cup Major Grey’s chutney*
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the center. Arrange the puff pastry squares on a work surface and brush the top edges with the egg wash. Place the sausages on the bottom edges and roll up the pastry, pressing the edges to seal. Freeze the logs for 10 minutes, or until firm.

Cut the logs into 1/2-inch slices and place them cut side up in 3 mini muffin pans. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Turn out onto a paper towel-lined rack to cool.

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the chutney and mustard just until the chutney is chopped. Spoon a dollop of the chutney mustard on each slice and serve.

MAKE AHEAD: The unbaked sliced rounds can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw before baking.

* really looked into making chutney for this, but honest to the lord there are just too many pieces parts to make for something that would just be easier to purchase. Yes, this is woosing out, but sometimes it just makes more sense to buy versus make. In this case, this was a win – all the way around.

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins

I love savory muffins, the kind of thing you can eat for breakfast or brunch, slathered in Kerrygold butter, and still feel reasonably good about eating because, you know, hey! a vegetable is involved. I guess it just how you rationalize things, or at least it is how I do.

Now my problem becomes, what to do with this recipe, because I was just so amazingly underwhelmed by it. I hate it when that happens, but there it is. This was meh. I certainly did not take them in to the test kitchen and didn’t even take pictures because they just weren’t worth it.

That said, here is what they are, for lack of anything else, a warning not to go there.  

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup scant cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4.6 ounces grated zucchini, pressed mostly dry
3.5 ounces extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated,lg holes of box grater
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped

Preheat the oven to C 325 degrees and line muffin pan with foil liners.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and set aside.

Whisk the milk, egg, and oil together in a measuring cup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Stir in the zucchini, cheddar cheese, scallions, and thyme with my best spatulas Get it Right. Love them.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin with acookie scoop, about 3/4 full and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are just golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool ten minutes in the pan then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

I have to say, I was not happy with this recipe. I’m not sure what I did wrong. But these had no color – they looked anemic. And to be honest, there wasn’t that much in the way of taste to make up for the blah looks either.

Source: Would just rather not say.

Dulce de Leche Krispies

I have always loved rice krispie treats. They taste amazing and are dead simple. My mom always made them around the holidays – I really do not remember them any other time to be honest, but I will make the when ever the mood strikes.  And make them you should because the store bought ones are vile.

The first time I made a mistake with rice krispie treats, it turned out to be an excellent depth to the general recipe on the box. I let the butter brown just a little bit – wow – that made a different.

So the next time, I did the same thing and then added some vanilla to the mix. Even better.

And then I did all of the above and salted them with crushed Maldon salt* and it was stunning.

I think this idea also will work for me. I am a huge fan of dulce de leche – so much that I will purchase dulce de leche ice cream and I am really not a fan of ice cream in general. That should be impressive. It is to me.D&D_1917

I got this recipe from Food & Wine magazine online and just had to give it a go. The author, Marcia Kiesel, switches out the marshmallows for the dulce de leche. The addition of nuts is also an interesting twist. I think that will inspire me to try different nuts – salted pistachios perhaps – in the future just so see how it works.

2 dozen krispies

3/4 cup crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
3 1/2 ounces blanched sliced almonds
5 tablespoons dulce de leche at room temperature, plus more for topping
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the rice cereal with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Spread the oiled rice cereal in an even layer on a large nonstick rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the rice cereal is very crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

In a the same large bowl, mix the sliced almonds with the toasted rice cereal. Using a rubber spatula, blend in the 5 tablespoons of dulce de leche and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil, stirring well to coat the rice cereal and almonds thoroughly.

Line nonstick rimmed baking sheets with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the rice-almond mixture onto the pan and gently flatten them into 2 1/2-inch-wide disks. Lightly sprinkle the krispies with salt. Bake them until they are lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

Let the krispies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute. Carefully transfer them to a platter to cool completely. Dollop each one with 1/4 teaspoon of the remaining dulce de leche and serve.

The krispies can be stored in an airtight container overnight. Guessing they won’t last much longer than that.

Source: Food & Wine

9 June 2017 – The Boy really liked them and they went over well in the test kitchen.

 

Mushroom & Fontina Crostini 

I know toasts are a thing, but I made this because the flavors sounded so good, and I had thyme for the Tomato Bisque recipe and a I had Fontina cheese in the fridge. Fontina is one of my all time favorite cheeses – so melty and smooth. Any time it is on sale at the Publix I pick some up. It never ever goes to waste. Sometimes I just slice some up with apples and eat it. It is the simple things.D&D_1919

Bread halved diagonally *
Olive oil, divided
1 lb crimini mushrooms
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, minced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme 
3 Tbs water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound Fontina cheese, coarsely shredded, about 1 cup
1 Tbs chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Arrange bread on baking sheet and drizzle with 3 Tbs olive oil, but do not go overboard with the olive oil. Toast for 8* minutes until slightly golden around the edges.   Remove from oven. Turn broiler on low.

