Apple Turnovers

Not so much a recipe as a story. This is take two of my adventure. My first pass resulted in giant lifeless (yet tasty) masses of dough.

This time I did better, not the least of which is that I only used two apples. I bought a package of Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough. I rolled the squares out to about ten inches, then cut those into quarters. I put some apple mixture in the middle of the squares. Wet two edges with water, and folded one corner over to form a triangle. I did not do a good job sealing, and was glad to have used parchment!

I also used an egg wash.

Baked at 400F for about 12 minutes.

The apple mixture was two peeled and pared Macintosh apples, about 1/3 C sugar, a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and half a dash of ground clove, mixed well to coat the apples.

Easy Apple Bread Pudding

I’m blown away by how easy this can be. I had been making small batches of bread pudding over the past year, I suppose, using mostly day-old loaves of the indigenous Market Basket Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread (which is also awesome as French Toast, BTW…).

Serves 4-6

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

  • One apple (Macintosh works wonderfully)
  • Two large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 5-6 slices of cinnamon-Raisin swirl bread
  • 1 T butter

Cut the bread into cubes about the thickness of one slice. Peel and core the apple, and pare into thin (1/8″) slices. Dredge the apple slice in sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Whisk the eggs until well blended, add vanilla and milk, and mix well.

Butter a 1 1/2 Qt ovenproof dish well. The remaining butter is dolloped onto the bottom of the dish. Fill the dish with the bread cubes, top with the egg mixture, taking care not to overfill. Push the bread down into the egg mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350F. Pudding should spring back when depressed, and very little, if any, liquid remaining. Bake another 5-10 minutes as necessary.

Let it cool for a bit – it very much resembles lava when it comes out of the oven. It’s absolutely delightful with vanilla ice cream.

Sorry I don’t have a photo. Next time. It got eaten far too quickly.

Easy Bread Pudding

Mom always made chocolate bread pudding, so I suppose I was at least 35 or 40 before I had anything else. Peg once ordered “regular” bread pudding in a restaurant and offered a taste. Doh! For all these years I’ve eschewed this delightful stuff?

Now, many years later, I’ve made many a batch of bread pudding, but wanted a small one to avoid wasting leftovers.

And being as I’m a cheap Yankee, using hamburger buns left over from the ham radio club picnic yesterday seemed a good idea.

  • 3 hamburger buns
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1t vanilla extract

I coarsely cubed the bread, added the raisins and spices. I mixed the egg and sugar, added the milk and vanilla, then mixed all ingredients.

I used a muffin tin, filling all six cavities, then baked for 30 minutes. The puddings came out of the oven all puffed up, and collapsed as I wrote this.

Always good with a bit of creme anglaise, too. I just have to post a recipe.

Terribly Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup

I was at the market just as the snow from the latest Nor’Easter was starting to fly in earnest. I was ostensibly there just for bread, but saw this beautiful crown of broccoli in the produce aisle, and one of Peg’s favorites, Cream of Broccoli soup, came to mind.

1 large crown of broccoli, cut into 2″ pieces
1 small onion, quartered
2 C water
1T Chicken base
1C Sour cream
1C half & half
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

Peel the broccoli stems if necessary. The fiber does not break down nicely.

After cutting the broccoli and onion, put them in a stock pot with the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. The onion will be tender by that point as well.

I used an immersion blender to break down the vegetables, then added the chicken base, salt and pepper, then let the mixture cook for a while longer.

When ready to serve, stir in the sour cream and half & half. Add very little nutmeg – just enough so you can almost taste it. Adjust salt & pepper.

Ladle into bowls and serve (grilled cheese sandwiches come to mind…)

 

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Nutella French Toast

Yeah, that’s a mouthful. But a delicious mouthful. For years I have been sporadically buying cinnamon-raisin bread at the supermarket, just for making French Toast. I would occasionally stuff the French Toast with cream cheese or something else, but I was distracted by a jar of Nutella. If you haven’t heard of Nutella, it’s a hazelnut and chocolate concoction about the consistency of peanut butter, and it’s just delicious.

