Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Resolutions: Panettone Bread Pudding

I've thought long and hard about my New Years resolutions and I thought I'd share them with you. Please hold me accountable!

1. No more candy!
My favorite candies include Shock Tarts, Sour Grapefruit Wedges and Twizzlers. My mouth is salivating now at the thought of eating some chewy, tart, sugary candies. But I'm better than that.

2. More recycling, less waste. I was inspired by this Sunset article:

3. Go to the library more. The library is such a great resource, it is difficult for me to walk out of Borders spending $76.

4. Make more "family time". No excuses, put down the laptop, endure the 3.5 hour drive or the $300 plane ticket. Family time is worth any expense.

5. Finish projects. I have about three unfinished crocheted blankets, curtains that are pinned up and ready to sew, necklaces that I've designed but haven't yet strung. It's all about the last 20%.

Speaking of the last 20%, I've been holding onto this recipe for a while. Bread pudding originally seemed unappetizing to me, the thought of soggy bread just sounded like yuck. After eating Tartine Bakery in SF's bread pudding, my whole world of soggy bread is just wrong turned a 180. If you have had Tartine's bread pudding you'll understand how the mushy bread disguised with cream and butter and a caramel sauce is good enough to disguise a dog bone.

Panettone bread pudding was originally my sister's original idea. She made it and reported to me that it was amazing. We were supposed to make it together in the last week but family, an engagement and the holidays made it too hectic to wrap up this recipe.

Finally, I fiddled with the recipe at home a couple of times and adapted an amaretto sauce recipe from Giada. I do not like my bread pudding overly soggy and sweet so I've cut back on a lot of the cream, eggs and sugar. If you prefer more "moisture" in your bread pudding double the milk, half and half, eggs and sugar and you will still have a warm, citrusy, amazingly satisfying Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce.

2/3 loaf of panettone (cut into cubes)
4 tbs cold butter
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest

Amaretto Sauce
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup amaretto liquor
4 tbs butter
1 1/2 tbs sugar
2 tsp corn starch

This dish is buttered, you just can't tell.
Take the cold butter and grease a 9x13" baking dish. Toss the panettone chunks into the dish.
On low heat, pour milk, half and half and sugar into a small pot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn off the heat and add the eggs. Whisk the eggs into the milk mixture. Stir in the orange zest and vanilla.
Pour egg mixture over the bread and let it sit for an hour. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
After an hour, put the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Pull back the bread to make sure all of the liquid has been cooked up.
To make the sauce, put butter in a saucepan and melt it on medium low. Add the half and half, sugar, and amaretto. Once combined, whisk in the corn starch until sauce begins to thicken.
When ready to serve, spoon out a couple spoonfuls of bread pudding int a bowl and drizzle amaretto sauce over the top.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taco Tuesday: Mexican Scampi Tacos

Shrimp scampi has always been one of those dishes that I wish I cooked it more often. This recipe is a lower calorie version of traditional shrimp scampi plus it tastes amazing on a warm corn tortilla.

Mexican Scampi Tacos

1 lb shrimp, thawed and de-shelled (about 10-12 shrimp)
2 tbs oil
1 tbs butter
2 tbs garlic minced
1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup tequila
6-8 corn tortillas
1 cup lettuce chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes diced
1/2 lime
1/4 cup queso fresco crumbled

Put the skillet on medium-low heat, pour the oil on the butter onto the skillet. Once the butter is melted and the oil swirls around the skillet easily add the garlic.

Warning: if your garlic starts to brown, the heat is too high and will result in a bitter tasting scampi. Cook the garlic for about 3 minutes until it looks soft and slightly golden and very aromatic. Top the garlic with red chili pepper flakes.
Throw the shrimp into the skillet, cook until the shrimp is almost completely pink and they are just about to curl up (about 3 minutes).
Now we get to add the tequila! If you have a gas stove, pour the tequila into the skillet. Tip the skillet so some of the tequila-shrimp  liquid pours into the flame (think a teaspoon of the liquid) and then put the skillet flat on the stove. You should see a blue flame over the entire skillet burning off the alcohol and giving your scampi major flavor.
It is so unfortunate that I could not capture the flame on the shrimp. This is the best you're going to get!

If you don't have a gas stove, just let the tequila simmer and the alcohol will cook off. To finish this, squeeze the juice of half a lime over the shrimp.

To assemble your tacos, take warm tortillas and layer the lettuce, 2-3 shrimp, a couple of diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of queso fresco.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!


