Butterscotch Budino

 

Here is a recipe for an Italian butterscotch budino that I came across years ago in Nancy Silverton’s The Mozza Cookbook. Of course we Americans remember those Jello butterscotch puddings our mothers whipped up when we were kids. They seemed good enough at the time, though once you have tasted a rich and creamy homemade butterscotch budino you will discover a butterscotch pudding like none other. As a cook this is a butterscotch pudding you can rely upon to elicit oohs and aahs whenever you serve it, and reaffirms the old adage that there is indeed proof in the pudding!

 

Butterscotch Budino

makes 6 servings

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cups whole milk
  • 2 extra large egg yolks
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds browned in butter

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl inside. Set a fine-mesh strainer in the smaller bowl.

Stir the cream and the milk together in a medium bowl and set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg, and cornstarch together and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, salt, and ¾ cup of water in a large heavy bottomed saucepan set over medium high heat. Cook the sugar without stirring, instead swirling the pan occasionally for even cooking. Don’t be alarmed: the sugar will become foamy and lava like with slow-bursting bubbles as it cooks. Once the sugar is caramelized, nearly smoking, nutty smelling, and dark caramel color, about 10 to 12 minutes, promptly pull the pan off the heat!

Immediately add the cream milk mixture in a thin steady stream, stirring with a whisk as you add it. This stops the cooking process and prevents the sugar from burning. This will cause the sugar to seize up and harden. Return the pan to the heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the seized sugar has dissolved and the mixture is liquid again, 5 to 7 minutes.

Turn off the heat and ladle out about one cup of the hot cream and sugar mixture and gradually add it to the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the cream mixture from cooking the eggs. Continue adding the cream to the eggs until you have added half the cream. Then gradually add the contents of the bowl to the saucepan with the remaining caramel, stirring constantly with a whisk, and cook the custard over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not overheat the custard to avoid lumps in the custard.

Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey or brandy until combined and smooth.

If there are any lumps in the custard pas the custard through the strainer into the bowl set in the ice water.

ladle the budino into dessert bowls and set a side to cool until the custard has set. Then and decorate the centers of the budinos with the slivered almonds.

Let the budinos cool to room temperature. Then cover each bowl with cling film and refrigerate.

Serving:

Remove the budinos from the refrigerator about an hour before serving to bring them to room temperature before serving .

rench Apple Tart

French Apple Tart

 

Sometimes that impulse to bake something first thing in the morning can send you off on a tangent until you say to yourself” hold on” I just want a nice pastry to enjoy with my morning coffee!

With resolve this simple French apple tart can be assembled and put into in the oven in no time. That said, I tend to keep several disks of pastry dough in the freezer. This is a habit that saves time and makes the prospect of baking pies and tarts so much more appealing.

The simplicity of this tart will have you returning to this recipe again and again.

 

 

 French Apple Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 disk well chilled sweet pastry dough

  • 4 or 5 tart green baking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon demerara sugar

For glazing:

  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade, warmed and thinned with a splash of water

 

Preheat the oven to 400 f / 205 c with the rack set in the middle position of the oven

Needed: a 10 inch tart pan

Use your own favorite pastry dough for this recipe.

 

Roll the chilled pastry dough out to about12 inches in diameter. Fit the dough into the tart pan and press the dough onto the sides of the pan and trim the dough evenly around the top edge.

Arrange the sliced apples, slightly overlapping, beginning at the outer rim of the pan and working your way around the pan to the center.

When you are satisfied with the arrangement of the apples, pour the melted butter evenly over the apples.

Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the apples and  scatter the demerara sugar over the top.

Transfer the tart to the preheated oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Check on the tart as it bakes and turn it front to back if it is browning unevenly.

The tart is done when the apples have softened and are lightly browning to your liking.

Remove the tart from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

After about 10 minutes generously glaze the  tart with the marmalade glaze using a pastry brush.

Ideally serve the tart while still warm from the oven or reheat before serving.

 

Bon Appetit! 

 

Cuurrasco with Chimichurri Verde

Cuurrasco with Chimichurri Verde

 

With the unexpected arrival of spring like temperatures here in NC as well as well as turning our clocks forward signals it is time to fire up those backyard grills y’all!

I rarely eat beef, but I have to confess that the first thing that it comes to mind is grilling a juicy seared Argentinian churrasco style steak topped with a zesty Chimicurri Verde sauce! This is a vibrant pairing of  South America flavors that you can recreate in your very own

backyard.

Chimichurri Verde

 

Chimichurri’s origins are cloudy, but the ingredients point to influences from Italian immigrants that settled in Argentina in the early 19th century after Argentina’s independence from Spain. These early Italian settlers established large estancias,(estates/ ranches) and began raising grass fed cattle. Argentinian beef gradually earned worldwide notoriety and became a major source of wealth and national pride for the country. Churrasco grilled beef paired with Argentinian Chimicurri verde garnered international popularity for its exceptional flavor when served with grilled cuts of Argentinian beef. Argentinian beef is now exported and is  considered to be the best beef in the world.

Here in the US I would recommend using skirt steak which is an Argentinian like cut of beef for grilling. Marinated skirt steak cook relatively quickly with an evenly seared surface and a moist and juicy interior with loads of flavor. A grilled skirt steak napped with Chimicurri Verde sauce is a sensational pairing that is always a big hit when it arrives at the table.