On to the making of the French Toast –

One egg
1/4C milk
Nutella
Raisin bread
1T butter
Syrup (maple is best, of course)

Preheat a skillet with 1T butter

Beat the egg in a shallow bowl until it’s well beaten. Add the milk and mix well.

 

 

 

 

 

Spread Nutella on two pieces of bread, and cover with two more slices, ending up with two Nutella sandwiches on raisin bread. Already a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

Dredge the sandwiches in the egg mixture, both sides, and transfer to the skillet.

 

 

 

 

 

Cook for about two minutes, until golden brown, then turn and cook the other side to golden brown.

 

 

 

 

 

Serve with syrup. More butter optional. A sprinkle of powdered sugar will make it a bit prettier, but doesn’t really do much for the flavor.

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Greetings! This is Peg and I am actually posting on my own blog site! Whew, hope you’re sitting down.

However, on to the cooking~~~

These are amazing! The recipe is from our friend, Jeanine Swick, who brought these to a Christmas part this past year (2016). People kept eating them long after they declared themselves full and were in danger of spoiling their dinners!
Jeanine says they work well with scallops or shrimp, but I’ll never know about that!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

2 (8oz.) cans Water Chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce (save it)
1 lb. lean Bacon, cut in half
Toothpicks
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marinate water chestnuts in soy sauce for 15 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they are fully coated.
Remove water chestnuts from soy sauce and set soy sauce aside for later use in the recipe.
Wrap 1/2 strip of bacon around each water chestnut, securing the bacon with a toothpick.
Place wrapped chestnuts in a 7″x11″ glass baking dish.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until desired crispness.

While they’re baking…

Mix ketchup, brown sugar and reserved soy sauce and mix well.

Remove chestnuts from the dish and drain the grease.
Place the chestnuts back in the baking dish.
Pour sauce evenly over the chestnuts to coat.
Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Peg’s Notes:
This sauce mixture is a little intense when you first taste it – intensely sweet,  intensely salty, intensely flavored, etc.  And by that, I mean I couldn’t eat more than three or four at a time, but for some reason other people just love it. Ahem!
I’m thinking of either decreasing the amount of ketchup and brown sugar or coming up with another Asian-y barbecue sauce altogether. We’ll see.
If you do something different, please let me know!

Corn Chowder

Yes, this is different from the other recipe – simpler and easier to make.

2# yellow potatoes, peeled and diced 1/2″
1 small onion, finely diced
1# bag of frozen corn
4-5 oz ham, diced 1/2″
2T Butter
3T Flour
2C Milk
2C Water
Salt
Pepper

Looking at the lead times of ingredient preparation, I usually start with the potatoes. Peeled and diced to about 1/2″, the potatoes are put on to just boil – we want them tender, but not already cooked through.

While the potatoes are cooking, dice the onion and ham. The ham should be about 1/2″ dice as well.

When the potatoes are ready, drain them in a colander and put the pot back on the burner.

Melt the butter and saute the onions until just tender, then stir in the flour and mix thoroughly, and cook this roux for about two minutes.

Whisk in the water, then mix in the corn and ham. Bring this mixture to a boil for two minutes, then add the milk and potatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the potatoes are fully tender.

Serve with oyster crackers or Saltines.

 

I find that the other recipe, with red bell pepper, really bests this version, but I didn’t have any peppers last night. And this was pretty good.

Have fun cooking!

Seafood Newburg

Christmas Eve was coming up quickly, and I was cooking for the DiRusso sisters. It was Feast of the Seven Fishes, an old Italian-American tradition of eating fish and other seafood in celebration of Christ’s birth. I was cooking in a competitive environment, so lobster was certain (witness last year’s Lobster Arancini, or the Lobster Ravioli the prior year).

I took it down a notch by not making it all lobster, but seafood newburg would be great – a bit lower cost (scallops were only $16/lb while lobster meat was $40/lb. Shrimp a relatively sane $7/lb). And I’d deal with three fishes right off the bat!

