Monday, August 25, 2008

bread pudding a la Google (rosemary hazelnut bread pudding)

I particularly enjoyed this dessert when our friend and his wife took B and I to dinner at the Google campus, and I've been wanting more ever since.

I used Dorie's apple-apple bread pudding as a base and added rosemary and hazelnut. This is best served cold; I found the flavor too strong when it was warm. If I make this again, I'll decrease the amount of rosemary and probably strain the leaves out of the milk altogether.

Rosemary Hazelnut Bread Pudding
12 oz. stale bread, torn into 1/2" chunks
3 eggs
5 egg yolks
1 C heavy cream
3 C whole milk
leaves from 1.5" piece of rosemary
1.25 oz hazelnuts, roasted and skinned

Bring milk and cream to a boil. Remove from heat and steep rosemary in hot mixture. Whisk together eggs and egg yolks. Temper egg mixture with about 1/4 the hot milk mixture. Then whisk in the rest.

Toss bread and hazelnuts together and place in buttered 9" x 13" pan. Pour custard mixture over top, and let sit for thirty minutes, using a spoon to occasionally press down any protruding pieces of bread.

Heat oven to 325 F and bake for about an hour and 25 minutes, or until pudding passes the knife test.

prep time: 50 min.
cooking time: 1.5 hrs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

the vegetables

The vegetables Zillah gave us. I think they're gorgeous.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

chicken piccata

My brother came over the other day to learn a dish to cook for a date. We had to have something without alcohol, as he's underage and can't buy it to cook with himself, and something that used chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken, in the interest of time. I looked through New Best Recipes and chicken piccata was the first recipe I found that fit the bill. After reading the list of ingredients, I was expecting a light, sissified dish, the sort that comes with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil and makes it so dieters can still eat at Italian restaurants. Which, as you probably already know, is not at all what chicken piccata tastes like. It was an explosion of sour, salty, smoky flavor. I was amazed that so much flavor was packed into the 1/3 C of sauce you're expected to divide between six servings. (We served ours with double helpings of sauce, and I'd still like to increase the portions.) This was an entirely enjoyable meal, and when my brother made it again for the rest of my family, all but one of my siblings loved it. No mean feat in a family where one child hates mashed potatoes, another hates hamburgers, and still another won't eat green vegetables.

chicken piccata (New Best Recipes, Cook's Illustrated)

2 large lemons
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5-6 oz ea.), tenderloins removed and fat trimmed
salt and ground black pepper
.5 C flour
4 TB vegetable oil
a small shallot, minced, or 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 C low-sodium chicken broth
2 TB small capers, rinsed
3 TB unsalted butter, softened
2 TB minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, set a large heatrpoof serving or dinner plate on the rack and heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Halve one lemon pole to pole. Trim the ends from one half and cut it crosswise into slices 1/8-1/4" thick; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain .25 C juice; reserve.
3. Sprinkle both sides of the cutles generously with salt and pepper. Measure the flour into a shallow aking dish or pie plate. Working with one cutlet at time, coat with the flour and shake to remove the ecxcess.

4. Heat 2 TB of the oil in a heavy-bottom 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. lay half of the chicken cutlets in the skillet. Saute the cutlets until lightly browned on the first side, 2 to 2.5 minutes. Turn the cutlets and cook until the second side is lightly browqned, 2 to 2.5 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the cutlets to the plate in teh oven. Add the remaining 2 TB oil to the now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the remaining chicken cutlets and repeat.

5. Add the shallot to the now-empty skilled and return the skillet to medium heat. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds (10 seconds for garlic). Add the broth and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and sc rape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula to loosen the browned bits. Simmer until the liquid reduces to about 1/3 C, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved lemon juice and capers and simmer until the sauce reduces again to 1/3 cup, about 1 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

whole wheat bread

Homemade whole wheat bread is one of my favorite things to eat, with its thin crust and tender but substantial middle. Mom always made this when I was growing up. On baking days, we'd have it for lunch, fresh from the oven.

whole wheat bread

4 C very warm water
1/8 C yeast
1/3 C oil
1/3 C honey
1 TB salt
1/8 C dough enhancer
11-12 C freshly ground wheat flour (white wheat, ground on finest setting)

Mix yeast and 6 C flour with water. Let sponge for 15 minutes. Add oil, honey, salt, and 5 C flour. Knead 6 minutes. Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. Dump on floured surface. Cut into thirds, form loaves, and place in greased pans.

Preheat oven to 350. Place bread in pans on top of stove to rise 15 minutes. Then bake for 30-35 minutes.

Friday, August 1, 2008

vanilla pudding with fresh raspberries

Among the vegetables Zillah sent home with us were a bunch of the best raspberries I've ever eaten. There is something magical about eating raspberries fresh off the bush in the middle of a garden at dusk. I ate half the berries on the way home and decided they were far too good to be baked. So I made pudding to serve with the rest, instead.

vanilla pudding (The Complete Book of Desserts, Martha Day)

3.75 C milk
1.5 C sugar
6 TB corn starch
3 egg yolks
6 TB unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in pieces
1 vanilla bean or 1 TB vanilla

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Slowly mix in milk until smooth. Add vanilla bean if using. Heat on medium, whisking, until mixture begins to boil. Quickly whisk in egg yolks and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until smooth. If using vanilla, whisk in. Strain the pudding into a bowl and refrigerate.

sauteed kohlrabi

Our generous friend Zillah recently gave us bundles and bundles of produce, fresh from her family's garden. (I'm going to post pictures soon, because it was just so pretty.) One of the things she gave us was a kohlrabi. I had no idea what it was or what I do with it, but I was delighted to get it because it looked like something from outer space.

We looked over some recipes and ended up deciding to simply saute it. We tried a few slices raw (reminded me of jicama), and then I fried up a few batches. I added garlic to one, garam masala to another, and just salted the rest. The garlic was overpowering, the garam masala was pleasant, and the salt was just right.

I'm not going to bother with a recipe here--just peel it, slice it, saute it to the desired tenderness, and season it with whatever makes you happy.