Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Baked Custard

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

custard

 

Thanks to a goose who decided to lay eggs out of season, custard has become a household staple this fall. I’ve been told it’s not unheard of for a goose to lay in the fall, but this girl is being ridiculous, and has been giving me two or three eggs a week since the beginning of October. So, I’ve got goose eggs, chicken eggs, and plenty of milk from my herd share.

 

sitting goose

 

Custard is one of my husband’s comfort foods, and he claims mine is the best he’s had — even better than his mom’s!  It’s pretty simple, but there are a couple of tricks.  It’s important that you know your exact oven temp (most people don’t realize their oven isn’t properly calibrated).  I use an inexpensive little oven thermometer I picked up at a hardware store.  My oven has to be set to 395 to actually reach 350.  Another trick is interpreting the “jiggle” when the custard is done.

Baked Custard
1 goose egg (or 3 chicken eggs)
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Thoroughly combine all ingredients, making sure sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve into custard cups (this ensures that you won’t have any weird unincorporated eggy spots, and guarantees a smooth, silky texture).  Place custard cups in a shallow baking pan, and pour hot water into the pan to at least 3/4 the way up the sides of the custard cups.  Bake for 28 minutes. Yup, 28 minutes in my particular oven. If I go 29 minutes, it’s overcooked.

 

custard steps

 

You may need to adjust your baking time based on your individual oven, so it really helps to learn to interpret the jiggle.

It’s very easy to over-bake custard. If it’s over-baked, instead of being silky and creamy, it will have light rubbery/eggy texture.  Also, some of the liquid will separate from the mixture, contributing a watery texture.

When you take it out, it should jiggle like loose jello, and you will swear it’s not done. Also, if you insert a knife and it comes out clean … it’s over done.  However, if you chill it in the fridge overnight, it will set up to a nice creamy consistency. Personally, I like to let it chill a good 24 hours for the best texture.  It’s amazing how many recipes on the interwebs call for baking for almost an hour, or until a knife comes out clean.  With the amount of misinformation out there, it’s no wonder so many cooks are intimidated by custard.

Sprinkle with a light grating of fresh nutmeg right before serving. And….. the custard was gone before I finished putting away my camera.

 

custard bite

Watermelon Margarita Granita

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

The heat of this past week prompted me to try a frozen treat a little more grown up than popsicles, although I’m not knocking popcicles.  I wanted something simple, and I wanted to use up the watermelon taking precious space in my refrigerator.  I was thinking this could also become a more family friendly Watermelon Limeade Granita by omitting the alcohol, and increasing the amount of lime juice and sugar. Don’t be surprised if I give you more granita possibilities before the summer is out. I’m on a granita roll, playing around with different flavors.  I also made an amazing espresso granita that’s my favorite so far.

Puree your watermelon flesh by throwing it into a food processor, or whiz it with an immersion blender.

Watermelon Margarita Granita
2 1/2 cups  watermelon puree
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water)
1/2 cup tequila

Combine ingredients in a shallow baking dish and place in the freezer. When slushy  ice begins to form around the edges (20 to 30 minutes), use a fork to rake the ice back into the mixture. Repeat this every 20 to 30 minutes until the mixture is completely frozen and granular.

Serve in dishes that have been pre-chilled in the freezer, and garnish with a small watermelon wedge.

Spiced Maple Banana Bread

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Today has been one of those cold rainy winter days, perfect for spending time in the kitchen.  About an hour ago the rain switched over to snow, and it feels good to be snug and warm inside with the scent of cinnamon, vanilla, and mace lingering in the air.  I made a family favorite, my spiced banana bread.  As we were demolishing the warm treat, it was decided that it’s more like a coffee cake than bread, and that I should start baking it in a cake pan instead of a loaf pan.  We also speculated that it might be even better if I topped it with some of the oatmeal crumble that I normally use as a fruit crisp topping.

I thought today would be a good day to give another maple syrup recipe.  Bart informed me he’s getting close to finished with the sugaring season, and enough syrup has been bottled that we can start selling it.  Ordering has been enabled on his website, so come and get it!

