Archive for March, 2011

When we knew my mother was going to be able to come to England for the wedding, I put in an order with her for five jars of Smucker’s Natural creamy peanut butter. Americans, though they probably wouldn’t put it this way unless they’ve lived out of country, are obsessed with peanut butter. It’s definitely a staple food, or maybe a food group of its own. PBJs, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter and banana sandwiches (especially as The King loved, with the banana mashed and the whole thing fried smeared in either butter or bacon fat, as various sources claim), peanut butter milk shakes, Reese’s Pieces and peanut butter cups (I actually remember this one) and Nutter Butters. And when we were down to the last jar within only two months, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands, UK brand Sun Pat being a disgusting claimant to the name peanut butter and not wanting to pay exorbitant sums for American brands chock full of hydrogenated oils. So I looked for a recipe online and discovered that peanut butter, the way I like it, is super easy to make. 1 kilo roasted peanuts, tiny bit of salt and 3T oil. Food processor. Done.

It has now been months since we ran out of store-bought peanut butter, and I’ve been working hard to perfect my homemade peanut butter. I can’t seem to be consistent with it – sometimes it’s perfect, perfectly salted, just the right amount of sugar (barely any), the perfect mixture of oil to peanuts. Others it’s horrible, a flavorless paste or too salty or gloppy from too much oil. Meh. I don’t know what to do to get it right because when I buy salted peanuts I can’t guarantee the saltiness of the peanuts, either within or across brands. I also can’t figure out how much salt to put in, and at what stage, to avoid over-processing when using unsalted.

I haven’t made peanut butter for a while as I was a bit demoralized by the process. I have two bags of unsalted from Holland and Barrett and should get on that today as we’re out of peanut butter again and the jar just came out of the dish washer. We’re still using one of the Smucker’s jars. ; )

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Oh, My Lord!

I know it’s been ages since I posted but this has drawn me out: the BEST butterscotch pudding recipe I have come across to date. Below was adapted from Ripe For Dessert (HarperCollins), by David LeBovitz. I have tried other butterscotch recipes but they didn’t turn out anywhere near as nicely as this one did. Maybe it’s the three teaspoons of cornstarch (corn flour to those from the UK), maybe it’s that I now know what “just to boiling” means for milk. Either way, I was super-satisfied with the result, though I will experiment with using less cornstarch. I’ve seen many other recipes use only two teaspoons. I may also experiment with arrowroot powder. Sorry, no photos. It was devoured quickly. I actually spent many minutes getting as much out of the pot as I could after I’d poured it into glasses.

Butterscotch Pudding
4-6 servings

4 tablespoons (60g) butter, salted or unsalted
1 cup (180g) packed dark brown or cassonade sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (if using salted butter, start with 1/4 tsp or omit salt from recipe)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2½ (625ml) cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup (60ml) of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.

3. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.

4. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop (furiously, and I do mean furiously – your arm should be about to drop off by the end of that minute; it negated the need for a strainer, at least in my case), until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey and vanilla. If slightly-curdled looking, blend as indicated above.

6. Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.

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