Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brown Butter Toasted Pecan Ice Cream

Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures of this one.... mainly because I was too busy stuffing my face with it.  It's really that amazing.  I was searching through my FAVORITE ice cream cookbook, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, wanting to find new recipes (now, this was actually fall that this happened, but same dif), and I came across this one, but I ended up making another one from the cookbook, a Maple Ice Cream one.  And then this fall rolls around.... and I''m craving fall ice cream again.  I remembered that I had seen another fall-sounding ice cream in the cookbook, so I looked again for it.  And there the recipe stared up at me, begging me to make it.  The thought of rich and creamy ice cream, stuffed with toasted pecans, and with a hint of browned butter just made my mouth water.  So, I rushed into the kitchen, and read the whole recipe, to make sure we had everything.  Aaaaand then I noticed a little sidebar comment.  Saying what to serve it with.

And I was dead gone.  


It said to serve it with homemade Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans.  

And even though I was already in the middle of making regular ice cream and the new one, I had to make the extra toppings now to....  And they were really quite simple.  Which was a lifesaver, because when I'm in my cooking mood and want to make certain things, it really doesn't matter to me if it takes 15 minutes or two and a half hours.  And I had other mundane boring things to do aorund then house that day too.... Anyhow, they were so simple..... and they tasted spectacular.  I'm already in love with toasted pecans, so Spiced Pecans were just my old favorite dressed up a little.  And the caramel sauce.... *sigh*  Let's just say my sister and I were standing around eating all the extra off the pan and spatula for like 5 minutes to get all that precious liquid gold that was left.

And then I had to wait all of 4 days to eat it all, because we had a busy weekend.... and the wait was worth it.  Let's just say I now have a new favorite ice cream, to put it lightly.  But I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves....   And then you can rush off to the kitchen to make it too.  

You'll be hooked. 

Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream
From Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
Makes about 1 quart

5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Make the base:
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons).  Set aside.  Set the cream by the stove.
But the butter in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan and put over medium heat.  The butter will melt and bubble, and after a few minutes it will start to turn brown.  Continue to cook until it has a rich, nutty smell and the butter solids (the little specks floating around in the liquid) have turned a dark brown, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Add the cream to the pan and stir until blended (it's important to mix in the cream before adding the milk to prevent the mixture from breaking).  Add the milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and increase the heat to medium-high.  When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce heat to medium.  
Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks.  Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks.  Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.  
Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.  
Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container.  Set the container into and ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool.  Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Freeze the ice cream:
Add the vanilla to the chilled base and stir until blended.  
Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.  While the ice cream is churning, place the container you'll use to store the ice cream into the freezer.  Add the pecans in the last minute or so of churning, or fold them in by hand after transferring the ice cream to the chilled container.  Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.  

Spiced Pecans
From Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
Makes 2 cups

1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups pecan pieces

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients except the pecans and mix well.  Add the nuts and toss until they are thoroughly coated in the butter mixture.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread in a single layer.  
Bake for 6 minutes, stir, and bake for another 6 to 9 minutes, or until fragrant and the nuts are golden brown. 
Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally to break up the clumps (they tend to stick together as the cool).  It is nice, however, to have some clumps, as they are super tasty to toss in your mouth!
Store in an airtight container.

Caramel Sauce
From Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
Makes 1 1/4 cups

3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Set cream by the stove so it's at hand when you need it.  Put 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat.  When the sugar is melted around the edges and starts to turn amber in places (about 2 minutes), stir the mixture gently and add another 2 tablespoons sugar to the pan.
Continue to add the remaining sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring as needed and allowing most of the sugar to melt before you add more.  Watch carefully as the sugar darkens, stirring gently to help it melt evenly.
When the caramel becomes a dark mahogany color, remove the pan from the heat and immediately but slowly pour the cream into the pan.  (The mixture will steam and bubble up, so wear oven mitts and be very careful to avoid splatters and steam burns.)  When the bubbling subsides, gently stir to completely blend the cream into the caramel.  If you have lumps of hardened caramel in your pan, simply put the pan over low heat and stir until the caramel is melted.
Stir in the salt and let cool until just warm.  (The sauce will stay rippin' hot for quite a while, so resist the urge to lick the spoon.)  If not using within a few hours, transfer to a container and refrigerate.  Rewarm before using.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chicken Florentine

This is just one of the dishes that you eat when you feel like stuffing your face with comfort food.  And garlic.  Lots of garlic.  And eating greens.... cooked greens are still good for you, right?  Anyhow, they taste amazing.  I kind of have this thing for spinach.... but usually not cooked, because it turns out blah and bland.  But in this, it tastes amazing- more than I would have thought.  Oh, and sauteed  mushrooms.  And bacon.  So basically this dish is just amazing, between the thick rich sauce and bacon.  Did I mention bacon?  

Yes, yes... I know- you're wondering how anything made with canned soup could be good.  Honestly, I usually agree- but this time, just trust me.

You want to make sure to saute the spinach just until it wilts- you don't want to overdo it.

And then roughly chop it- if you don't, people will be seriously considering letting you off kitchen duties.  I mean, this long wet green thing that's flopping off your fork really isn't too appetizing. 

And the sauce.... *sigh*  It's just amazing.  So amazing, that we have to make extra for those who like to drench everything in it. 