As usual, I tried to use as many fresh, local, organic, or homemade ingredients as possible. I had a couple of overly ripe organic bananas, my fresh homemade sour cream, maple syrup Bart made, eggs from the neighbors, organic vanilla beans, organic flour, wheat germ and bran.  A little side note on the eggs:  I’ve decided to start keeping my own laying hens again this summer. I’ve decided to keep Delawares, a heritage breed on the critical endangered list. I’ve also located a source for organic non-GMO feed. More to come on that subject in a couple of months or so.

Spiced Maple Banana Bread
2 bananas
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
Vanilla specks scraped from 1/2 bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
2 cups flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mace

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan or a couple of 7×3 loaf pans.

Mash banana into total submission in the bottom of a mixing bowl.  Add sour cream, butter, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla specks.  Beat until thoroughly blended.  In a separate bowl blend together remaining dry ingredients.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just moistened.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Maple Bread Pudding

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Last week I made a couple of loaves of organic whole grain raisin bread. For some reason only one loaf got eaten, and I found myself with a whole loaf of stale raisin bread.  Also, with maple syrup production in full swing, I had a little of last year’s syrup that I wanted to use up.  Maple Bread Pudding was the solution to my overabundance of stale bread and old maple syrup.

This recipe uses stale bread. I’m telling you, the texture of the finished pudding won’t be right if you use fresh bread. If you don’t make your own bread, then something like stale french bread from your local bakery can be used. However, don’t use that soft chemical laden stuff that masquerades as bread.

Maple Bread Pudding
6 to 7 cups roughly cubed stale bread
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk or half & half
1 1/2 cups amber or grade B maple syrup. Save your good light stuff for pancakes.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Specks scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place bread cubes in a buttered 9 x 11 baking dish. Whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup, salt and spices.  Pour egg mixture over bread cubes.  Place dish in refrigerator for about an hour.  It’s important to give the bread cubes plenty of time to absorb the liquid if you want your pudding to have a nice silky texture. I made mine up the afternoon before and refrigerated it overnight so that it was ready to bake on Sunday afternoon when I had the oven already heated for a roast chicken.

Place a roasting pan with about an inch of water in the oven, and preheat to 350. Place pan of bread pudding in the water and bake for about an hour.  I’ve discovered that it’s quite common for ovens to be out of calibration, and highly recommend the use of an oven thermometer when preheating.  I really need to get my oven calibrated. I have to turn my oven on to 420 to heat to an actual 350.

Remove bread pudding from oven and allow to cool for a little while.  Serve with a drizzle of  maple syrup and a couple of generous splashes of cream. This stuff is comfort food at it’s best!

Elderberry Sherbet

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Each year in late summer, my husband and I spend some time together foraging for elderberries.  This year we hit the mother load and found a gargantuan new patch. Last Friday I was extremely busy in the shop, so my well meaning hubby decided to help me out.  He had a HUGE plastic storage tote full of elderberries waiting for me when I finished work. I spent Friday evening, and just about all of Saturday stripping berries from the stems. Of course, my husband had a major job going over the weekend and had to be on the site, leaving me to deal with 35 pounds of elderberries all by myself! I started out on my front porch, but after several hours I moved my operation indoors and watched / listened to chick flicks while I worked. The fruit of my labor (pun intended) was 30 pints of rich elderberry juice sweetened with honey from a local beekeeper. I also added some lemon juice for tartness and a chunk of ginger in the bottom of each jar.

Elderberry is part of my winter regimen for preventing and treating colds and flu. Elderberry has been used in folk herbalism for eons, and modern medical studies are now confirming it’s effectiveness.  Last year I used elderberry tincture and tea. A friend of mine gave me a jar of her canned juice when I picked up a rare cold, and I found it to be very soothing to my sore throat. As a result, I promised myself that I would can my own juice in the future.

