Monday, April 30, 2012

Coconut Pistachio Bread Pudding

There's a fine line between bread pudding and french toast. 

I initially called this french toast, since it isn't super sweet. But, it's really more similar to bread pudding. Not that that stopped us from eating it for breakfast. Where is that line? To me, it's at the cinnamon usage. There isn't enough cinnamon in here to call it french toast. But if by calling it that it makes it an acceptable breakfast food? I'm all for changing the name.

I imagine that this could be served as a dessert, or for brunch. Whichever you prefer really. No judgement here. 

Also - know up front that this takes a long time. You could get away with several hours, but I let mine sit overnight.

Start with the bread. Crusty, dry old baguette.

Cube it and divide it between two ramekins. Mix in some chopped pistachios.

Next, prepare the other ingredients. 

Eggs, milk, vanilla, salt, brown sugar, coconut milk. It all goes in the bowl. 

But back to that coconut milk, don't shake the can. You want 3/4 c., but you want to scoop off all the delicious fatty butter part and use that first. Spoon the coconut butter into the measuring cup first. Dig down and get all you can. Then top it up to the 3/4 line. 

Ok, so you've got all that together. Toss in some regular shredded coconut. You could toast it too, if you want. That would make it extra yummy.

Gently pour the mixture over the bread and pistachios.

Let sit to absorb for several hours. Preferably overnight.

Then, when you're ready to bake, top with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake until they puff up and turn golden brown on top. About an hour.

Drizzle with maple syrup. Take a deep breath. Dive in!

Coconut Pistachio Bread Pudding
Serves 2-4, depending on ramekin size

1/2 stale french baguette
4 eggs
1 c. milk
3/4 c. coconut milk (mostly the coconut butter)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. chopped pistachios
1/4 c. sweetened flake coconut
2 tbsp brown sugar
Sprinkling of cinnamon
 Maple syrup (for topping)

Take the baguette and cut it into large cubes. Place the cubes into 2 10-oz ramekins or 4 6-oz ramekins. Sprinkle the pistachio pieces even over the ramekins. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, milk, vanilla, salt, and 1/2 c. brown sugar. Add the flaked coconut. 

Distribute the milks mixture evenly among the ramekins. Allow them to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. 

Remove ramekins from fridge, and allow to warm up as the oven preheats to 375 degrees. Top the ramekins with the 2 tbsp of brown sugar and dust with cinnamon. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Bake until puffed up and golden brown on top, about 1 hour for the 10 oz ramekins. 

Drizzle with maple syrup and serve!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chili Colorado

This is a dish we discovered recently. I know, I know, I was raised in Texas. How could I not know about Chili Colorado??

The question the rest of you could be asking - Wow! Does Colorado really have a state chili?

Well, um..... *munch munch munch*

Who cares?? This stuff is delicious. It's like the best Latin style beef stew that you've ever eaten. With refried beans and a tortilla. (You can't leave these out. Pop open a can of beans and warm up those tortillas.)

You start off with the veggie chopping. Tomatoes, onions, and tomatillos. What's that last one, you ask?

These guys. Peel off the papery shell, rinse them off, and chop them up. Adds a good amount of acid and tang.

Now the roasting. In a very hot oven. They should get pretty browned.

And since you've already got the oven hot, toss the dried chiles on a pan and put them in. It gets the oils all happy.

Next, the chiles go in a bowl of chicken stock. You're basically making chili tea... And then you blend the sucker to smithereens.

Make sure you strain the blended mixture, you'll have lots of chili skin bits.

Once you've got your beautiful puree, toss it into a blender with the roasted veggies. Blitz until smooth.

Now, dry roast the spices in a pan on the stove.

Even if they are ground up, they'll still toast up nicely. And smell divine.

Pour the toasted spices into a small bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Coat the meat well with the oil and spices. Let it marinate for awhile.

Then you have to brown it off. Get the cubes nice and golden. 

Then the cubes go in a 9x13. With all the rest of the marinade.

Now, cover with the chili and veggie mixture.

Cover the whole pan in aluminum foil and slide it in the oven for 2 hours or so. 

Serve with refried beans and tortillas. Or cilantro lime rice.  Or cardboard, really. This stuff is delicious!

And having one of these around is typically a good idea too...

Chili Colorado
Makes 6-8 servings
Adapted from Aaron Sanchez

4 tomatoes
4 tomatillos
2 white onions
3 garlic cloves
olive oil
6-8 gaujillo chiles, dried
4-5 pasilla chiles, dried
3 c. chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, in chunks
1 tbsp dried ground mustard
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp mexican oregano
1/4 c. vegetable oil
salt and pepper
cilantro and queso fresco (topping)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes and tomatillos. Chunk the onion up in large pieces. Place the vegetables on a lined baking sheet and drizzle in olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until slightly blackened. Allow to cool on the sheet.

Cut open the dried chiles. Remove the stems and seeds. Once the veggies are out of the oven, put the chiles on a different baking sheet and dry roast them in the oven for 1 minute. Literally one minute.

Remove the chiles from the oven and place in 3 c. of chicken stock. Allow chiles to steep for 30 minutes.
Once the time is up, blend the chiles with an immersion blender or regular blender. Strain the liquid back into the blender. Add half the roasted veggies. Blitz till smooth. Add the other half and blitz till smooth. (If you have a small blender, you may need to do this in 2 batches).

