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Tom’s grandmother used to make chocolate pudding for us. I remember the first time I had it, it was different. It had nuts in it. Turns out that it was My-T-Fine pudding with nuts. Tiny little chopped nuts inside chocolate pudding. In the years since, I had found it a few times and made it, bringing back sweet (no pun intended) memories of a special lady. Then we couldn’t find it. I am not even sure that it is even made anymore.
This afternoon, we set about to rectify that and make our own version.
First, I made the chocolate pudding with some delicious dutch process cocoa we nabbed down at the Brattleboro Co-op when we were down there last night for dinner after a closing I had in the area. Then, while the pudding was cooking, I chopped up slivered almonds into tiny pieces and added them to the cooked pudding.
The pudding went into the fridge and we had it for dessert just a little while ago. It was delicious.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 c. dutch process cocoa
- 1/4 c. cornstarch
- 1/2 t. salt
- 4 cups milk
- 2 T. butter (unsalted)
- 2 t. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
Mix the first four ingredients together in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the 4 cups of milk (we used Lactaid skim milk so my husband could enjoy it with any intestinal issues).
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Then stir constantly for two minutes more.
Remove from heat and add 2 T. butter (I used unsalted) and 2 t. vanilla extract.
Then I stirred in the chopped almonds, about 1/2 cup’s worth.
Put them into the fridge for at least two hours to set and form that great chocolate pudding “skin”.
This made six ramekins of pudding.
Here’s the recipe for bracciole, let me say up front that I cannot take any credit for the recipe, it is my mom’s and my grandma’s recipe. I am merely proud that I am able to continue the tradition.
- 6 pieces of bracciole meat (for those of you that are local to me Wallingford Locker has great bracciole meat)
- 12 slices of bacon
- 1 cup raisins divided into six portions
- 6 pieces of garlic finely chopped
- grated cheese of your choice (I use asiago or romano)
- salt and pepper to taste
- butcher’s twine cut into six pieces each cut about 2 feet in length
- Take meat and season with salt and pepper.
- Place two slices of bacon on each piece of bracciole
- Sprinkle with grated cheese of your choice
- Add one portion of raisins sprinkled on top
- Add one chopped clove of garlic to each piece of meat.
- Roll each piece up. I find that it is easiest to roll up starting from the smaller or thinner end. If any of the raisins or cheese fall out as you are rolling, just stick them back inside.
- When meat is rolled, tie each with a piece of butcher’s twine.
- Place in tomato sauce of your choice and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours. You could probably put them into a slow cooker with your sauce and cook for 6-8 hours although I have not tried this myself.
- When ready to serve, remove each bracciole packet from sauce, cut the twine off (this is important, no one likes string in their dinner!), slice each with a sharp knife into four pieces and serve.
Bagel chips are a popular snack. You can pay about $3.50 or so and grab yourself a bag at the supermarket. But, the next time you buy bagels and have some sticking around, it’s really easy to make them yourself. Usually when I buy bagels, I will buy extra with the thought of bagel chips in mind. When you make bagel chips yourself, you can also season them as you like, either by buying a particular type of bagel (onion, garlic) or season them as you make them. You can also adjust the salt as is best for your dietary preferences.
- Bagels, thinly sliced
- Canola oil
Place the sliced bagels on a sheet in your toaster oven. Brush or spray with canola oil to coat and toast for about 4 minutes per batch. Keep an eye on the first batch so you can adjust your toasting time accordingly. I have had some rather crunchy chips that I thought needed a little more time and it turned out, the “little more” was too much. When they are nicely toasted, season with salt to your taste. If you are seasoning them yourself, now would also be a good time to sprinkle your garlic or onion powder or other seasoning.
Toss into a bowl and enjoy. At our house, these don’t last very long at all. If you really wanted to make bagel chips completely homemade, you could also make your own bagels first. Check out this link for that post.
