Putting Your Heart Into It

They call it a “Sweetheart Ribeye.” You butterfly a 2-inch thick rib roast and it’s supposed end up looking like a heart.

It looks like a heart, right? Kinda? Maybe? Sorta? Glad my dear wife loves me for more than my cooking skills.

Anyway, I gave it my standard hot and fast treatment on the Big Green Egg and it was very tasty. It was not, however, the big hit of the evening. That was the Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee from She Cooks… He Cleans. It was rich, chocolatey, not too sweet, and decadently good. I highly recommend it.

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day!

Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving

We will be traveling to see family for Thanksgiving this year, but decided to put together a few of our favorite T-day recipes a week early and share them with some good friends.

Thanksgiving

The bird was made with what is becoming my standard turkey recipe on the Big Green Egg.

A new recipe for this year was Michael Ruhlman’s custardy Thanksgiving Dressing.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dressing
1 cup butter
4 medium onions, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
12 eggs
6 cups turkey or chicken stock
16 cups cubed white bread (1 Udi’s gluten-free commercial 33 ounce, 20 slice loaf), torn into 1-inch chunks and left out to stale overnight
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat,  melt the butter and then sweat the onions until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the sage and thyme and season with a tablespoon of sea or kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Reduce the heat a bit and continue cooking until the onions have just about melted themselves into the butter, but have not started to brown (about another 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Add the turkey stock and whisk to combine.

In the biggest bowl you can find, combine the onion mixture, bread, custard (eggs and stock mixture), and parsley. Toss everything to coat, then set aside while the bread soaks up the custard. Stir and press the bread down into the liquid every 10 minutes or so until all of it is wet.

Butter a 6-quart baking dish (this recipe expands as it cooks, so use a bigger dish than you think you need) and pour in the stuffing. Dot the top of the stuffing with extra butter. Cover and bake until the mixture has set (45 to 60 minutes), then uncover and bake until golden and crispy on top (another 15 to 30 more minutes).

Thanksgiving

Continuing with the butterscotch kick I’ve been on, dessert was Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Budino topped with David Lebovitz’s Best Chocolate Sauce.

Butterscotch Budino
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed raw or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum

In a large bowl, combine the cream and milk and set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, combine the sugar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often to prevent burning. Cook until the sugar has caramelized to deep, dark brown and starts to smells nutty.

Reduce the heat slightly and continue whisking for a teensy bit longer until you get that first bitter whiff of the sugar starting to burn.

Remove from the heat immediately and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Be careful – as it will steam and spit and the sugar will seize. Return to the heat and continue whisking until the sugar melts and caramel is fully combined. Increase the heat and bring to a boil while stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Temper the egg mixture by slowing adding  about half of the caramel cream, 1/2 cup at a time, while whisking constantly.

When the egg mixture is warm, pour it back into the caramel cream and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a very thick custard forms (about 2 to 3 minutes).

Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum, stirring until the butter has completely melted. Pour the custard into your serving dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The Best Chocolate Sauce Recipe
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder. When all of the sugar has dissolved and it just begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

Pour into a covered container and stash in the refrigerator until just before you are ready to use it. Rewarm before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Between these recipes and the dishes our friends brought, it was a very fine meal, a lovely evening, and we have much to be thankful for.

I see all of these recipes making repeat appearances on our table. This is the second year for this turkey recipe, and it is definitely a keeper – moist, tender, and tasty.

The dressing was just plain outstanding. I never would have thought of dressing as just a savory custard, but it tasted great – very rich and dense, but not at all gummy like some dressings can get.  Next time, I would combine the stock with the onion/herb mixture, let them simmer together for a bit to infuse the flavors, then taste and adjust seasonings before mixing everything together. Also, adding a bit of sausage wouldn’t hurt either.

The budino was amazingly rich and thick. It was almost more of a ganache than a pudding or custard. And the chocolate sauce was the perfect foil for it – the semi-sweetness playing well with the burnt sugar to keep it from being too sweet. Definitely a dish to serve with coffee.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, everyone!

Butterscotch Pots de Crème

Pots de Creme

My dear wife and I were planning meals for the week using the highly recommended Our Groceries app. I had read a post over at Zoe Bakes that I really wanted to make as a surprise. So I read off the ingredients without telling her what I was making and she added them to the grocery list on her phone.

When I got done she looked at me quizzically and asked, “So how much chocolate do you need?”

“I don’t need any chocolate.”

“Well, there isn’t any in the house, so how much should I get?”

“No, the recipe doesn’t call for any.”

“No chocolate!?! You’re making a dessert, right?”

