Jeanne Dear, Can You Make Me Some Custard

Every time I make custard I think of this question my dad would ask whenever he would come to visit,  “Jeanne Dear, can you make me some custard”.  True to his Australian roots and heritage, he loved his custard.   Although he loved all of his sweets, custard was by all means his favorite.  He could easily eat the whole batch in one sitting if I would let him.  It’s funny the things you think of when a loved one has passed on.  My dad has been gone 11 years, and I still think of this with both a smile and a tear.  So every time I make custard, I know my daddy is close by, just waiting with a big spoon in hand to help eat his favorite dessert.

Aside from the fact that custard was my dad’s favorite dessert, it is also a very versatile dessert.  You can enjoy it just plain or with strawberries and/or bananas, or you can dress it up in many different ways.  When I make it, I make a fairly large batch of it, so I can use it for other things as well.  The other day when I made it, I served it with the left over kourambiethes from when I made my rice pudding and added fresh strawberries and whipped cream, making it like a strawberry shortcake.  It is cool and refreshing and with the addition of fresh fruits of the season, it makes a perfect summer time dessert.   The Arias port is the port we brought back Mount Felix Winery, in Havre de Grace Maryland.

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My recipe for custard is definitely tried and true.  I learned how to make it way back when I was in culinary school, from one of my favorite Chef Instructors, Rudy Rosier, a master pastry chef who was originally from Holland.  I have made it for many, many years ever since.  It always gets rave reviews.

All the things you need to make the custard.

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Combine the sugar, milk, salt and butter in a big sauce pan and bring to a scald, making sure all the butter is melted and all the sugar is dissolved.  Don’t stir it.  Just let it cook on it’s own.

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Whisk the eggs, corn starch and vanilla together separately.IMG_1605

Once the milk and butter mixture has come to a full scald, take about 1-2 cups of the hot mixture and add to the egg mixture, whisking it all together quickly as you pour the hot liquid into the cooler egg mixture, so the eggs don’t cook and scramble.   This is called tempering.

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Add the cool tempered mixture to the rest of the milk and sugar mixture.  Continue to cook at a medium heat, whisking the whole time until the mixture thickens.  This should only take a few minutes.

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Once the mixture has thickened, pour it all into a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray and immediately cover with plastic wrap to prevent a “skin” from developing.  Once it has cooled slightly, put the custard in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to set.  Then use your custard however creatively you desire.  No matter how you decide to use it, the end result will always be the same – DELICIOUS!

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I layered my dessert, starting with the kourambiethes or almond shortbread cookies, then topped them with the custard, sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  Dessert was a big hit.

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Custard

2 sticks butter

6 cups milk

3 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

1 cup corn starch

 

 

 

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Another Fun Evening with Friends

Part of why I love to cook so much is because I love to entertain and share the fruits of my labor with others.  Maybe it comes from working in restaurants and catering for as long as I did.  I love seeing people happy and having a good time.  I find when people open up their kitchens to others, they also open up their hearts.  My family all lovingly call me “a feeder”.  Yep.  I confess.  It’s true.  I love to feed people.  My husband always says stick with what you do best, and feeding people is definitely one of the things I do best.  We shared a good burger night with our very good friends Janet and Bob, and once again, had a fantastic evening filled with good food, good wine and a lot of good times. Life just doesn’t get much better than this.   We had 2-pepper gourmet burgers, Brussel sprout salad and a little of both the left over purple potato salad and the dill potato salad.  I had some left over sauce from when I made the steak au poivre, so we topped our burgers with that.  Delicious!   If I have leftovers, I always try to use them in a different way than they were used for the ” first overs”.  I just hate wasting food, so I really try my best to use everything.  The two peppers were the roasted hatch chilies and then the peppercorns in the au poivre sauce.  You have seen all three of the salads in previous posts, along with their recipes.  The burgers were spicy and full of bold flavors, so I served a Montafiossa Rosa that complimented the meal very well.   Dessert was a strawberry custard over almond shortbread cookies with the Arias port we bought when we were in Maryland awhile back.

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Making the burgers.

I added roasted hatch chile peppers, garlic, onion, salt and pepper, about 1/3 -1/2 cup of bread crumbs and 1 egg to the ground beef mixture and molded it all together.  I find the best way to do it is to just use your hands and then just mash everything together.  Once everything is well mixed, I formed the burger patties.  I like my burgers nice and thick.  Each burger was about 1/3 of a lb.  I let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before putting them on the grill, but you do not need to.

