Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Cream Tart

Wow. Just Wow. I am not a pudding fan, and I tasted this right when it was done. I was...eh. Then I chilled it. I LOVE it. In fact, you had better get it OUT of my house NOW or I will undo all the good healthy eating work I've done up until now...four weeks. I will not let this tart be my undoing.

But if it were, it would be so WORTH it.

I love shortbread, I love chocolate, so what's not to like about a chocolate shortbread tart shell. I actually read the recipe ahead and made the crust early enough so it would be cool when I made the filling.

Again, a custard filling and I've learned my lesson: 4 yolks. Cornstarch. A generous amount of cooking time.

I cooled this quickly, filled the tart and topped it with the touch of whipped cream called for. As I noted, I love this cold better than room temp (I am one of those who likes cold chocolate chip cookies better than warm. Let this be a lesson to me...)

Like other chocolate I have had while writing this post, this goes very nicely with my daily dose of red wine. Drink up. ...I mean EAT UP. You're all invited to my house to finish this before I devour it. PLEASE.

Recipe at Scrumtious Photography

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Bread Pudding

I did it again. I made bread pudding for someone who "never liked bread pudding before" and guess what? Now she likes it. Or she likes Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Bread Pudding, at least--this week's entry in the Tuesdays with Dorie saga.

Here's the beauty of this dessert: It's extremely easy. There's not too much bread, so you get some custard separate and apart from the bread. AND you bake it in a water bath, which keeps the custard from becoming a tough pudding--it's silky smooth.

I made this as dessert for the Greek Easter Dinner I went to (see the blog post on Greek Easter Bread below)-okay, so it was a bread heavy contribution I brought, but all is fair in war and Tuesday with Dorie baking.

It is so delicious. I baked in a glass dish as suggested...I would have loved something smaller but deeper so I'd get even more custard to bread ratio in the finished product...I also wish I'd made some vanilla custard sauce to serve with this...it was plenty tasty just as it is, but bread pudding just deserves custard sauce, right?

Happy eating, all. Visit everyone else's TWD Chocolate Bread Pudding blogs for more sweet fun.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Greek Easter: Christos Anesti!

I had the privilege of being invited to my great friends' Rachel and Mike's to celebrate Greek Easter with them. Rachel grew up in a Greek household, and her holidays are all linked to Greek tradition--this week, today, in fact, was Greek Easter. She asked (or did I volunteer? Can't remember, because I wanted to do this) me to bring Greek Easter bread. I looked up several recipes and settled on a Greek Easter Bread recipe credited to Saveur. The consistent ingredient that I was/am missing? Well, to start with, something called makhlépi. Best I can tell it's the seeds of the Mediterranean wild cherry. I was to steep the seeds then use that tea to scent the bread. A lot of recipes also use mastic. Guess I need to get myself to the Greek market and ask for these things. I made it without the steeped cherry water and without mastic and added anise extract instead. I think that was my Italian coming out. It was fabulous. First of all, it was beautiful. Beautiful. Rachel was impressed I used a red egg (red-ish. Dyes are wimpy, aren't they? Best I could get was a dark pink), but of course, when I do something, I want it done right. I wanted most of all to live up to Rachel's memories. The crumb is lovley, too, so even and regular and small--Rachel thought it was a bit sweet, but my recipe used half a cup LESS sugar than the recipe in the book she had on her shelf--perhaps that anise addition gave that hint of sweetness. All in all? Great bread. She's taking some to her mom out in California. Frankly, that says it all: I couldn't be prouder! BTW, Gary won the little crack-the-red-egg game. We could use the good luck. That egg is staying with me. Christos Anesti, all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

TWD on Wednesday: Best Cake Ever, The 15-minute Amaretti Torte

Okay, it would be the best cake ever if it were easier to buy amaretti anywhere within 10 miles of home. In the end I made them, which was easy, too (lesson 1, learned the 300th time: it's so simple, we should all do more of this more often)..And now I know from other TWDers that Starbuck's and World Market/Cost Plus carry amaretti.

Anyway. I made amaretti using some marcona almonds I'd gotten as Costco--decadent? Perhaps. Worth it? Definitely.

Then you make the cake ALL IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR. In go the almonds and amaretti (2.75 ounces to be precise). Whir til finely ground, dump out. Add eggs, sugar and butter to processor. Process til glossy. Add back almonds/amaretti and melted choc. Scrape into pan. Bake. (Dorie specifies 8 by 2-inch pan. Nope. I have three 9-inchers, but ...that'll have to do. It's thinner, but still wonderful.)

Ahh. The landscape of a chocolate cake:

Once out, glaze it (oh, before that, lick the bowl clean. No, I mean it. That was lunch!) and treat yourself to slivers. Do not share...Oh, did I say that? Invite friends for coffee and serve slivers of this cake...taken from half the cake because you hid the other half for enjoying the rest of the week.

