Archive | February, 2010

Coconut Crème Brûlée

26 Feb

This month’s issue of Bon Appetit has several recipes I plan on making. I had a dozen egg yolks left over from making angel food cake for my grandmother’s birthday, so I started with Coconut Crème Brûlée. Velvety and smooth, and just enough coconut flavor. I think next time I’ll skip the brûlée and just call it custard. I don’t have a fancy-schmancy kitchen torch, and the broiler just doesn’t melt the sugar the same.  I did use Demerara sugar on top, so even though it didn’t completely melt, it did make a nice crisp layer on top.

I use unsweetened coconut in my recipe. I accidentally picked it up instead of sweetened, and the dish was just sweet enough. Sweetened coconut would have sent it over the edge. I also left out the rum, and added in a teaspoon of vanilla. The strained coconut is too good to throw out – eat it plain or stir it into some yogurt. If you don’t use rum, its also kid-friendly.

Coconut Crème Brûlée


Lamb Stew

21 Feb

This is one of Shawn’s favorite meals – and he’s not even much of a stew person.  It is rich and flavorful, but comes together in just over an hour.   You could make this with beef, but the Mediterranean spices pair really well with the lamb.  If you can’t find cubes, buy a shoulder and cut it up.   I almost skipped making the mashed potatoes, but they’re just the perfect accompaniment.   I made mine in the food processor for the first time.  Very smooth, but still a little heavy – I really need to invest in an old-fashioned food mill.

Lamb Stew

Doughnuts a.k.a. Kinklings

14 Feb

I’m not much for Valentine’s Day, so just so we’re clear: these are not Valentine’s Day doughnuts, they’re just doughnuts I happened to make on Valentine’s Day.

My grandmother makes doughnuts every year on Fat Tuesday.  I routinely eat a dozen.  Luckily, Fat Tuesday is only once a year, and they’re too much trouble for me to make very often.  They’re really not that much trouble – it just takes some time to fry them.  I made the dough last night and let it rise in the refrigerator.  I made some with cinnamon sugar this time, but nothing beats plain powdered sugar as far as I’m concerned.

They’re only good the day you make them, and this recipe makes a lot, so invite your friends.  I don’t know many people that won’t make a special trip for fresh homemade doughnuts.

Grandma’s Yeast Doughnuts

Add 2 packages yeast to 1/2 c warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.

Mix together 2 c lukewarm milk, 1/2 c sugar, and 2 tsp salt.  Stir in yeast mixture.

Add 2 eggs, slightly beaten, 1/2 c vegetable oil, and 7-8 c flour.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. If using an electric mixer, divide the dough in half and knead half at a time.  Put dough in a large, oiled bowl, and cover with a towel.  Let rise in a warm place until double, 1-2 hours.  Or, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.

Divide dough into 4 pieces.  Roll out one piece at a time to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut out doughnuts using a sharp cookie cutter.  Lay on a sheet pan, cover with a towel, and let rise again, about 30 minutes.

*I use a pastry tip for the centers.  Roll out all four pieces of dough, then combine the scraps and roll one more time.  Use the remaining scraps for test dough and pesky family members.

Heat 3-4″ of vegetable oil in a large dutch oven to about 350°.    You may need to adjust the temperature as you’re frying.  Test the oil with a scrap of dough.  The oil should sizzle gently when you add the dough, and the dough should float quickly to the surface.  Add 3-4 doughnuts at a time – don’t crowd the pan.  Cook 30 seconds-1 minutes until lightly browned.  Flip, cook other side, and drain on paper towels.

*The doughnuts go from golden to nearly burnt very quickly.  Turn down the temperature if they brown too quickly, and don’t add more than you can quickly remove.  I use a 2 pronged meat serving fork to flip and remove.

Add 1 c powdered sugar, or 1 c superfine sugar and 2 T cinnamon to a large paper bag.  When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, add several at a time to the bag and shake to coat.  Remove and lay on clean paper towels.  Lay another paper towel over the doughnuts – don’t cover them tightly or with plastic.

Winter Wonderland

10 Feb

We got out today just to experience this historic blizzard.  Snow was waist deep at 3:00pm, and still hasn’t stopped at 9:00!  There was a good 4-5″ on the road.  Luckily we’d shoveled paths this weekend, and they were fairly easy to excavate, but lots more shoveling tomorrow.

Ricotta Pancakes

8 Feb

I don’t often get excited about breakfast.  If we have eggs on a weekday, you can bet we’re out of milk.  I do usually cook breakfast either Saturday or Sunday, but more to get the family together at the table than because I love breakfast so much.  Give me coffee and the paper, and I’m set.

I had a gigantic tub of ricotta in the fridge (see Butternut Squash Lasagna and Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi), and some blueberries in the freezer, and so I went on an Internet quest to find a recipe.  Most I found called for whipped egg whites, and I’m sure they make a beautiful, fluffy, light-as-air pancake, but whipping egg whites in the morning, on a weekend, requires way too much in the way of dishes and effort for people who are just barely awake.  So the quest continued until I found a recipe that did not require more than one bowl, or electrical equipment, and we were quite pleased with the results.  The blueberries (or any fruit, really) are a great complement to the pancakes, but certainly not necessary.  In fact, if we hadn’t been out of maple syrup, there would be no blueberries.

Ricotta Pancakes w Blueberry Compote

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi

3 Feb

I don’t advise making gigantic gnocchi like the ones I made.

I’ve never tried gnocchi because they always seemed doomed to failure – sodden little lumps of dough, neither airy or flavorful.  This recipe captured me with its simplicity – not too much effort just in case it was awful.  These may not be the most authentic or perfect gnocchi, but they are certainly good enough for a family meal.  The kids didn’t even complain about the spinach!  Use the other half of the frozen spinach package to make curried lentils.

The base is white bread, and I used a potato bread just because that’s what I had, but use any good quality white bread.  I formed mine individually, but you could also roll the dough into a rope and cut it into about 1″ pieces, like traditional recipes.  I topped mine with tomato sauce I canned this summer – the fresh tomato and basil scent when I opened the jar was amazing!   I hope the tomatoes do better this summer because 4 quarts was just not enough sauce to get through the winter.  A garlic butter sauce, maybe with a little sage, would also be good. Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi

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