Monday, December 24, 2012

Classic Crème Brûleé

Classic Crème Brûleé


·        2 cups heavy cream

·        4 egg yolks

·        ¼ cup sugar

·        1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

·        8 teaspoons fine granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300˚ F. Heat a pot of water, keep warm.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and ¼ cup sugar; cook, stirring, until steam just starts to rise. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg yolk and vanilla until blended with the whisk. While keeping the mixer on “stir”, gradually pour in hot cream mixture. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl; divide among four 7-oz ramekins. Line a 3-inch deep baking pan with a clean kitchen towel and place ramekins on towel. Pour hot water into pan until it comes halfway up side of ramekins. Cover loosely with foil. Bake until set; approximately 30-35 minutes (the centers will shake slightly when pan is shifted). Remove from the oven and allow ramekins to cool to room temperature. Chill at least 3 hours or up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Just before serving, sprinkle 2 tsp. of sugar on each custard and caramelize with a kitchen torch.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Have a Nearly Stress-free Thanksgiving


I have control issues. Yes, I know…a character flaw. For as long as I can remember, I have cooked the entire Thanksgiving meal….except the TURKEY. The turkey is man’s job. He smokes it.

For several years, Thanksgiving was a VERY stressful day for me. But I finally got SMART and started do what I could a day or two (or more) before Thanksgiving.

Our menu is always the same:

  • Smoked Turkey
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Mashed Potatoes w/ Giblet Gravy
  • Sweet Potato Soufflé
  • Green Beans w/ Shallots and Bacon
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Rolls…well USUALLY.
  • Pumpkin Pie w/ Whipped Cream


So a couple of weeks ago, I made pumpkin pies and froze one for Thanksgiving.


Apparently I didn’t take a picture of the finished product…but I promise, there is one in the fridge ready for tomorrow!


Today I…

…hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs.

…assembled my Cornbread Dressing.

Blog Stuff 003Blog Stuff 004Blog Stuff 005Blog Stuff 006Blog Stuff 010Blog Stuff 011Blog Stuff 012Blog Stuff 013Note that I put oven temp and cooking time on the foil…so I don’t have to look at the recipe when it is time to bake.

…prepared my Sweet Potato Soufflé.

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…sliced the shallots for the green beans.

…and perhaps most importantly, got the mess from making those things out of the way.

I usually would have made rolls also either today or yesterday…but unfortunately I’m still playing “catch-up” after being sick last week….And honestly, no one will miss the bread.

In a few minutes, I’m going to make Cranberry Sauce, and I may go ahead and peel and cut the potatoes for mashed potatoes. I just have to put them in a pot,cover them with water and put them in the fridge; and they will be ready for me tomorrow.

Now with little to do tomorrow, I can REALLY enjoy my Thanksgiving with my family!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Time-Line

No…I’m not giving a history lesson today. I’m going to give you my very loose schedule for getting prepared for Thanksgiving.

Saturday before: If your turkey is frozen, put it in the refrigerator to thaw. Make sure he is on a tray…don’t want any messes in the fridge.

Sunday or Monday:

  • Make a final shopping list and buy needed items. Make sure that you really have all those pantry staples that you THINK you have!
  • Bake cookies and decorate (or bake on Sunday and decorate on Monday)….although, I don’t think I will be baking cookies this year. I have some other projects that are taking my time…Plus with only 3 of us here, I don’t really NEED to bake cookies. 
  • Make cranberry sauce; refrigerate.


  • Bake sweet potatoes for sweet potato soufflé and refrigerate.
  • Bake cornbread for dressing.
  • Make rolls and partially bake. (your own brown-and-serve rolls)
  • Check on the turkey and make sure that he is thawing properly.


