Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Old-Fashioned Creamy French Vanilla Pudding


This is, without a doubt, the best vanilla pudding I have ever eaten. It's everything you want in a pudding; light, creamy, smooth and delicious. This pudding is soft-set so if you want the pudding to hold it’s shape on a plate or in a pie crust, double the cornstarch.

Example: for every cup of milk, use 1 tbls cornstarch, 3 tbls sugar, 1 egg yolk, and 1 tbls butter. With the addition of ½ teaspoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon salt, you will have a perfect vanilla pudding.

Always use the best ingredients you can buy

All cooked and ready to chill


3 large farm fresh egg yolks (I used eggs from A&M Farms)
9 tbls sugar
3 tbls cornstarch
3/8 tsp fine sea salt
¾ cup cream and 2¼ cups whole milk
3 tbls unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ tsp vanilla 

lightly sweetened whipped cream, optional

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with ¼ cup of milk until well combined. Reserve.

In a 3-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt, and then slowly whisk in the cold milk and cream a little at a time to ensure no lumps form. Scrape the bottom and sides of the saucepan with a spatula.

Over medium heat, stirring constantly, bring to a bare simmer.

Ladle ½ cup of the hot pudding into the egg yolks and whisk rapidly. Now add the egg yolk mixture back to the saucepan. This tempers the egg and helps to prevent curdling.

Lower the heat to medium-low and continue stirring the pudding until it thickens to the point that it coats the back of the spatula, from 2-4 minutes (pudding will be thickening).

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted. Immediately pour the pudding into a medium mixing bowl or 4-cup glass measuring cup.

Alternatively, you can pour pudding directly into six ½-cup serving dishes.

Quickly press a small piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.

Let cool, and then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.

To serve, spoon pudding into six, ½-cup ramekins (if you didn’t do this earlier). Top each serving with a generous mound of whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Yield: about 3 cups, or six ½-cup servings.

Recipe adapted from Luna's Cafe


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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Homemade English Muffins


About 2 years ago I experimented with making my own English Muffins. While there are a lot of recipes out there, I adapted this one from King Arthur Flour. They are really easy to do and taste delicious. So much better than anything you can buy at thee store.


1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk
3 tbls. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbls. granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tsp. instant yeast

Using a stand mixer, beat the dough using the flat beater paddle until it starts coming away from the sides of the bowl, and is satin-smooth and shiny; this will take about 5 minutes at medium-high speed. The dough should be very stretchy.

Scrape the dough into a rough ball, and cover the bowl. Let the dough rise until it’s nice and puffy, about 1-2 hours.

Next prepare your griddle. I have a large electric griddle I used for this; spray well with cooking spray, then sprinkle well with cornmeal. Whatever you use; an electric griddle, stove-top griddle, frying pan, electric frying pan, sprinkle it heavily with the cornmeal

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, then flatten the balls until they’re about 3″ to 3 1/2″ in diameter.

Sprinkle a baking sheet heavily with cornmeal, and place the muffins on the sheet; they can be fairly close together. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with additional cornmeal

Cover the muffins with a clean kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. They won’t rise much, but will puff a bit.

Using an electric griddle, heat it to 250 degrees and cook each muffin about 5-7 minutes per side or until the inside of the muffins are 200 degrees internally using a digital thermometer.

Let the muffins cool thoroughly before enjoying.

And remember: use a fork to split, not a knife to cut. Fork-split muffins will have wonderful nooks and crannies; knife-cut ones won’t.


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Friday, July 17, 2015

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta or Mini Pizza


Almost nothing makes me happier than "fresh from the garden" produce. I particularly love we have some of these great Heirloom Pear and Cherry Tomatoes growing in our garden this year. They are perfect for popping in your mouth and eating fresh, topped on salads or topped on this Bruschetta.

Fresh Heirloom Pear and Cherry Tomatoes, marinated in Italian dressing, then topped on toasted Italian bread or English Muffins makes a wonderful Bruschetta or Mini Pizza. Serve as an appetizer or enjoy as a light lunch. Delicious!

Heirloom tomatoes marinading in Italian dressing

All done and ready to eat


1 doz. Heirloom Pear and Cherry Tomatoes, sliced (any small tomato will work)
2 tbls. Italian dressing (your choice)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup (or more) shredded mozzarella cheese
pinch salt
pinch pepper
pinch dried basil

Slice tomatoes and place in a small bowl; add Italian dressing and let marinade 30 minutes to one hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Cut Italian bread into thick slices and brush both sides with melted butter.

Place slices on a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with baking spray, and bake until bread is lightly toasted.

Remove pan from the oven, top each piece of bread evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese, then top each with sliced, marinated tomatoes.

Return to the oven and bake 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Finish by dusting each with salt, pepper and dried basil.

Remove from oven, place on a serving plate. Serve immediately.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Brandied Cherry Ice Cream


This Brandied Cherry Ice Cream is creamy, smooth and delicious. Fresh cherries are simmered in brandy and a little sugar, then allowed to "mellow out" in the refrigerator for one week before making the ice-cream. Allowing them to sit longer would develop the flavor more, so feel free to do that if you want to.