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Grilling them up.

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We weren’t sure if we were eating inside or outside due to Mother Nature being so temperamental, but we were prepared either way.  The sun finally came out just in time for us to eat, so we all opted for dinner on the deck.  We much prefer that to being inside, and given the choice, we will always eat outside.

The inside option.

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The outside option.

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We all had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.   Once again, great friends, great food, great wine and great times.  Those are my favorite things.

 

Meet and Greet: 6/23/18

Come join the party and let’s exchange ideas. A Jeanne in the kitchen will be there. You can find me at ajeanneinthekitchen.com

Dream Big, Dream Often

 

It’s time for the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
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  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times!  It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want.  It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

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I Am a Pampered Chef

All good chef’s, whether they be professional or just home chef’s, need good “toys” to play with.  These kitchen toys help us create our beautiful and delicious masterpieces from our kitchens.  I have tried many different gadgets and gizmos, but the ones I like best are the ones that are simple and practical.  I am a huge fan of all the Pampered Chef products and have many that I have had and used for years and years.  They are great quality, easy to use, not very expensive and last forever.   I had not been to a Pampered Chef party in quite some time until yesterday when my friend Kathy had one.   Her daughter Sarah has been a Pampered Chef  representative for quite a few years and put on a great presentation.  As usual, the products were fun, practical and very innovative.  We all bought a bunch of new items to add to our current collections.  I had to be careful and not go to wild though.  I  have run out of room for the things I already have, so buying new things has to be at a minimum.  It was tough not to come home with everything though.

This cool, fun piece is a granola maker.  I did not purchase this one (yet), but it is still very cool.  The granola came out wonderful; much better than store bought.

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Some of the other items that were used for the presentation were a brownie pan that Sarah used to make little individual quiches out of; a mini chopper that one of the guests was demonstrating how to use; a slicer; an iced party tray holder and the water diffuser that can have fruit (or coffee) in the middle and then pour the water around it. (I did purchase the diffuser.  I like the idea of the fruited water).  All of these recipes, ideas and products can be found on Sarah’s facebook page Sarah Triebold and on the Pampered Chef website.

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The mini quiches that were made in the brownie pan.  They were so delicious.

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My own personal items from Pampered Chef that have been used on a daily basis for many years.  I absolutely love using my stoneware for baking.  As you can see, they are all very seasoned and well used.  I actually have six baking sheets, put I only put out two.  I also have two pizza stones that I forgot to put out.  I think stoneware is the best for baking because everything cooks nice and evenly and they come out of the pan really easily too.  Cleaning them is a breeze as well.

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This is actually a strawberry corer, although I use it for tomatoes and many other things all the time as well.  This is probably my favorite kitchen gadget out of all the things I have and use.

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More of my fun stuff from Pampered Chef.  I have a fun water pitcher, that looking at it now, I guess is similar to the diffuser, just bigger; a trifle cake dish; and a great can opener.  The can opener actually cuts from the top of the can rather than the sides, and leaves a much cleaner, smoother edge, which means you are less likely to cut yourself  from the edges of the can.  Believe me, I have done that and had to go to the hospital for stitches.  Cuts from cans are nasty, deep and jagged cuts, so I highly recommend using the Pampered Chef can opener instead.

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If you are not currently an owner of Pampered Chef products, I definitely recommend trying them out.  I think you will love them as much as I do.   Just have fun in the kitchen.  That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

A Simple Summer Dinner with Friends

There is nothing better than getting together with good friends and sharing good food.  That is hands down my favorite way to spend my day.  And that is exactly what we did last night.  It was a great evening, as it always is when we get together with our dear friends Priscilla and Jonathon.  Regardless of who’s house we are at, we always end up sharing the kitchen duties, with each of us bringing about half the meal while the other one prepares other delectable dishes in her own kitchen.  Priscilla is a fabulous cook and is perfect at getting every last detail just right.  Last night, in between the rain and the sunshine, we enjoyed a simple, easy summer meal where we shared our friendship, great food and a fabulous bottle of wine, in Priscilla’s backyard.  Priscilla marinated a flank steak that we put on the grill.  She also had a nice crusty French bread that we dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I made some grilled stuffed tomatoes and a purple potato salad.  Dessert was a delicious strawberry shortcak, made by Priscilla,  finished with a nice, tasty port.  Life is good!

