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good night, and good luck

April 16, 2006 Comments off

OK, just one more post today. Mr. Angst did all the dishes. I just had to say how fantastic he is for doing that. Because our meal? Not really . . . simple . . . in the preparation department. Lots of dirty dishes, pots, pans, utensils. And he cleaned them all for me.

This is why I love him.

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Categories: just me

Oh, I forgot about dessert!

April 16, 2006 Comments off

Of course we would have dessert, after all the other food settled. I made bread pudding, because it’s GOOD. Here’s the recipe. I think it’s a Gale Gand recipe, but I got it off Food Network. Looking at it again, I may have modified it slightly. It’s a good recipe, nonetheless. My best rendition of this recipe was when I was in my bread phase, and I baked the loaf. I did an overnight, cold rise of the dough, baked it in the morning, and let it sit out on the counter for a day or so. The bread had lots of flavor from the cool rise and it was a little stale from sitting out, so it turned out really fabulous.

Of course, lately, I find myself without the time to make ANY bread, much less bread that requires mixing in the evening, rising overnight, and baking in the morning. So I used Pepperidge Farm Hearty White, which is recommended in a breakfast bread-pudding-thing I make. The end result? Absolutely terrific. One key thing, I think, was reducing the amount of bread–I only used 12 slices of the 16 in the loaf, so the custard-to-bread ratio was higher. The other key thing was that the Pepperidge Farm bread wasn’t really deeply flavorful on its own, allowing the custardy goodness to come out in full force.

With no further ado, Whiskey Bread Pudding:

For the pudding:
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons butter, cut up
2 cups cream
1 (12-inch) loaf French bread, crusts cut off and sliced 1-inch cubes (or 11 slices Pepperidge Farm Hearty White bread, and seriously? leave those crusts on. They’re good.)
1/4 cup raisins (I leave these out)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (I leave these out, too)

Whiskey sauce:
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
5 tablespoons whiskey

Garnish:
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream, optional

In a bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Add the sugar and mix in, then add the vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, butter, and cream. Lay the bread cubes in a 8 by 8 inch square baking dish, sprinkle the nuts and raisins around, and then pour the custard over the bread. Cover the dish and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the dish with foil and poke holes in it. Bake until bread pudding soufflés up, about 40 minutes, then remove the foil, and bake another 10 minutes to brown in lightly.

For the sauce, in a saucepan heat the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and butter together until almost boiling. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with the whiskey and stir it into the hot liquid. Bring just to a boil to thicken it.

To serve, pour a few spoonful of the whiskey sauce on a dessert plate. Scoop out the desired portion size of the pudding, placing it on the sauced plate. Dust the pudding with powdered sugar and finish it off with a dollop of whipped cream.

Notes about the recipe: This is a restaurant recipe so uses leftover bread. Save the crusts and dry them in a low oven, then grind them in a food processor to make bread crumbs. [Or, as I mentioned above, leave the crusts on, because they add nice texture to the bread pudding.]

Categories: food

Easter dinner, complete. And good.

April 16, 2006 Comments off

I was worried about this afternoon’s Easter feast. I planned a lamb roast, but the last time I made a lamb roast, it turned out badly. It was a bone-in grilled roast, and it cooked unevenly. Parts were raw, parts were dry and overcooked, and the whole thing had that nasty lamb-gone-bad taste, that musty flavor that makes so many people hate lamb.

Today was different. Oh so different. First, I bought the lamb at Whole Foods. (I’m sure the last time I bought it at a good store, too. But where you buy your meat makes a difference.) Second, I used a Cooks’ Illustrated recipe, so I knew it would be well-written and researched. Lastly, I took my time while preparing it. And it turned out beautifully. It was tender, flavorful, and best of all, NOT musty at all. I mean, it tasted like lamb, but it didn’t taste musty. Mr. Angst was most concerned about that, in fact, when I suggested lamb. You know what? He loved it. So, hurrah! A success.

The sides were less spectacular. Well, the potatoes were great, but it’s hard to mess up potatoes, right? The spinach was only OK. I fried some pancetta, sautéed some garlic, and wilted the spinach in the same pan. Topped it with a little balsamic. But it turned out too salty.

Oh, and we also got a fantastic wine at the “house of fine wine and spirits” around the corner. It’s a mix of an Austrian grape and pinot noir, and it actually effervesces. It’s really fantastic. Matches the lamb perfectly. I am totally going back to the house of fine wine and spirits because the owner knows his stuff.

OK. You didn’t read all the way through this to go away without a recipe. Here it is, with all credit due to Cooks’ Illustrated. Note how many it serves? Yeah, we’ve got TONS of leftovers.

Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
1 cup bread crumbs/ (fresh), coarse
1 boneless half leg of lamb (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), untied, trimmed of surface fat, and pounded to even 3/4-inch thickness, at room temperature
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process 1 teaspoon of olive oil with garlic, rosemary, thyme, and parsley until minced, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as necessary, about 1 minute. Remove 1 1/2 tablespoons herb mixture to small bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining mixture into medium bowl; stir in cheese, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set aside.

2. Lay lamb with rough interior side (which was against bone) facing up on work surface; rub with two teaspoons olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread reserved 1 1/2 tablespoons herb mixture evenly over meat, leaving 1-inch border around edge. Following illustrations 2 and 3, roll roast and tie. Season tied roast generously with salt and pepper, then rub with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Place roasting rack on rimmed baking sheet. Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Sear lamb until well browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side; then, using tongs, stand roast on each end to sear, about 30 seconds per end. Transfer to rack and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 120 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer lamb to cutting board; remove and discard string. Brush lamb exterior with mustard, then, following illustration 6, carefully press herb and bread crumb mixture onto top and sides of roast with hands, pressing firmly to form a solid, even coating that adheres to the meat. Return coated roast to rack; roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 130 to 135 degrees (medium-rare), 15 to 25 minutes longer. Transfer meat to cutting board, tent with foil, and let
rest 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and serve.

There are illustrations with the recipe, but I’ve gotta leave something for Cooks’ Illustrated. I highly recommend subscribing if you like to cook. Then, if you feel like springing for it, spend the additional $20 a year for access to all of their online recipes and archives. So worth it.

Categories: food

Happy Easter

April 16, 2006 Comments off

I’m sitting on my couch, reading the news, sipping a cup of coffee (for the first time in about 46 days, since I haven’t been cheating and drinking coffee on Sundays in Lent), and laughing inside that it’s sunny outside. After all, it was supposed to storm all day today. And though there are some ugly clouds in the sky, the sun is also shining on the street, intermittantly, giving me hope that I may actually be able to wear my lavender suit today, instead of pants and boots.

Happy Easter all!

Categories: just me