Thanksgiving was wonderful. Ben and I traveled to my sister’s house in Dallas to spend the holiday with my parents, my 3 sisters and their husbands, my nephew, cousins and their husbands, their kiddos, my aunt and uncle and grandpa. We had 19 people for lunch on Thursday, and it was so great to have so many people there. It’s getting harder and harder for all of us to get together now that everyone is moving to all ends of the country and having kids. So, this was a special Thanksgiving. The food was incredible and included a cornucopia of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean and mushroom casserole, balsamic roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed carrots and fennel, and flaky rolls.
Dessert is a favorite part of the meal. Pies are the traditional Thanksgiving dessert in our family. This year we had apple streusel, pumpkin, and cinnamon custard pies, a gingerbread pear tart, and a chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake. We did not make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving day, but I just couldn’t stand not having a piece this year. So we made one after Thanksgiving…not that we really needed any more pie, but a little extra pie never really hurt anyone.
Deep frying food is not something that I do very often, so I was a little weary of this challenge. However, my experiences as a Daring Baker have prepared me for this. I was ready for cannoli! Bring it on.
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
The cookbook that gave me macaroon pie also gave me the base for this pie. It is a buttermilk pie, but in putting it together I thought to myself, “What flavors could I add to this pie to make it less simple and plain?” The answer from my creative inner self was…eggnog! I had nutmeg and for some strange reason I had rum. I think I’ve had this bottle for a few years and I’m not sure where it came from. Anyway… I figured this was a good plan. After all, the holiday season is approaching and if the grocery store is selling eggnog, I can make an eggnog pie.
I have to admit something. I don’t like drinking eggnog. It makes me feel like I’m drinking melted ice cream. A little too thick for my taste. However, I do like things that are eggnog flavored. I like eggnog ice cream. While visiting my sister in New York one Christmas we went to Jacques Torres shop and I bought a box of holiday truffles. The white chocolate eggnog truffle was spectacular. If you’re in NYC this season you should stop by and get one…or more than one. The gingerbread truffle was also very good. Oh, and you have to buy the chocolate covered Cherrio’s that they sell! I’m getting carried away now.
Anyway, I won’t drink a cup of eggnog, but I will eat something that takes like it. It’s a texture thing I suppose. I guess I am my mother’s daughter. I’m not sure if this is acceptable or not, but I felt I should admit this character flaw to you.
I added some rum and nutmeg to the base of this pie. I contemplated adding cinnamon, but ended up deciding against it. Maybe I will try it next time. I used a store bought pie crust to save some time. I’ve tried my hand at making scratch pie crust before, and I don’t think it’s too terribly hard to make something edible, but achieving a perfect, buttery, flaky crust is no simple task. It is also a rather time consuming process and makes a mess of your kitchen. A weeknight dessert should not require a lot of cleaning up. The refrigerated crusts taste pretty good, so I am OK using them every now and then.
I liked the flavor, and found it pretty similar to eggnog. The crust had a good crunch, and the filling was smooth and creamy. I served this with simple sweetened whipped cream (you can use cool whip in a time crunch). A simple and easy pie. It may not make you fall over and cry with delight, but it it good. Try it without the nutmeg and rum for a simple buttermilk pie.
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons rum
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 unbaked pastry shell
Combine sugar and flour in a large bowl.
Mix in eggs, buttermilk, butter, vanilla, rum and nutmeg.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 425° for 10 minutes.
Turn oven temperature down to 350° and bake for 30 minutes more.
This was the side dish for last night’s dinner, but I could have eaten this as my meal and been very happy and satiated. While contemplating dinner I had to consider a few things. What did we have the last few nights? Thai curry and spaghetti casserole. What kind of food is appropriate for the weather? It’s cool, but not quite soup or chili weather yet. How much time do I want to spend? An hour tops. Should I make something that is left-over friendly? Yes! Always yes. After carefully considering all of these issues, I chose a Mexican style chipotle chicken and creamed corn.
The chicken was delicious, and served double duty in chicken tacos the following night. However, the creamed corn was the star of this meal in my opinion. I used canned whole kernel corn instead of corn cut fresh from the cob because I am lazy. It still turned out great. The preparation and total cooking time are minimal. Using canned instead of fresh corn makes it even quicker. I really liked the combination of whole kernels and creamy corn puree. The contrasting textures are wonderful. This side probably serves 4-5, but is great re-heated and would easily double, so go ahead and make a double batch. It is that good.
