Monday, December 6, 2010

Pie Review: Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie

Over Thanksgiving I made Ann Thornton's Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie and I wanted to give a full report in case anyone is interested in making it, which I definitely think you should.  It was delicious--really, really good--but I have a few notes that you should consider if you make it.

-First of all, the crust is made from 45 finely crushed vanilla wafers, but the recipe says to set aside 1/2 cup of these for garnish.  If I had done that, I'm sure I wouldn't have had enough for the crust, so I used all 45 and crushed some more for the top.  In fact, I think it could have used a little bit more than 45 because it was a stretch to press the mixture up the sides.  Next time I'll increase the crust ingredients by about 10 wafers and maybe 1-2 tablespoons of butter, because I like a nice, thick crust.

-The caramel sauce.  Delicious.  But I noticed in the comments on her recipe that people were having trouble with it solidifying.  She does say in the recipe that it will solidify when the cream is added.  This is what mine looked like right after I added the cream:

It solidified, just like the recipe said.  I almost abandoned it, but I stirred and stirred...

...and everything was okay again.  Yes, you'll have some left over after you've coated the bananas, but is that a bad thing?  Not at my house.  FYI-my daughter said my pie needed a little more caramel sauce, so next time I'll increase.

-I really loved the vanilla pudding recipe because it was so easy.  I did it all in one saucepan and bypassed the first part which says to combine the sugar and flour in a bowl.  I combined them in the saucepan.  And no egg tempering.  Easy!

-We really, really loved this pie frozen.  The bananas freeze and get a little icy and it's just delicious.  Let it sit out of the freezer for a few minutes before cutting, because you don't want it rock hard.

-I didn't use the almond extract in the whipped cream because there's something about almond extract that I don't like most of the time.  I love almonds, though.  I substituted with vanilla extract.

-This pie definitely needs to refrigerate at least overnight.  I don't think she notes that in the recipe.

-I used a 9-inch foil pie plate and it was full.  Very full.  If you use a glass or ceramic pie plate which I think are probably a little deeper, that may work better.  Mine still worked, but it was on the edge of overflowing.

This pie was a huge hit.  Big.  I'll be making it again.  I've got my eye on this recipe now.
Pin It!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Asian Ginger Chicken Salad With Crispy Wontons

I'm taking a break from my impassioned, but somewhat frenzied dusting to bring you this delicious recipe.

Feel special.  Feel very, very special.  You are you know.

This salad is inspired by Panera Bread's Asian Chicken Salad, which I had a few weeks ago and just fell in love with.  I knew I had to try and recreate it at home.  It's light and refreshing, and just the kind of meal you might want to fill in with between those heavy holiday eatings. 

-I keep fresh ginger in my freezer, then use my microplane to grate it.  I just don't use fresh ginger enough to keep it in my fridge, so I have to freeze it.  It works great like this.

-I like to mix up only as much of this salad as we're going to eat at one setting.  The wontons will get soggy otherwise.

-I store my baked wontons in an airtight container at room temperature and they stay really crisp.

-Toasted almonds would be great in this, too.  Panera Bread has almonds in theirs.

-The measurements are imprecise except for the dressing.  Use as much or as little lettuce, onion, chicken and wontons as you'd like.

Asian Ginger Chicken Salad with Crispy Wontons


2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 heaping tablespoons freshly grated ginger

2 minced garlic cloves or 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

12 wonton wraps

Nonstick cooking spray

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

About 6-8 cups of chopped romaine lettuce

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

Place all ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. 

Place the chicken in a zip lock freezer bag and add about 1/4 of the dressing; close bag and squeeze to coat chicken.  Marinate in refrigerator for about 2 hours.  Store remaining dressing in fridge until needed.

Cut wontons in half diagonally.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and lay wontons in a single layer.  Spray with cooking spray, then sprinkle with a small amount of kosher salt and the sesame seeds.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Grill chicken on a grill or in a grill pan until done.  Thinly slice.

Place the lettuce and onions in a bowl and add the chicken.  Break up about 3/4 of the wontons and add to the salad.  Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat.  Serve with remaining unbroken wontons.
Pin It!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cherry-Balsamic Rib Eyes With Gorgonzola Sauce

Over the weekend, I made these steaks which just happen to be my recipe entry into the Beringer's Great Steak Challenge this past summer.  (The final cook-off will air soon on the Cooking Channel.)  I wound up winning second place in my region, but more importantly, I created a recipe that my family has asked for again and again. 

In fact, I got a "This is SO much better than steaks marinated in Dale's Seasoning, Mom!"  (The ultimate compliment.)

I have created many recipes over the years, but very few of them please everyone in my family.  This one does, much to my surprise.

This recipe transforms regular steaks into something really special.  I love the sweetness of the cherry glaze with the tanginess of the gorgonzola sauce.  Here's some things to remember:

-I grow my own chives, but you could substitute finely chopped green onion.

-Rib eyes are hands down my favorite cut of steak, but you use your favorite cut.  I want you to be you.  Don't compromise yourself.