“Dessert doesn’t always have to have chocolate in it.”

“Okay, I suppose…”

Butterscotch Pots de Crème
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup raw or brown sugar, packed
4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks

In a heavy, medium sauce pan, whisk together the butter and sugar over medium heat until they begin to melt into each other. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to brown. Be careful that the sugar does not burn. One of the keys to butterscotch is that lightly scorched taste. So don’t be afraid to back off the heat a little at this point and gently roll up to that fine line between browned and burned.

When the butterscotch is the dark, reddish-brown of an old penny and just at the point where it starts to smell smoky, remove the pan from the heat and pour in one cup of the cream in a thin stream, whisking continuously.

Note: The butterscotch will not like this in the least.

It will hiss and spit at you and start to harden up. Keep the pan over medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rest of the cream, vanilla, and salt and continue cooking until the mixture just begins to boil.

Remove from heat and taste. Having the right amount of vanilla and salt is essential to having butterscotch taste like butterscotch, so feel free to make adjustments at this point.

Pot de Creme
Bright golden yolks from farm-fresh eggs.

Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. To combine the eggs and butterscotch without cooking the eggs you need to temper them by slowly whisking some of the hot butterscotch into the yolks. Do this a quarter cup at a time until you have warmed the yolks slightly.

Slowly pour the warmed yolks into the pot of butterscotch and whisk to combine.

Pot de Creme

Preheat your oven to 325°F and bring a large pot or kettle of water to boil on the stove.

Arrange your serving dishes (demitasse cups, teacups or ramekins work fine) in a large baking or roasting pan. Fill each serving dishes about half to two-thirds full of the butterscotch custard mix. Slowly add the hot water to the pan surrounding the serving dishes until the water is level with the filling inside.

Slide the whole works into the oven and tent loosely with foil.

Pot de Creme
Half of the batch in their own little 8×8 pan.

Bake for 30 minutes then check to see to see how they are setting up. Total baking time can vary a lot depending on the temperature of the mixture when you put it in the oven and size and shape of your serving dishes. You want the tops and edges to be firmly set, but they should still be a bit jiggly in the middle – about 150°F internal. They will firm up as they cool.

Remove from water bath and let cool, then stash in the fridge until chilled, at least 2 hours.

To serve – remove them from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving and dollop with some whipped cream or drizzle with a bit of chocolate syrup.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Pots of cream – the name says it all – rich, thick, smooth, and custardy. Almost burning the sugar not only took the edge off the sweetness but also and gave it a really deep and complex flavor.

To quote my dear wife, “Wow, these are great, and I didn’t think I even liked butterscotch!”

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

If you look in the dictionary under “decadent” there is a picture of this cake. Actually, there should be a picture of me eating this cake. From the book You Be Sweet via the fine folks at She Cooks He Cleans.

The Cake
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup raw or granulated cane sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease an 8-inch round springform pan, and line with parchment paper. Sprinkle paper with a bit of cocoa powder.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl (we used a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup). Add the chocolate chips and stir until they stop melting. Microwave in 5-10 second bursts, stirring in between, until the chocolate is uniformly melted.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Slowly beat the egg and sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly to keep the eggs from getting cooked.

Pour the batter into the springform pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a serving plate.

The Ganache
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Pour the molten goodness over the cake and spread it out evenly.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Lick clean every bowl and utensil used in making the ganache.

Move cake to fridge and let chill for at least 20 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
I wish a had 6 stars for this this cake. The first time I served it at room temp and it was great. The next time I served it chilled and it was phenomenally rich and fudgy.

The Nutrition:
Not even going to go there. The only good thing is that a very slim piece is very satisfying.

One year ago – Planked Salmon
Two years ago – Cherry-Glazed Pork Chops

Pouding Chômeur

Raisin Pudding

Literally “unemployed or poor man’s pudding.” Originally from Quebec, this depression dessert is really a cake batter that’s covered with hot syrup before baking. The cake rises up and mixes with the syrup, making little pools of spongy wonderfulness and bubbling caramel.

Like any good poverty food, this is easy to make, tasty, and keeps you full and warm on a cold day.

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour (I used Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking Mix)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, white sugar, salt, baking powder, raisins, currants, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix well to combine and then pour into a buttered 2-quart casserole.

Combine brown sugar, water, and butter in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes. Pour over hot mixture into casserole over the batter, being careful not to mix.

Bake until topping is golden and firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let rest ofter baking for 15 minutes to let the sauce thicken up a bit. Best served warm.

raisinpuddingP1130060

The Verdict Verdict: ★★★★★
Sweet, rich, and tender – you will not feel the least bit impoverished while eating this. I made this for a friend’s birthday and it was a hit.