My Aunt Susan gave me an incredible recipe for artichoke dip a few years ago when we were visiting relatives in Richvale, California. I had a craving for it this week, but couldn’t find the recipe. After making this dip I was putting some things away in the study and I miraculously found Susan’s recipe! Life is funny that way.
This recipe is more complicated and time consuming than Susan’s, so when I need a quick dinner party appetizer I will definitely be making hers. This recipe makes A TON of dip, has a fresher flavor than the mayo based artichoke dips a lot of people make, and re-heats really well. This would make a great addition to a Christmas party buffet, and if you have more than one to attend you could divide the dip between 2 dishes, bring one to one party, keep the other in the fridge and use it later! I do not think they would freeze well, but you could give it a try. Let me know how that goes.
I loved the big, yummy chunks of artichoke in this dip and the use of fresh instead of frozen spinach makes for a better flavor. The vegetables in the dip make me feel as if I am eating something somewhat healthy. However, this dip is really not too terrible for you, or so it seems by the ingredient list. Milk, I used 2 %, and just 1 cup of cheese total…but then there’s the vegetable oil. Oh well. It’s yummy. I served this dip with tortilla chips, but it would be good with pita chips or some whole wheat crackers.
Artichoke and Spinach Dip (courtesy of Emeril)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack (about 2 ounces)
1 cup chopped onions
1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach, stemmed, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 (15-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and julienned
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil and flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly 5 to 6 minutes for a blond roux. Whisk in the milk and bring the liquid up to a boil. Season the liquid with salt and cayenne. Simmer the liquid for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the liquid is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Set the sauce aside.
In a saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in handfuls of spinach at a time, until all the spinach is incorporated. Add the garlic and artichoke and saute for 2 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and cayenne. Remove the vegetables from the heat and turn into a mixing bowl. Fold the cheese sauce into the vegetables. Turn the mixture into a baking pan. Bake the dip for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or crackers.
This dish can go horribly wrong. I have nightmares of eating this at a bridal luncheon a few years ago. Tough, dry chicken, ham with a strange texture, and fake tasting, rubbery cheese. I still have a sneaking suspicion that the “caterer” was the frozen food section at Wal-Mart. So, why make it for dinner, then? Because chicken cordon bleu can be delicious. And it was, oh, so very delicious.
I looked at quite a few recipes, but this one from Bobby Flay sounded the best. Gruyère cheese. Yum. While it is not imperative to use gruyère cheese I highly recommend it. Go for it. You will be rewarded for your cheese purchase. But if you still don’t feel like taking the plunge, swiss cheese will work.
I used slices of black forest ham instead of the prosciutto called for in the recipe. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. Well, not exactly. I didn’t pound the chicken breasts quite thin enough, so measure them if you need to and pound all the way to the 1/4 inch thickness instructed. I had to secure my rolls with toothpicks, which turned out to work very well. CAUTION: Tell your husband that there are toothpicks in his chicken before he scarfs it down.
I loved the panko crumb crust. If you cannot find panko, then dry bread crumbs is a fine substitute.
I served the chicken with a creamy parmesan sauce. Some chicken cordon bleus are served plain, without a sauce, but I planned to serve the chicken with egg noodles and thought it needed a sauce. It was perfect with the chicken and with the noodles. Creamy and subtle with just a hint of cheese.
In Waco, our HEB had a bulk section where I could purchase just enough of a spice I needed for a recipe and pay a measly $0.27 for it. Here, I have to purchase an entire jar of a spice when I only need 2 teaspoons, and pay $5.99. A jar of cardamom was such a purchase, so I decided to use some of it instead of neglecting it in the spice cabinet and letting my $5.99 go to waste.
This recipe is from Martha Stewart. In addition to the cardamom, the use of semolina flour and almond flour drew me to this cake because I had both of those ingredients. What are the chances? These were purchased as specialty ingredients in other recipes and I was glad to be able to use them.
The cake is dense and rich, as a pound cake should be. The texture is more complex than your everyday plain pound cake, which is to be expected due to the use of the coarse almond flour. The cardamom is definitely noticeable, but not overwhelming. When a recipe says “room temperature” you should have those ingredients at room temperature. This is an easy task. Just leave them out of the fridge for a few hours. It does make a difference in a pound cake, and most recipes. The ingredients come together much more easily, and the texture seems better. I know there is some science behind it, and I have even read an article about it, but I can’t explain all of that to you. I just know that I’ve done it both ways and having your butter, eggs and other wet ingredients like milk, buttermilk, sour cream, etc, makes for better cakes.