Add brandied cherries juice and all during last 5 minutes of churning

Continue churning until cherries are all mixed in 


24 fresh sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup brandy
3 tbls. sugar
4 farm fresh egg yolks
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups organic 1/2 and 1/2
2 cups organic heavy cream
1 tbls. vanilla paste

In a small sauce pan simmer the cherries, sugar and brandy until cherries are juicy and slightly softened. Remove from heat and store in a covered container in your refrigerator at least one week, longer if desired.

When you're ready to make the ice-cream, put the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended.  Pour mixture into a sauce pan and heat over medium low heat until mixture becomes a thin custard in consistency (thickens slightly). Remove from heat and cool completely in your refrigerator at least one hour.

Churn ice-cream in your ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. During the last 5 minutes of churning, add the brandied cherries, juice and all.

Once ice-cream is done churning, pack into freezer container and freeze until firm.


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Homemade Buttermilk Waffles


Homemade Buttermilk Waffles are delicious, simple and easy to make. This time I added about 1 cup of fresh blueberries I had in my freezer and they make for a great breakfast any day of the week.

This is the same batter I used for Old-Fashioned Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes, but the buttermilk is reduced by 1/4 cup to make a thicker batter.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbls. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (make your own by adding 2-3 tsp. lemon juice to milk)
2 tbls. butter melted
2 large farm fresh eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
optional - add 1 cup fresh blueberries

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt; set aside.

Combine milk with 2 tbls, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and gently combine. Batter should be fairly thick and lumpy, but pourable; avoid over-mixing.

Heat waffle iron and spray well with cooking spray to avoid sticking. Pour in amount of batter needed to fit your waffle maker and cook according to manufacturer's directions.

Serve with butter and syrup.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bourbon Brown Butter Peach Ice Cream


This is another GREAT ice-cream recipe for adults only, because, hey, we deserve a treat once in awhile, right?

Made with fresh peaches and bourbon, brown sugar candied pecans, the taste is sensational.

Recipe adapted from Pastry Chef Joe Trull at Grits & Groceries, in Belton, South Carolina as seen in Garden and Gun Magazine

Peaches swirled in

Bourbon Brown Sugar Pecans



2 cups organic 1/2 and 1/2
2 cups organic heavy cream
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 egg yolks, use farm fresh eggs
4 tbls. butter
3/4 cup pecan pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
1 tbls. vanilla paste
2 cups fresh mashed organic peaches

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks; add 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar and mix. Stir in heavy cream. Add vanilla paste and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into a sauce pan and cook over medium low heat until it becomes a thin custard consistency. Cool completely.

In a small sauce pan add butter, brown sugar, pecans and bourbon. Heat stirring constantly until about 200 degrees. Immediately strain mixture through a mesh colander, reserving pecans. Add the strained liquid to the cooled base and mix thoroughly. Churn mixture in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Just before it's finished churning, pour in the peaches and pecans. Once done, store in ice-cream containers in your freezer until set.

Yield: about 2 quarts


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Monday, July 13, 2015

Schweinebraten - German Style Roast Pork


On a quest to replicate a German Pork Roast we enjoyed while living in Germany, I poured over my Bavarian Cookbook, looked at several variations online, and came up with this based on what I remember. This is the perfect pork roast for a large family gathering or Sunday supper, and one where the roast slices, rather than shreds, into pieces.

Of course I used pasture raised pork from a local farm, where the pigs are not given any antibiotics or added growth hormones. It is, I believe, a far superior product than anything mass-produced.

This recipe is known by different names in different countries. In the Czech Republic this dish is known as Veprova Ppecene. In Poland, it is called Pieczen Wieprzowa. The total cooking time depends on the size of the roast, so using a digital thermometer is important. Be sure to remove the roast from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before roasting.

All rubbed down with the oil, spices, and grainy mustard

All roasted and ready to carve


4 - 6 lbs bone-in pork shoulder or pork picnic roast
1-2 tsp. thyme leaves
1-2 tsp. garlic powder
grainy mustard (I used Oktoberfest Beer Mustard)
1 tbls. salt
2 tsp. ground pepper
2 tbls. cooking oil
3 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups beer
2 -3 tbls. flour
2 -3 tbls. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Score fat side of pork roast in diamond pattern. Rub the entire roast all over with the oil, seasonings, and spoon on and spread the grainy mustard all over the top. Let stand for one hour.

Spray your roasting pan with cooking spray. Place the vegetables into roasting pan and pour in beer. Place the roast in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Cover tightly and roast for one hour.

Remove cover and continue roasting for approximately 2 hours, uncovered, or until meat thermometer reads 145-165 (depends on how well-done you want the roast).

Remove from oven and place on a large carving board; cover with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and save the vegetables to serve on the side (or discard).

Put some hot water in the pan with the juices, scraping up the bits and pieces. Add enough to make 2 cups. Make a roux by blending the flour and butter together very well in a saucepan; add the pan juices and bring to a simmer, whisking to blend well. For additional richness, the gravy may be finished with a little more butter, cream or sour cream. The gravy will be rich, dark and delicious.

Slice the roast thinly and serve with the gravy. Refrigerate or freeze leftover slices.

Save the bone to make a delicious bone broth.

Serves: 6-8

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures


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