Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Candy Cane Stracciatella Gelato

I don't think my house has ever been dustier.  Ever.  And the dirty clothes?  I've let them pile up for a week.  Today is the first day that I have not been involved in some kind of Christmas festivity or visiting with family or eating a huge dinner or something.  It seems strangely quiet here.  And messy.  Very, very messy.

This Christmas season was one of the best ever.  My sister, brother-in-law, and six year old niece traveled from Missouri, not only to spend Christmas with us, but to be here for a surprise birthday party for my mom who turned 60 years old.  My sister and I had been planning it for probably six months, and the whole thing went off without a hitch.  I can't believe it, but it did.  My mother had no idea about the party, but also no idea that my sister and her family were coming, so it was a double surprise.

My mom and I on her 60th birthday.
Needless to say, there has been a lot of eating going on.  Tons.  And while the rest of the blogosphere is telling you what you can do with your leftover Christmas ham and mashed potatoes, I am all about using up your leftover candy canes.

Candy canes on their own are very undesirable to me, but finely crushed in some peppermint gelato with tiny bits of milk chocolate chips (stracciatella)?  I can totally go for that.  And I did.  Several times.

So what makes this recipe special is that basically I make a homemade magic shell that hardens instantly upon hitting the cold, churning gelato, and breaks into tiny chips.  Stirring the coconut oil and chocolate chips together make the chocolate much easier to drizzle into (or onto) the gelato.  I love it when I can make something homemade (easily) and it turns out to be just as good or better than the processed store bought version.  (Oooh!  This chocolate syrup recipe is like that too!)

Here are my notes:

-If you are concerned with portion control, how about spooning some of the gelato into some cute little jelly jars?  You could layer with some more magic shell and store them in the freezer. 

-I have the 2 quart Cuisinart ice cream machine.  This recipe slightly overflowed when it was done, so you may need to prepare yourself for that if you have the same size.  It worked, it was just very full.  See pic above.

-The homemade magic shell is nothing I invented.  This recipe is all over the Internet in various forms, but these particular measurements work well for me.  I have also made this with dark chocolate chips.

-The magic shell really needs to stay at room temperature.  If it hardens, just zap it on the microwave for a few seconds and stir until smooth.

-You could substitute organic virgin coconut oil if you can find it to make it healthier (or so I've read).  I used LouAna coconut oil that I found by the regular cooking oils.

-I like to transfer mine to a squeeze bottle to make it easier to stream in.

Candy Cane Stracciatella Gelato

4 cups whole milk
10 large egg yolks
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 drops red food coloring, if desired
1 cup very finely crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy, divided
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut oil

Place milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to about 175 degrees (just before scalding), whisking often. Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well blended, about 1 minute.

Gradually whisk about half the hot milk into yolk mixture. Return to saucepan; stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine wire mesh into a medium bowl. Stir in heavy cream, peppermint extract, and red food coloring, if desired. Chill custard until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Stir chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth; remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Do not refrigerate. 

Freeze custard in a 2 1/2 quart or larger ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. During last 5 minutes of freezing, add all but 3 tablespoons of the crushed candy canes to the gelato.  When that is mixed, slowly drizzle half of the chocolate mixture into the gelato.  (The chocolate will immediately harden and break into tiny chips as gelato continues to churn.)
Serve the gelato in soft form straight from the ice cream maker, or place in a large freezer safe container and freeze until desired firmness. Top each serving of gelato with a drizzle of the chocolate, followed by a sprinkling of the reserved crushed candy canes.  (I like to transfer the chocolate mixture to a squeeze bottle for easier drizzling.) About 2 1/4 quarts.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Mississippi Kitchen!

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa’s Salt and Pepper Butterscotch-Pine Nut Cookies

"I'M IN LOVE, I'M IN LOVE [with these cookies] AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!"

Yes, I have probably watched Elf six times this month.  And I am truly in love with these cookies.  Did you see Monday's The Chew?  Well, my cooking friend Catherine was on the show competing in a cookie bake-off.  And guess what?  She won.  With this recipe.  And I had to drop everything I was doing yesterday morning and whip up a batch.