One of my favorite hobbies is to cook, must be part of my Italian background because I love to see people eat. Mangia, Mangia, as my grandmother would say. It was never much of a problem with four men in the house – there was always someone happy to eat. Now, there are two of us in the house and the cooking presents a bit more of challenge, you see I am used to cooking…a lot (again, the Italian coming through). It’s difficult to figure out how to just make dinner for two, day after day.
We have had our share of good meals and our share of popcorn or PBJ for dinner when neither of us could seem to decide what we should do about that meal. I think, however, that I am coming around. Over the weekend, we felt like carrot cake, knowing full well that we couldn’t eat a whole carrot cake even if we spaced it out over days (carrot cake day #1 is great, day #2 is good, day #3 really, carrot cake again?) so I figured out that I would make a small carrot cake. I searched around and I found a recipe for a small carrot cake but it required a 6 inch cake pan. I searched around in the hopes that I could find something that I could use but not 6 inch cake pan or anything close to it. So I figured I would work with what I had, ramekins and make little carrot cakes – two of them.
They came out resembling little muffins, I cut off the raised tops to flatten them to look more like cakes, then cut each cake in half so there were two layers. The recipe called for a maple cream cheese frosting which was spread on top of one “layer” and then iced on the whole cake–it was delicious! Two little individual carrot cakes for dinner earlier this week.
The recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s website. I omitted raisins and walnuts which could certainly be added as you desire.
- 1/4 all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- Pinch ground ginger
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbs packed light brown sugar
- 2 tbs canola oil
- 1 1/2 tps milk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup packed grated carrot ( 1 carrot)
Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tps maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Spray 2 (6-oz) ramekins with cooking spray.
- In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. In medium bowl, beat egg white, brown sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until blended. Stir in flour mixture until combined; stir in carrots.
- Divide batter evenly between ramekins. Set ramekins on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake 17 minutes or until cakes are set and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in ramekins 5 minutes; remove from ramekins to cooling rack. Cool completely. Level cake layers with a serrated knife.
- For frosting, in small bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth.
- Fill and frost layers with maple-cream cheese frosting.
Tonight, we were supposed to be going out for dinner. However, the wood stove was too warm and comfortable and the company was good. We were cozy and Mother Nature wasn’t making leaving the nest too desirable even for an anticipated night out. Not having planned on making dinner tonight, this was a throw-together. Sometimes, honestly, I think the “open the pantry and empty the fridge” meals somehow turn out to be the best meals of all.
The ingredients on hand:
- leftover boiled chicken breast
- fresh basil
- broccoli crowns
- red bell pepper
- chili garlic sauce
- olive oil
- potato gnocchi
I sauteed the vegetables together, added the shredded chicken and a very little olive oil (the special one that Tim brought back from Spain) seasoned it with a little kosher salt and a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce. Added the gnocchi when it was cooked (which didn’t take long at all) and topped it with a couple grinds of shredded asiago cheese. Served it with some warm homemade bread. We enjoyed it by the fire with some great music playing in the background. Very delicious, indeed.
Tim and I went blueberry picking and I may go again today since one of the blueberry pick-your-own places indicated on FB that today is the last day of picking for the season. We came home with two bags full of blueberries and I made a blueberry muffin cake. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking but I tweaked it just a bit to add a streusel topping, the same as on the blueberry muffins that I make. It definitely took the cake, which was delicious without the topping to a different level.
For those of you that asked, here is the recipe:
Blueberry Muffin Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine recipe)
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly; more for the pan
- 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 lb. (2 cups) fresh blueberries
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to break any air bubbles.
Mix together the topping ingredients which should make crumbles. Spread the crumbled streusel topping over the cake batter.
Bake until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The original recipe says the cooking time is 45-55 minutes which is what worked without the streusel. With the streusel topping, add an extra 15-20 minutes, check occasionally until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Ours didn’t make it to the cooling phase. It was steaming still when we removed it from the pan to eat with a cup of tea the other night for dessert.
