May 13, 2010

Creme Caramel A.K.A. Caramel Flan

If you've never experienced this, I highly suggest you do. It's a custard - meaning a cooked mixture of cream or milk and eggs - if you don't like custards you probably won't love this. A custard can range in consistency from a creamy sauce (creme anglaise), to a thick creme used to fill eclairs. Custards are more commonly used in desserts with vanilla and sugar. Custards are also the basic base for quiches and some other savory foods.

This next little excerpt is from wikipedia... :D

Custard variations
Layers of a trifle showing the custard in between cake, fruit & whipped cream.

While 'custard' may refer to a wide variety of thickened dishes, technically (and in French cookery) the word custard (crème or more precisely crème moulée) refers only to an egg-thickened custard.

When starch is added, the result is called pastry cream (crème pâtissière), which is made with a combination of milk or cream, egg yolks, fine sugar, flour or some other starch, and usually a flavoring such as vanilla, chocolate, or lemon. Crème pâtissière is a key ingredient in many French desserts including millefeuille (or Napoleons) and filled tarts. It also used in Italian pastry and sometimes in Boston cream pie.

It is known as crème anglaise collée with gelatin added.

When starch is used alone as a thickener (without eggs), the result is a blancmange. In the United Kingdom, 'custard' often refers to a dessert thickened from cornflour rather than eggs; see custard powder.

After the custard has thickened, it may be mixed with other ingredients: mixed with meringue and gelatin, it is chiboust cream; mixed with whipped cream, it is "creme mousseline".

Savory custards

Not all custards are sweet. A quiche is a savory custard tart. Some kinds of timbale or vegetable loaf are made of a custard base mixed with chopped savory ingredients. Custard royale is a thick custard cut into decorative shapes and used to garnish soup or broth. Chawanmushi is a Japanese savory custard, cooked and served in a small bowl or on a saucer.

Custard may also be used as a top layer in gratins, such as the South African bobotie and many Balkan versions of moussaka.

Now that you know a little bit about custards I think perhaps I'll share this recipe with you. :D

You will need:
1/2 c sugar
Sprinkle of water
Several drops of lemon juice
3 eggs (or more - the more eggs you use the lighter the custard)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract ( I used closer to two or three )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat ( or medium-low if you're using a gas stove) combine sugar, lemon juice, and enough water for your sugar to be the consistency of wet sand. Stir, stir, stir your sugar. It will go liquidy, then hard and grainy, and THEN it will turn into delicious caramel sauce. Don't over cook this. When it turns golden, it's done take it off the heat. Have your pie plate sitting in some warm/hot water so that your caramel doesn't cool immediately on contact. Swirl the caramel around to cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Combine the rest of your ingredients. Whisk together very well. Pour egg mixture into baking dish ,cover with foil. Place your baking dish into a water bath. (A water bath is when you put whatever you're baking into a bigger roasting pan or baking sheet and fill it halfway to the top of whatever dish you're baking in.)
Bake for about 60 minutes, I would start checking it between 30 and 45. Depending on the depth of your dish it might be done sooner or later. Your flan will be slightly jiggly and will look a bit wet. If it REALLY is wet, then it's not cooked. You should be able to stick a sharp knife in it and have it come out mostly clean. Chunks on the knife are ok, as long as it's not soupy.
Pull your flan out of the oven and let it cool. If you're not serving it immediately make sure you refrigerate it. The caramel sauce needs to be warm or it won't come out of the pan. If you've cooled it down, just set it in hot water for a few minutes and that will be enough to melt your caramel. Set a big plate on top of your baking dish and flip your flan out. Slice it up like a pie and there you go!



May 6, 2010

Strawberry Banana/ Raspberry Mango Muffins

Good morning dear readers! I have a sweet little tidbit to share with you. :D The original recipe is for Strawberry Banana Muffins. I tweaked it a bit and also used the base recipe to make Raspberry Mango Muffins. The strawberry ones are great, but I'm in LOOOOOVE with the raspberry ones. They're tangy and tart, you can really taste the mango in them. These couldn't be easier, and since the recipe only makes 6 you'll always have the opportunity to have fresh.

Strawberry Banana Muffins

3/4 c. chopped strawberries
2 Tbsp agave
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 banana, mashed
2 Tbsp. applesauce

Optional lime glaze:
1 strawberry finely diced
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners. Spray liners with non-stick cooking spray i.e. Pam. (DON'T SKIP THIS! You'll be scraping your muffins out of the liners if you do.) In a small bowl combine the chopped strawberries, and agave, let sit. Meanwhile combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl mix mashed banana, egg, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the dry mixture into the banana mix. Mix with a fork until just combined. Fold in the strawberries and agave. Fill up the prepared muffin tins, almost to the top - these don't rise much. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Here's my adaptation for Raspberry Mango Muffins :)

3/4 to 1 c raspberries, smashed
2 Tbsp agave
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 ripe mangoes, smashed
about 1/4 c milk

Combine raspberries and agave, let sit. In a small bowl combine dry ingredients. In another bowl combine egg and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients with egg mixture. It will be dry, add in enough milk to get the right muffin consistency, it took me probably 1/4 c milk to get there. Fold in your fruit. Bake according to above instructions.