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You have all seen my recipe for my purple potato salad.  Here is the recipe and technique for stuffing and grilling the tomatoes.  Everything was delicious!  I just love tomatoes.  I cook with a lot of tomatoes, and we eat them a lot.  They are so tasty and so very good for you too.

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large fresh, firm tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP olive oil, plus more for drizzling on top after the tomatoes are done

2 TBSP ginger, minced

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 can garbonzo beans or chickpeas, drained

2 TBSP of each fresh mint and lemon verbena, cut into a chiffonade or shredded

 

Slice a small slice off the bottom of the tomatoes so they stand up straight.  Slice off a larger portion of the top and hollow the tomatoes out by cutting very carefully around the inside edges (about 1/4 ” from the edges) of the tomatoes and removing the center.  Discard the seeds and the bitter center, while keeping the fleshy, “meaty” center part.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet, and add the ginger until it is nice and fragrant, cooking for about 1-2 minutes.  Add the tomato pulp, with the juice, salt and pepper.  Add the rice, the garbonzo beans and herbs.  Cook down until all the excess liquid has evaporated.  Once the tomato-rice mixture is cooked, carefully stuff the tomatoes by spooning the mixture into the center of the cut tomatoes.  (This can be done ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator too until ready to grill for a few ours or even overnight).

I actually cooked my rice with the tomato and ginger mixture, so I added 2 cups of water with 1 cup of rice and then cooked it all down.

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Place the stuffed tomatoes on the indirect heat portion of the grill and cook for about 15-25 minutes or until the skin begins to wrinkle and the filling is nice and hot.  You can served these hot, warm or at room temperature.  If you want a little more zest to these, serve them with lime wedges and squeeze the lime juice over the tomatoes.

 

*** We had a red blend called Ensemble from Bookcliff Winery in Boulder, CO

*** Our port was a chocolate cherry port from another local winery, InVINtions, a Creative Winery, located in Greenwood Village, CO.

We are very fond of both wineries and frequent them both as much as possible.

 

 

Romanian Garlic Steak

When I think of Romania, I think of the dark romance from all the myths and stories we have all heard and grown up with.  I think of the traveling bands of gypsies and wolves running through dark, mysterious forests, and of course Count Dracula.  When I think of Romanian foods, I thinks of rich beefy stews like goulash and borscht made with beets.  I never really gave much thought about other foods found in Romania, other than good hearty foods with lots of garlic.   But the other day, I came across this recipe for a Romanian garlic steak that just sounded to tempting to let slip by.  The Romanian name for this dish is fleica.   I was 1/2 right; other than the steak, garlic is the most important ingredient in this simple recipe, and lots of it.  Don’t be afraid to load up on the garlic.  The more garlic you add, the better the steak will be.  After dining on this steak, fear not, the vampires will be no where near you for quite some time.  It will drive them away by using garlic and a different kind of steak than what all the folklore tells us about.

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This recipe has only 7 ingredients.

8-16 cloves of garlic, minced – According to the recipe, we are all encouraged and have the blessing of the original chef to “double the amount of garlic”, if we dare.  I of course, will always accept a dare, especially one like this.

1 1/2-2 lbs. of flank steak, bone-in rib-eye or a thick top round

1 tsp salt

1-2 TBSP lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

fresh parsley, chopped

fresh ground black pepper to taste.

 

Combine 1/2 the garlic with the salt and lemon juice and pour over the steak, making sure to cover the steak on both sides.  Rub the garlic and salt mixture into the steak and refrigerate for up to several hours or even overnight before grilling it up.

Right before placing the steak on the grill, whisk up the remaining garlic, olive oil, parsley and pepper and again pout it over the steak and really press it in.  Put the steak directly on the fire of the grill and cook to your desired doneness.  Depending on the thickness of the steak, it should be about 4-5 minutes per side for a nice juicy medium-rare steak.  Although, the steak we used was about 2 ” thick, so it took a little longer on each side.

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When slicing the steak, slice into thin strips, cutting the steak against the grain to ensure a nice tender and flavorful cut.  If you cut along the grain, the steak will be tough and chewy.

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I served the steak with a red potato salad with a dill-mustard vinaigrette, and the leftover green bean and cannellini salad I made the other day.  My wine choice was a full bodied, bold syrah with hints of chocolate and cherries to really compliment the big, bold flavors of the steak.  Delicious!