The Christmas presents are wrapped, house is clean, car is packed and Lucy is excited to have some open space to run around in Grass Valley.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grandpa's Gingerbread Tree Scones

Out of my entire family, my grandpa is the most adventuresome chef we have. He is a math guru, following every step precisely (I wish I inherited that from him) and he goes by cookbooks. Grandpa will always be modest, but I think he is an amazing cook.

Most scones are dry and crumble in your mouth, and if you're from England I'm sure that's how they are supposed to taste, but I prefer mine soft and light like my grandpa's Gingerbread Tree Scones. I don't remember when Grandpa started using this recipe but it has always been a family favorite. He would always serve it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or over ice cream; however I have started making a smaller version of the scone that I give out during the holidays.

Grandpa adapted this recipe from Sunset Magazine in 1991

Gingerbread Tree Scones with a Vanilla Glaze

2 c. all purpose flour
¼ c firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp salt
½ cup or (1/4 lb) cold butter cut into small pieces
1/3 cup light molasses
1/3 cup milk

Vanilla Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
In a food processor combine flour brown sugar baking powder ginger cinnamon baking soda allspice and salt.
Cut butter into small squares, put it into the food processor and whirl until texture is like a coarse cornmeal.
In a bowl, stir together molasses and milk, add to other ingredients and whirl until dough forms.

With floured hands, gather dough into a ball and transfer dough to floured cookie sheet.
Break the dough into two sections. With one of the sections, roll out the dough into an even line. With your hand push down the dough so it forms a long rectangle.
With a floured knife, cut out multiple triangles out of the long rectangle.
To make the tree shape, make notches on the side of the triangle. Arrange the gingerbread tree scones on the cookie sheet so they are an inch away from one another.

Bake in 425 degree oven until tops are lightly browned (8-10 minutes)

Cool on rack for about 5 minutes.
To make your glaze, melt the butter in a bowl. With a whisk or a mixer combine the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and a dash of salt. 

Brush glaze over the tops of the scones and eat away. Be careful, you might eat more than one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Taco Tuesday: Cactus Tacos


Top 3 reasons I decided to make cactus tacos:

Reason #1: Homesick Texan posted a recipe over a month ago for a cactus casserole, I've been curious about cactus ever since.

Reason #2: I eyeballed a cactus plant down the street from the house, my husband refused to help me cut off some paddles. He said he considered it stealing.
Reason #3: My sister is in town so I finally found someone to drag down the street with me to forage cactus paddles. We did not get caught
And guess what, cactus is really good. In my opinion, cactus has the sticky texture of okra without the seeds and it tastes like bell pepper with a hint of lemon.

3 cactus paddles
1/3 cup onion chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
6 tortillas
1/2 cup of queso fresco
2 cups of chopped lettuce
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 lime
2 tbs oil

To prepare the cactus carefully cut off the pits where the needles come out. Slice into skinny 1 inch strips
Pour the oil onto the skillet and put it on medium heat. Once the oil swirls around the skillet easily, throw in 2/3rds of the chopped onions and saute until the onions are transparent.
Next add the oregano, chili powder and cumin. Once the spices are evenly distributed add the cactus.
Cook the cactus for about 15-20 minutes until the pieces are limp but still have a slightly vibrant green color.
Combine the chopped tomatoes, remaining onions and lime juice into the bowl.  To put together your taco, add the lettuce, cactus, tomato mixture and top it off with crumbled queso fresco.

The overall census was great. My sister and her boyfriend enjoyed the tacos, my husband ate the remaining cactus all by itself and I'm still going to make the cactus casserole recipe I found over a month ago!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ahma's Shrimp Curry

After 4 months in Connecticut, my sister, her boyfriend and their dog are finally home! Since they had spent over 12 hours traveling and it was cold outside I decided to make my great-grandpa's shrimp curry.  This recipe has been with our family for 4 generations and whenever this recipe is made I eat so much that the button my jeans leaves an imprint on my tummy.
1/2 onion chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
2 potatoes peeled and diced
1 tbs garlic minced
1 tbs ginger minced
1 1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 cup or 1/2 lb of shrimp
3 tbs curry powder
2 tbs peanut oil
1/2 cup of evaporated milk

In a large pot, saute the onions and celery in a tablespoon of oil for about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes and then pour the chicken broth into the pot. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes.

Add oil to a medium pan on medium heat. Once the oil swirls easily around the pan, add the garlic and the ginger. Cook for about a minute until the garlic and ginger are fragrant and then add the curry powder. Stir around so the curry powder gets incorporated with the oil. Pour the curry mixture into the large pot with broth.

Cook the shrimp in the medium plan and cook thoroughly.
Pour the evaporated milk into the broth. If you prefer a thicker curry you can add a couple of tablespoons to thicken. Last, add the shrimp to the curry.  Serve over steamed white rice.

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