23 June 2011

Butterscotch Pudding - Unmolded or Not


Butterscotch pudding was never my first choice as a child. Given a choice, I'd take chocolate every time. Now I love it. Maybe its subtleties are lost on chocoholic children like I was. Of course, unless I was at home, the puddings in question were usually the boxed kind. I don't think they tasted that bad, but that fake orangey color was not appealing to me.

This pudding is so easy, you can sit back and let the kids make it! It has 6 ingredients, no eggs, no complicated steps, no straining. It takes no more effort than the boxed kind, but has no artificial ingredients. And my recipe has a lot less sugar than most. Since the husband with texture issues doesn't like "runny" pudding, I make it firmer, like a pie filling, and sometimes make these unmolded puddings. If you like a looser/thinner pudding, just use the lesser amount of cornstarch.

Next time you have a fancy dinner party, cap it off with a simple butterscotch pudding. Perfectly delicious on its own, it can be prettied up for company with a little whipped cream and toasted pecans or chocolate curls. What's not to love? It's comfort food!

(Pudding is a part of childhood; everybody has a pudding story. What's yours? Out of thousands of readers, only a tiny fraction of you ever leave a comment! C'mon, talk to me!)

Butterscotch Pudding

(Makes 5 servings)

1/2 packed cup dark brown sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch (4, if unmolding)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk (I use organic 2%)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 In heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan (I like the All-Clad Stainless 2-Quart Saucepan), whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

2 Whisk in butter and vanilla extract (and, sometimes, a spoonful of dark rum). Pour into 3/4-cup ramekins and, unless you are a fan of pudding skins, cover with circles of buttered parchment paper. Chill for at least 4 hours.

3 Serve pudding in the ramekins or as unmolded puddings turned out onto plates.

16 June 2011

London Broil with Mushrooms


London broil is great for broiling or outdoor grilling, but I wanted to see what I could do with it in a frying pan. London broil can be other cuts of meat, but at Rocky Mountain Organic Meats it is a 2- to 3-inch-thick, 1- to 1.5-pound piece of top round. (I didn't weigh it, but it seemed like more than the 1 pound marked on the label. But I'm not complaining!)

Since it's a lean cut, marinating is recommended. (And, since it's a lean cut, I felt I could go a little crazy with the butter in the sauce! But more about that later.) I marinated it for about 7 hours, but I'm sure a shorter time or a longer time would have been fine. A total of 30 minutes in the pan gave me medium. You can adjust the time to suit your preferred degree of doneness. And if you're using a different cut that is thinner, you won't want to cook it quite so long.

I know this dish would look so much better with a sprinkling of flat-leaf parsley, but I haven't managed to revive my herb garden yet and I refuse to pay big bucks for another bunch of parsley that will go bad before I can use it all. But you be sure to garnish it properly! (Did you notice my feeble attempt at fluting that one whole mushroom?)

Note: Check out my Pan-Seared Ribeye Steaks with Shallot Pan Sauce.

London Broil with Mushrooms

(Serves 2 to 4)

The Marinade

1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon marjoram

The Beef

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1-pound organic grass-fed top round London broil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

The Sauce

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

1 Combine marinade ingredients in glass dish. I used a Pyrex loaf pan because it most closely matched the size and shape of the meat. Place meat in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours, turning meat over a couple times.

2 Heat heavy-bottomed large skillet (I like the All-Clad 5112 Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan) over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add the oil.

3 Thoroughly dry the marinated meat with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper. The oil should be shimmering in the hot pan.

4 Place meat in the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, not moving the meat, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn meat; cook 5 minutes. Turn steaks again and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Turn once more and cook for another 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to plate, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes or so while making the sauce.

5 Add butter and shallots to pan and cook over low heat until softened, about 1 minute or so. Turn heat to medium; add mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and dry sherry. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping up browned bits. Stir in lemon juice. Add butter, whisking constantly until melted. Spoon over sliced meat and serve immediately.