Happy Tuesday on Wednesday, folks. Now head out and check out what everyone else did.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easy Easter Dessert Inspired by See's Candies

Imagine my surprise when a sweet note (heh, pun intended) landed in my inbox complimenting this blog and offering me a sampling of any See's Candies I want if I used them to create a recipe and then blog about it.

Game on. I recently passed by a See's kiosk at Aventura Mall, a San Francisco friend leading the way, and we got to sample something delicious. I knew I'd find something to inspire me.

I chose Scotch Eggs and asked for jelly beans and a chocolate bunny to decorate. Not a problem; they were boxed and sent.

The box arrived. I opened it to check contents, but didn't unwrap. Then I had to head out of town for some work (eating Vietnamese food for VISITFLORIDA.com/experts/dining). But I schemed up my recipe, finally deciding to make a "five minute ice cream pie"--great ice cream enhanced by great candy. I would use a chocolate crust, top that with dulce de leche as a nod to my current home in South Florida, top that with caramel swirled ice cream, top all with coconut and the See's Scotch Eggs.

I shopped today and found dulce de leche mixed with coconut AND Samoa ice cream. Wow. Perfect. I got to work, first spreading the dulce de leche in the crust. Top that with the softened ice cream, pop all into freezer to harden. Then it happened. I unwrapped the scotch eggs only to find the few hours they'd spent waiting for me to get home had done some damage. March/April in South Florida is summer. It was probably 85 the day those candies arrived. I had better hopes for the chocolate bunny, which was wrapped in foil..but no. He too, was deformed. So minor change. Chop the eggs, swirl them into the ice cream, top all with the coconut and use the perfect, unmelted jelly beans as the finishing touch. It is all still inspired by those See's Scotch Eggs. Yummy. Chocolate, caramel, marshmallow. What's not to like?Easy Five-Minute Easter Pie with See's Scotch Eggs
Serves 8 to 10

1/2 cup dulce de leche with coconut, softened slightly for easy spreading
1 chocolate cookie crumb crust
1/2 gallon Samoa cookie ice cream
6 See's Scotch Eggs, chopped
1 cup shredded coconut tinted green
Handful See's Jellybeans for garnish

Spread the dulce de leche gently in the bottom of the cookie crust. (If you press too hard, you'll shatter the crust. Trust me on that.) Stir ice cream with the Scotch eggs. Spoon ice cream into crust, filling to top of crust. Freeze until solid. Top with shredded coconut and jelly beans. To slice, warm sharp knife under hot water; wipe dry then cut pie. Warm knife blade and wipe dry for each cut.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Renegade Barefooting: Asian Chicken Salad

I so appreciated making this last night--I'd had a busy and not too happy day (I published a mistake in another blog that I am not happy about. I don't do that.) taking care of problems. So Barefoot Bloggers a)decided what to make for dinner for me and b)made it simple.

Because it was already 5.30 p.m. when I was getting around to it, I bought a roasted chicken. I had the asparagus (thank you, Costco) and most everything else--I love a starch, so I picked up some rice noodles.

As I was cooking the noodles, I shredded the chicken. Chilled the noodles, then whisked together the ingredients. I have to say, as a peanut ginger dressing, Ina totally rocks it with the recipe. Dress the chicken and veggies, serve over the noodles. Happy me, happy family. Leftovers for lunch.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD: Banana Cream Pie

Hello, Tuesdays with Dorie fans. Welcome to another...Tuesday.

Hmm. Okay. Not my favorite thing, but I am committed. Because how will I ever learn to get a custard pie right? I don't even want to TALK about the number of lemon meringue and coconut cream custards I made when I tested and developed pie recipes a couple of months ago...suffice it to say: I was reduced to tears.

But. True to form, this recipe worked like a charm. I think it could be the six egg yolks (Ya think?) I had a moment of panic when it looked curdled, but I whisked up a storm and was gifted with glossy, silky smooth custard, studded with flecks of nutmeg.

(I should add this was AFTER I burnt the first pie crust to a crisp. I was so clever--had a crust, a DORIE crust, because this is the only crust I will ever make. Ever. Again.--in the freezer. I popped it in and took a shower. Dried my hair...lotion...got something cute on...And...well, and it took longer than 25 minutes. Who knew? Guess I needed additional practice making crust. You know. In case Top Chef calls. Or Next Food Network TV Star...I won't fail pie crust on national TV.)

Onward. I chilled the custard in a luxurious sink ice bath...took seconds. topping is easy...Glad I read how Dorie says to spoon it on and then smooth it--because you can't exactly spread this OVER the custard.

I'm still not a banana cream pie fan, but if anyone ever asks me to make it, this is the one. Bryn declares it the best pie she's ever tasted. G is on his second piece...me? I better go swim some more laps.Later that week: So I went away for a few days. When I came back, most of the pie was still there in the fridge, but ...well, a little browner. But I wanted a sliver. I took one. And I LOVED it. The day or two in the fridge allowed the banana to ripen and the banana flavor combined with the brown sugar caramel-y pastry cream just rocks. So maybe, just maybe, I've become a banana cream pie liker (if not lover...)