Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum

Ingredients

Batter:
2 sticks of butter at room temp
2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cloves

Drink:
1 & 1/2 ounces (1 shot) dark rum
1 c. boiling water
1 tbsp batter

Preparation

Mix the butter, sugar and spices together until combined.

Combine rum, water and batter in a mug
*Optional: top with whipped cream

Storage:
Roll into a log in plastic wrap
or spoon out tablespoon sized dollops onto waxed paper
Refrigerate or freeze.

Since I hate whiskey this drink is definitely on the top of the hot alcoholic winter drinks list. It’s really easy to make and since the batter is just mainly butter it lasts a pretty long time in the fridge and even longer in the freezer.

For those coming in directly, here is a link to the recipe for the orange and chocolate biscotti in the background.

Bread Pudding

bread pudding

Bread Pudding

Ingredients

4 c. chopped bread
2 c. milk
1 c. cream
3 eggs beaten
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. rasins
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Preparation

Place bread crumbs in a bowl and cover with milk and cream
Soak for one hour
Preheat oven to 300
Mix eggs sugar and spices together
Mix everything together
Fill with pudding mix
Get a nonstick muffin tin that can fit inside of another pan to create a water bath
Or get a bunch of ramekins
Butter then fill the cups with the bread pudding
Bake for 1 & 1/2 hours or until the custard has set

bread pudding

I was talking with my brother about this recipe and I think he said it best, it’s pretty hard to screw up bread pudding. I have to agree. As long as you hit the key bread, milk, eggs and sugar it’s probably going to taste good. So this recipe is more of a guideline than hard and fast rules. Feel free to change up the spices, skip the water bath, switch up the pine nuts, whatever, bread pudding is really hard to screw up. I liked using the muffin tins because I just popped them out and they were already divided and held up pretty well in the transfer over to a bowl. I actually threw most of them onto waxed paper and into the freezer once they cooled down. They come back to life in the microwave really well. So on a cold winter morning you can have a hot breakfast in a few minutes that isn’t oatmeal.

Shaping Bread

Here is a stop motion video of me shaping the buns from the previous post.

No Knead Buns

Buns

No Knead Bread Dough

Ingredients

3 c. lukewarm water (about 100ยบ F)
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 1/2 tbsp salt
6 1/2 c. all purpose flour

* for those of us without 1/2 tbsp measures .5 tbsp = 1.5 tsp

Preparation

Mix together all ingredients in a 5 quart container
Let rise at room temp for 2-3 hours
Keep in refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 2 weeks

Remove a chunk of dough from the container (amount depends on what you are going to bake)
Gently form it into whatever shape you are baking
Place dough onto parchment paper
Let rise for 40 minutes
While bread is rising prep your oven for baking

Place a pizza stone on the middle rack and a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack
Turn the oven to it’s highest setting
Heat up 1-2 cups of water
Once the rising is complete slide the parchment onto the pizza stone
Very carefully pour the water into the skillet (*** This can be dangerous, hot steam will come rushing out of the skillet ***)
Quickly close the oven to trap the steam inside
Reduce the heat to 450 degrees F
Bake for 30 min
Let cool on a wire rack

There has been a lot written about no knead bread at this point so I’m not really going to get into the history and details. I got the basic recipe here and it’s just the base recipe from this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.

I have a lot of trouble baking bread. I don’t know if it’s some kind of bread A.D.D., but going through all of the steps to create a perfect traditional loaf of bread kind of has me stumped. After trying this recipe (I only did a half for my first two attempts) I’m a firm believer in this style of baking bread.

Just a few last thoughts, For the buns I removed slightly large than golf ball sized chunks and shaped them into little boules. The steam part might seem a little weird but it’s really what is going to produce the perfect crust. And let me reiterate, the steam part is dangerous, be careful. In the bread bible aka Bread Bakers Apprentice goes into a lot more detail about the whole steam process and they suggest opening the oven and spraying the sides of the oven at 30 second intervals to really get a lot of steam going.

Little Bacon Sandwich

Now what should you do with these fine buns? I did end up smearing some honey butter on one of them but my favorite was this little bacon sandwich.

