Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chocolate Health Bar Trifle

With the Fourth of July weekend only a few days away, I have a great cookout dessert recipe to share.  I actually made this for our Memorial Day BBQ and it was a hit.  If you don't have a trifle bowl yet, I suggest you add it to your wish list.  Trifles (layered pudding like desserts) are super simple to put together but the presentation is elegant.  This recipe serve 10-12 people and can be made the day before which makes it perfect for entertaining.

Ingredients:

1 store bought chocolate angel food cake, cut into one inch cubes
1 recipe of chocolate custard* (or one box prepared chocolate pudding)
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of Kahlua
3 Heath Bars- coarsely chopped

*Chocolate Custard:

3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoons of cornstarch
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of butter

Combine the dry ingredients in a sauce pan.  Whisk in the milk and eggs.  Cook the mixture over medium, stirring constantly, until gently bubbling and thick.  (4-5 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.  Transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap (touching the top of the custard), and refrigerate until cool.  At least one hour, up to overnight.

Prepare the custard or the instant pudding.  Whip the cream with the powdered sugar and Kahlua. 


Cube the angel food cake and chop the Heath Bars.  Now you are ready to assemble..


Start with a layer of cubed cake in the bottom of the trifle dish or a large glass bowl.  Next spoon a layer of chocolate custard or pudding (about a third of it) over the cake, following by a layer of Kahlua whipped cream and a layer of chopped candy bar.  Repeat 3-4 times until you've used up all the ingredients.  You want to end with whipped cream and chopped Heath bar.


Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.  It is best if you let it sit at least 3-4 hours.  The cake soaks up some of the custard and cream. 

A few other yummy trifle ideas:

Angel Food Cake with Lemon Curd, whipped cream, fresh Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries
Almond Pound Cake with Grand Marnier whipped cream, sweetened mascarpone cheese and macerated strawberries
Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Vanilla pudding, banana slices and chopped Reece's Cups

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

As we are quickly nearing the end of prime Rhubarb season, I wanted to share this amazing pie recipe.  If you're skeptical of Rhubarb, you shouldn't be.  It's absolutely yummy.  Though it looks just like red celery (the brighter the red, the better) - it's actually crisp and tart like a granny smith apple.  I wouldn't reccomend eating it raw, rather adding it to crumbles, pies, compotes, etc. is the way to go. 


Strawberries and rhubarb is a classic combination of tart and sweet and they are both in peak season late spring/early summer. Look for both at your local farmer's market.


Ingredients:

1  nine inch pie crust  (2 if you prefer a crust top to a crumble top)

Filling:
3 1/2 cups of rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces (4 large stalks)
3 1/2 cups of strawberries- hulled and halved (1 container)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Crumble Topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of cold butter, cut into cubes

First- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  To assemble filling, stir everything but the fruit together in a bowl.  Then pour the mixture over the fruit in a larger bowl.  Gently toss to coat.

Second- make the crumble topping.  I do this in my standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to save time.  Combine all ingredients in the mixer and mix on low speed until combined and crumbly in consistency.  If you let it go too long it will turn to dough.

Third- line your nine inch pie plate with your pastry dough.  (I use Pillsbury's refrigerated dough regularly to save time.)  Press it into the dish and crimp the sides before transferring the filling. 


Top the filling with the crumble mixture and place the pie on a cookie sheet lined with foil for easy clean up.  (The pie might ooze juices as it bakes.)



Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another hour to 75 minutes until the filling is bubbly and thickened.

Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite vanilla ice cream.  I happen to know that the left over pie is delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee as well. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Red Curry Noodles with Shrimp

I adore Thai food and I find when dining out, I'm torn to decide between the noodle dishes that I love (pad thai, pad see ew, etc) and the red and green curries which I also love.  (This problem is solved when John and I are together and we can share both.)  I decided to marry the two delicious categories together into this quick and easy Thai inspired curry noodle dish.  You could easily mix this up using chicken, beef or any combination of veggies you like.  Its amazing to me how many of the formerly "exotic" ingredients can  be found in almost any neighborhood grocery store now a days- just look for the "ethnic" section and all of these basic Thai fixins will be lined up together.