Chicken Florentine

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 bags fresh spinach
1 lb baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the chicken breast halves on a baking sheet; bake 20 to 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Decrease the oven temperature to 300.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet, add the spinach, cook over medium heat till wilted.  Arrange the spinach over the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan.
In the same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter, saute the mushrooms till lightly browned.  Arrange over spinach. 
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, saute till fragrant.  Immediately add the half and half, lemon juice, cream of mushroom soup, and Italian seasoning, stir till mixture simmers, remove from heat. Spread half of sauce over mushrooms.
Slice the chicken breasts widthwise into 1/4 inch slices, keeping the slices together.  Arrange in the pan over the sauce, then spread remaining sauce on top of chicken breast slices.  Top with chopped bacon, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake 15-20 minutes till heated.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Cake with a Maple Buttermilk Glaze and Toasted Pecans

Well, here I am again.  Long story short, I wanted to make this cake because some dear friends of mine visited over the weekend, and left yesterday.... and this was my way of rebounding.  You know, the kind of cake that's warm and comforting for those dreary days that you need comfort food.  

Cinnamon is always such a comfort.... warm and inviting, and always able to make you happy inside.

Pumpkin just because it's fall and that's how we roll.

And cake because what is more comforting that cake right out of the oven?

Of course, there's always the dirty dishes.... But as long as you have the music cranked up, even those aren't too bad.

Cue your favorite dishes....

And here comes happiness.  :)

Pumpkin  Cake with Maple Buttermilk Icing and Toasted Pecans
Adapted from Dinner With Kirsten

For cake:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin – you’ll need a 15-ounce can
3/4 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

For glaze:
2 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons maple sirup 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

For topping:
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F, lowering the rack to the second to lowest position. Spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat 1 1/2 sticks butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Then bake  about 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Let cake cool for about 5 minutes, then dig in.  During the 5 minutes, whisk together the glaze ingredients and chop the pecans- then drizzle the glaze on and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homemade Apple Pie

Not like, honestly, there's any other way to eat a pie.  Sure, you can go to the store and buy one, but that destroys the very essence of pie.  It's meant to be lovingly made, and baked so that the whole house is simply filled with the delicious smell of slowly baking apples and cinnamon......  No, store bought just doesn't cut it.  That, and store bought crust is never good... Till you've ate perfectly crisp and sugary pie crust, you've never really ate pie.  Sure, you can stick with your play-dough tasting pie as long as you want.  But I'm going for the good stuff.  


Mmmm... Johnathan apples.  You really can use any type of baking apple (Johnathan is a baking apple right?  Well, if it isn't, I'm going to pretend it is, cause it made a pretty darn good pie).

Notice my apples are nice and yellowed by this time, no matter how fast I grab the camera, they always end up discolored.  I must just be slow at peeling apples (Which is no surprise, you should see how slow I peel potatoes compared to my mom.  She'll even think up other work for me so that I won't offer to peel potatoes, pretty pitiful, right?).

And of course, my favorite cinnamon...

Aaaand stir those apples right up.  Don't worry if it won't all mix together, that'll turn into that lovely gooey stuff in the oven.

And the pie crust-  Remember, you can mix that shortening together till you turn blue in the face (though I wouldn't recommend it) (and, as a side note, usually you should stop when the mixture turns into little teeny balls, like the picture above) but do NOT over mix  it when you add the cold water.  No kidding.  Some of the first few pies I made, while they tasted amazing, had a crust with the texture of cardboard.  I'm just glad nobody lost a tooth.  So just lightly, lightly, LIGHTLY toss it with a fork and one hand till it BARELY combines, like the picture below.  Don't worry if it's still slightly crumby.   

And then form the pie mixture gently into 2 balls, and then pressing with one hand and turning with the other to press the edges in so they don't crack (honestly, I would have taken pictures to demonstrate, but unfortunately I wasn't born with 3 hands), press into a large round, like the one below.  Basically, make it look like the one below.

The roll it out to be slightly bigger than the pie dish that you're using (usually if you set it on the rolled out pie crust and look down on it, it'll have roughly an inch and a half (I think) of pie dough sticking out.  Then roll it onto the rolling pin like so.... (being sure to run a knife under it as you go so that it doesn't stick to the counter) 

And into the pie plate, and fill it with the apple mixture (being sure to press down on the apples so they're nice and packed in there), and then top it with pieces of butter (roughly 2 tablespoons of butter).

Next, roll out the top. lay it on, and trim the edges.  Usually I end up with about 1/2 to and inch of pie dough hanging off the sides after I trim it.  Then roll the edges under...

And crimp that baby.

And then lightly brush the pie crust top with water (not the edges) (and most certainly don't drench the pie crust.  You don't want to have puddles for little apples to skinny dip in on the edges), sprinkle with sugar, and with a sharp knife cut the vents in the top.

Slide that baby in the oven for about an hour (a good way we like to use to see if a pie is done is make sure to check that the vents are still opened on your pie (you may have to run a knife in them again), or watch the goo that comes on the sides of the pie- if it's thick and gloopy and slowly popping, it's done.  If it's thin and runny, let it bake a little longer), and listen to your stomach complain because it just smells sooooo good....  And there you have it.  A perfectly baked pie.  (if your pie is browning sooner than you think it should, simply lightly cover it with foil.  Just don't forget it in the oven!!) 

Apple Pie
Note: this recipe is for an 8 or 9 inch pie.  I doubled mine and used a huge pie plate.

For the Pie Crust:

2/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. shortening
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 to 5 Tbs. cold water
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle in water, 1 Tbs. at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 tsp. water can be added if necessary).

Turn desired filling into pastry lined pie plate.  Trim overhanging edge of pastry ½ inch from rim of plate.  Roll other round of pastry.  Put on filling.  Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of plate.  

For the Filling:

6 cups of sliced Granny Smith apples
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup flour
About 1 tsp. cinn.
2 Tbs. of  butter (to dot on apples)
Bake at 350 degrees until apples are tender and bubbling.

And don't forget to serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Twas a misty and dew-filled morning.....

Oh look... it's Sid the Sloth.  ;D

And I simply couldn't choose a favorite in the next three....

And finally, what will probably be the last rose of the season.