I searched the web for recipes, and found a couple to be just unimaginative or otherwise lacking, but then ran into the recipe from the January 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine, courtesy of Epicurious if you’d like the original recipe, or herewith, mine:

2 lobsters, steamed shelled, 1″ cubes
.75# sea scallops, tendons removed – if larger than 1″, halve
1# shrimp, thawed, deveined, tails and shells removed
5T medium-dry Sherry
7T brandy
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
cayenne to taste
8 large egg yolks, beaten well

Puff pastry shells
-or-
phyllo pastry cups

In a heavy saucepan at medium heat, melt the butter and add the scallops and shrimp. When the scallops are opaque and the shrimp just turning pink, add the lobster and finish cooking the shrimp and scallops.

Add 4T of Sherry and 6T of brandy, and cook the mixture for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the seafood to a warm plate. Add the cream to the sherry mixture and boil gently until reduced to about two cups. Reduce the heat to low, then add remaining sherry and brandy, the nutmeg, cayenne, and salt to taste.

Whisk in the egg yolks and slowly cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reads 140°F, then cook, whisking constantly, for three more minutes.

Stir in the seafood, and serve seafood Newburg over the pastry shells or cups.

Thanks to epicurious & thanks to Gourmet.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving was a small affair this year, just Peg (the blog’s namesake) and me. Ordinarily I’d have helped out with a pie or something, but I did the whole shebang today. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and pecan pie. All very straightforward, most I’ve done before, but I managed to pull it all together, mostly on time.

The turkey was a 12 pound Jenny-O, roasted according to the package instructions (325F for about 3 hours and a bit).

Four potatoes (about 1.5# were peeled, roughly cubed, and boiled until done (tender by fork and tasted “done”) with 2 T of butter and a splash of milk.

I cheated on the stuffing and got Pepperidge Farm Country Style, which is really easy and really good. That was prepared with 4T butter, one can of chicken broth, and about a teaspoon of dried onion. Melted the butter, heated the broth, mixed in the stuffing, and put it all in a casserole which went into the oven a few minutes before the turkey came out.

Brussels sprouts I made according to a recipe I found here( and of course I bookmarked it!). I did eliminate the garlic because it’s not Peg’s favorite. This turned out great, by the way!

The pecan pie was made according to the classic Karo Syrup recipe which turns out to be the “family secret” after years of everybody raving over my Aunt Glenna’s Pecan Pie. I did forget to include the butter, but it turned out great just the same, making me think the butter isn’t really needed. The pie shell stuck in the Fiestaware pie plate though, so next time it will get sprayed. It doesn’t matter, but I used the dark syrup. The web site says either will do, and I’ve used both to good effect in past years (and of course I claim the recipe is a “family secret”).

Cranberry sauce? Ocean Spray, of course. What else could we serve in Massachusetts?

And the gravy was dead straightforward. There was about a cup of drippings in the turkey pan, with hardly any fat. I melted 2T of butter in a saucepan, added 3T of flour, and made a relatively dark roux, then added the drippings and one cup of milk, with a little salt and pepper, and cooked that until it was thickened a bit.

It turned out lovely.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

John

Why I haven’t posted in a long time

I just noticed that I hadn’t visited here since June. There’s a good reason. Look at the recipe for Dutch Oven Chicken, for example. You end up with a whole chicken! Peg and I both had bariatric surgery, she at the end of June, and me in the middle of July. This surgery hugely impacts the amount of food we can eat, though not so much what we can eat. I tend to still have protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, but “regular” food for dinner.

But we can eat only a fraction of what we used to eat. This whole chicken, for example, would be meals for two, maybe three nights. Now, one whole chicken can last us a week! I might have one chicken leg and a cup of spinach, say, for dinner, and the next night a thigh and a cup of green beans.

That said, I am working on some recipes that produce smaller servings, and fewer of them.

In a positive vein, Peg has lost more weight than me, and I’m down nearly 70 pounds.

Be well,
John