Ingredients:

1 lb of shrimp- peeled and deveined
1/2 of a large yellow onion, sliced
1/2 of a bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 cup of frozen or fresh green beans (thawed)
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of grated ginger (I use the jarred one you can find in the produce section)
1 tablespoon of Thai Red Curry Paste (a heaping one if you like heat)
1 tablespoon of Thai Fish Sauce
1 can (14 ounces) of Lite or Regular Coconut Milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 package of Thai Rice Noodles
1/4 cup freshly sliced basil


First I cleaned the shrimp and sauteed them over medium heat in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until just cooked through- about 2 minutes per side.  I seasoned them well with salt and pepper and set aside.

Second, I put a pot of salted water for my noodles on the stove to boil.  You want the water to be ready to go but its best if you wait and cook the noodles at the very last second.  The rice noodles need only 2-3 minutes of cook time and overcooking them is disastrous.  (Mush city!)

Next I cooked the onion over medium heat in another drizzle of oil for 4-5 minutes until soft- seasoning with a pinch of salt.  (I prepped the bell pepper and green beans in the meantime.)  I then added the garlic, ginger and curry paste and cooked one minute longer- stirring to coat the onions. 


Next I added the coconut milk and stock to the pan (bumping the heat up to medium high), followed by the brown sugar and the fish sauce- whisking to combine.  I let the mixture come to a gentle boil for 2-3 minutes to reduce slightly before adding the veggies and shrimp.  Everything cooks together for another  two minutes to take on the flavors of the sauce- you want the veggies to be slightly crisp and to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
 **This is a good time to put the noodles in the boiling water to cook- watching carefully to cook only 2-3 minutes.  Take them out as soon as they are tender.


Strain the noodles, toss them back in the pot you cooked them in and pour the shrimp curry mixture and the fresh basil over top- tossing gently to coat.   Serve immediately with some extra fresh basil and an icy cold beer or an off dry white wine (a Gew├╝rztraminer or Voignier would be delicious).  You'll get your spicy coconutty curry AND your noodle fix all in one.  This would serve 4 people or makes great left overs the following day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nate's Banana Nutella Turnovers

My brother in law Nate introduced us to his delectable Banana Nutella Turnovers on a recent visit to Charleston.  Between these and his hot pepper infused guava martini- we considered moving in permanently.

Nate swears by a particular high-end brand of frozen puff pastry that he found at Whole Foods.  The name has escaped me but we'll see if we can get him to share via a comment.  I went with the standard Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry this time around.

Ingredients:

1 package- 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry
2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups of nutella
1 egg
raw or turbanado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Give the bananas a rough mash with a fork in a large glass bowl and then mix in the the nutella.  Set aside.  Next, mix the egg with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl.


Thaw the puff pastry over night in the fridge or for 20-30 minutes on the counter top at room temperature.  Working with one at a time, roll each sheet of puff pastry out to a 12 by 14 inch rectangle.  Use a little flour on the board to keep it from sticking.  Leave the other sheet in the fridge while you fill the first batch.

Cut the sheet into nine, 4 x 4 inch squares using a paring knife.  Place a generous spoonful of filling in the center.  You want to put as much as you possibly can while still allowing it to close all the without any filling squishing out.  (After the first one or two you'll get the hang of exactly how much that is.) Work quickly to close them up before the filling oozes too much. Then brush all four edges with the egg wash.
 

Fold in half to form a triangle and press the edges together with the tines of a fork to seal.  Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Once you've filled the first tray, brush the top of the pastries with more of the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Place back in the fridge while you roll, cut and fill the second batch.  Bake both trays for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  (Switch the trays between the two racks half way through for more even baking.)


CAUTION: As tempting as it is to stuff one into your mouth when they come out at the oven, the filling is HOT, so let them cool 10 minutes first.  Store them on the counter for up to 12 hours.  Beyond that they keep for a day in an airtight container.  (Goodness knows they didn't last that long in our house.)

The turnovers are delicious for breakfast, for a mid-afternoon coffee snack or as I did below, served as dessert with some whipped cream and a chocolate fudge drizzle.  Thanks Natester, this one's a KEEPER!