Let me tell you about them.  They are different.  They are easy.  They are delicious.  I loved them.  In fact, I think I'll go eat another one right now for breakfast.  These flat, buttery, crispy-around-the-edges, chewy-in-the-center cookies have butterscotch chips in them, along with buttery, toasted pine nuts.  But the real pop comes from a good measure of sea salt and--get this--coarsely ground black pepper.  Now, don't look at me like that.  The pepper is just enough to give each bite a little, well, bite.  It blends perfectly and sets these cookies apart from you average chocolate chipper or sugar cookie. It's like the salt and pepper linger in your mouth as an after-note, but I'm telling you, it's crazy good.

You can find the recipe HERE.  And just to vent a little, people truly amaze me (but not in a good way) by the negative comments that they post in public forums.  Would it kill you [person who leaves negative comments] to be happy for someone or at the very least keep your negativity to yourself?  Maybe you need to read my article on being happy when others are happy.  It might really help you with your attitude.  Just sayin'. 

Yeah, just a little bit of holiday venting, folks.

I did have to make the slightest adaptions because I didn't have unsalted butter or flaky sea salt, but here are my notes:

-Okay, like I just said,  I did not have unsalted butter.  And because of that fact, I decreased the tablespoon of sea salt to 3 teaspoons.  I did leave the 1/4 teaspoon of regular salt in the dough.  The cookie was great to me.  Just the right amount of salt in my book.

-I also did not have flaky sea salt, but I did have fleur de sel.  So I used that.

-These are flat cookies, but you know what?  Flat is good.  Flat is beautiful.  Just ask Keira Knightley.  I suppose if you chilled the dough, they wouldn't spread so much, but the flat worked well for them.

-And because they did spread, I only put 9 to a pan.  And I did use the parchment paper.

Can you see the specks of pepper?  Huh?  Can you?

-I used a coarsely ground black pepper.

-Do watch those pine nuts, just like she notes in the recipe.  Once mine started turning golden brown, they all browned quickly after that.  You really need to focus.  Don't be a cotton headed ninny muggins.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eskimo Crackle Cookie Sandwiches with Coconut-Marshmallow Buttercream

Can somebody tell me the secret to keeping two year olds from pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree?  'Cause we have a problem here, folks.  And I've tried to explain to him a million times that pulling ornaments off of Lolli's tree is "strictly prohibited young man," but it's like the temptation just overtakes him.  It kind of reminds me  The day I made these cookies.  I couldn't stop at just one, I had to eat another.  And another and another.  It's that inner two year old child that plummets me on a downward shame spiral every time.

These cookies--oh these cookies.  They are soft, dark chocolate crackle cookies, made with both melted chocolate and dark cocoa powder.  The insides are painted with a thin layer of melted dark chocolate that hardens for an extra yum factor.  They are then sandwiched with fluffy coconut marshmallow buttercream.  Chocolate + coconut= YUM!

Here are my notes:

-I am not usually a dark chocolate fan when it comes to candy, but I LOVE it in baked goods.

-Make sure you chill the dough for the recommended time.

-I did have some coconut buttercream left over.  But that's what spoons are for.

-I would store these in an airtight container to keep them fresh.

-I also liked these chilled in the fridge.

Eskimo Crackle Cookie Sandwiches with Coconut-Marshmallow Buttercream

1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1.      Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  1. Beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add 1 cup melted chocolate chips. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk until just combined. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Place 1 cup powdered sugar in a pie plate.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and then roll in powdered sugar covering well.  (No brown should be showing.) Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake until cookies have flattened and cracked on top, 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool for two minutes on pan, then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.
  3. When cookies have completely cooled, gently spread a thin layer of the 1 1/4 cups melted dark chocolate chips on the flat side of each cookie.  Place cookies flat side up on a baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate hardens.
  4. Meanwhile, beat 1 cup butter on high speed until creamy.  Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and beat until fluffy, stopping to scrape bowl.  Beat in the marshmallow cream and coconut.  Spread the filling on the flat side of half of the cookies, then place remaining cookies, flat side in, on filling to make sandwiches.  18-20 cookie sandwiches.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Praline Dipped Oreos

So I had this idea to do a little something different with Oreos than the regular old dipping-them-in-chocolate-or-white-bark routine that I always do.