May 5, 2010

Roast Chicken and Potatoes with Roasted balsamic green beans

Sounds fancy no? No... not really fancy. Pretty homey actually. Melt in your mouth buttery potatoes with tangy sweet green beans and delicious chicken. Yes, I know it's a bit of a run on sentence, but it was worth it. Trust me.

This is a fall back recipe for me. It's truly delicious, and although it takes a while... 45-60 minutes... it's absolutely worth it. This recipe is courtesy of the lovely Martha Stewart. I adore many things she's done. Catching her on tv is always a bonus, and I love watching the old episodes where she's in the kitchen with her mom. I've attempted many things because of her. I know it's cliche and probably silly, but I remember watching her as a kid and being completely enraptured. I wanted to BE her. She cooks, decorates, does crafts, has animals, a family, and an amazing garden... who didn't want to be her? Oh right.... every other ten year old girl didn't. Eh, what can you do. :D

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Asparagus
Serves 4
1 1/2 lb. Small New Potatoes, halved (I tend to quarter... that's just me though.)
3 Tbsp. Butter, cut into small pieces
Salt and Pepper
About 3 lb. Chicken - You can use a cut up fryer chicken or the pre-butchered kind
1 bunch asparagus (about a pound) Trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
8 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes and half the butter in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until potatoes are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Place chicken, skin side up (skinless is totally fine - you just don't get the crispy crunchy goodness) on top of potatoes; season with salt and pepper (or whatever you choose, I usually sprinkle rosemary on as well) Roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
Scatter asparagus, lemon, remaining butter, and thyme around chicken. Roast until asparagus is tender and chicken is opaque throughout, 5 to 15 minutes. Serve Chicken, Veggies, and lemon drizzled with pan juices.

Roasted Balsamic Green Beans

2 small or 1 large shallot, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced or smashed
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 pound green beans

Whisk together balsamic, mustard, and sugar. Prepare green beans. In mixing bowl put green beans, garlic and shallot. Pour balsamic mixture over top, toss. Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 5-15 minutes until beans are tender and fragrant.

And.... the potatoes again since they're so amazing...

May 4, 2010

Blueberry Bread

Ok, here's the deal... I sort of have a tiny obsession with breads... Ok, maybe it's a major problem. But here's the thing, I can make it myself and I'm pretty decent at it, so why not? It's much cheaper than buying fancy bread from the grocery store, and I KNOW what's in mine. I found this recipe online while trolling the net for new things to try, I believe I found it on Basically I googled Blueberry recipes, and it happened to be one of the options that popped up. I am so glad that it did! I'll give you the base recipe, and then I'll note any changes that I'll be making in the future.

First off, this is soooooo simple. I mean, it really is. No mixers needed, nothing fancy. I mixed mine by hand, and had absolutely no issues with it lumping or anything randomly odd. It also doesn't take much to come together, so there's no strain on your arm and shoulder to mix this. It's a quick bread, so no yeast, and no kneading. If you want a change from the standard banana, or zucchini bread, this is worth a shot. :D

You will need:
3 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 2/3 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 c chopped pecans

Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan. (If you want to make multiple loaves go ahead, just watch them for baking time)
In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
In a large mixing bowl combine egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir until batter is moistened. Fold in lemon zest, blueberries, and chopped pecans.
Spoon into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Cool bread in pan on rack. For best flavor, wrap and store overnight.

Ok, here are my changes. I ended up using all whole wheat flour... because I had run out of all purpose... and my DH had the car at work. I wouldn't recommend using all whole wheat flour, it tends to be a bit more bitter than the all purpose. Hence, my bread is slightly bitter. If you want to use the whole wheat go ahead, but I would just sub half the AP flour with the whole wheat. I am going to add some nutmeg/cinnamon next go around and see if I can bring some flavor to the bread itself. There is lemon zest, and you can taste it....but it's just missing something for me. I'll also be adding more blueberries to my next batch. I'm also planning on smushing some of them up to get the berries more integrated into the batter. I also added pecans sprinkled on top of the bread. Next time I'll get a little sugar on the top of the loaf as well. I like that slightly crusty sweet texture.


I added a little honey ginger glaze to see how it was... SO GOOD! Super easy too...
Take about a TBSP of honey, a little melted butter, and a pinch of ginger powder mix it all up, nuke it for a few seconds to get it really nice and liquidy.... there you go! :D