Little Bacon Sandwich

Ingredients

Little bun
A lot of bacon
A lot of mayonnaise

Preparation

Bisect the bun with a sharp knife
Smear mayo on one side of the bun
Top with bacon and the other side of the bun

Here is a video showing how to shape the bread

Beef Negimaki

Beef Negimaki

Teryaki Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 c. Soy Sauce (low sodium is a good idea here)
1/2 c. Mirin or Sake
3 tbsp. sugar

Beef Negimaki

Ingredients

Teriyaki Sauce
1lb.Thinly sliced beef (flank steak)
4 scallions trimmed and cleaned per roll

Preparation

Slice the meat along the grain as thin as possible
Pound the steak until it’s about 1/16″ thick
Marinate steak in Teriyaki sauce for 15-30 min (keep the marinade for later).
Arrange your beef strips so that they are just overlapping
You want an area of meat that is wide enough to contain the scallions
Place the scallions at one end of the beef and roll towards the other end creating a tight wrap
Tie with string to secure the strips of beef
Heat up a pan with a bit of oil
Sear the roll on all sides
Remove from pan to a cutting board
Pour the saved marinade into the pan and reduce it to desired thickness
Cut the rolls and arrange on a plate
Drizzle the sauce over the rolls and serve

I didn’t followSandra Lee’s recipe that uses “beef sandwich slices” aka steak-umms aka beef spam. I decided that this one on epicurious was a little more legit.

I loosely followed the epicurious version. I didn’t blanch the scallions. I didn’t use flank steak, I used a crappy cheap cut that was already sliced and fairly mangled. I mangled it more with a wooden hammer too try to get an even 1/16″. I didn’t tie it up with a string, I just hoped that the searing would hold it in place and it did.

Overall the feeling that I get from this recipe is that it’s pretty open to interpretation. It’s really just marinaded meat wrapped around a vegetable. I saw a lot of recipes for where the meat is wrapped around asparagus and a few where mini-negimaki were made appetizer style. So I think this is a good basic recipe that will hopefully inspire some more clever uses of meat wrapped around vegetables, but please refrain from using steak-umms, it’s just wrong.

Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

leftover mashed potato pancakes

Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

Ingredients

1 c. Mashed potatoes
2 eggs

Preparation

Heat up a skillet on medium heat
Mixed mashed potatoes and eggs
If the batter is looking really runny add a little flour to get to desired thickness
Add a little butter or oil to the skillet
Spoon ~1/8 c. of batter into the skillet (if they are too big they are impossible to flip)
Cook until they get nice and brown on the bottom flip and cook until done
Serve with ketchup, maple syrup or jam

Whenever I make mashed potatoes I usually try to make a little more than I need just so that I can have enough left overs to make these pancakes the next morning. Adding flour or something to thicken up the batter can be a necessary evil because it’s impossible to say how dry or wet the mashed potatoes are. I made two batches of pancakes from two different sets of mashed potatoes. The first set were perfect, cup of mash and two eggs, no flour needed. The second set used some overly wet mashed potatoes. I decided to try thickening it up with corn meal. Lesson learned, they didn’t taste like corn bread they tasted like crap.

Honey Butter

honey butter

Honey Butter

Ingredients

1 stick (1/2 c.) Butter at room temp
1/3 c. Honey

Preparation

Mix with a hand mixer until the butter and honey are blended together
Serve on toast, bread or sopapillas

Put the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log
Store in the fridge

butter and honey

When I was growing up my family almost moved to New Mexico. We took a lot of trips there to look at houses and see the sights. Of all the food we had, the one thing that I remember was sopaipillas and what really sticks out is that they were usually served with honey butter. Most of the recipes that I’ve seen floating around for sopaipillas either dust them with sugar and serve them with honey, but they never mention honey butter! They’re missing the best part!

Sopaipillas are good, but honey butter is great! For one thing, it solves the age old problem of honey on toast. Make a piece of toast, butter it up, drizzle some honey on it, take a bite and all of the honey runs off the toast. Now with honey butter, problem solved. Thank you honey butter!

One last thought, the honey to butter ratio is really flexible, I haven’t made this stuff since I was a kid and I just guessed at a ratio and it tasted great. I think next time I’d probably try a 1-1 ratio.

Fist Full of Basil

Fist Full of Basil

If you don’t get the title then please go and watch this.

I have two huge basil plants in my back yard. As the first frost creeps closer, the time line for using it all up gets shorter, so I needed a recipe that uses basil by the fist full. This is another one of those recipes that you really just eyeball. If you want it more garlicy add more, if you want it more basily add more of that.

