Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Yesterday's science experiment (see yesterday's post) proved to be a boon for today's creme brulee assignment. You see, I don't own a blow torch for making the famously crunchy sugared topping. I don't foresee buying a blowtorch at least until the very sweet but slightly destructive five year old I call "son" is a college freshman-and even then, I'll probably lock it up over holidays and long weekends. It resembles a light saber just enough to be utterly enticing to a young Jedi in training.
But resourcefully blowtorch-less, I discovered that a bit of melted-sugar crunch candy on top of creme brulee makes a lovely and just as crackly substitute as that burnt sugar topping. And of course, my alterations didn't end there. My variation on Dorie's creme brulee has a delicious September twist with cinnamon apples and brown sugar for caramely undertones.
Now, creme brulee is notoriously naughty for you, since the main ingredients are cream and egg yolks. Slashing the fat in this delicate dessert seems pointless, leaving portion control as the only viable option. I made a 1/3 batch for my family of four; two servings to share among four people. I could have been deeply dangerous with a full batch. Wether it be with creme brulee portions, or five year old with blowtorches, I'm playing it safe. For today. I can't promise the same resolve when it comes to next week's Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake....
Money and Time-Saving Tips: Use whatever variety of apple you have on hand. Look for cream to be on sale from now throughout the holidays. I recommend using the microwave to speed along the prep process.
Caramel Apple Creme Brulee
Estimated Cost: $2.00 for two servings
1 apple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place the apple in a small microwaveable dish. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cover and microwave on high for about two minutes, or until softened. Divide apples between two 6-8 ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on baking sheet; set aside briefly. In a small bowl, heat milk and cream together in the microwave, watching closely, until just boiling, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk, brown sugar and vanilla together until blended. While still whisking, drizzle in about one fourth of hot cream mixture. Whisk in the remainder of the mixture. Strain the custard into the two ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the custard jiggles slightly when tapped on the side of the dish. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least two hours. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat sugar and water, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Do not stir but watch closely, and continue to cook until sugar becomes a deep caramel color. Pour onto greased cookie sheet. Let cool and break into irregular pieces. Top creme brulee with sugar candy pieces just before serving.
The Final Item on the Fall Kick Off Menu:
Make-your-own-Caramel Apple Wedges
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Money Saving Tips: I've always used whatever apples I have on hand and even the non-baking varieties have worked out very well, so use whatever you can get for a good price.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Strain and set aside. (This can be done ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated.) In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Mince remaining onion and slice mushrooms and add to pot. Cook for about five minutes, or until softened. Add flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Stir in brown rice and warm through. Add cream and milk and warm through without boiling; season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Fall Kick Off Dinner:
Today's Offering: Spicy Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili
Crock Pot Meaty Chili
Corniest Corn Muffins
Crumbly Oatmeal Apple Bars
Caramel Apple Wedges
Money Saving Tips: If you don't have canned pumpkin, you can swap it for pureed winter squash or even sweet potato, but you may have to add a little extra water to compensate. You can use your own cooked dried beans to save money. 2 cups of pinto beans will cook overnight on low in a crockpot without any presoaking or fuss.
Spicy Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for 8 servings
Notes: You can make this chili a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge. It'll taste even better.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 large bell pepper, chopped (I used some red, some yellow)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder (less if yours is hot)
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne
2 (14 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained
1 (14 ounce) can Mexican style diced tomatoes with juices, blended in the blender
1 cup canned plain pumpkin puree
shredded cheese and chopped cilantro for serving
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, 2 cloves garlic, ginger, bell pepper, and carrots. Cook for five minutes, stirring often, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute. Add beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until all vegetables are softened. Stir in remaining garlic and pumpkin; warm through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shredded cheese and cilantro, if desired.
A Brief but Delicious Break from our Fall Menu
Lightened Up Cream of Mushroom and Brown Rice Soup
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This week's assignment was a Dimply Plum Cake. Dimply. And last week we made Chocolate Chunkers. Chunkers. Dimply and Chunkers. Perhaps it was this not-so-subtle 2 week message that inspired me to make a lightened version of Dorie's cake. And that's not all I changed. Craving the flavors of fall, I added molasses, ginger, and cinnamon to the cake batter and covered the top with not plums, but sugared slices of September apple. With yogurt standing in for half the fat, this cake is guaranteed not to make you dimply or chunky- although I certainly wouldn't hold it against anyone and expect the same courtesy when necessary. A plain and unpretentious un-frosted cake, it's unbeatable with a cup of hot cider, or with a scoop of low fat vanilla cream. I have it on good authority, ahem, that is also superb for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. But don't take my word for it. Make some yourself to welcome in the season of "the winnowing wind and soft-dying days."
Money Saving Tips: Apples have a very long life, if stored unbruised in a cool, dark place. I keep mine in the refrigerator, but if I had a cool basement, that's where they'd be.
Molasses Cake with Sugared Apples
Estimated Cost: $3.50
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 or 3 large baking apples, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, and molasses until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Gently beat in yogurt and vanilla. Gently add dry ingredients, mixing only until blended. Scrape batter into prepared baking dish. Cover the top with apples and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 minutes. Coming Tomorrow:
Fall Vegetable and Pumpkin Chili
Monday, September 22, 2008
And my task today is to change the decoration on the fireplace mantle. For it is summer no more. Welcome Fall!
Money Saving Tips:
Shop around for butter sales, since some market seems to have it on sale every week. This is a great time to start stocking up on baking essentials when you catch a good price, since the holidays are right around the calendar's corner. Target has M and Ms on sale quite often too.