In a small saucepan, dry roast the mustard, cumin, coriander, and oregano for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Mix spices into a small bowl with oil, salt and pepper. Coat the beef cubes in the oil mixture. Allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sear beef off in the sauce pan, browning each side. Place finished beef in a glass 9 x 13 pan. Pour the chili and vegetable sauce over the beef. Cover in aluminum foil and roast for 2 hours, until beef is tender.

Spoon onto a plate and top with crumbled queso fresco and chopped cilantro. Serve with tortillas and refried beans.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fudgey Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Meringue Icing

I made this as my birthday cake last week. I wanted a dark (almost black) chocolate cake, and a white icing. But not just any typical buttercream - a fancy, grown up icing. Suited for a fancy, newly-27 Megan.

The cake turned out well! Perhaps this getting older and wiser thing is not a complete falsification.

You start off with the dry ingredients. Just like you're making any other chocolate cake.

Now, for the wets (most of them). Whisk together till homogenous.

Here's where things get a bit odd. Mix butter (cut into tablespoons) into a cup of hot coffee.

Get it to melt. Involve a microwave if necessary.

Alternating between the two liquid mixtures, add them to the dry mix slowly. 

The batter is basically chocolate soup at this point.

Take your sprayed and lined pans....

And fill them equally with batter.

Gently move them to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pans. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then flip them out and allow to cool completely.

Which gives you just enough time to make the icing. 

Over a double boiler, whisk egg whites and sugar until the mixture reaches 140 degrees.

Once you've hit the magic number, move the eggs to the bowl of your KitchenAid and turn the speed to high.

Beat them until you form medium peaks and the mixture cools to as near room temperature as you can wait for it to get to.

Take a stick of butter and chop it into small chunks. Beat it in gradually with a bit of vanilla. 

Pound up a bunch of pistachios.

You're ready to layer!

Cake - icing - pistachios. Repeat 2 more times. 

The leftovers don't keep very long - mostly because they get eaten. Otherwise, I imagine they'd definitely keep for longer than a day....

Fudgey Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Meringue Icing
Cake adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, Icing from Use Real Butter

For the cake:
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. dark unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 c. buttermilk or substitute
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp butter, soft
1 c. hot coffee

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and line each of three 9" or 8" round cake pans with parchment. Spray the pans again.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Melt the butter in the coffee in a different small bowl. Alternating between the two liquids, slowly combine them into the flour mixture. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven and allow cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pans and allow to cool completely.

For the Icing:

6 oz egg whites
1 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick of butter (1/2 c.)
Crushed pistachios (for topping)

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, start the icing. In a double boiler, whisk the egg whites and sugar until the mixture reaches 140 degrees.

Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of your KitchenAid. Whisk on high for several minutes until firm peaks form. Continue to beak on medium speed until the mixture cools to near room temperature. 

Cut the butter into small cubes. Beat into the meringue in small installments (don't dump it all in at once). Beat in vanilla.

To compose the cake, start with a layer of cake, add a layer of meringue, then a layer of crushed pistachios. Repeat 2 more times. It gets messy, so I'd put out a bit of parchment first.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Nor Cal Birthday

 This past Saturday was my birthday. My 27th birthday.

Apparently, I'm growing up. 

Not that had any influence on my desire for a birthday celebration.

And Mr. S had a special adventure planned....

It was an amazing weekend.

Back to recipes as soon as I can find my way back to the kitchen.

Friday, April 20, 2012


You. Guys. 

If you don't know what horchata is, prepare to have your minds BLOWN. The people of Latin America have created the best drink ever. Not kidding.

Think of a ricey-tasting, creamy, cinnamony, sweet drink. That you can suck down by the gallon (at least I can).

You can find jars of this at most Mexican taquerias. Or at really authentic Latin American restaurants. I suggest you ask for it the next time you find yourself in one. You won't be disappointed.

But if you'd like to get a taste for it before you go......

Get out your blender. Toss in the rice. Blitz for several minutes.

Then get a large measuring cup and fill it with 3 cups of water.

Dump in your rice powder - slowly, there will be splashing... Then toss in a cinnamon stick.

You'll just need to cover this with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge over night. Mix it together every few hours until you go to bed, if you remember. But don't worry. There will be settling.

Stir it up before you transfer it back to the blender. Pour the rice water into your blender and liquify that sucker. If it's still a little chunky, you might want to strain it through cheesecloth or a fine sieve. 

Next, pour in the milk (cow or rice, your choice) and sugar. Add vanilla and a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. Liquify again.

The mixture will get all frothy. And delicious!

Using a silver ladle (or a 1/2c plastic measuring cup) ladle out the horchata into your cute milk glasses.

Top with a dash of cinnamon. And serve.

Makes 6 cups
Adapted from David Lebovitz

2/3 c. rice
3 c. warm water
1 cinnamon stick
2 c. milk (or rice milk)
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 grates of fresh nutmeg (to taste)
1/3 tsp cinnamon

Put the rice in a blender and blitz until finely chopped. So it looks about like coarse corn meal. Fill a medium bowl with 3 cups of warm water. Pour in the rice powder.

Stir it up, and add a cinnamon stick. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours. Or longer. It's ok if you forget it for a day. Stir it occasionally, if you remember.

Once the hours have passed, remove the mixture from the fridge and give it a good stir. Pour the liquid back into the blender carafe. Liquify it for several minutes. If it still seems chunky (or if you want it really smooth), strain the liquid through cheesecloth. 

Add milk, sugar, vanilla, and spices. Blend away until nice and frothy. 

Pour into glasses, add ice, and sprinkle with cinnamon. 

Serve with pistachios.... At least that's how we do it around here....