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A Little Greek in Melbourne

Australia, though it does not have the population of the United States, is also a big melting pot of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Melbourne, where my dad was from, is the oldest city in Australia, and I think the second largest, following Sydney.   We still have a ton (or tonne for all the Aussies out there) of friends and “rellies” in Melbourne and the surrounding areas, as well as other parts of Australia.  Melbourne equals multi-cultural and is very diverse, but one of the largest ethnic groups in Melbourne is the Greek population.  Melbourne has the largest Greek population anywhere in the world outside of Greece.  So there are many great Greek restaurants and recipes that can be found all throughout the city, and if you love Greek food like I do, this is fantastic news.

We are going Greek today, with a small, but very delicious taste of Melbourne’s wonderful Greek flavors.  This recipe has become my new favorite dessert.  You’re going to love it as much as I do.  It is Risogalo Rice Pudding.

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Rice pudding is a dessert that is found in many cultures and many countries, but this one is by far my favorite version, with the addition of a smooth, rich caramel sauce, almond shortbread cookie bits and pistachios.  It is rich and delicious without being overpowering or too sweet.  Each bite is like a little bit of Heaven with just enough sweetness to give it a bit of decadence as well.  When I am cooking, quantities are not really that important to me, because I mix and match and change things all around all the time, but when I bake that is a different story.   Baking is more of an exact science and measurements are very important.  The most difficult part of this recipe for me was converting everything from the metric measurements to our standard US measurements.  All my math teachers would be so proud of the fact that I can still use my brain to find mathematical solutions and make my metric/US measurement conversions.  My numbers may be off a bit, but as you can see, they were not off by much, because the results came out very well, and were very tasty.  I will be nice too all of you today and give you both the metric and the American measurements.  For those of you who know both, please feel free to correct my numbers wherever needed.

There are three components of this dessert.  The rice pudding or risogalo, the caramel sauce and the kourambiethes or almond shortbread cookies.  The kourambiethes can be made ahead and stored.  They are also very tasty when dipped in coffee or used like biscotti.

Risogalo

175 g or 1 1/2 cups rice

700 ml or 3 cups water

900 ml or 2 3/4 cups milk

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla

70 g or 1/2 cup powdered sugar

300 ml or 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Add the rice and water together in a heavy sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Once it comes to a full rapid boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes, then strain.  After straining the rice and discarding the water, place the rice back in the saucepan along with the milk, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.  Bring it back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer again and cook for about 20 minutes or until the liquid thickens and the rice is cooked.  Add the sugar and mix together well.  Change the rice to a flat dish and refrigerate for at least an hour to make sure everything sets.  Whip the cream and powdered sugar together and gently fold into the rice mixture.  Put back into the refrigerator until needed.

Cooking the rice with the milk, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.

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Adding the whipped cream and powdered sugar.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

500 g or 1 3/4 cups sugar

150 ml or 3/4 cup water

400 ml or 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

30 g or 3 TBSP butter

pinch of salt

 

Place the sugar and water into a heavy saucepan and cook over a medium heat.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved, then leave it alone.   You will need to use a candy thermometer and cook it until the temperature reaches 170* C.  Brush the sides of the saucepan down about every 3 minutes so the sugar does not crystallize on the sides.  You want the sauce to be a nice golden brown.  It takes awhile for it to start browning, but once it does, it browns and cooks very quickly, so be careful not to overcook it.  Add the cream, butter and salt and whisk together.  Cool to room temperature before using.  If your sauce is too thick, add some milk as needed to the mixture.  Mine was too thick at first, but I added some milk and it came to a nice thick syrupy sauce, which is what I was looking for.

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Kourambiethes or Almond Shortbread Cookies

170 g or 1 stick + 5 TBSP butter, softened

50 g or 1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup toasted almonds

2 tsp baking powder

2 cups flour

water as needed to help mix the dough together and bind it.

 

Preheat the oven to 350*F or 160*C

Mix the butter and sugar together.  Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add to the butter and sugar mixture.  Mix everything together.  Since I live in Colorado, where it is very dry and also a high altitude, I needed to add about 1 1/2-2 TBSP of water to the mixture to help it mix and bind together.  You are looking for a dry mixture, so you do not want to add a lot of moisture, but just enough to make everything stick together.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread the dough onto the paper.  Press it down with your hands and spread it out to about 1/2 ” or 1 cm in thickness.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool completely, then cut into “fingers”.

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When you are ready to indulge in this delicious dessert, assemble it all together in your serving dishes.    Layer it with the rice first, then the caramel sauce, followed by breaking bits of the shortbread cookies and then top with a few roasted, salted pistachios.  The result – DELICIOUS!