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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of this one.  But it’s rice pudding, how can you go wrong.  I made this on New Year’s Eve and it was a huge success.  I only slightly modified it from the Ina Garten recipe I watched on Food Network that day.

This is not low calorie in any way, shape or form, but it’s worth it.  Next time you want a treat give this one a try.

Perfect Rice Pudding (serves 6)

3/4 cup white basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine the rice and salt with one and a half cups water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stir once, and simmer, covered, on the lowest heat for 8 to 9 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed.

Stir in four cups of half-and-half and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, until the rice is very soft. Stir often, particularly toward the end.

Slowly stir in the beaten egg and continue to cook for one minute. Off the heat, add the remaining cup of half-and-half, and the vanilla.  Stir well. Pour into a bowl, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.

Serve warm or chilled.

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Let me start by saying this is simply one of the easiest and most rewarding recipes I have ever made, period.

No ice cream maker, no long wait, easy prep. All you need is some mascarpone or creme fraiche, some sugar, strawberries and a food processor!

I ran across a version of this recipe last year in a book called “How To Pick a Peach” by Russ Parsons. If you want to know everything about fruit, where it comes from, how to store it, recipe ideas, look no further than Mr. Parson’s book. It is one of my favorites and it just came out on paperback so take a look.

The version included in the book was for peach gelato which I made last year and was blown away. I then made it again for some friends at a dinner party and everyone was impressed.

Last week, I made it with strawberries and again it was perfect. It literally took me 5 minutes to chop the berries and put them in the freezer to cool down. After they were frozen, 2 hours, it took me another 5 minutes to make the gelato. It took me longer to clean the food processor than it did to make this scrumptious dessert.

Oh, one other exciting piece of news before I turn you on to this awesome recipe. I just received, from Amazon, my brand new Weber smoker. We have a wedding catering on Saturday and I will prepping, grilling and hauling stuff most of the day, but I should have it together on Sunday and will test fire it. Stay tuned for that.

Strawberry Gelato (serves 4)

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 cup mascarpone or creme fraiche

Remove the stems from the strawberries. Cut lengthwise in half and then cut each half again. You are going to freeze them so the smaller they are, the faster they will freeze and the better the texture your finished product will have.

Arrange the strawberry pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and slide into the freezer for 2 hours, until frozen solid.

Put the frozen strawberry pieces into a food processor, add the sugar and pulse briefly. Add the mascarpone or creme fraiche and pulse until the mixture is smooth as silk.

Divide between 4 bowls and serve immediately. You can also transfer the gelato into another container and freeze. Once the gelato is frozen solid, you can put it back into the food processor and pulse again briefly before serving!

I’ve tried this with strawberries and peaches. The variations are endless. I’m thinking blueberries next time. Let me know what comes to mind!

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In May of this year Nancy and I were able to actually take a day off together from the restaurant. Most of the time, one of us takes a day off and the other goes to work. It’s great to own your own business, but it has its moments… moments when I would like to scream and slap myself across the face and ask “why did you leave that corporate america job with the set salary, vacation and benefits.” Fortunately these moments are not to often, two or three times a day at most.

My nephew, who lives in Seattle, was getting married and I was going to be in his wedding. Nancy and I decided that we would fly up on Thursday night so we could spend Friday in the city before the rehearsal dinner later that night.

Seven years ago I lived in North Bend, about 45 minutes east of Seattle for almost a year. For the past 10 years I’ve visited Seattle and the surrounding areas quite a few times to see my sister’s family and my friends. Seattle is by far one of my favorite places.

Nancy loves Pikes Peak Market so on Friday we ventured down to walk around and at some point we ended up in Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop where I picked up “Pure Flavor”, Kurt Beecher’s cookbook.

When I got back to the hotel that night I read through the book and was very impressed with the photography and the quality of the recipes. One photograph caught my attention right off, it was the Summer Berry Parfait recipe. Heavy cream, sour cream, simple syrup, fruit and honey… wow how could you go wrong? I first made it a few months back for my parents, they loved it, and have been looking for the opportunity to make it again. Well the opportunity came tonight because we had Nancy’s dad and sister over for his birthday.

We are short one person at the restaurant and I worked 11 hours today, but I knew I could make this in 15 minutes after walking in the door. Better yet, I knew everyone would enjoy it.

The recipe is adapted from the one in Mr. Beecher’s book. I used fresh fruit from the farmer’s market. Experiment with the fruit, you will have a blast.

Summer Fruit Parfait (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup of nectarines – original recipe calls for raspberries, but I had nectarines
  • 1/2 cup crunchy granola
  • Mint leaves for garnish (optional)

To make the simple syrup grab a small saucepan, toss in 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the sugar. I like vanilla so I put 1 teaspoon this last time I made it. Heat over medium heat until boiling, stirring along the way until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner, set aside to cool.

Now for the cream. Grab a bowl and combine the sour cream, heavy cream, honey and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract with a whisk or fork. Just until creamy, don’t over do it. You are not looking for whipped cream.

Now for the fruit… place the strawberries, blueberries and nectarines or whatever fruit is available in 3 separate small bowls. Keep a few strawberries on the side for a garnish. Add the simple syrup in equal amounts to each bowl and then gently mix with a flexible spatula, or in my case your fingers. Clean fingers!

Now the fun part. You can assemble them anyway you see fit. I kind of followed the original recipe, didn’t really measure though, have fun.

Place 1 tablespoon of granola in the bottom of each of the 4 glasses. Top with strawberries and a layer of cream. Smooth to the edge of the glass if you want. Add a layer of blueberries and another layer of cream, followed by a layer of nectarines. Top off with a final bit of cream, a few strawberries, some granola.

Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 3 hours!

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