Friday, May 15, 2015

Paula Deen: Better Than Paula's Banana Pudding


I once had a coworker bring banana pudding to a function.  I happily dug in.  I mean, who doesn't love banana pudding?  Disappointed that there were no bananas in my serving, I went back to see if I could find one in the serving dish.  Nope.  I mentioned the lack of bananas, thinking everyone else had nabbed them, and my coworker said that she didn't like bananas, so she didn't put any in.  Note: If you don't put any bananas in and only use vanilla pudding, it's not banana pudding.  My biggest pet peeve about banana pudding is the vanilla pudding thing.  I want my pudding to TASTE like bananas.  That's the point, right?  So I doctored up a Paula Deen pudding recipe to both make it more traditional (Chessmen cookies??  Nilla wafers or go home) and to make it more banana, less vanilla.  Nailed it.

Better Than Paula's Banana Pudding
Adapted from Paula Deen

2 cups whole milk
1 (4.6-ounce) box banana cream "cook and serve" pudding mix
1 (11-ounce) box Nilla wafers
5 to 6 bananas, sliced
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces Cool Whip, thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream, divided use
1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Prepare pudding with only 2 cups of milk according to package directions (the package will call for 3 cups of milk - just use 2). Cover the hot pudding with a piece of plastic wrap, pushing the wrap down onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until cold.

Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish with enough cookies to cover and layer bananas on top. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Fold 8 ounces of the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture along with the vanilla bean paste. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas. Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pudding and cover with the remaining cookies or cookie crumbs. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Makes 12 servings

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cheddar Green Chile Cornbread Muffins


I'm normally not a big fan of using a mix for baked goods, but these are doctored up so well, you can't really tell there was anything packaged involved.  And they're incredibly quick to throw together, so another bonus.  They're also really portable, so you can take them in the closet with you when the annual tornado sirens go off.  Gotta love spring in Texas.

Cheddar Green Chile Cornbread Muffins

1 (8½-ounce) box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 large egg
¼ cup whole milk
1 (8¼-ounce) can cream style corn
1 (4-ounce) can mild diced green chiles
2 ounces finely shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Spoon into a muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray, each cup about ⅔ full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins

Sunday, April 26, 2015

What Katie Ate: Raspberry Friands


I haven't been in much of a cooking mood lately.  Not sure why that is, since all sorts of beautiful produce is starting to show up in the markets.  I was a cooking fiend in the winter, and now it takes everything I've got to drag myself into the kitchen.  Luckily these little cakes were tempting enough to get me moving.

Raspberry Friands
Adapted from What Katie Ate

4 large egg whites
1 large egg
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup almond meal
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, sifted
⅓ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ pint (6 ounces) organic raspberries
Additional confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease a non-stick or silicone friand tray (mine has eight "cups").

Whisk together the egg whites and egg for a few seconds just to lightly combine; don't whip them into peaks.  Add the butter, almond meal, confectioner's sugar, flour, and almond extract and beat to combine well.  Pour into the prepared pan, filling each whole ¾ full.

Place 3 raspberries on top of each friand and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.

Dust the friands with additional confectioner's sugar and serve warm with remaining raspberries.

Makes 8 cakes

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Try This At Home: Lamb Ribs in a Chipotle-Malt Reduction


Making this recipe was fate.  I swear.  See, I saw the recipe in this cookbook a while back, and I thought, yum!  But I had never seen lamb ribs cut that way before.  Ever.  And I wasn't really looking forward to heading down to the Muslim butcher to try to explain that I wanted lamb ribs, but cut like pork ribs, when they don't eat pork.  Yeah, not fun.  So recipe is forgotten.  But it happened to pop into my head the other day, and I happened to ask about this particular cut at Central Market, and miraculously, they pull out a vacuum pack with two racks of lamb ribs.  The butcher guy was flabbergasted.  "I have never seen these before.  I have never sold these before."  We just kinda looked at each other.  And I knew, just knew, it was fate that I have these lamb ribs.  Someone somewhere is probably wondering why they got ground bison instead of the lamb they ordered from the distributor, but I don't care.  These were delicious.  The sauce is even better.  Sharing is not allowed.

Lamb Ribs in a Chipotle-Malt Reduction
From Try This At Home by Richard Blais

2 full racks Denver-cut lamb ribs (aka bone in lamb breast)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups chicken stock or store-bought broth
1 (12-ounce) bottle malt beverage, such as Goya Malta
½ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
2 dried chipotle morita chiles or 1 canned chipotle in adobo
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, not peeled, sliced into coins
4 scallions, sliced, for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Season the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large roasting pan, mix the chicken stock, malt beverage, honey, soy sauce, chipotles, and ginger together until well combined. Set the ribs curved side up in the pan and transfer to the oven. Roast for 1 hour.

Flip the ribs and continue roasting until the meat is very tender and a knife meets no resistance when inserted between the ribs, 2½ to 3 hours. Check the pan occasionally, and if it is dry, add water ½ cup at a time.

