Flan - Adventures with Sugar, & baking towels ?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Every few weeks we have group of sales reps in for training. The first group had mentioned biscotti's one day and I got this ... itch to make my Grandmother's delicious Mandel bread (Almond Biscotti). Then a few weeks later, we were overwhelmed with the vast number of tomatoes that were ripening in our garden. A few days later another training group came to the office and I brought in one of the many jars of salsa I had made.

Today, I brought in both Flan and Custard Pie. Somehow we started hording eggs and I have been looking for a way to use 3 dozen organic farm fresh eggs. Last night I used about a dozen.

The Flan was a new one for me -- caramelizing sugar was a chore (a quick chore) the first batch I swirled the pan a bit too feverishly and it crystallized. Scraping that concoction out of my pan wasn't much fun either. (Steel wool, hot water, and a wooden spoon work well)

The second batch went a bit better - and flowed into the pan fairly well. But seconds later was hard as a rock. Now, I have to admit I have never eaten Flan, but I have seen it and I have read the description and what I had was a bit lighter than mahogany, and hard like glass. But, I took a chance and finished the custard/pudding filling and stuck it in the oven. Another adventure. The recipe says to put a kitchen towel in the bottom of a large pan or roasting pan -- the only pan I had that would fit my 9-inch cake pan was the turkey roasting pan Jordan got me last year. And, a towel?! I figured there was something missing -- but I went with it.

After mixing the ingredients for the custard esc filling - I filled the cake pan and placed it in the oven. But, I wasn't finished I had to fill the roasting pan with boiling water half way up the cake pan. I used a ladle and it went pretty well -

After cooling I placed in the refrigerator and prayed it worked out ok... This morning when I got to the office I flipped the Flan onto a serving dish and gave it a try - (had my friend Sara try it first - just to be safe) the hard caramelized sugar had turned to a sugary syrup and it tasted delicious.

  • Make sure you really let the caramel turn to a dark brown - you need the color in the end to make it LOOK like caramel. 
  • The towel allows the water you pour into the baking dish to flow under the cake pan.
  • Don't use a hot pink towel it bleeds in the water -- harmless but could stain if spilled. 

Prep Time: 5 mins
Wait Time: 2 hrs to cool, 2-24 to refrigerate
Cook Time: 40 - 50 min (15 on the stove, 30 ish in the oven)

Flan - http://tiny.cc/lemonflan

It is not just IU dorm food - Chicken Piccata

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last night I made this quick and easy dish. I was a bit worried about "Slicing the Cutlets" (sounds like the title of a bad horror movie), which plate I could use that would be oven safe, and if I'd end up with dried chunks of chicken. But it really was quite easy because the cutlets were really thin and cooked quickly. Here are some quick tips:

  • Watch your fingers
  • Use corning ware
  • Add the cutlets to the sauce immediately so they don't dry out
The sauce (below) was a salty, chicken broth based lemon-aid and it was DELICIOUS! Jordan's note… When Jennie told me we were having “Chicken Piccata” I was immediately taken back to my Freshman year of College at IU, as this dish happened to be one of the only truly edible things in the “Wright Place” food court at Wright Quad where I lived.  Fyi… her’s was better :)
Prep Time: 5 mins 
Wait Time: 0 
Cook Time: 20 min

Chicken Piccata - http://tiny.cc/piccata

Photos of the Magical Grilled Pizza


Another fantastic Salmon Recipe.... Maple Salmon

Monday, September 13, 2010

Labor Day was a wonderful day for Jordan and I -- we walked Scout around the neighborhood and all the way to Starbucks where we hung out with Uncle Dave. Then we took the bike to Anderson Apple Orchard, where they were out of Cider! On the way back home we stopped by Grandma and Grandpa Whitt's, and got to visit with cousins. We even found time to stop by Jordan's parents -- they weren't home but were visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Thompson -- we decided to run home and make something for dinner to take over.

