Wednesday, June 30, 2010

deep dark chocolate pudding

Pudding ... I have a lot to say about pudding.  Who knew?  I never felt excited about making homemade pudding.  I always breezed past the page. I had the mason jars washed and on the counter and the Bean's love of pudding cups after lunch made me take the dive.  I am so glad I did.  It is like reliving a childhood memory in a completely decadent way.  This pudding is smooth, thick, creamy and so comforting.  The recipe states 4 servings but, I made 9 individual servings and I can't imagine having a larger portion.  This is such a great summer dessert to have on hand.  The creme fraiche whipped topping is so easy and perfectly balances this rich dessert.  The whipped creme fraiche is slightly sweet with a hint of tart.  As I was making the topping the baby was peering up at me.  She hardly ate anything for dinner which was odd. I have been holding to my no sweets until the first birthday but, her little face and big eyes broke me.  I told the hubby to give her a taste.  He put is finger in her mouth and I heard two squeals ... Cookie was squealing in delight and my husband was shrieking because he felt two teeth.  Finally teeth and two at the same time.  Both bottom ones are working their way to the surface just days before her first birthday.   Phew ... we were starting to worry we had a baby with no teeth.

deep dark chocolate pudding with whipped creme fraiche
Source: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by: Jill O'Connor

6 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Creme Fraiche
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Monday, June 28, 2010

brisket with vidalia onion puree

The idea of a supper club has been bouncing around in my head for months.  I just have this crazy passion for food, cooking, entertaining and well ... eating.  I knew I must have some girlfriends out there that share this interest.  I was able to assemble the perfect size group of 7 gals to test out this supper club concept.  We would each made one dish that corresponded to the theme that the hostess picked.  Since I was the instigator I hosted the first supper club and well can you guess what I picked?  Southern comfort!  This club is suppose to push you a bit and get you to try new dishes so, I tackled a brisket which I knew I liked but, always felt a bit overwhelmed by.  The result ... brisket is easy and yummy.  All it takes is time to allow it to cook.  I also learned from my brisket research you want to ask the butcher for the first cut which is the leanest part of the brisket.  I learned a few things and had fun and isn't that what life is all about.  So lucky to have friends that will allow me to indulge in my passions, a good meal and great conversation.

The southern comfort table ... tried to decorate without buying anything so, all items were found in the house.  Feels good to be able to do with less, use what you have and stop my constant urge to buy.

brisket with vidalia onion puree
Source: Bon Appetit Y'all by, Virginia Willis

2 tbsp canola oil
1 (4 lb.) beef brisket (preferably first cut)
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
3 vidalia onions, thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
2 bay leaves
12 oz dark ale/beer
2 cups beef stock

preheat oven to 375.

Heat oil in dutch oven over medium high heat.  Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Sear the brisket on both sides 8-10 minutes total.  Remove to a plate.

Decrease the heat to medium, add the onions and stir constantly, until they begin to soften and turn color (~7 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (~1 minute).  Add the paprika, bay leaves and brisket to the dutch oven.  Add the beer and stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cover and place in oven.  Bake until tender (~2.5 to 3.5 hours).  Note: 40 minutes per pound is a good estimate.

Remove brisket and transfer to a cutting board.  Discard the bay leaves.  In the dutch oven using an immersion blender puree the onions until smooth.  Taste sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice brisket against the grain and serve with onion sauce.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

pulled pork

I love having people over and I always invite with gusto and then when the day of arrives I get nerves.  Nerves that it won't be fun, people won't get along, the decor won't come together and on the top of the list that the food will .... well suck.  Back to the South ... this pulled pork is my go to summer meal for large groups.  I have made this so many times that I feel really confident that it will be a crowd pleaser.  It allows me to experiment with a new side or dessert because I know this pulled pork will not fail me.  I love this pulled pork.  I served it as a sandwich at the party but, we made fancy grilled cheese paninis stuffed with the pulled pork and they were just delightful.  This is going to be a summer of Southern cooking so get ready because I am going to master a few sides and a dessert to go with this tried and true.

pulled pork 
Source: unknown ... used for years and revised many times.

¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
½ Tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp onion powder
1 boneless pork butt, about 3 pounds
1 ½ cups apple juice
½ cup water

Mix brown sugar and dry spices together in a small bowl. Rub all over pork, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lay pork fat side up on a rack insert fitted inside a roasting pan. (The rack should be high enough so the entire spiced butt is sitting above the cooking liquid.) Pour in apple juice and water, cover pan tightly with foil, and slow roast for 5 hours.

Remove foil and cook for another 30 minutes, until pork is brown outside and meat is very tender, basically falling apart.

Remove from oven, transfer to large platter, and allow meat to rest for about 10 minutes. If the pork falls apart in transfer you have cooked it PERFECTLY! While still warm, shred pork into small pieces using 2 forks.

Skim the pan drippings and discard fat.  Pour pan drippings into saucepan with:

1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar

Let it simmer and thicken for about 10-20 minutes and then add the shredded pork.

Serve on bun with slaw and pickle chips .... YUM!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

black-eyed bean dip

Southern belle ... I think I must have been one in another life.  I only have limited exposure to the south but, thus far nothing has disappointed me.  I long to go back for so many reason but, the food is definitely on the top of the list.  I always gravitate toward southern food for large group gatherings.  It just feels so homey and inviting.  The thought of sharing this dip with the hubby in a swing on a porch with the hot sun beating down and a glass of sweet tea in hand makes me smile.  Because we don't live in the south that isn't possible but, we did enjoy this in our backyard with some sweet tea vodka cocktails while waiting for some neighbors to arrive.   Black-eyed peas are suppose to bring good luck and I thought some good luck was fitting for this evening.  We have lived in our house for 7 years and have NEVER invited any neighbors over.  Maybe it is the kids that are pushing me out of my bubble, maybe it is the start of summer ... whatever it is I realized I like my neighbors and I think they like me.  Why have I waited so long to turn on this southern charm?  The dip was devoured and hopefully blessed us with some good luck developing these new friendships.

black-eyed bean dip
Adapted: Bon Appetite July 1991

  • 1 1/4 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (about 6 ounces) - divided
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • Tortilla chips
Place peas in heavy medium saucepan. Add enough water to saucepan to cover peas by 2 inches. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain. Add water to cover peas by 2 inches. Generously salt water. Stir in 1 sliced garlic clove. Boil until peas are very tender, adding more water to pan if necessary, about 1 hour.
Using slotted spoon, transfer peas to processor. Process until smooth. Add remaining garlic clove, spices, cream cheese and 5oz of cheddar cheese. Pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer dip to 8-inch-diameter pie plate or quiche dish. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Top dip with remaining 1 oz of cheddar. Bake until dip is heated through and cheese bubbles, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle dip with green onions and serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy bars

The kids and I were invited over to a neighbors house from an impromptu "my husband left me and the kids again for the Lakers" dinner.  Most of the meal was taken care of so, I said I would bring rice crispy treats.  I did not clarify that they would be fancy treats.  The moms enjoyed the little twist on the original but, I think the kids were a bit disappointed with the changes.  I liked them and I will definitely make these again but, I do understand what the little purists were thinking.  They are really tall and almost overly sweet with the two layers of chocolate.  Next time and yes, there will be a next time I will press into a brownie pan and drizzle with half the amount of chocolate.  I think that little tweak will be a good common ground for both groups.

peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy bars
Adapted: Everyday Food

3 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups rice crispy cereal
12oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Butter a 8 inch square pan.  In a large pot combine marshmallows, peanut butter and salt.  Cook over medium until melted (~4 minutes).  Constantly stirring.  Add cereal and stir to combine.  Press half of the mix into dish.  Melt the chocolate.  Pour half of the melted chocolate over the cereal.  Repeat with the remaining cereal and then top with rest of chocolate.  Cut into 20 pieces.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

three day slaw

I love cabbage and I mean love cabbage.  I go through 4 heads of cabbage a week.  I know slightly obsessive.  This falls in line with my tuna, pumpkin, watermelon, oatmeal obsessions of years past.  I like slaw but, I don't like mayonnaise.  This recipe caught my eye to serve aside my black pepper and molasses chicken sandwiches.  I was worried that the cabbage mixture would get soggy.  It definitely softens but, it still has a crisp bite.  The tangy dressing is a nice contrast to the sweet sandwiches. As the recipe name claims this slaw does keep for 3 days and still tastes good.