Fall Colored Chewy Oatmeal M and M cookies
Estimated Cost: $3 for 24
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup fall colored m and ms, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars, creaming until smooth. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Sprinkle soda, powder, and salt over the top and mix. Add flour, then oats. Add half of the M and Ms. Shape into 1 inch balls. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheets for about 8 minutes. As soon as cookies come out of the oven, poke a few M and Ms on top of each one.
Tuesdays with Dorie
Sugared Apple Molasses Cake
Sunday, September 21, 2008
-Never throw away your lemon zest. (Zest is the colorful outside coating on citrus fruits-not the bitter white pith beneath.) Using a vegetable peeler, remove all of the zest from your lemons. Chop it finely and freeze it in plastic bags.
-Juice your lemons using a reamer or juicer to get the most from each lemon.
-Reduce the juice in recipes by half, and add lemon zest to get that bright lemon flavor.
-For baking, rub lemon zest with granulated sugar to bring out a more pronounced lemony flavor.
This is one of my absolute favorite lemon pasta dishes. It makes a fantastic side with a bit of grilled or stewed meat, or a refreshing and light main dish. I make it all year long, but I love it most when the tomatoes are ripe and juicy. The best bites have a bit of sweet tomato and a long swirl of lemony, creamy pasta. You'll only need one pot and about 20 minutes, so get squeezing and zesting. And pray for a good safe lemon bumper crop this year.
Money Saving Tips: This pasta dish makes excellent use of your pricey lemon, by including both the zest and the juice. If you don't have green onions on hand, use chopped yellow onions but saute them a bit before you add the garlic.
Lemon Sour Cream Pasta
Estimated Cost: $4.00
1/2 lb. flat pasta noodles, such as fettuccine
1 cup frozen peas, if desired
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sour cream, (light works well), or whole milk plain yogurt
juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese, for the top
sliced juicy red tomatoes
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding peas during last minute of cooking time. Drain pasta in colander. To the same pot, add butter and garlic and cook over low heat for one minute, or until garlic is very fragrant and softened. Add pasta and peas back to pot. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice and zest, green onions, and salt and pepper. Warm through. Serve with sliced tomatoes. Coming Tomorrow:
Sesame Scallion Grilled Tri Tip
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Justin and Jess, lovers of all things pumpkin and chocolate chip.
Rebecca, lover of pumpkin ravioli with sage butter and pumpkin bread, spread with cream cheese.Thanks to everyone for playing along.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Winners announced Saturday! Thanks for entering...
Winsome readers: As promised, today is the day for my sneaky little give away. And boy am I glad. Today is one of those days, that even had I woken up at 3 AM (which I considered), it wouldn't have been early enough to get everything done. I wish I could form a committee to attend my meetings, unload my dishwasher, instruct my charges, return my phonecalls, grade my papers, plan my lessons, fill in my crossword puzzle, sew my Halloween costumes, mop my floors. The only thing I don't want any help with is my blog. I'll wake up early and stay up late and leave the laundry in heaps and be late for meetings for Prudence Pennywise. I suppose that means that I love it. I do. I love it. Thanks to my many readers for making it worthwhile for me to cook and write and gush on an almost daily basis. Thanks for your comments, emails, for spreading the word about Prudence Pennywise, and most especially your readership. I promise to never run out of money saving tips and recipes, as long as you promise to keep coming back. Deal?
As for the give-away, leave a comment telling me your favorite fall food. That's it. If you feel so inclined, you can tell your friends to enter the give-away also. You've got till Friday, September 19, 2008 5:00 PST. I'll ship anywhere.
Here's what you've got a crack at winning:
A modern slow cooker recipe book.
I really need this one for the aformentioned busy days....
And I want this one also, because pancakes just sound fabulous on a fall morning.
And this one I have, but it's so wonderful that I have to give it away again. If I could only have one baking book, this would be it. Period.
Winners Announced Friday-uh, make that Saturday....
See you Then
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Money Saving Tips:
Make your own crust to save money, or go ahead and purchase one if time is a greater issue. If you have your own garden, I'll bet you've still got loads of zukes and squash. If not hit up a neighbor or head to the farmer's market.
Summer Vegetable Gratin Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust
Estimated Cost: $$5.50
YIkes-I didn't meant to write $1.50 earlier. It's only $1.50 for the crust.
Notes: I don't proof the yeast since SAF is so reliable. If your yeast is iffy, combine it with some warm water and sugar in a small bowl and make sure it rises before adding it in.
3 teaspoons yeast (I use Saf)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
cornmeal for the pan
1/3 cup pizza sauce or plain tomato sauce
1 and 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 red tomato, thinly sliced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Combine yeast, sugar, olive oil, salt, warm water, and whole wheat flour. Stir and knead in flour. Knead for 4 minutes. Cover and let rise for one hour. Punch it down and let it rest for five minutes. Lightly grease a baking sheet and coat with a bit of cornmeal. Roll out dough into 12 inch circle or press into rectangular cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread crust with pizza sauce. (Don't use much or you'll have a soggy pizza.) Sprinkle with mozzarella. Layer zucchini, squash and tomatoes in circles on pizza. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, basil, and parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheeses are melted. If necessary, if the vegetables become too watery, heat the broiler and watching carefully, bake until the juices dry up a bit.
Lemon Sour Cream Pasta and Peas
Tuesday, September 16, 2008