Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sweet Peppery Carrots

As a child my mother always served carrots that she called pennies. They were cut like fat pennies, maybe 1/3 in in thickness. Then my mother cooked them to a soft stage. I ate them, but I didn't like them. They were carrots at their worst in my opinion. I've never for any reason cut a carrot to look like a penny, and for years I only served carrots raw or in soup.

But then one year I got the idea to cook julienned carrots and saute them in butter, brown sugar and pepper. It was a big hit with the family, and has been part of our thanksgiving tradition ever since. This recipe is not about certain quantities, but about the end result.

carrots, peeled and cut into about 2 - 3 inch julienned strips
brown sugar
coarse pepper

After the carrots are cut up I steam them with a steamer device or you can cook them in a small amount of lightly salted water in a saute pan. This is not about boiling the carrots, but about just enough cooking to get them to the au dent stage. Keep a close watch on the carrots. They do not want to come to the soft stage. If they're a little too au dent that's okay, because they will be cooked a bit more later. As soon as the carrots are cooked, run cold water over them to stop the cooking.

If I'm making these for Thanksgiving I do it the day before, get the carrots cooked and then put them in a bowl a cover them and put them in the refrigerator.  But refrigerating or not, it is important to get the carrots well drained, as you don't want to add water to the butter and sugar mix, it will be too thin to stick to the carrots.

When shortly before time to serve this dish, put a nice big nob of butter in a saute pan, add also a punch of coarse pepper and a bunch of brown sugar. This is all about how peppery and how sweet you want the carrots. Get it all melted and then toss in the carrots. At this point you can adjust things as you like. It's kind of like making candied sweet potatoes. You just play it by ear. Cook until the carrots are a nice degree of warmth to serve for dinner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gugelhopf Bread Pudding

After making the kugelhopf for Tuesday with Dorie, we had half left the next day. It does get stale, but it seemed perfect for a bread pudding.

1/2 a kugelhopf that was made with 1/2 pound of flour
some raisins, or any dried fruit you like
some almonds

5 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk - whole if you have it
scant 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
scant 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1/2 cup sugar

Get a nice little baking dish, about 6 cups in size.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Break up the kugelhopf into the dish, and sprinkle on raisins and almonds.
In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients with a whisk, and pour slowly over the bread.
Push the sticking up bits down into the egg mixture.
Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar if you like.
Bake for 45 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pies

makes about 8

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 14 ounce can of chicken stock
3 cups (about) of homemade chicken stock that has been reduced and defatted *
3 cups (about) of diced left-over chicken*
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced rather small
6 white mushrooms, sliced up rather thin
1/2 cup frozen peas
French herb mix, about 1 teaspoon
salt and pepper
1 package puff pastry, cut into 8 squares big enough to top the chosen baking dishes
1 egg + 1 tsp water for egg wash

8 8-10 ounce ramekins or other appropriately sized dishes that can go into the oven

* The chicken and chicken stock

The other day I made roast chicken for dinner. I had stuffed it with chopped carrots and onion. The vegies didn't cook, but after dinner, I pulled all the left-over meat off the chicken, then I put the carcus and vegies into a pot and added a bunch of water, not enough to quite cover the chicken. I put on the lid and cooked for a while. Then I took off the lid and smushed down the chicken into the water, and cooked the whole lot for a while more. When it all looked quite cooked, with the bones all falling apart, I put the whole thing through a strainer - the cone shaped kind. I put the strained liquid back into the pot and cooked it a while longer to reduce it. Then I put it into a bowl and then into the refrigerator. When it was all cooled down the chicken fat was nice and solid on the top, and I scooped it off - saving it, as it was lovely rendered chicken fat. It was this remainder that I used in the pot pies - it was probably about 3 cups, but I didn't measure it.

making the filling

So for the filling for the pies I got a large saucier, melted the stick of butter and added the onions. I cooked those for a while, until the onions seemed tender, and then I added the flour, and cooked that for about 2 minutes. Then I quickly whisked in the chicken broths, stirring vigorously to make sure there were no lumps. I then added the carrots. With hind sight, I think that I would have put the carrots in a bowl with a bit of water, cover them with plastic wrap, and cooked them for a couple minutes in the microwave, as it took them a while before they were cooked. So when the carrots seemed well on their way to being cooked, I added the potatoes. These I then cooked for about 10 minutes. then I added the chicken, mushrooms and peas and simmer the whole thing for about 5 minutes.


I had preheated my gas oven to 400 degrees. The filling that I made would probably fill 8 pies, but I only made 4. I used 10 oz. soufflé dishes. These are big enough for a dinner for a man. I did not eat all of mine, and I think maybe a 6 oz dish would have been enough. But anyway, I filled the dishes. Got my puff pastry squares cut to size and brushed then with egg wash, and press them down onto the dishes. Then I baked them for 20 minutes.

For more on this recipe, go to Molly Loves Paris.

Monday, November 3, 2008

spicy cole slaw

I love cole slaw the way I make it, but I'm not so fond a many of the commercial kinds that are so heavy on the sauce. I've never actually measured anything for cole slaw, but here's the list of ingredients.

1/2 cabbage, sliced thin, but not paper thin, and cut to manageable getting into your mouth length
mayonnaise, maybe three tablespoons
buttermilk or sour cream - about 2 tablespoons
sugar, about 1 tablespoon
salsa - maybe 1 tablespoon - I use medium or hot Emerald Valley salsa
salt and pepper
rice wine vinegar - maybe 2 tablespoons
1 green onion, sliced and diced - make the bits small
1 or 2 ripe, but firm avocado(s), diced up.

I make the sauce in the bowl that the salad will be served in before I add the cabbage.
First put in a nice big dollop of mayonnaise and thin a bit with buttermilk or sour cream.
The buttermilk is to add something that has less calories than mayonnaise,
and to make it so that the dressing doesn't glomp onto the cabbage.
Then stir in the sugar and salsa and salt and pepper.
Finally stir in some rice wine vinegar, maybe using a small whisk.
Taste and adjust to your taste.
When the dressing tastes right, I stir in the green onion.
Then stir in the cabbage. It takes a lot of tossing to get it well coated.
If you find that you have more dressing than needed, then slice up some more cabbage if you have it and stir in.
Or put the cabbage into a big seive, and let the excess dressing drain off.
This is not a soup, but I know that excess can happen.
Then finally, stir in the avocado.

note: I know that just about everyone in the whole world who makes cole slaw adds carrots. I don't.

And ... if you'd like you can make up the dressing in a different bowl or pitcher, and pour on as needed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Almond Carrot Cake

I love almonds, but I've not been so fond of carrot cake.  This is because it's heavy and rich.  I especially dislike cream cheese frosting.  But this cake is quite different.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a pan of your choice.  I put mine into two small bundt pans.  Since it was such a good fit, I would say that you can also use one large bundt pan, or tube pan, or maybe a loaf pan.

1/2 pound of carrots - this is two or three, or 225 grams, there's no exact science here, peeled and cut into chunks
50 grams of blanched almonds, about 1/2 cup

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extact

2 cups flour - 9 ounces
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put the carrots and the almonds into the food processor and process until nice and fine.
You can also throw in some dried cherries or raisins if you like.

In a mixing bowl cream the sugar, butter, and eggs.  Add the extracts.
Mix in the carrots and almonds.
Combine the dry ingredients and mix in.

Put the mixture into the desired conveyances and cook until done.  In the small bundt pans this should be about 35 minutes.  And in a large bundt I would guess about 45 minutes.  Make sure that the cake springs back when gently prodded.  
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.