Three Day Slaw
Adapted: Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Foose

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery seeds
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 head of green cabbage shredded (or 1 bag slaw)
1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded carrot

In a small saucepan combine vinegar, sugar, celery seeds and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add the oil.  Cool until just warm to the touch, approximately 30 minutes.

Combine cabbage, onion, bell pepper and carrot in a large bowl.  Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture.  Cover and marinate for 8 hours.  Will keep for 3 days.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

green velvet toy story cupcakes

"We are eternally grateful" ...  for friends, summer, family and the release of Toy Story 3.  The Bean has been obsessed with Toy Story since he saw it the first time.  Then came Toy Story 2 which he refers to as the movie with two Buzz Lightyears.  We have been talking up the new movie ever since the previews came out and holding it out there as a big reward for good behavior and being nice to his sister.  It is working so, to get him even more worked up I made these as a treat to bring to two barbecues we were at this weekend. The kids loved them.

I looked at my previous red velvet recipe and the method and ingredients are very similar in this lightened version.  The big difference is the reduced amount of butter.  I thought they were good little cupcakes but, I would be very interested in tasting this cake side by side with the richer version.  I thought the frosting was quite good and it made a ton.  I have never added buttermilk but, it was smooth and it frosted really easy.  I may have to use this light version again ... soon. 

Green Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted: Cooking Light

    * 10  ounce  cake flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
    * 3  tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa
    * 1  teaspoon  baking soda
    * 1  teaspoon  baking powder
    * 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
    * 1 1/2  cups  granulated sugar
    * 6  tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
    * 2  large eggs
    * 1 1/4  cups  nonfat buttermilk
    * 1 1/2  teaspoons  white vinegar
    * 1 1/2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
    * 1 .3oz bottle of green food color

    * 5  tablespoons  butter, softened
    * 4  teaspoons  nonfat buttermilk
    * 1  (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
    * 3 1/2  cups  powdered sugar (about 1 pound) - sifted
    * 1 1/4  teaspoons  vanilla extract

    * 8 drops yellow and 3 drops green food coloring

Candy Decorations used: black gel pen, peppermint patty candy bites, sour apple rings, and mike and ikes.


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare the cupcakes, place 24 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine cake flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and unsalted butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and 1 1/4 cups nonfat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add white vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and food coloring; beat well.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire racks.

5. To prepare frosting, beat 5 tablespoons butter, 4 teaspoons nonfat buttermilk, and cream cheese with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla; beat well. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

versatile vanilla cake goes chocolate

I was craving cake.  Moist, rich chocolate cake.  I really liked this cake in the vanilla version so, I made the chocolate version.  It was good and with the combination of the whipped frosting on top it tastes almost "light".  I was hoping for a moister cake with a more intense chocolate flavor.  The cake is good and I know we will eat it all but, I don't think this is my chocolate cake.  I don't love the whipped frosting (or any whipped frosting) but, I wanted to try to make it again.  It turned out much better this time.  Much more fluffy and certainly makes more then enough to cover the cake with a nice center filling.  I  had the frosting 3 minutes on the stove and then whipped for 3 minutes on medium high.  This frosting would be a good balance to a devils food cake.

Versatile Vanilla Cake Goes Chocolate
Source: Everyday Food


Use same vanilla cake  recipe previously used with following changes:
Substitute 1/2cup unsweetened cocoa for 1/2 cup flour
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