Because, you know, that is SOOOOOO last Christmas.

But my idea was to dip Oreos in a praline coating.  So I did.  And it worked.  And they were delicious.  And I made myself sick on them.  And I never, ever want to eat another one for the rest of my life.  Ever.  Times a hundred.

But who am I to deny the entire internet the chance to get equally as sick of these as I have?  

So.......drum roll, please........I give you.....


Oreos.  Dipped in praline coating.  Double Stuf Oreos.  Coated in praline candy.

You may need some extra insulin after eating these.  Just a warning.

Here are my notes:

-I don't ever make regular pralines.  I love them , I just don't ever make them, so I am not a praline expert.  That might be why there was some spotting in my candy coating.  I sifted the powdered sugar, but still, it was spotted.  Someone should advise me about why this happened.  (Probably sugar crystallization?)  (And I know this is not a true praline recipe because I didn't use a thermometer to see if it was soft ball stage.)  But trust me when I say this--it does NOT affect the taste AT ALL.

-Work quickly.  Very quickly.  Have all your ingredients setting out so you can begin to dip right after you mix in the powdered sugar.  I dipped about 3 at a time, then sprinkled them with pecans, then started dipping again.  The coating sets up fast.  Really fast.

-If the praline coating starts to harden in the saucepan (and it will), heat it over low heat while whisking and you should be able to get some more dips out of it.

-I just love using salted pecans with this.  These are so sweet, I thought they needed a little bit of saltiness. 

-I got about 22 Oreos out of this recipe.

Praline Dipped Oreos

1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
22 Double Stuf Oreos
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pecans in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat well.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and toasted.  Place them in a bowl and set aside.

Line a large baking pan with waxed paper.  Take Oreos out of package so that they are easy to grab.

Place 1/4 cup butter, the brown sugar and the heavy cream in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring often.  Boil 1 minute; remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. 

Immediately start dipping the Oreos in praline mixture using a fork, letting the excess drip off.  Place each Oreo on the waxed paper lined pan and immediately sprinkle the tops with the chopped pecans.  Work quickly.  When the praline mixture begins to set up, place over low heat and whisk until smooth again, then dip some more.  You might have to do this several times. 22 Oreos.   

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Succotash Salad with Fried Okra

I love the South.

And even though I was not actually born on southern soil, most of the time I feel 100 % southern and that is a great feeling.

That is, until I try to bread and fry my own okra, and then I become painfully aware that I was born in a large metropolitan hospital out West. 

Breading and frying my own okra usually results in one, big, breaded blob of gunk instead of individual bites.  And it's kinda funny because I have no problem breading and frying other things.  Fried okra is the thorn in my side and one of the few things that is preventing me from making application to the Secret Society of Truly Southern Women.

So I've made peace with the bags of frozen breaded okra.  I've had to.  Those I can do well.

And the other day I was in the beauty shop and I picked up an older issue of Taste of the South magazine, and I thumbed through it while I sat at the dryer, just like a scene from Steel Magnolias, except no one was in there named Ouiser.  Or Truvy.  That I know of.  But anyway, there was a succotash salad recipe in there with fried okra that really caught my eye, but since I'm all polite and mannerly, I did not rip it out of the magazine.  I did come home and search for the recipe on their site, but it wasn't there.  So, through the miracle of modern social networking, I left a comment on their Facebook page and an editor responded promptly and hooked me up with the recipe.  (Now that is service!  And maybe Santa will bring me a subscription to their magazine, because I was dying over their recipes and photography!   DYING I SAY!!!)