Cardamom Pound Cake (courtesy of Martha Stewart)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek
Preheat oven to 325. Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Sugar the pans as you would with flour, and tap out excess. Whisk together flours, salt, cardamom, and baking soda.
Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Raise speed to high, and beat until smooth and glossy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt. Divide batter between pans.
Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 20 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely. (Cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
I found this cookbook in a box of books I’ve inherited from various people’s discarded books in the last year or so. I can’t even remember now who I got this cookbook from. Anyway, it caught my eye this week and I decided to find something in it to make. I wanted to make something that I’d never seen or tried before, and that I had all the ingredients for already on hand. I chose this crust-less, coconut macaroon pie.
This budget cookbook has some good tips on freezing cookies and cakes. There are also some great recipes for meals that use some very budget friendly ingredients. I cannot wait to try them!
Here is the recipe from the cookbook. I omitted the dates and added about 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut to the pie. I topped the cooled pie with whipped cream, toasted coconut and almonds.
This is a rich and sweet pie. I loved the flavor and texture. The coconut makes the pie more like a macaroon in flavor. The texture is already very macaroon-like with a crunchy exterior and almost gooey interior. This a great use for your broken saltine crackers, leftover nuts and egg whites.
Any nut would work. I think pecans would be great, but would probably use vanilla extract instead of almond. I saw another recipe similar to this one on allrecipes.com that uses this pie as a crust and then tops the pie with a fruit filling. Here is the recipe if you are interested.
There is something wonderful about the unnatural orange color and flavor of Kraft mac and cheese, but I have become quite a fan of mac and cheese from scratch. Simple is terrific. Cute elbow macaroni surrounded by smooth and creamy cheddar cheese sauce. However, dressing it up can be so much fun! Roasted tomatoes are a nice addition to mac and cheese as is bacon or ham. This recipe caught my eye because Ben absolutely LOVES green chiles and would put them on his cereal if it were socially acceptable…well, maybe he’s not that extreme.
This recipe came from the Southern Food section on about.com and I found it easy and delicious. The end product is a cross between creamy mac and cheese and a casserole. I loved the green chile flavor and the toasty breadcrumbs on top. I served this with a little sour cream on the side and sprinkled it with some chopped cilantro.
I used half cheddar and half queso quesadilla in this macaroni with great results. Creamy, cheesy, a bit spicy and incredibly yummy. If you have fresh roasted green chiles, then you must used them in this dish. I used canned and it was good, so fresh would be crazy good. I also used a 7-ounce can of chopped green chiles instead of the measly 4 ounces called for in this recipe.
Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese
8 ounces elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup green jalapeno salsa
1 can (4 ounces) mild chopped green chile peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno peppers, canned or fresh, optional
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, about 2 cups
salt, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional
1 cup fresh finely ground bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.
Cook macaroni in boiling salted water following package directions. Drain and rinse well.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir in flour and pepper until well blended and bubbly. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in salsa, chile peppers, and cheese. Cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Taste and add salt, as needed. Combine with the drained macaroni; stir in cilantro, if using. Spoon into the prepared baking dish.
Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter with the bread crumbs and sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly.
Serves 4 to 6.
This past weekend was one of the best I’ve had in quite a long time. During our time in Waco we met some of our very best friends. There’s something about being in the trenches together that brings people closer than they would have been otherwise, and this is what I have Baylor law school to thank for!
Ben spent most of his law school days with three great guys at Baylor, and as a result I became great friends with them, their significant others, and their kids. After graduation we moved to Amarillo along with one of the other couples, Tim and Jackie. Jason and Carrie and their adorable girls moved to Decatur and Christian moved to Houston. Being scattered throughout the great state of Texas makes getting together a tough endeavor. It’s also hard to find a time that works with everyone’s schedule. So, this weekend was a special one because everyone was able to meet up in the bustling metropolis of Decatur. Christian brought his fiancé, so we were able to meet her, and we definitely approve.
One of the great things about this group is our numerous shared interests. For Carrie H and I one of those is food! We had many incredible dinner parties in Waco, and when we get together now we usually plan a menu for one of our meals. This weekend, Carrie also planned great breakfasts and lunches. She is incredible.