Chimichurri Verde is one of those sauces that will pair well with all sorts of grilled meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables as well, so keep that in mind when grilling this summer!

 

Argentinian Chimichurri Verde

I should mention that Chimichurri is sauce and not a marinade. A recipe for beef marinade follows below.

Makes about one cup

  • 3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • ½ cup finely chopped Italian (broad leaf) parsley
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 small red chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon capers, well drained
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice

Using a nonreactive bowl, combine the garlic, shallots, parsley, cilantro, chiles, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients together using a silicone spatula, pressing the ingredients together to extract juices which will enhance flavors once the liquid ingredients when they are added.

Add the olive oil, vinegar, and the anchovy paste and stir vigorously until well combined. Then add the capers and lemon or lime juice and fold them into the Chimichurri.

Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer the chimichurri to a sterilized jar and cover with lid.

Serving:

Serve the chimichurri at room temperature spooned over grilled meats, poultry, or fish.

It is best to refrigerate Chimichurri for long term storage. Be sure to bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Churasco Beef Marinade:

  • 1 ½ pounds skirt steak, cut into several pieces
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (2 to 3 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive or avocado oil

Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, and anchovy paste in a small nonreactive bowl and mash together using a silicone spatula to form a paste.

Stir in the lime and orange juice and mix until well combined.

Using a whisk slowly begin adding the oil in a slow steady stream until the mixture has emulsified.

Marinate the skirt steaks for several hours before grilling. Be sure to return the steaks to room temperature before grilling them.

Preheat the grill until it is very hot.

Remove the steaks from the marinade and shake off excess marinade before placing them on the preheated grill.

Grill for about 1 minute or until the steaks are nicely seared. Then flip the steaks and continue grilling until seared. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the steaks.

The best way to test the meat as you grill is too push the steak with your finger in the thickest area. Ideally the flesh should have some resistance for a medium rare finish. Continue grilling and turning the steaks every minute or so until done to your liking.

Remove the steaks from the grill and set them aside to rest for five minutes before serving. Top the steaks generously with chimichurri verde and serve.

Ajvar

 

Ajvar is a traditional roasted red pepper sauce/ puree favored throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, with regional variations across Lebanon, Syria, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Middle East. Ajvar is served with grilled meats, fish, kabobs, mezze plates, or just slathered onto a warmed pita bread.

Ajvar is a simplified Muhammara (see Recipe here),either of which I like to keep on hand to jazz up those meals that beg for a flavor boost.

Ajvar is available in in Greek and Middle Eastern shops and online, through rarely found on supper market shelves. So why not prepare Ajvar at home. The ingredients are all readily available and the recipe that follows will walk you through the process. Preparing the peppers and eggplant may seem a bit tedious, but it is all well worth the effort I assure you. The slightly sweet and smoky aroma wafting throughout the kitchen will be enough to spur you onward with the tasks at hand.

Putting up a jar freshly made Ajvar is one of those cook’s moments, a raison d’etre if you will and, I have to say, what makes cookery  so compelling.

So, with that thought in mind let’s get cooking!

 

Ajvar

makes 1 quart

  • olive oil as needed
  • 4 ripe red bell peppers
  • 1 ripe red jalapeno chile
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 5 large garlic cloves, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt + more to taste

 

Rub the bell peppers, jalapeno, eggplant, and garlic with olive oil and place on a large baking tray.

Place the tray of vegetables under the preheated broiler and broil until the skins on the peppers, jalapeno, and eggplant blister and are are charred in spots. Turn all the vegetables and continue broiling. Remove the garlic as soon as it is lightly colored and set aside.

Continue broiling the reaming vegetables until all sides are charred and blistered.

Transfer all the broiled vegetables to a large bowl and seal tightly with cling film and set aside to cool.

When the vegetables are cool enough to handle you are going to peel away the charred skins and discard them. As tempting as it may be, do not rinse the vegetables under the tap as you work. Doing so will only wash away the flavor you have created during the broiling process.

Likewise be sure to reserve all the juices from the roasting pan as well as the juices collected as you remove the seeds from the peppers, chile, and eggplant. All these flavorsome juices will be added back into Ajvar later.

Cut the bell peppers and jalapeno in half. Remove all the seeds and membranes and discard them. Tear the bell peppers into strips lengthwise and place them in the work bowl of a food processor along with the peeled eggplant.

In a small bowl combine the jalapeno, peeled garlic, salt, and vinegar and mash together with a wooden spoon to form a paste and set aside.

Begin pulsing the peppers and eggplant in the processor until the mixture looks like a coarse puree.

Stop the machine and spoon the garlic chile mixture on top of the red pepper puree and pulse until the mixture begins to smooth out.

Place a wide nonstick fry pan over medium low heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the Ajvar puree to the pan and stir for several minutes. Then add any reserved juices and stir them into the puree continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to avoid any scorching.

Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer the Ajvar to a sterilized jar and cool to room temperature. Add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the Ajvar and seal tightly with a lid and refrigerate.

The Ajvar will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month or more.

 

Serving

Serve as suggested as well as with j sandwiches, pasta, tacos or anything else that comes to mind.

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