  • Prepare sweet potato soufflé and cornbread dressing, but DO NOT bake yet. Just put them in their casserole dishes, cover and refrigerate.
  • Make and bake pumpkin pie; refrigerate.
  • We serve our meal buffet-style. So I don’t set the table. But if you serve at the table, go ahead and set your table.
  • Boil eggs for deviled eggs; refrigerate.
  • Make congealed cranberry salad (if serving)
  • Plan something for breakfast that doesn’t involve major preparation. I have cinnamon rolls in the freezer! I also have plenty of yogurt, fresh fruit, and even instant oatmeal (something I keep around for “emergency” breakfasts)
  • If you are serving your Thanksgiving meal later in the day on Thursday, have some nibbles ready for snacking. I always make sure I have baby carrots, celery sticks, cheese, and crackers available. We usually have some sliced salami and olives in the fridge also. Even if you are serving earlier, you may want to have some quick snacks available…just in case dinner is delayed. Hey…we’ve all had Thanksgiving day glitches!!!
  • Once again, check on the thawing progress of the bird….you may have to prepare a cold bath for him if he isn’t cooperating…

Thanksgiving Day:

  • Morning:
    • Turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for proper atmosphere. Winking smile
    • Make frosting for cinnamon rolls.
    • Serve breakfast.
    • Make deviled eggs; refrigerate.
    • Chop shallots for green beans; refrigerate.

On to the SERIOUS stuff!…..

***Now I usually get a break. Man smokes our turkey so I just need to wait for him to tell me when he needs it. So….you will need to determine when you need to start cooking your turkey and….

  • 30 minutes before turkey cooking time
    • Make sure your dishwasher is empty or run a sink of soapy water to clean as you much as possible.
    • Preheat oven.
    • Prep turkey.
    • Make the giblet gravy; refrigerate.
    • Cook turkey using your preferred method.
  • 1 hr. before serving time:
    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees(if it isn’t already ready already…)
    • Bake cornbread dressing and sweet potato soufflé (I adjust cooking time for soufflé to allow for lower oven temp.)
    • Peel and cube potatoes for mashed potatoes; place in pot and cover with salted water…
    • Unmold cranberry salad.
  • 30 minutes before serving time:
    • Start cooking potatoes.
    • Prepare green beans. (I steam the green beans in the microwave while I start cooking the bacon on the stovetop)
    • Check on cornbread dressing and S.P. soufflé…adjust cooking time, if needed.
    • Make whipped cream; refrigerate.
  • While turkey “rests”:
    • Reheat gravy over low heat.
    • Finish baking rolls.
    • Mash potatoes.

Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything and it is now time to serve your Thanksgiving meal. Don’t forget the deviled eggs and cranberry sauce in the fridge! Yep…I’ve done that.

Afterwards, we usually sit around miserably stuffed for a while before I serve the pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sugar Cookies—Part 1

Okay…I like a shortcut when I can find one. I have this WONDERFUL sugar cookie recipe. It is simple to make and simple to work with. I clipped it out of a magazine about 10 years ago. So I was just going to hop on the handy dandy internet and find ya’ll a link. Just one big, fat problem. I did NOT clip it from Family Circle like I thought…oh no, I clipped it from McCall’s magazine…which is no longer published.
The great thing about this recipe is that it has 7 variations in addition to the basic recipe. So you can have plain ol’ sugar cookies OR you can make one of the variations: chocolate, spice, lemon, peanut butter, hazelnut, pistachio, or almond.
So today I’m going to give ya’ll the basic recipe…and I will try (I promise) to come back and give the variations when time allows.

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
In bowl, with mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. On low, beat in flour and salt. Divide dough in half; shape each into 1/2-inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On floured surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick; cut into shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet(s). Bake 10 minutes or until lightly golden around edges. Let cool 5 minutes on sheet(s); transfer to racks to cool. Decorate.
Note: you can also sprinkle with colored sugar BEFORE baking if you are not decorating them with icing.
Store in airtight container, up to 2 weeks OR freeze, UNDECORATED, up to 3 months.

Okay…I will go ahead and give one variation…but only because it is the one I used to make my Thanksgiving cookies.


Spice Cookie Dough

Omit granulated sugar and substitute 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar and 1/4 cup molasses. Omit vanilla extract. Add 2 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. each ground cloves, ginger and nutmeg to flour.