The Nutrition:
There is no such thing as poor diet food.

One year ago – Chili Verde
Two years ago – Siberian Ribs

Chocolate Custard Ice Cream

Summer is fleeting. To try and make the most of it, my dear wife whipped up this yummy custard this weekend. A custard-based ice cream is a little more work, but the smoothness and the rich flavor make it worth it.

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a medium-size bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is thick and lemon colored. Add the cocoa and beat to combine. Set aside.

In a small heavy saucepan over low heat, bring milk just to a gentle simmer – just until it begins to bubble around the edges – and remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon (stir constantly, don’t let it boil or the mixture will curdle), about 5 minutes. Check with an instant-read cooking thermometer, the temperature should be between 165 and 180°F.

Remove from heat and cool the custard quickly by setting the pan in ice or cold water and stirring for a few minutes. Place cooled mixture in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight as this will give the ice cream more body and a smoother texture.

When the custard base is cold, stir in the heavy cream, vanilla extract and half the almonds. Stir until mixture is well combined. The custard is now ready for the freezing.

Set up your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We used a Krups machine that is just about as simple as it gets- freeze the bowl, insert the paddle, pour in custard, slap the lid on and let it run for 20 minutes.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
OMG – rich, creamy, eggy, chocolaty wonderfulness! The almonds added a great little crunch and nutty flavor. Not too sweet, but very rich and filling. The perfect summer treat.

Orange Cashew Tart

This was our New Year’s Eve dessert – kind of a lighter, more complex take on a pecan pie. Adapted from a recipe by AP Food editor J.M. Hirsch to be gluten-free.

Crust
1 1/4 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Filling
2/3 cup honey
7 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs
Zest of 1/2 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 cup lightly toasted cashew nuts

Heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch tart or spring form pan with cooking spray. Prepare the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a food processor and pulsing until the butter is worked into the graham cracker crumbs and the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to the prepared pan.

Use the bottom of a glass to press the crumb mixture into the pan and spread and even layer across the bottom and up the about an inch. Set aside.

Spread the cashews in a even layer on a baking pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the honey, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool for five minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, and orange zest.  Whisk in the warm honey mixture. Stir in the cashews and then transfer the mixture to the tart pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling has set and turned golden brown. Let cool before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
Incredible – very rich and sweet. It went great with the champagne. My only issue is that it may have been a little too sweet. Maybe next time I back off the honey a touch and add just a tiny amount of rosemary.

Mixed Berry Pretzel Icebox Dessert

Hats off to Noble Pig for their Mixed Berry Pretzel Icebox Dessert! I had all but forgotten this childhood treat until I spotted the recipe on their blog. I sent it to my dear wife and she made a gluten-free version for us.

The original recipe makes a 9×13 pan. This version is downsized to an 8×8 pan, perfect for a smaller dinner party or as a “just us” dessert for the week.  She made half the crust, but the full cream cheese topping as listed (because who can ever get enough cream cheese goodness?!).  She also used just one box of jello and half of the fruit (about two cups total, it doesn’t have to be exact).

Crust

1 cup finely crushed pretzels (used Glutino)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
7 ounces plain thick Greek yogurt (regular yogurt will be too thin)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (3 ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
8 ounces frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Grease an 8×8 baking pan. Finely crush the pretzels in a food processor. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until combined.

Press the pretzel mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack.

While the crust is cooling, use a stand mixer on medium speed to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Fold in the yogurt and vanilla. Spread the filling over the cooled pretzel crust. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

In a large bowl, dissolve the gelatin in 1 cup of boiling water. Let the mixture cool until it begins to get syrupy, about 15 minutes. Stir in the fruit and pour over cream cheese filling. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. We made this the day before and let it set up overnight.

We served this last weekend and everyone wanted the recipe. Thanks Noble Pig!

Grilled Peaches

  • 2 tbsp butter, softened slightly
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp candied ginger
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3 freestone peaches or nectarines, halved & pitted
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Heat grill to high.

Combine softened butter, honey, vanilla, and candied ginger together in a food processor and pulse until mixed into a soft paste. Refrigerate.

Brush cut side of peaches with melted butter. Grill cut side down 3-5 minutes until you get good grill marks.

Turn peaches over and fill pit hole with a teaspoon or so of the ginger/butter mixture.

Grill for 1-2 minutes cut side up until the butter has melted.

Carefully remove from grill, top each half with with 1 a dollop of mascarpone, and serve with remaining ginger/butter mixture on the side.