(And you know when I say that I was dying over something, that doesn't literally mean I was dying, right?  Kay. )

I was going to make this for Thanksgiving, but never got around to it, but I made it today and just like I imagined, it was delicious.  

Here are my notes:

-I wish I could link up to the original recipe, but they don't have it on their site.  The original recipe had pieces of ham, but I substituted bacon.  It also had arugula but I had to use spinach because my grocery store was lacking.  Both worked out nicely.

-I used rice vinegar, not rice wine vinegar like the original recipe calls for, but I'm thinking they are the same?  Too lazy to Google right now.

-I would love to make this with fresh roasted corn cut off the cob.

-Also, I loved the vinaigrette, but I am wondering about adding a little sugar or honey to it next time?  Maybe.

-I LOVE that this has fried okra in it.   It's like the okra acts like croutons.  I think this is brilliant.

-I have some Christmas goodies coming soon.  So you better eat some veggies while you can and build up your system.  You're fixin' to be hit with sugar overload on this blog.

Succotash Salad with Fried Okra
Adapted from Taste of the South

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil       
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
5 ounces spinach leaves
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) package frozen lima beans, cooked and drained
1 (11-ounce) can white shoepeg corn, drained
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced 
4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (16-ounce) bag breaded okra, fried to crispy, then well drained

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, lima beans, corn, and red onion to a large salad bowl.  Drizzle with the dressing, then toss to evenly coat.  Toss in okra and bacon.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Tortilla Soup

It's a bit chilly here in Mississippi and I am loving it.  Me and hot weather just don't get along well.  Give me mittens and gloves and scarves and soup.  Give me lots and lots of soup. 

I first saw this recipe a couple of years ago on one of my favorite blogs, Big Mama.  (Have you ever read her?  She keeps me in stitches.)  This recipe comes from The Mansion at Turtle Creek, but, like most recipes, it's been adapted, and now I am adapting it again because this is what works in my kitchen.

I made this last night for my crew and it is one of our very favorite soups.  Ever.  I haven't been able to make it this season until now, because I always make it when I can get good avocados and cilantro and I haven't been able to find either at the same time until this week.

Here are my notes:

-I always go the extra mile when I make this soup and put out an array of toppings--shrimp, chicken, sour cream, cheese, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, diced avocado, and the most important part, fried tortilla strips. I just think the toppings make this soup, although the broth is excellent on it's own.

-I usually cook up a couple of chicken breasts with some butter and blackened seasoning in a cast iron pan, and I do the shrimp the same way.  I know that blackened seasoning is cajun and this soup is Mexican, but the flavors are fine together for us.

-I think what makes the broth so flavorful is processing the onion and tomatoes into a puree.  That's what originally caught my eye about this recipe.

-I use fire roasted tomatoes, but regular ones would be fine too.  I have a freezer full of frozen fire roasted tomatoes in little bags equivalent to the amount in a can.  Remember when I was all awesome back in the summer by putting up tomatoes?  Yeah, I'm glad I did that.  *Pats self on back for the 30 millionth time*

-Those diced tortillas will soak up the oil fast, so just cook them for a few minutes.  Some of the other recipes I've looked at say to cook the tortillas until they start to crisp, but there is not enough oil in the pan, so I just cook them for a few minutes, then add the broth.

-The tortillas will start to break apart in the soup, but this is a good thing.  It thickens the soup and provides flavor.

-I love avocados with this soup.  One of my favorite toppings.

Tortilla Soup
(Adapted from the Mansion at Turtle Creek)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 corn tortillas, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
8 cups chicken stock or broth, or 8 cups water and 8 chicken bouillon cubes
2 (15-ounce) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings:  chopped avocado, fried tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, lime juice wedges, cooked shrimp, cooked chicken

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot until hot.  Add the diced tortillas and garlic and cook until soft.  Add the cilantro, cumin, and chili powder and stir to evenly coat.  Add broth. 

Process the tomatoes and onion in a blender until smooth.  Stir into soup.  Bring to boil, then let simmer for about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into bowl, then add whatever toppings  you desire.

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