Thinly slice mushrooms. In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat until lightly bubbling , 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil and the mushrooms and cook undisturbed until the mushrooms are browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme, lower the heat and cook until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, the cook 3 minutes longer to dry off liquid. Taste and then season with salt** and pepper and remove from heat.

Spoon mushroom mixture over toasts and sprinkle cheese on top. Broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Transfer crostini to a platter, sprinkle with parsley and serve. 

* Figure out actual timing depending on bread type selected. Used Chicago Italian bread, drizzled with olive oil and toasted 8 – 10 minutes. Just keep a close eye on it. 

**Didn’t need salt, but added freshly squeezed lime juice.

Used Italian Fontina. Next time, I plan to use thyme to top the toast since I already use it in the mushrooms. I like that little lemon note that thyme provides.

9 June 2017

Made at work for lunch – 

Source: 

Peanut Cookies

Since making the peanut butter & jelly bars, I have quite a few honey roasted peanuts left. This is not something I will eat straight out of the can, but I need to do something with them and came across this idea while looking for something else peanut butter to make. I seem to be on a peanut butter trip of late, but everything I’ve made recently has gone over well with my test kitchen (read: guinea pigs who I like making happy).D&D_1990

8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
2 ozs semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)
little bit of Maldon salt on top, because …. it is amazing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour and baking powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, sugars until mixture is lighter. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and blend to incorporate.
Mix in peanuts.

Using a cookie scoop (#), scoop batter two inches apart on baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until the cookies are light brown. Cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Drizzle with melted chocolate. Yep, did not do this. But they were still really good.

Source: Epicurious

This was a really interesting idea and I liked it quite a bit. Will I make them again, sigh, not sure. I guess if I have more honey roasted peanuts, yes, but otherwise, I don’t think I will go out of my way for it. Not bad, but not good enough to be in the major rotation of cookies. Lord know there are so many other cookies to try and make – especially if they are lemon cookies – my favorite.

Duck Egg Salad

My first real meal when I moved to England was an egg salad sandwich on wheat toast with watercress. I was a little cafe in the Coventry city centre. It may have been the only vegetarian thing on the menu, I don’t remember, but I do remember really loving it. I even amped up the flavors with a little salt and a good bit of black pepper because watercress has the peppery vibe going on. And that is just a good thing.

D&D_1987It is a strange thing I do really like egg salad, but you won’t catch me eating a deviled egg, um, ever. I think it might be a texture thing. I know –  it is completely weird. Every so often I just crave egg salad and now I have access to some duck eggs and I am so going for it. I understand that duck eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs but they are also, supposedly also richer and creamery so I just can’t help but think this could be amazing duck egg salad.

This time I bought marbled rye bread –  no seeds – and toasted it. I’m not sure if there is something else that needs to go on egg salad sandwiches – lettuce seems overkill and tomatoes, ugh, yuck. I think I  want the sandwich to squish when I bite into it. But watercress is now a requirement. And good seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper – freshly ground being key.  Don’t ever use pre-ground pepper – that is an abomination. 

I have a great source of local fresh eggs. My friend Tony has a friend that raises chickens and ducks so I will be taking advantage of that. I can’t wait to substitute duck eggs for chicken eggs in baking and see what happens. I think in a cake recipe might be the most telling thing. We shall see how this adventure goes. Oh, and eggs Benedict with duck egg hollandaise sauce. Just might be amazing. 

It is egg-istentialism  – yes, I stole that from somewhere else. But it does make me smile. 

And here is how I made it:

6 duck eggs
Duke’s mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Sweet pickle relish
Watercress
Bread, toasted – rye, whole wheat, or whatever you like.

In a large pot, cover the eggs with at least an inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and put a lid on the pot and set a timer for 14 minutes. Once the time is up, add cold water to the pot, and swirl eggs to crack slightly. Peel eggs – think that goes with out saying.

For the subjective part – how much mayonnaise? Enough. It’s what work for you. And about 2 Tbs of Dijon mustard.

Now the pickle relish, I go for sweet, again, subjective, dill relish totally do-able. Personal choice. But this is imperative – you must drain some or most of the liquid. You want squish in the sandwich, not mush. So drain the relish.

Now you can add grated onion or something else, but it just doesn’t seem necessary to me anyway. Maybe a little lemon juice, but again, not too much.

Voila egg salad. On nicely toasted bread with a good layer of watercress. Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I have to say, this totally made my craving. Simple and dead good.