Pesto

Pesto

Ingredients

2 fists full of basil
1 small fist full of walnuts or pine nuts
1 fist full of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
3-4 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil

Preparation

Chop the basil and garlic until it’s manageable
Add the nuts and chop some more
Add the cheese and chop some more
Put into a bowl or jar and add some olive oil

You could throw all of this into a food processor, but you’ll come out with a really gross looking paste so I really recommend chopping this by hand. I use a mezzaluna, it keeps all of the bits in the central bowl area, the blade is sharp enough that the weight of the knife can do most of the cutting and the end result has individual bits of the primary ingredients instead of a singular green goop. If you have a ton of basil you can make up a huge batch of this stuff. I’ve heard of people putting it into ice cube trays to keep it over the winter. Personally I don’t know about the ice cube tray thing, with this much garlic I can’t imagine that you’ll be able to get the taste out of the tray afterward. It should last for a few weeks or months in your fridge if it’s thoroughly mixed/covered with olive oil.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

I had the best intentions to make butternut squash ravioli today, but as dinner crept closer I just wasn’t going to get it done. I had a pot of stock that I started earlier in the day so I figured I could turn the squash puree into soup. The soup was good even if it wasn’t as sweet as my wife likes it. Her favorite butternut squash soup recipe is really heavy on the apples. While this might not take the title of “favorite” soup recipe it was pretty easy and didn’t require a blender.

Butternut Squash

Butter Nut Squash Puree

Ingredients

2 lbs. Butternut Squash (peeled and roughly chopped)
A few strips of bacon (I used a whole pack)
3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary

Preparation

Heat over to 400
Put the squash in a roasting pan
Put a few sprigs of rosemary between around the squash
Lay strips of bacon on top
Roast for about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until squash is soft

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

Butternut Squash Puree
Chicken Stock
Salt
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
creme fraiche

Preparation

Mix the puree and the stock until desired constancy is reached
Add salt, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
Slap a big dollop of creme fraiche in the middle
Serve with pieces of rosemary bread

Last couple of thoughts: I split this recipe in two because I still think that the puree could make a really good filling for ravioli on it’s own. The measurements are kind of vague for these recipes because I really just eyeballed most of it. I bought a squash and cut it up. That yielded about a pound when peeled and chopped. When I got to the soup stage I would have liked double the amount of puree, that’s why I said 2 lbs. in the recipe. So, I think this is a good recipe for people who like a flexibility in what they’re cooking.

Pawpaws

Pawpaws

Pawpaws are native to the eastern US and in my opinion almost completely unknown. I guess this is due the fact that the pawpaw “does not store or ship well” [1]. I have lived in Maryland all my life and I am fortunate enough to have great memories of picking and eating pawpaws along the C&O canal.

Their texture is close to a banana or maybe a papaya. Their taste is unique and for me I can only say they taste like a pawpaw. They look like a mango and usually have black spots that make them look like they’re covered in mold.

Searching for recipes on the internet is a disappointment due to their relative obscurity. But wikipedia says, “In many recipes calling for bananas, pawpaw can be used with volumetric equivalency”. It’s a fairly labor intensive process to get the maximum amount of pulp from a pawpaw. The biggest issue with getting the pulp is the seeds.

pawpaw seeds pawpaw with seeds

The seeds have a thick membrane around them that clings to the pulp so if you want to get the most out of your pawpaw you are going to have to get that membrane off of the seeds. I peeled mine by hand the skin is really thin and if the pawpaw is ripe it comes off easily. I guess most of my pawpaws were technically unripe because they were fairly green but they tasted ripe so I just used them anyway.

Normally you can walk around a grove of pawpaw trees and find ripe ones hanging from a tree. We cheated a little bit. When my mother would spot a tree with some in it I would give it a shake and wait for a hail of pawpaws to fall to the ground. Hind sight being what it is I probably should have had some head gear because these things are heavy and some of the really unripe ones are hard as a rock. But I was lucky and didn’t get a pawpaw to the skull.

pawpaw hanging from a tree pawpaw leaves

Pawpaw Jam

Pawpaw Jam

Ingredients

4 c. pawpaws seeded and peeled
4 c. sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 packet pectin (I used sure-jell)

Preparation

Sterilize the jars by boiling in hot water or washing in the dish washer hot cycle.
Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water.
Bring the pawpaws and lemon juice to a rolling boil.
Slowly mix in the pectin.
Mix in the sugar.
Bring to a rolling boil and boil for one minute.
Fill the jars with some room for the liquid to expand, about 1/8 of an inch from the opening.
Put the lids on and secure with the screw top rings.
Add the jars to boiling water in your canning pot for 10-20 minutes. (I used a big pot with a steamer basket in the bottom to keep the cans off the bottom).
Remove them from the water and let them cool at room temperature for 24 hours.

*Disclaimer: I made this recipe up. I can’t attest to the “safety” of this recipe because canning with untested recipes could possibly lead to spoilage. So if you are a little freaked out, you can always freeze or store in the fridge for a couple of months with relative safety.

Thoughts on the jam: It really didn’t hold that unique pawpaw flavor well. It tasted good, but it really just tasted like “jam”. I have a few pawpaws left over that still need to ripen a bit so I’m hoping that I can get enough out of them to mix some jam and fresh pawpaws to whip up some pawpaw ice cream.