Remove the pan from the oven. The liquid should be thick and syrupy. If not, put the pan over medium heat and simmer until the liquid is very thick. Brush the ribs with the sauce to glaze and keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, transfer the rib racks to a cutting board. Cut into individual ribs and place on a serving platter. Brush them again lightly with some of the sauce. Sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds, if using, over the top. Strain any extra sauce, pour into a bowl, and serve alongside the ribs.

Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Saveur: The Lumière


Ever heard of chartreuse?  Made by monks in France?  Bright green liqueur?  Stupid expensive?  Yeah, I thought that was all silliness until I actually bought the thing and made this cocktail.  This is like drinking flowers.  And no, I am not drunk or high.  Seriously.  Flowers.  And right now, that's pretty darn awesome in my book.  #workhaseatenmylife

The Lumière
From Saveur magazine

1½ ounces gin
1 ounce elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain
¾ ounce green chartreuse
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
Dash of orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a large glass filled with ice. Stir thoroughly and strain the mixture into a coupe. Garnish with a lime twist.

Makes 1 cocktail

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kokkari: Moussaka


Eggplant and I have not always gotten along.  Apparently I am not alone in this.  But I was able to overcome my issues with eggplant thanks to a fabulous little Greek casserole I had while traveling in Europe.  Called moussaka.  No, I wasn't sure what was in it before I tried it.  Probably best.  But I can confirm that it's meaty, creamy, starchy, and all-around fabulous.  And it may just convert some eggplant-phobics in your life, too.

Moussaka
From Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors

2 globe eggplants, each about 1 pound
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon gold or other yellow-fleshed potatoes
Béchamel sauce
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
½ cup grated kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese
½ cup Greek-style whole-milk yogurt, homemade or purchased
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Lamb Filling

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the ends of the eggplants and score them lengthwise in 4 to 6 places, then cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a wire rack and salt both sides lightly. Let drain for about 1 hour, then pat dry.

In a bowl, combine the eggplant slices and the ½ cup olive oil. Toss to coat the slices evenly, then arrange them on a heavy baking sheet in one layer. Season both sides with salt, using a total of 1 teaspoon. Grind some pepper over the top and bake until the eggplant is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and slice them ⅜-inch thick. Toss them in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Arrange them on a heavy baking sheet in one layer and bake until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. (You can bake them at the same time as the eggplant.)

Whisk the béchamel until smooth and no longer stiff. Whisk in the egg, egg yolks, cheese, yogurt, and nutmeg to make a custard topping.

In a 15x10x2-inch baking dish, arrange the roasted potatoes in a single layer. Top with the lamb filling, compacting it into an even layer with the back of a wooden spoon. Top with the roasted eggplant slices in a single layer. Dollop the custard topping on top, then spread gently into an even layer. Set on a baking sheet and bake until well browned and set but still quivery, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing.

Serves 8

Béchamel Sauce
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
7½ cups whole milk, warmed

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour all at once and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture just begins to darken and smell nutty, about 3 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the milk to the pot and whisk until smooth. Add another 2 cups and whisk again until smooth. The mixture will look like creamy mashed potatoes. Whisk in the remaining 3½ cups of milk and 1½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent the sauce from scorching, and scrape the sides of the pot occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula.

Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let cool.

Lamb Filling
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound white onions, chopped
2½ pounds ground lamb shoulder
¼ cup Italian tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
2 bay leaves
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Pour the olive oil and the onions in a large skillet. Sauté over high heat until the onions soften slightly and begin to smell sweet, about 4 minutes. Do not allow them to color. Add the ground lamb and sauté, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the lamb is no longer pink and there are no clumps, about 3 minutes. Continue cooking until the meat releases its juices, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Drain in a colander set over a bowl. Return the meat to the skillet. Let the juices settle for about 5 minutes, then skim the surface fat with a soup spoon and return the skimmed juices to the skillet with the lamb.

Add the tomato paste, honey, bay leaf, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ½ tablespoon salt, and several grinds of pepper. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the meat is moist but not soupy, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Fritz Rahr and Terry Chandler: Rahrzehnt Beer Braised Short Ribs


I think I need to change my favorite phrase.  It is now "Everything tastes better with bacon...and beer."  Seriously.  These ribs were amazing.  They have this flavor that is indescribable.  And for the chile-averse, they're not spicy.  Highly recommended for that cold evening when all you want is some really tender, flavorful beef.  And beer.

Rahrzehnt Beer Braised Short Ribs
Adapted from Fritz Rahr of Rahr and Sons Brewing and Chef Terry Chandler from Fred's Texas Café, Ft. Worth, TX

2 tablespoons ground guajillo chile powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
4 pounds beef short ribs
Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 (22-ounce) bottle Rahrzehnt Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups heavy cream, reduced by half

In a small bowl, combine the chile powder, cumin, granulated garlic, and black pepper.  Dust the ribs with half of the chile powder mixture and salt liberally.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil until shimmering.  Quickly sear the ribs on all sides in batches.  When the ribs are seared, set them aside in a bowl, and pour off any extra oil.  Pour in the beer, the remaining chile powder mix, the sprigs of thyme, and bay leaf. Scrape the bottom of the pot to get up the browned bits.  Return the ribs to the pot, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender and pulls away slightly from the bone.