09 June 2011

Fudge Ripple Ice Cream


Summer doesn't even officially start for 11 more days, but I'm beating it to the punch with easy ice cream recipes. Unlike most women, I don't like chocolate (and I hate to shop); but I made this for my skinny husband who can eat ice cream every day and not gain an ounce. I only slightly modified the simple vanilla ice cream recipe in the instruction booklet that came with my Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbet Maker.

Just made up a recipe for fudge sauce because the only recipe I had called for chocolate and cream, and I was out of both. The chocolate sauce recipe in the Cuisinart book called for both those things plus light corn syrup, and I have an aversion to corn syrup (dark or light, high fructose or otherwise). So working with what I had on hand, I came up with the one below.

As I mentioned, I have the Cuisinart; but if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, they have an attachment you can get, the KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment. Some of you might even have the old-fashioned kind of ice cream maker that uses ice and rock salt. Whichever you prefer is fine, but I can't imagine summer without an ice cream maker!

Simple Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

(Makes about 5 cups)

The Ice Cream

1 cup milk (I used 2%)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream

The Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 In medium bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure to make pouring into the machine easier), whisk together milk, sugar, vanilla and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream (I use Organic Valley dairy products). Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

2 Meanwhile, at least 2 hours before making the ice cream, make the sauce. In medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, salt and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and butter until butter is melted. Let cool at room temperature, then chill for about 30 minutes before using. If you chill it too long, you'll need to wait for it to warm up a bit because it needs to be thin enough to drizzle into "ripples." 

3 Assemble the Cuisinart ICE-21 (or KitchenAid attachment) ice cream maker; turn it on. While it is running, pour the chilled mixture through the spout. Let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.

4 Transfer third of the soft ice cream to a freezer-safe airtight container, drizzle on some of the sauce. Repeat twice (you'll have enough sauce left over to decorate the serving dishes). Place in freezer for at least 4 hours. If it is super hard when you're ready to use it, remove it from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.

03 June 2011

Broccoli Salad - A High-Protein Version


The first time I had a broccoli salad was more than twenty years ago at my father's house. He had only cooked on two previous occasions (besides barbecue) in my entire life, but after my mother died he had to start cooking for himself. I don't recall how he came up with it--it wasn't something my mother had made--but his broccoli salad was really good and became one of his specialties for the rest of his life.

This will tell you how much he didn't cook until he had to. I understand, married to the world's greatest cook, why cook? But my mother actually timed her outings around my father's meals on the days he wasn't working. One day she and I got a bit carried away in town and didn't make it back quite on time. Daddy had actually gone into the kitchen and made himself a ham and cheese sandwich. We got there just in time to see him take his first bite. He gave his head a little shake as if biting down on something "tough." Then he peeled back the top slice of bread to see what the deal was. We spotted the telltale glint of light on plastic. Turns out he had used an individually wrapped cheese slice without unwrapping it. It had been so many years since he had made a sandwich, he didn't know about such things. Needless to say, he was totally disgusted.

So he had a lot to learn once he was on his own. His specialties were beef stew, pot roast and broccoli salad. We loved it, but I still can't quite bring myself to make it. When I do, I'll post it here because I'm sure you'll like it.

In the meantime, here's a broccoli salad I just had for the first time at a big potluck dinner. Not having the recipe, I just wrote down what all I thought was in it and went from there. Since it came out really well, I'm sharing it with you. And, someday, I'll share Daddy's Broccoli Salad [added two years later] with you too!

If you're vegetarian or vegan, this salad can be a good source of protein with its black beans, edamame and sunflower seeds. I like to "beef up" all sorts of things with beans; I'd probably waste away without them! (I was short on broccoli for the batch in the photo, so it looks more like edamame salad!) 

Broccoli Salad

(Makes eight 1-cup servings)

3 to 3 1/2 cups (12 ounces) finely chopped raw broccoli
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 10-ounce bag frozen shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup very finely chopped red onion, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 In 2-quart bowl, combine broccoli, beans, onion, sunflower seeds and cranberries.

2 In small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

3 Stir dressing into salad. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
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