While I ran to the grocery for supplies Jordan went to Mug N Bun. (we had skipped lunch)

The dish we pulled was sort of heart healthy since Grandma Thompson had just gotten out of the hospital and was told to eat a bit more ... heart friendly.

This recipe was DELICIOUS -- and would serve up to 5-6 if you use a large cut of Salmon (cut into 6 or so fillets) We added white rice and what I call Jordan's Asparagus Recipe (really Kevin's) ... look forward to that recipe in a later post :)

Prep Time: 5 mins (chopping the sun dried tomatoes is bit of a pain)
Wait Time: 0
Cook Time: 40-60 (could be less if you put more than one thing in the oven at a time)

Broiled Maple-Soy Glazed Salmon Fillets with Toasted Sesame Seeds -  http://tiny.cc/maplesalmon

Autumn Chicken Cacciatore Menu - from cooksillustrated.com

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life has been crazy busy for the last 7 wks. SO I haven't gotten to cook all that often. But, here is a wonderful dish I made Tuesday right after work for the in-laws and our good friend Scott Kline.

I was lucky enough to have my Great-grandmother Carrie's Dutch Oven. There is something magical about cooking in an heirloom cast iron.

It was delicious. And, took about 30 min of 'cooking' and 45 of simply simmering. The dressing was quickly made the night before, and the apples were SO easy. If I did it all again I wouldn't forget the sage and I'd be sure to cook the apples for a good hour so they were good and soft.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Wait Time: 40-60 (let the pot simmer, and apples bake)
Cook Time: 30 (browning, mixing, etc)

Autumn Chicken Cacciatore Menu - http://tiny.cc/cacciatore
TIPS: Make sure your apples are baked until soft.

Amazing thin crust pizza on the gas grill? - Cooksillustrated Late Summer Menu

Friday, September 10, 2010

This week Jordan and I cooked for some of our friends... unfortunately the pictures did not turn out... but no worries I will be making this dish again soon.

The menu includes:
  • Grilled Tuscan Steak with Garlic Essence
  • Stuffed Tomatoes with Goat Cheese (we used Blue Cheese), Olives, and Oregano
  • Grilled Flatbread
  • Fresh Peach Cobbler
The winner of the night was the amazing flat bread -- the dough was a curious Nickelodeon Gak-esc substance. It worried me and my guests until it magically turned into the most amazing flat bread ever.

Next time I want to try using one of those thin pizza cutting boards/handled things to slide the dough on the grill.

Prep Time: 20 mins
Wait Time: 90 mins (letting the peaches sit and the bread rise)
Cook Time: 60 min (Peaches first - then the tomatoes, then the steak and then the flat bread)

Late Summer Menu - http://tiny.cc/flatbread


Flat Bread: Using all-purpose flour did not ruin the bread & add 1/3 cup whole wheat flour not the listed 1 TLBS. Be careful when putting the thin dough on the grill -- make sure you re-flour so you can gingerly flatten it back out once on the grill (try not to burn yourself)

Stuffed Tomato: Use more olive oil and perhaps use a cheese that melts better.

Dry chicken and AMAZING topping

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I wasn't able to brine the chicken quite long enough .. and it could probably have used some more salt. BUT, the topping was AMAZING! I made this dish for my Mom and Uncle Dave last week - Dave is an honest food critic he didn't touch the chicken after just one bite. Of course he is also a lifetime smoker and probably couldn't taste much of anything. I save a plate for my husband who picked around the tomatoes and devoured every morsel of meat, chicken included.

Next time I'll be sure to brine the chicken longer and season it with a heavier hand.

Prep Time: 5 mins + an hour for Brining
Wait Time: 15-20 (while the pasta cooks, be sure to stir often)
Cook Time: 40 mins

Sauteed Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes, Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Scallions  - http://tiny.cc/bluecheesechicken
TIPS: Use more bacon - people love bacon.

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