Remove the ribs from the liquid, then skim the fat from the liquid. Stir the heavy cream into the liquid and bring back to a slow boil.  Cook until the mixture thickens slightly.  Salt to taste, then pour the gravy over the ribs and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Veg Recipes of India: Gobi Masala (Spiced Cauliflower)


Indian food is so amazing to me.  I still can't believe how much flavor they manage to pack into one pot.  Seriously.  It's like a party in your mouth.  I think most Americans don't like it because it seems almost excessive after the blandness of white bread.  But this is friggin' fantastic.  And it's definitely going into the usual rounds.

Gobi Masala (Spiced Cauliflower)
From Veg Recipes of India blog

1 large head cauliflower
2 medium Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon dry-roasted cashew nuts
3 large cloves garlic
1 (½-inch) piece ginger root
5 tablespoons canola oil, divided use
1 small bay leaf
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon red chile powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons full-fat Greek or Indian yogurt. whisked until smooth
1½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon crushed dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
Pinch of grated nutmeg

Separate the cauliflower into medium florets, rinse well, and set aside.  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower, cover, and remove from the heat.  Let blanch for 15 minutes.  Drain the cauliflower in a colander and set aside.

Put the tomatoes and the cashews in a blender, and puree until smooth.  If the mixture is too thick to blend, add a little water.  Set aside,  Mash the garlic and ginger together to form a paste.  Set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan, kadai, or wok.  When the oil begins to shimmer, add the drained cauliflower.  Sauté on medium heat until the florets begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove the cauliflower from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the bay leaf and caraway seeds, and fry for a few seconds until the oil becomes aromatic.  Add the chopped onions, and sauté until the onions become golden and caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger paste to the onions, and sauté for a few seconds until the raw aroma of the mixture goes away.  Pour in the tomato mixture and stir well.  Add the turmeric, chile powder, garam masala, coriander, and cumin and mix well.  Sauté the mixture until the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala.  The whole mixture will start to clump together and you will clearly see oil leaving the sides.  This is an important step, as if not done properly, the flavors won't come through in the finished dish.

When the masala is ready, remove the pan from the heat and add the whisked yogurt.  Stir well, and then pour in the water.  Stir again, and then move the pan back onto the heat.  Add the salt and the sauteed cauliflower.  Stir and partially cover the pan.  Simmer the cauliflower for approximately 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

When the cauliflower is tender but not mushy, mix in the heavy cream, fenugreek leaves (if using), and nutmeg.  Stir well and adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Serve with rotis, naan, or rice.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nigel Slater: Vanilla Bean Seville Orange Marmalade


I can't believe it.  I actually found and acquired the incredibly elusive Seville orange.  They're like phantoms in the night.  Or maybe Crosse & Blackwell is absorbing the entire world supply or something.  I hurried home with my "orange gold", and quickly...  Okay, quickly is probably not the best word here.  Over two days, I managed to coax those oranges into something incredibly delicious.  And the fact that I now have multiple jars of marmalade at my disposal makes me a little giddy.

Vanilla Bean Seville Orange Marmalade
Adapted from Nigel Slater, as seen in The Guardian

6 Seville oranges
1 lemon
3½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit. Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.

Make the juice up to 8½ cups with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here. Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.

The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enameled pan and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel.

Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil. Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don't your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.  When the mixture is ready, remove from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste.

If canning, ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized jars, one at a time, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe any marmalade from the rims of the jars. Center lids on jars. Twist on the bands until fingertip tight. Place filled jars in the canning rack inside the canner, ensuring jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Place lid on canner. Bring water to gentle, steady boil. Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars from water and cool. Check lids for seal after 12 to 24 hours.

Makes 4 half pint jars

Friday, January 30, 2015

Broccoli Blue Cheese Casserole


I hate having to throw out the remainders of expensive ingredients.  For example, I may only have needed 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche, but I had to buy eight ounces of it.  In this case, I may have only needed a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles, but I had to buy a whole friggin' container.  So basically, this casserole saves the blue cheese day.  And it's super delicious at it.

Broccoli Blue Cheese Casserole

1½ pounds broccoli crowns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
10 Ritz crackers, crumbled
¼ cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut broccoli crowns into flowerets, discarding the stems.  Boil flowerets in water or chicken broth for about 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften.  Drain broccoli and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter.  When butter begins to sizzle, sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the flour begins to smell nutty, but not is browning.  Whisk in the milk.  Simmer over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, cream cheese, and blue cheese.  Whisk until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth.  Add the cooked broccoli and stir to coat.

Pour the broccoli mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Top with crackers and almonds.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Makes 4 to 6 servings