With such a glut of elderberries I’ve been able to experiment with recipes a little more. My friend Tina has quite the collection of recipes going on her blog, and I’d like to offer one of my own for elderberry sherbet.

Elderberry Sherbet
3 cups elderberry juice
Juice of one lemon
1 cup honey
2 or 3 slices ginger root (optional)
1 cup cream

Place elderberry juice, lemon juice, honey, and ginger slices in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once completely cooled, remove ginger slices and add cream. Refrigerate mixture several hours to chill thoroughly. Place chilled elderberry mixture in an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. This is a soft sherbet, so you will need to transfer it to a container and place it in the freezer overnight to firm up.

I have a human powered Donvier 1-Quart Ice Cream Maker that I store in my deep freeze at all times. Whenever I make  ice cream, sherbet, or sorbet, I sit and churn in the evening while I watch TV. Then I pop the frozen treat in the freezer and it’s ready for dessert after dinner the following evening.

Strawberry Cake

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

I promised the recipe for the strawberry cake I took to my 4th of July family reunion, but there are a few things I’d like to share about this cake.  First, giving credit where due, this is not one of my own original recipes. It was given to me by one of my sisters in law on my husband’s side of the family. Second, this cake is absolutely yummy! Third, this cake represents everything I try NOT to do when I cook. This cake is fat, sugar, and unnatural food ingredients, and I only make it a couple of times a year.  I’m also sure to make it for an occasion including lots of people.  We all get a small slice, and I never have any left over. Lastly, did I mention that this cakes tastes absolutely divine? My boys beg me to make this cake more often, but I make them wait for every 4th of July and Christmas.

Strawberry Cake
1 box white cake mix
1 package strawberry gelatin
2/3 cup oil
1/4 c water
4 eggs
1 cup frozen, unsweetened strawberries (thawed and drained, reserve liquid for frosting)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine cake mix and gelatin in a mixing bowl. Add oil, water eggs, and strawberries. Beat mixture until thick and creamy, and strawberries are very well incorporated. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. Bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean, approximately 60 to 75 minutes. Be sure to cook cake completely before attempting to remove from pans. This is a very moist cake, and failure to cool thoroughly will result in the cake tearing apart when you try to remove it. I also find it very helpful to shake the edges of the cake loose before inverting the pan.

Strawberry Frosting
1 cup reserved strawberry liquid (add enough water to make 1 cup)
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar

Combine strawberry liquid and flour in a double boiler and cook until thickened. COOL. This is very important. If you don’t make sure this mixture is completely cool, you will have problems with the frosting when you try to blend it with the butter and sugar.

Beat butter and powdered sugar together until fluffy. Combine strawberry mixture and butter mixture and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Frost as a 2 layer cake, decorate with sliced strawberries and mint leaves,  and enjoy!

Creamy Buttermilk Lemon Pops

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I am not a hot weather person.  Add any humidity to the equation and I turn into the world’s biggest whiner.  Over the last few days we were hit with wonderful humidity and temperatures in the 90’s, and I’ve been so grumpy my family is about ready to ship me to Siberia.  This type of weather drives me to eat things like chilled avocado soup and these luscious sweet-tart freezer treats. I know you may think buttermilk sounds weird, but trust me, these are fantastic! I suppose you could flake out on me and substitute yogurt, but I encourage you to give it a try.  I think you’ll be surprised. My guys are not huge fans of buttermilk, but they love these.  The whole time they’re eating them they gripe and complain about how much I use buttermilk.  But, if I tell them that I’d be more than happy to take the pop off their hands, they shoot daggers at me with their eyes.

Since I make my own buttermilk and lemons are a staple in my refrigerator, I always have the ingredients on hand. These are a snap to make, taking very little time. Simply mix the ingredients together in a 4 cup measuring pitcher, pour into freezer pop molds, and freeze.

Creamy Buttermilk Lemon Pops
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
Juice of 2 lemons (approximately 1/3 cup)
1 cup sugar

Seriously, it’s that simple!

I’ve got quite the collection of freezer pop molds, and my favorites are those made by Tovolo