Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie

Unlike other Chocolate Cream Pie recipes that use cocoa powder, this one uses CHOCOLATE, and a generous amount. And it's evident in the taste and consistency! :) Feel free to use whatever chocolate you prefer (milk, semi-sweet, dark) or any combination, and a little more or less sugar if you like a sweeter or more bitter chocolate flavor...

Chocolate Cream Pie
For crust:
1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For filling :
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

For topping:
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Make crust: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate (1-quart capacity). Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack. (Okay...I cheated on this one. I already had a store-bought graham cracker crumb crust. Chocolate would definitely be better!)

Make filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick). Whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper (I used Saran wrap) and cool completely, about 2 hours. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Make topping: Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.

After putting the egg yolks in the pie, I whipped the leftover egg whites into a meringue--and toasted it lightly--instead of the whipped-cream topping. It was good, and sealed in the chocolate so it wouldn't dry out, but the rich, creamy whipped-cream topping would be even better! :)

Scalloped Potatoes with Carmelized Shallots

I admit right off: I used 1/2 shallots and 1/2 the sweet yellow onions (since they've been on sale...and they're delicious...and I had lots. :)

3 Tbls unsalted butter*
1 1/2 lbs shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
4 lbs potatoes
1 Tbls freshs thyme leaves
(and sprigs for garnish if desired)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 C heavy cream or half-and-half
1 C Gruyere cheese, shredded

Preheat oven: 375°
1. Melt 3 Tbls butter in skillet over medium low heat; add shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, 25-30 minutes until golden and tender.

2. Grease/spray a 3-quart casserole dish. Peel and thinly slice potatoes.

3. Place potatoes, shallots, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss lightly to coat potatoes. Transfer to casserole.

4. Heat cream in a saucepan until it just comes to a simmer; pour over potato mixture. Bake 30 minutes.

5. Sprinkle Gruyere over top; bake 20 minutes more or until potatoes are tender and top of casserole is brown and crusty.

* I do buy and use unsalted butter. However, when the recipe--like this one--calls for salt and other salty ingredients...I'm not adamant about it!

French Onion Soup

Busy day in the kitchen :) but this is what I could smell throughout the house. (Sweet yellow onions have been on sale lately, so I've been cooking with lots of onions.) Easy to double the recipe for a larger pot of soup...

French Onion Soup
2 onions, sliced (or substitue some leeks)
1 sprig thyme
optional: 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 C beef broth
cognac or sherry
salt and pepper

Cook onion/leek, thyme and garlic in butter, covered, about 20 minutes.
Uncover; cook 1 hr or until carmelized, stirring occasionally. Add beef broth; simmer 10 minutes. Add cognac or sherry (a splash? or be as generous as you like). Salt and pepper to taste.

Serving suggestion: Top with gruyere topped toast.
Pictured with a cheese (gruyere and parmesan) topped slice of the end of my sourdough bread...not shaped to fit in the bowl. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is rarely my first choice (why, when you could choose chocolate?!) :) But...I had more carrots in my garden this last fall than I ate, and when I finally harvested the last ones they were very big and a little tough. I diced some for soups, shredded the rest, and found this recipe. I leave out the nuts, of course (allergies).

Carrot Cake
1 C sugar
1/2 C oil
3 eggs
2 C flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 C shredded carrots
(1 C chopped walnuts)

Preheat oven - 350°. Beat together sugar, oil, and eggs just until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla and salt. Stir in carrots (and nuts). Pour into greased 13x9" pan or two 8-9" pans. Bake 13x9" pan 40-45 minutes, round pans 30-35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sourdough Bread

I've got a jar of sourdough hooch in the back of my frig. I don't bake my own bread often, and I figured I needed to use and feed the hooch before it went much longer. I've had this one going for long enough that it's got a really nice tang to it now. That takes a while to really develop. The bread always tastes delicious, but it's more dense than I like. If I baked bread more often maybe I'd play around more with the first and second rising times - more or less on one or the other might produce a lighter loaf? Refrigerating the dough between risings is also a method in some recipes. And spraying the loaf with water periodically during baking is supposed to help produce a crisp, golden crust. I don't always do either of those things, but feel free to experiment...

Sourdough Bread
1 pkg yeast
1/2 C water
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/3 C sourdough starter
1/2 C vinegar
2 Tbls oil
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl; let stand until bubbly. Blend in starter, vinegar and oil. Add flour, salt and soda until well blended. Let rise until double -- about 1 hour. Knead 3 minutes. Grease pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Put in/on pan; let rise 1 hour. Bake (400°) 30-40 minutes until dark golden in color.

Sourdough Starter
1 C milk
3 Tbls plain yogurt
1 C flour

Heat milk to 90-100°
Pour into a clean jar or bowl. Stir in 3 Tbls yogurt; let stand in a warm place at least 24 hours. After a curd has formed, gradually stir in flour. Cover and let stand 3-5 days in a warm place. Cover and store in the frig until ready to use. NOTE: if hooch turns pink, discard and start over with fresh ingredients.

After baking bread, feed leftover starter with:
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C water
1/2 C milk
1 C flour
Leave in a warm place for 24 hours before refrigerating again for future use.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Plum Wonderful Marinade

Great on chicken, pork...

olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger root
1/3 plum sauce
1/4 C frozen lemonade concentrate
(I make my own with lemon juice & sugar)
1/4 C chili sauce
(I use less if the plum sauce is already fairly 'hot';
it depends on what brand you use)
2 Tbls soy sauce
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard

Put onion, garlic and ginger in skillet with olive oil; cook until onion is tender. Stir together remaining ingredients and slowly add to skillet; bring to boiling. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Spoon over meat in a caserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked, spooning sauce over meat occasionally.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes
1 C flour
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 C milk
3/4 C canned pumpkin
1/4 C plain yogurt
2 Tbl butter, melted

Mix egg, milk, pumpkin, yogurt and butter. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt and add to pumpkin mixture. Spoon batter onto hot griddle (with a little butter) and gently spread. Cook until edges begin to look dry (2-3 minutes) turn and cook another 2-3 minutes.