-If you have leftover cheese sauce, cook up some pasta and stir it in.  It's yummy.

-I haven't tried it yet, but I bet the cherry balsamic glaze would be equally delicious on a pork chop or pork loin.

-You can be liberal with the sea salt.  I think it's a bit milder than regular salt. 

-I've been getting my rib eyes at Sam's Club.  They come in packs of four and they're cut thick.  Since we don't eat steak very often, I like to make sure and get it right, and by right I mean a nice thick-cut steak at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.  It's much easier to achieve a nice medium rare when they're thick. 

-You know to let your steaks rest before you cut into them, right?  I knew I didn't need to tell you that. 

-My recipe is written to cook everything on the grill, but you could cook the sauces on the stove.  

Sea Salted Rib Eyes with Cherry Balsamic Barbecue Balm and Gorgonzola Grill Sauce

(Cherry-Balsamic Rib Eyes with Gorgonzola Sauce)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

1 (15-ounce) can dark sweet pitted cherries in heavy syrup

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

6 boneless rib eye steaks, 8-10 ounces each, cut 1 inch thick

Coarse sea salt, for seasoning

Coarse black pepper, for seasoning

Olive or vegetable oil to grease grill rack

Fresh chives for garnish, if desired

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.  Place the heavy cream in a fireproof medium heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid and place on grill, closing grill lid.  Bring to a boil, then let cook for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the gorgonzola and parmesan cheese until melted and smooth.  Stir in the chives.  Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, process the cherries and syrup, balsamic vinegar, light brown sugar, and chopped garlic cloves in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Baste both sides of all the steaks with the cherry balm.  Pour the remaining balm in another medium heavy saucepan with a lid and place on the grill over medium-high heat.  Close grill lid and bring to a boil. Let cook for 5-10 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture reduces and thickens slightly, whisking occasionally.  Remove balm from grill and let cool until steaks are done cooking.

While the sauces are cooking, season steaks very generously on both sides with sea salt and black pepper, pressing into the steaks.  Coat grill with oil.  Place steaks on grill over medium heat and cover with grill lid.  Cook for 6-8 minutes on each side for medium rare (145 degrees) or until desired doneness is reached, turning once.

To serve, spoon a pool of gorgonzola sauce onto each plate and top with a steak.  Drizzle the tops of each steak with the reduced cherry balm.  Serve any remaining sauce or balm withsteaks.  Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.  Six servings.

Pin It!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mission Menus Challenge In Hollywood

So by now, if you watched the video, you know that I didn't win.  But, and I know I always say this, I really did have a great time.

Hollywood is not the first place I'd visit on my dime, but since Mission Tortillas sponsored the contest, I enjoyed every minute of it at their expense.  Thank you, Mission!

We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel in the middle of Hollywood.

Isn't this ceiling gorgeous?

It was really, really dark in the hotel, though.  Very difficult to take pictures.

The rooms looked like they were from a black and white movie.

I'm not gonna lie.  The room was very cold and modern.  I'm not sure we ever felt comfy and cozy until we turned on the TV and watched an Alabama game, followed by several episodes of Reba.

That's what we did in the heart of Hollywood.  I am so not kidding.

And this picture of Mick made me a tad not want to undress in the room.  I felt like they were snickering at me.

This was our view from our hotel window.  We could look right down on Grausman's Chinese Theater.

And if we didn't want to walk the three steps to the window, there was a live feed from the street below coming to our television.

We stepped out of our hotel door and right onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Right next to El Capitan, there was an ice cream and soda shop and they had yummy marshmallow topping.  I love marshmallow topping, but it's unfortunate for me because a lot of ice cream shops don't carry it. 

The night we arrived, we all met up at the Hard Rock Cafe for a group dinner.

We got to meet the other finalists as well as the producers and several other people from Mission Tortillas.

Friday morning, around 4 :30 AM, we made our way to the Hard Rock Cafe again.  All these trucks were for our shoot.

They had cleared out the bottom floor of the restaurant.  There were people working everywhere.

I have a new respect for people who work in the television and film industry.  They work extremely hard and keep very early and late hours.

I'd never make it.  I'm pretty lazy.

There were lots of  people buzzing all around me.  Sound people, prop people, food stylists, camera people, producers, assistants, assistants to the assistants...the list goes on and on.

It's a little unnerving to have Sara Moulton stand behind you when you cook.  I tried to act like I knew what I was doing.

his is my taco salad.  It turned out really pretty although you can't see it well in the picture.

The judges deliberate.  They said no.  :o(

Curse my bangs. 

Here we are in the final shot right before the announcement of the winner.

Jasmin Baron won with her Vietnamese Skirt Steak Wraps.  Very well deserved.

Sara Moulton is one of the nicest celebrities I've met.  Can you tell how petite she is?  I felt like the Jolly Green Giant next to her.

And check out her new cookbook.  It's full of delicious, easy recipes.

Pin It!