To decorate like this, you will need some Royal Icing. I use the recipe that comes with the meringue powder that you will need to make it. I tint some of it brown and use it to pipe around the edges of the cookies AND to do the dot detail on the tops of the acorns. (enlarge photo for a closer look) Tint the remaining icing in your desired colors; then add a LITTLE water to each to make it a glazing consistency. Decorating one cookie before moving on to the next….flood the cookie with your desired main color. I use a tablespoon to gently fill-in the piped edges. Then add your additional colors and swirl OR use a toothpick to drag additional colors to make the leaf veins or turkey feathers. Then allow to dry completely before storing. I apologize if this is not making sense. I didn’t have a blog last year when I made these…so it did not occur to me to take step-by-step pictures. But if you DO have questions, feel free to e-mail me! Also, I promise to take some additional photos IF I bake them this year.

Happy Baking!


Giblet Gravy

Okay…..this may be more than you want to face. You can always buy turkey gravy in a jar. I always buy some for when this recipe runs out since I live with gravy hogs. It is not bad…..but homemade is far superior! Plus you cannot live in the south and not know how to make gravy!!!!

Giblet Gravy

· Giblets and neck from 1 turkey

· 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

· 1 small onion, roughly chopped

· 1 carrot, roughly chopped

· ½ teaspoon salt, preferably coarse sea salt

· 2 ½ cups water

· Pan drippings from roasted turkey

· 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

· ¼ cup turkey or chicken stock or water

· ¼ teaspoon pepper, preferably fresh ground

Combine giblets (except liver….keep it for later….if you add it now it will become bitter), neck, veggies and salt in a medium saucepan; add 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add the liver and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a wire-mesh strainer over a bowl; discard the veggies. At this point I usually sit the giblets and neck aside for the dog, but most people actually chop the meat up to add to the gravy later.

Skim fat from pan drippings; discard fat. Add enough strained broth to the drippings to equal 1 ½ cups.

Combine flour and ¼ cup stock (or water) in a medium saucepan; stir until smooth. Add broth mixture to flour mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in chopped meat, if you are using it, and the pepper.

Makes about 2 cups of gravy.

Green Beans with Shallots and Bacon

This is my “recipe” for the green beans…. This is SO MUCH BETTER than green bean casserole!
Vary the ingredient amounts according to how many you will be serving.

Green Beans with Shallots and Bacon

· Green beans, preferably Haricots verts, lightly steamed. You want them to be tender-crisp. You can use fresh or frozen.
· 2 – 8 slices of bacon, preferable apple-smoked, cut into pieces
· 1 – 2 shallots, sliced as thinly as you dare
· Panko
· Sea salt
In a pan large enough for your green beans, cook the bacon until crispy. Leaving the bacon grease in the pan, remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel. Add the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring often. If I want the shallots to be soft and caramelized, then I will turn down the heat at this point and let them cook slowly. If I want them a little crunchy, I will cook them on a slightly higher heat……it is according to how the mood strikes me. As a general rule, I like them more caramelized. Once the shallot is ready add the green beans and cook over medium heat until beans are just heated through. Return the bacon to the pan and add some Panko and continue cooking, stirring often, until the Panko has soaked up the remaining bacon grease and are golden brown. I sometimes add butter, if there isn’t enough bacon grease to brown the Panko. Sprinkle with sea salt, give them one last toss and serve.

Sweet Potato Soufflé

Sweet Potato Soufflé

· 6 small sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs)

· ¾ cup sugar

· 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

· ½ cup butter, melted

· 3 tablespoons milk

· 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

· 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

· ¾ teaspoon lemon extract……DO NOT leave this out!

Bake potatoes until done. Allow to cool slightly; peel and mash.

Combine sweet potato, sugar, and remaining ingredients, stirring mixture until smooth. (I usually use an electric mixer). Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 11 x 7 x 1 ½ inch baking dish.

Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

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