Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

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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After a beautiful, often sunny several days, the weather decided to kick us in the nads last week and turn back into winter again. None of us in the house noticed this, so the heating stayed off and we started getting torpid and shivery. A couple of days ago, the husband was asked what he wanted for dinner and came back with, “Comfort food,” after which both of us said, “I want mac and cheese!” Never Enough Thyme’s Cheesy Beefy Mac recipe was what we decided upon. The inclusion of vegetables sounded like a really good idea, so I got to work.

I’m not sure if it was just the fact that I didn’t measure anything but the shredded carrot (if memory serves, I accidentally doubled it), or if people don’t like their macaroni and cheese to resemble the gooey goodness of Velveeta Shells n Cheese (note: this is most likely just nostalgia talking), because most recipes I find call for a much lower cheese-to-pasta ratio than I wanted, and this was no exception.

So I doubled the cheese sauce. It had to be done, even if that means I used more cheese than you can shake a stick at in this recipe.

1 8 oz package elbow macaroni
cooking spray (or olive oil)
1 cup chopped onion
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic (optional)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 500g)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup low-fat (or fat-free) milk
2 tblsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated (most of a med-large block)

I didn’t fuss with all that low-fat malarkey, we used mostly semi-skimmed versions (in the UK, 2% is considered “semi-skimmed”). I couldn’t imagine it being creamy enough without some milk fat.

Preheat oven to 350 F (190 C).

Cook the elbow macaroni while preparing the rest of the recipe. Drain and reserve until called for.

Cook the onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauteing 4 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain the ground beef and return it to the pan along with the reserved vegetables. Add the tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Add the cooked macaroni into the beef/vegetable mixture and stir to combine well. Spoon the beef and macaroni mixture into an 11×7 baking dish. The recipe says to coat it with cooking spray but I used a bit of olive oil because I didn’t have any spray.

Make a light roux by whisking milk, flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan until well blended. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. (This is what I doubled.) Pour the cheese mixture over the macaroni mixture and stir together. Top evenly with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake at 350/190 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I think this would be super easy to make for kids; if your kids won’t eat any particular vegetable addition, just nix it in favor of something you know they will. This week. While this isn’t exactly “mac n cheese”, it is delicious, and I recommend trying it at least once!

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I have been really interested in trying out British recipes, stuff like cottage pie (it’s not shepherd’s pie unless you use lamb [Gordon Ramsay’s is the best ever]), bread pudding, yorkshire puddings, beef wellington, meat pies, finally getting a pork roast down well, and various offal and “unusual” cuts of meat, like oxtail. After watching some cooking shows and hearing about how good and cheap oxtail is I decided to search for some recipes and make braised oxtail. I don’t remember how I found this recipe. I also don’t know how much one oxtail weighs but I’m going with the 1 kilo I purchased at the butcher’s shop earlier tonight.

Braised Oxtail in Tomato and Red Wine

Take one oxtail, jointed. Brown the pieces well in hot olive oil – remove to an oven-proof casserole. Soften a mirepoix of carrot, celery, onion and garlic in the oil.

De-glaze the pan with a large glass of gutsy red wine (I suggest a decent Rioja), then add to the caserole. Add two tins of chopped tomatoes, bayleaf, thyme and season.

Bring to a gentle simmer, put on the lid and place in a low oven for appx 3 – 4 hours. N.B. It must cook very slowly and gently – I run my electric oven at just over 100C degrees to achieve a tremulous simmer.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then flake the meat from the bones and pop back into the sauce. Place in the fridge overnight, which will ripen the flavour, and allow you to skim off hardened fat as you feel necessary the next day.

Warm through when required and dress cooked linguine with the sauce. What’s left of the bottle of Rioja will be a perfect accompaniment.

I’ve also become interested in cooking seasonally, and inspired by the movie Julie and Julia, I kind of like the idea of finding a cookbook of British recipes that will take me through one year’s worth of seasonal cooking. I suspect River Cottage will be my best bet, but my roommate has also mentioned Nigel Slater and I also ran across the magazine Taste Britain, that looks amazing.

It also seems to be quite easy to shop locally here in Britain, there’s a big push to Buy British, and when we’re flipping out about how disgusting the beef industry’s destruction of the Brazilian rain forest is, the fact that you can know that you are buying beef that isn’t shipped overseas, that makes me feel better. G is trying to turn her household slow food/whole food but might not get very far with three young children’s picky appetites to assuage. I fare better with a much more adventurous adult male appetite to deal with.

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Cooking for Five

Today we got a new roommate, our last. The fourth bedroom had remained empty as the others slowly filled up with people. It doesn’t have quite the interest of the other rooms, though it does retain its fireplace (nonworking), probably because it is kind of awkward, with pergo flooring. She’s settling in, though, and it’s nice to have this last space claimed by someone.

So we were four for dinner, two roommates, me & the boyfriend, when we were suddenly a fifth and I had to quickly juggle portions and grab chicken out of the freezer before it was solid. Thankfully I was cooking a very fast-prep meal of chicken milanese, brussels sprouts, broccoli and a small salad.

Chicken Milanese

4 chicken breasts, de-boned, skinless
1 jar (or homemade) marinara
parmigiano/reggiano/pecorino cheese
salt/pepper to taste
2 eggs
bread crumbs
olive oil

Three pieces of bread, in a 200F oven for 20 minutes or so, when crushed fine will cover 5 chicken breasts (I discovered, to my relief).

Pound chicken breasts flat with bottom of heavy cup or a meat tenderizer, if you have one. Beat two eggs, season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in egg mixture, wipe off excess, then coat them in the bread crumbs. Put them in a pan heated to medium high, with a good amount of olive oil, until nicely browned, about 2 minutes each side. Top with a couple tsps of marinara and add grated cheese. Stick this in an oven on about 250/300F until cheese is melted. If your chicken has cooked all the way through, you don’t need to put it in the oven more than a few minutes.

Just before starting the chicken (which should be cooked in two skillets, to save time), follow Heidi Swanson’s golden crusted brussels sprouts recipe, which is simple and produces delicious, tender sprouts.

Nothing much else to do, steam some broccoli and/or make a salad. All four is a bit much, portion-wise, so pick wisely. Oh, I used butter leaf lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with a homemade salad dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt & pepper. It’s my favorite. Add a little lemon if you have it, it really brightens up the dressing. Or use rice vinegar! It’s a really basic, really easy-to-alter dressing recipe.

I made myself proud by whipping this meal out in under an hour but can’t take all the credit as the boyfriend was a fabulous sous chef, doing much of the prep work. It really surprised me how fast this went from bags of groceries to meal-on-plate.

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