Monday, November 28, 2016

German Fig-Apple Mustard

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My sister-in-law, Tracy, traveled to London this past summer and found this German Fig-Apple Mustard she sampled in a small store there. She sent me a picture of it and we started talking about me making it. She described flavors, sent me a pic of the ingredient label, which my German friend, Ute, and I translated.


Ute and I compared recipes, and some of our own ideas based on the label, and this is the result with figs, fresh apples, organic apple juice, apple balsamic vinegar, grainy mustard, cardamon, allspice and course-ground black pepper. I think I'm pretty darn close and OMG is it ever good.


It's a bit different than a standard mustard as any of the recipes we found that seemed close to the original, all called for a gelling agent, which to me translated to Sure-Jell (powdered pectin used in canning jams).  After a bit of trial and error, this is my result for this amazing mustard. It's sweet, yet tangy, and has the wonderful taste of figs and apples mixed with the sweet spices and mustard.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Butter Pecan Cheesecake

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When I first saw this recipe on Bake or Break's page, I knew I wanted to make it. We had just shelled some fresh pecans from our trees, and I had all the other ingredients, so this was soon to become one of our Thanksgiving desserts. I am so glad I made it ... so glad!




WOW is the best word to describe this cheesecake. Smooth, creamy, delicious, full of crunchy pecans, amazing! It was a big hit and disappeared quickly.



RECIPE

Ingredients
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the pecans:
2 cups pecan halves and pieces
2 tbls unsalted butter
3 tbls granulated sugar
pinch of salt

For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Method
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and mix with a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched.

Press the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or 9-inch springform pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

To make the pecans:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans, sugar, and salt. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pecans are toasted and the sugar sticks to them (about 7 or 8 minutes). Set aside to cool.

If desired, set aside some of the pecans for garnish. (I used about 24 pecan halves for the garnish you see in the above photos.) Once cooled, roughly chop the remaining pecans.

To make the filling:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth.

In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whip the cream until soft peaks form.

Fold about a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Spread the filling evenly in the cooled crust. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving (overnight is even better).

Cooks notes - 
*A note about the crust: Shortbread crusts can be temperamental. Be sure your butter is cold and that you’ve measured the ingredients accurately. Avoid dark pans. Don’t over bake.

Enjoy,
Mary

Monday, November 21, 2016

Spicy Slow Cooker Rump Roast

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I love a good beef roast for Sunday dinner, but I don't always want a Prime Rib Roast or any of the more pricey cuts of beef. A rump roast is a good choice because it is economical and a great cut of beef for the slow cooker.


I always buy our beef from a small local farm, where the animals are grass-fed and humanely raised. I typically buy beef in bulk, such as purchasing a side of beef with friends because it's more economical. See my post about the Benefits of Buying a Whole Side of Beef.


What is a rump roast? A rump roast (called silverside in the UK) is a cut of beef from the bottom round, the rear leg of the cow. It's a tougher cut of meat than steak, and it usually tastes best when roasted slowly until tender. Rump roast makes a wonderful Sunday dinner meal, especially paired with comfort foods like mashed potatoes, rice or roasted potatoes and carrots. It's also the perfect type of meat to cook in a crock pot or slow cooker.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet Mignon

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Beef Tenderloin is the creme de' la creme of beef. The BEST beef tenderloin comes from grass-fed beef and is melt in your mouth delicious. Tender, juicy, and the perfect choice for a special dinner or celebration.

Grass-fed beef, simply put, is better for you. Since the late 1990's, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements.


Instead, they are keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. These new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs.

A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.

The beef tenderloin filet I used here is from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville. I've had the pleasure to purchase their beef, in bulk, a couple of times, and I've never been disappointed. Buying in bulk saves you money in the long run. Yes, the upfront cost is more, but the overall savings is well worth it. See my post on the Benefits to Buying a Whole Side of Beef.


Recipe
Ingredients
Beef Tenderloin Filets
Fresh rosemary, finely minced
Fresh garlic, finely minced
Salt, to taste
Course-ground black pepper, to taste

Method
Allow tenderloin filets to come to room temperature, approx. 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix the remaining 4 ingredients and apply liberally to the tops of each filet (the amount needed is dependent on how many filets you are grilling).

Place tenderloin filets on the grill and cook 6 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Filets will be medium-rare** Remove from heat, cover with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

**Test for doneness with a meat thermometer following the list below:

Rare 120 to 125 degrees
Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees
Medium 140 to 145 degrees
Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees

Enjoy,
Mary

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Lemon Curd

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I have wanted to make lemon curd for a long time, and for some reason, just never got around to it. That's really terrible because I love all things lemon! Lemon Meringue Pie, No Bake Cheesecake Parfaits, Fried Lemon Pies, and more.


What is Fruit Curd? Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with citrus fruit, such as lemon, lime, orange or tangerine.Other flavor variations include passion fruit,mango, and berries such as raspberries, cranberries or blackberries. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.

In late 19th and early 20th century England, home-made lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam, and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts. Homemade lemon curd was usually made in relatively small amounts as it did not keep as well as jam. In more modern times, larger quantities became possible because of the use of refrigeration. Commercially manufactured curds often contain additional preservatives and thickening agents.

Contemporary commercially made curds remain a popular spread for bread, scones, toast, waffles, crumpets, pancakes, cheesecake  or muffins. They can also be used as a flavoring for desserts or yogurt. Lemon-meringue pie, made with lemon curd and topped with meringue, has been a popular dessert in Britain and the United States since the nineteenth century. Lemon curd can also have whipped cream folded into it for such uses as filling cream puffs.

Curds differ from pie fillings or custards in that they contain a higher proportion of juice and zest, which gives them a more intense flavor. Also, curds containing butter have a smoother and creamier texture than both pie fillings and custards, which contain little or no butter and use cornstarch or flour for thickening. Additionally, unlike custards, curds are not usually eaten on their own. (Source: Wikipedia)