Monday, March 29, 2010

Mocha Fudge Pots

I try to limit sweets to weekends, although from reading this blog you might think otherwise. I have a huge sweet tooth. This is the kind of thing you make on a Saturday night or if you are having company over. I pulled this recipe out of Food & Wine Magazine some years back and I never got around to making it. A couple of weeks ago when my husband was running around SxSW like a crazy fool, I took the opportunity to try this out.
Food & Wine call this a chocolate pudding, but it is very dense, thick and rich. More like a chocolate pot. It is very easy to make, you can use a food processor or even a blender to whip this up. Literally takes minutes (plus the chill time).

Mocha Fudge Pots

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 t instant espresso powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
fresh whipped cream (for serving).

In a small saucepan, bring the cream and espresso powder to a boil over medium high heat.

Espresso powder in heavy cream

Meanwhile in a food processor, grind the chocolate and sugar until fine. Add the egg, vanilla ans salt and pulse until it forms a paste. With the machine on, slowly pour in the hot cream in a steady stream. Blend until silky, thick and creamy (about 1 minute).

Transfer the pudding into small ramekins (6 oz size or smaller, demitasse cups would be cute for this also). Transfer to the fridge and let set until firm, about one hour or overnight.

Garnish with fresh whipped cream and serve.

Makes about 4 servings.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Easiest Lamb You'll Ever Make

I love lamb but it is a pain in the ass to cook. First of all, it is very expensive. Secondly, lamb has to be treated with care or you'll ruin the dish. And nothing sucks more than buying a nice piece of expensive meat and then it turns out badly. Also, you have to baby lamb by cooking it a long time or marinating it forever or both.
I really like this recipe because you just throw everything in the pot, stick it in the oven and walk away for three hours. Nothing to marinate, nothing to brown first. Super easy. And the lamb shanks are tender, falling off the bone good. The cooking liquid and veggies turn into a gravy which is just delicious spooned over the lamb.

Lamb Shanks

4 lamb shanks
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemons, cut into wedges
2 15 oz cans of fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1 t salt/pepper
5-6 carrots, cleaned and chopped into chunks
2 celery stalks, cleaned and chopped into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

Preheat oven to 350. Spray the bottom of a large Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Put the carrots, onions and celery in the bottom of the pot. Place the lamb shanks on top of the veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the wine, balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the meat. Place a whole garlic clove on top of each lamb shank, followed by a large wedge of lemon.

Lamb prior to going into oven

Open the canned tomatoes and pour them all over the meat (no need to drain the cans, pour the juice in also). Cut the basil into thin strips and sprinkle the basil all over the lamb and tomato mixture. Put the lid on and roast the lamb at 350 for 3 hours.
The meat should fall off the bones. It will be very tender and your house will smell amazing.

Lamb after cooking 3 hours

I served my lamb shanks on a pillow of two cheese polenta with oven roasted asparagus. Mashed potatoes would also work well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Banana Pudding

This is my grandma's banana pudding recipe. She used to make this for major family gatherings, like Easter Sunday or a reunion. As you can see from the ingredients list, this is not for anyone counting calories as it uses a frightening amount of heavy whipping cream and an entire can of sweetened condensed milk. When I was newly married, my grandma mailed me the recipe so I could make it whenever I wanted.

Banana Pudding

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 1/2 cups of cold water
small package of instant vanilla pudding (4 serving size)
1 pint heavy whipping cream (this measures 2 cups)
3-4 bananas
vanilla wafers
juice of half a lemon

In a large mixing bowl, combine water, sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla pudding. Mix until well combined. Place pudding mixture in the fridge to chill for five minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.

Peel and slice the bananas into uniform slices. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the banana slices.
Take several vanilla wafers and carefully place them along the sides and bottom of a large bowl.
place a layer of sliced bananas over the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the pudding mixture from the fridge, carefully fold in the heavy whipping cream. The mixture should feel light, almost like a mousse. Place about one-third of the pudding mixture over the bananas. Continue layering the vanilla wafers, bananas and pudding until you've made three or four layers. Save enough pudding to make a final layer and sprinkle some crumbled vanilla wafers on top.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. I like to make this the day before serving or at least 8 - 12 hours in advance. The pudding tastes better when the vanilla wafers have time to soak up the pudding and get soft.

This makes about 8 - 10 servings. It probably keeps 3-4 days but it never lasts that long at my house.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Salmon with Warm Potato, Artichoke and Pesto Salad

Salmon with Warm Potato, Artichokes and Pesto Salad

This was my creation for Friday night's dinner. I grilled salmon and served it over a salad comprised of new potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes, pesto and roasted garlic. This recipe makes enough for two large servings. My hubby is not much of a fish eater, but even he liked it.

3/4 lb. salmon (I used Atlantic salmon)
6 new potatoes
4 whole garlic cloves
2 T. olive oil
1/4 C. grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 can of artichokes, drained
1/4 C pesto (homemade or store bought)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Place 4 garlic cloves on a large square of aluminum foil. Add the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold up the aluminum foil into a pouch, place on a pie plate and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the garlic is soft.

Meanwhile, boil the new potatoes in a pot of salted water until they are fork tender. Cut each red potato in half and place the potatoes in the bottom of a medium sized bowl. Add the roast garlic, pesto, sliced tomatoes and artichokes. Set aside.

Grill or broil the salmon until done. I grilled the fish with a pat of butter on top with, salt and pepper.
Plate the salad and rest the salmon on top. Drizzle with another small dab of pesto and serve.