Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Coconut Custard Pie

I love discovering new recipes that are destined to become family favorites! Melissa Murphy's Coconut Custard Pie is just such a recipe. Before reading the recipe, I was afraid it would be really complicated and time consuming. "Custard" is one of those culinary words that just makes you groan, as in, " Oh no, I'm going to have to make custard." But this pie ended up being the exact opposite of complicated and time consuming! Yes, making the crust takes a little time (and sometimes has sketchy results), but all the filling requires is that you throw a few ingredients in a blender and voila! Pie! Don't think Banana Cream Pie or Chocolate Cream Pie, think Pumpkin Pie or Pecan Pie instead. You prebake the crust, sprinkle some coconut on top, pour in the filling, and bake. That's it! The custard turned out delicious, sweet, and creamy, and tasted amazing slightly warm and topped with whipped cream. I could easily see this pie added to our Thanksgiving dessert table for years to come!

Thanks to Ruby of I Dream of Baking for choosing this week's recipe for Coconut Custard Pie. You can find it on her blog HERE.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ina's White Pizza with Arugula

Do you ever see a recipe and just know you'll love it? And then you don't get around to making it for over a year, but it continues to call to you like a gastronomic siren song? This is one of those recipes for me. I received Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook for my birthday in 2009, and immediately wanted to make the White Pizza with Arugula. And 18 months later, I finally got around to it! And it was everything I had hoped it would be. Cheesy, garlicky, lemony, hot, cold; it was like every good thing rolled into one. It was pretty involved (not the kind of thing you can just throw together), so I would save it for a special occasion. Then again, it would make any meal a special occasion.

Click HERE for the recipe. And if you don't already own it, go buy the cookbook. I've made more than a few recipes from it, and they've all been amazing. She's a genius, that Ina.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Apple Raisin Sauce

I had my doubts as to how well this dessert would turn out (I'm not a huge bread pudding fan, and I feel like pumpkin should be reserved for fall desserts), but it was sinfully delicious! The caramel sauce and the cinnamon sugar topping made it really amazing. I did think the preparation of the custard took forever and got a lot of dishes dirty, and mine was still a little liquidy after the entire 1 hour 15 minute baking time. I would definitely use the caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar on a simpler bread pudding recipe, and I think the results would be just as good. I made one significant change to the recipe: I don't like rum at all, so I substituted apple juice for the rum in the caramel sauce, and it was fantastic. It tasted like a Charms Caramel Apple Pop. Yum!

Thanks to Carmen for choosing this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe, which you can find on her blog, Baking Is My Zen. And be sure to check the blogroll to see how other bakers fared with their Pumpkin Bread Pudding.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Cupcakes at the Craft Show

I have been cooking and baking as much as usual lately (although I have had a streak of recipes not turning out, which is never fun!), I just haven't had as much time to take pictures and write posts. And the reason is cupcakes!

A friend and I are baking dozens and dozens of cupcakes to sell at a big craft boutique next Friday. If you're in the Eugene area, we'd love to see you! Click HERE for the details. We'll have red velvet, banana fudge, vanilla (ie the most delicious cupcakes ever), strawberry, citrus, and chocolate/burnt sugar. Come hungry!!

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble

A piece of advice: if you're ever tempted to leave the crumble topping off of something to make it healthier, don't do it! The body of these orange blueberry muffins was good, but not extraordinary in any way. The crumble topping, however, made them pretty much the best muffins I've ever had! I ate, let's just say, a lot of them. I might start putting pecan crumble on everything I make, including lasagna and tacos. Just cuz.

Many thanks to Chaya, this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays hostess. You can get the recipe for these exquisite muffins on her blog, My Sweet and Savory.
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Indian-Spiced Shortbread and Tropical Curry Ice Cream

Our Dinner Club theme for the month of April was Indian. I'm not at all familiar with Indian food. My mom loves it, but I come from a family of slightly picky eaters, so my mom never made Indian food for us at home, and when my parents went out for Indian food, it was always just the two of them. So when I was assigned to bring the dessert, I panicked a little, especially after googling "Indian desserts" and getting lots of results for rice puddings and sweets made with lentils (not that there's anything wrong with either of those options). Instead, I turned to an old family recipe: Curry Ice Cream. I know, I know. Curry in ice cream??? But trust me, it is delicious. If you look at the list of ingredients on a bottle of curry powder from the grocery store, all you'll find is spices, and not even savory spices that would make ice cream taste weird. Nutmeg? Check. Cloves? Check. Ginger? Check. Black Pepper? Check. Throw in crushed pineapple and shredded coconut, and you've got a delicious, eastern-inspired frozen treat!

The recipe was created by my brother way back in our college days. His friends threw a "Curry Fest" every year, and you had to bring a curry dish to donate to the potluck table. One year, inspired by the garlic ice cream he'd heard about at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, he made curry ice cream. And the rest is history!

To accompany the ice cream, I made some shortbread cookies spiked with cardamom and cinnamon, and topped them with a little gold sugar. The cookies and ice cream were the perfect end to a delicious, Indian meal! Here's what else we enjoyed that night:
Naan, and lots of it
Mint Chutney
Spinach Paneer
Carrot Salad with Lime and Cilantro
Jasmine Rice
Lamb and Potato Curry
Chicken Braised in Yogurt
Tropical Curry Ice Cream and Indian-Spiced Shortbread

Indian-Spiced Shortbread
adapted from Ina Garten's recipe for Shortbread Cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
gold sugar from sprinkling, available at Fancy Flours

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and granulated sugar until just combined. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon, then add to butter mixture. Mix on low just until dough comes together. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes. Roll dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch and cut into individual cookies. I rolled my dough into a big rectangle, then used a pizza wheel to cut 1x3-inch rectangles. You can alternately use a cookie cutter of any shape you like. Place cookies on a ungreased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with gold sugar, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and cool before serving.

Tropical Curry Ice Cream
from Chaz

2 cups half and half
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, well drained
1/2 cup roasted, salted, pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped

Mix the first five ingredients together in a large bowl or pitcher until well combined. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Pour mixture into the bowl of an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. When ice cream is done, transfer it to an air-tight, freezer safe container. Gently and quickly fold in coconut and pineapple, cover, and freeze until firm. Serve topped with chopped pistachios. Makes a little over 1 quart.

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