Doesn’t this look delicious? Let me tell you that it tasted as good as it looks. Okay, maybe it even tasted better than it looks.
I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine’s recipe for Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze. Start with a 3-4 pound beef brisket.
Part 1 – The Rub
1 T plus 1 t kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Rub on the brisket and refrigerate for two hours or overnight. Then remove from refrigerator and let stand on counter for one hour.
Part 2 – Brisket
2 T. olive oil, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, crushed
4 cups beef broth
1 12 oz bottle of stout beer
3/4 cup bourbon (I didn’t have and used scotch instead — not a great differentiator of the brown liquors)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Thyme 1 tsp.
2 celery stalks chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat 1 T oil in an oven proof large pot. Sear brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Remove brisket to plate and cover to keep warm. Heat remaining oil in pot, add onions and garlic, stir until onion is slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients to pot, return brisket to pot, cover and place into oven. Cook for approximately 4 hours, brisket should be tender but still together. Remove brisket from pot, use stick blender to puree remaining braising liquid. Remove 1/4 cup of braising liquid and reserve. Return brisket to pan.
Part 3 – The Glaze
Take 1/4 c. reserved braising liquid, add 1/2 c. apricot or peach preserves ( I didn’t have peach and apricot worked just fine) and 2 T. bourbon (I skipped the bourbon/scotch in the glaze and it tasted just fine to me)
Mix together with stick blender or regular blender. Spread over brisket (fat side should be up and cross-hatched). Return to oven and broil for approximately 10 minutes until glaze has caramelized.
This was delicious! We served it over jasmine rice with scallions on top and it was absolutely great. A lot of oven time but well worth it in the end. Highly recommend.
- Beer-Braised Brisket of Beef (thedailymeal.com)
- Braised beef brisket (charlotte.news14.com)
- Beef Brisket with Caramelized Onions and Merlot Sauce (stevesacooking.com)
- Savory Beef Brisket (toomuchbutter.com)
Lately, when I am searching for a recipe, either for some new ingredient I want to use or simply to find a different way to make the same old ingredients, I find myself clicking on the “Images” link in Google instead of sifting through the recipes themselves. I mean, we all essentially eat with our eyes, don’t we? If something is visually appealing to us, it is more a recipe that we might give a whirl. I don’t know about any of you, but personally a cookbook without pictures (with the exception of my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) is a waste of good money. I want to see what the finished dish is supposed to look like before I attempt to cook it. I do not understand why cookbooks don’t have lots and lots of pictures. It would seem to me cookbooks sporting mouthwatering photos are more likely to sell than those that require you to imagine what the finished recipe is supposed to look like.
For example, don’t these just make you want to eat these?
Our first connection with our food, is usually its visual appeal. This is one of the reasons that presentation of food is all so important in restaurants. If it looks visually appealing and makes a nice presentation, we are eager to dig in and taste it, so we can confirm with our taste buds what our eyes are telling us.
Are you hungry yet?
What’s one to do with all the apples that we have literally lying around here? We’re not big applesauce fans so little sense to take the time and effort to can them into applesauce. While pie is a definite, I just haven’t really had the time to make pie and really not many have been around to eat it.
I have been trying a few different apple cake recipes to find the one, in the words of Little Bear, that is “just right”. Here are pictures of the latest incarnation.
There are still a plethora of tomatoes in the garden. I have roasted a lot of them. Now I am making crushed tomatoes with them that I am freezing to use later in tomato sauce, stews, soups and the like.
It’s a fairly simple process (which would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to peel the tomatoes first)
1. Cut an x shaped slit into the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife.
2. Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove from water and the skins should peel off with little effort.
You now have a naked tomato.
4. Then quarter the skinned tomatoes and place into food processor.
5. Blend to desired consistency. At this point you can place it in a pot to make sauce as you would with canned crushed tomatoes
Or put in a container to freeze.