Sunday, March 27, 2011

Coolest Easter egg ever!

I stumbled upon a very cool how-to blog called not martha. Not martha has some very fun/creative tutorials. This one was about how to make hollow chocolate eggs inside of real egg shells. I would like to try to make these one day...not any time soon though because it seems quite labor intensive. This blog post was just too great not to share. Check it out here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creme Brulee Party

Creme brulee is dessert of the gods and a recent obsession for me. I've had it here and there, but I didn't fully appreciate this decadent dish until I made it with some friends. I couldn't believe how simple it is. It takes just five ingredients and patience for the cooking and chilling time.

Let's do this thing.

It all starts with a half cup of sugar and some eggs: one whole egg and four egg yolks. Beat until just combined - no whipping.

Scald three cups of cream, and SLOWLY pour into the bowl with the sugary eggs while the mixer is on. Don't pour too fast or you'll have scrambled eggs in your creme brulee. That's just gross.

Flavor that creamy sauce with vanilla (1 tsp.) and booze (1 Tbsp.). An orange flavored liquor was suggested. Pour into six ramekins and place them in a sheet pan with a tall lip.

This, I'd say, is the most risky part. The oven is preheated to 300 degrees, and I'm pouring boiling water into the tray, making a water bath. Just be careful and get some assistance. If you're using small, deep cups, you'll need to bake them for at least an hour. Wide, shallow cups will cook more quickly.

You have the option of skimming the foam from the tops of custard, but it's going to be covered with sugar anyway. A little foam never hurt anyone. Now put them in the fridge to chill.

After they have chilled for at least a couple of hours, with a kitchen torch, you can slowly melt the sugar, rotating the flame around until the desired golden brown crust appears. If you don't have a torch, I suggest you get one because even if you only use it to make sugary crusts on top of creme brulee, it's worth it.

I used Ina Garten's recipe, and she's got a short clip from one of her shows illustrating how easy it is to make creme brulee. Oh, next time I make this, it's going to be chocolate flavored.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish Brown Bread

I love St. Patrick's Day. I don't even know if I have any Irish in my blood, but I still love the holiday. In America, we wear green and drink a lot of green beer, but actually in Ireland, it's a quiet, holy day. Either way, this bread is great for the occasion.

I think I love Ireland because of the culture, the landscape, and the cute, red-headed rascally boys that live there. I dig those red heads; that's why I nabbed one. He's not rascally, thank goodness. Now if only I could get him to speak with an Irish accent....

This quite a wholesome loaf that comes together in minutes. It's leavened with baking soda, so there's no resting and rising time.

Use a mixer (or a spoon) to get the ingredients together. Turn out the sticky blob onto a well floured surface. Gently knead it until it stays in a ball shape. Don't handle it too much or you'll get rock hard bread. Divide the dough in half and reshape into a ball.

You can add a bit of flair to the tops of the loaves by giving them a light coat of milk or egg and then sprinkling seeds or oats on top.

Bake them at 425 degrees for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Check to see if they are done by tapping on the bottom and listening for a hollow sound. I like to check with a thermometer. When the internal temp reaches 185 degrees, then they're done. I had to bake mine for an additional 5 minutes.

If you didn't over knead, you'll have a light crumb. Look at all of those whole grains. Yay, happy colons.

Generously slather with butter, honey, peanut butter, almond butter, jam, cream cheese, etc. Try toasting it and topping with Greek yogurt and honey. So good!

Happy St. Patrick's Day and enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Macaroni Madness

Like many college kids, when I moved out of my parents house, I had to figure out how to cook for myself. I loved this challenge, but in the beginning, I was calling to ask Mom and Dad lots of questions. This Chili Mac recipe was one that I made quite often. It's easy, quick, and satisfying. It's been probably seven years since I first made this dish on my own. I've made a few tasty adjustments since then. You can make this kid friendly by cutting out the spiciness. They'll eat it up like...well, like macaroni.

Spiffed Up Chili Mac

- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 cup of chopped onion
- 1 1/4 cups of elbow macaroni
- 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (preferably with chipotle or diced chilies)
- water (save the tomato sauce can and fill it to the top with water)
- 4 to 5 large jalapeƱo-stuffed green olives, chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- shredded cheese (optional)

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and sautee the onion on medium heat. Drain fat. Add all remaining ingredients except for the cheese. Stir until incorporated. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately and top with cheese.