Friday, December 31, 2010

Hot Buttered Rum at Home

Since Mom already kicked off the holiday season with some of her own homemade favorites, I thought I'd contribute my own recipe for Hot Buttered Rum batter. I'm not normally a rum drinker, but discovered this particular elixir after a long day spent snowboarding, some years ago.

So here's how you make your own incredibly scrumptious and decadent batter, at home. Then you don't have to worry about driving, afterwards, either...

As always, feel free to experiment with your own variations, add a little extra of whatever you like, or take out whatever you don't.


HOT BUTTERED RUM BATTER (CREAM STYLE)

1 qt good vanilla ice cream, thawed til gooey (For this, I like to use the kind made w/ eggs, and good like Schwan's -- not quite as good as Haagen-Daaz)
1 lb. softened, salted butter
1 lb. brown sugar
1 lb.powdered sugar
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 T ground cinnamon

All amounts are approximate.


Cream the sugar and spices into the soft butter, then cream into the softened ice cream. Generally, I'll warm everything in a double boiler until the mixture is smooth and there's no grainy bits of the brown sugar, because it's completely dissolved. Sometimes, I'll omit the confectioner's sugar, because I don't happen to have any in the cupboard, too, for that matter -- so I just add in a little more brown sugar, instead.


You take a big dollop of the batter (more or less depending on taste) and plop into your favorite mug. Pour a healthy splash of Myers Dark Rum over it (at least an ounce, I prefer two) Fill with boiling water, then stir gently - you want that foamy goodness on top to sip rum through.

Top with a sprinkle of fresh-ground nutmeg, and/or garnish with a cinnamon stick, if you feel a little fancy.

Repeat until you need to put your head down somewhere soft. Store the leftover batter in your fridge—it'll generally keep a lot longer than it will actually last. If you have worries on that score, though, you can store it in the freezer quite easily and almost indefinitely.

Happy New Year, eveyone!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Smoked Salmon Chowder (local to Boundary Bay Brewpub)

There's a local Brewpub called Boundary Bay that makes the most incredible Smoked Salmon Chowder. And since we did a roasted chicken with cornbread dressing and all the other trimmings just last month, we decided our Christmas meal might be a good bit simpler, leaving us time for a hike this afternoon.

Here's the infamous chowder recipe—slightly modified—since we're not feeding an army, we've scaled the portions down from the original recipe linked above. Measurements are approximate--so feel free to adjust as needed:

2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 T fresh chopped garlic
1 1/2 cup clam juice
1 1/2 cup white wine (we're using SilverLake Sauvignon blanc)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup smoked salmon (approx) I like VIS Seafoods' traditional smoked salmon



In a large, heavy-bottom Dutch oven, sauce or stock pan (5 quart is the size I use) combine the wine, clam juice, and thyme. Add the diced vegetables and boil until tender. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Warm the cream (you can actually do this in a microwave - but be careful not to boil or scald, and if you're aghast at the calories, you can use whole milk). Melt the stick of butter, whisk the flour into the melted butter to make a roux, (keep your heat low, you're looking for white-to-blond roux, not darker—so be careful not to brown the butter or flour) and add in the warmed cream. 
Making sure the clam juice/wine/veggie mix is not actually boiling, add the cream roux into the soup pot, stirring gently. Add the flaked salmon. Let simmer another 15 minutes or so, then serve. This is marvelous in bread bowls, or with crusty hunks of warmed baguette, and the rest of that bottle of white wine you used in the chowder stock.



Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

German Paper Stars

I never knew my paternal grandfather, Carl Henry Spangenberg; he died long before I was born. That's his picture over there, taken in Cuba in the 1920s. My grandfather was born in Germany, and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. One of the things he taught my father was how to weave paper stars, as Christmas ornaments, out of four strips of paper.

The stars are known by all sorts of names; Folded Paper Stars, German Stars or German Star Ornaments, Swedish Stars, Froebel's Stars, Christmas Stars, Origami Stars, Star Ornaments, Ribbon Star. You'll sometimes see them called Moravian stars; they aren't (that's a different kind of star). In Germany, they were often made of tin. The stars were created, initially, by a German educator Friedrich Fröbel (April 21, 1782–June 21, 1852). Fröbel invented the idea (and the word) behind the modern concept of a kindergarten, and was deeply committed to early childhood education as crucial in the eventual production of well-educated adults. He was keenly interested in, and promoted, the idea of learning via active engagement, and play. The stars were part of that; they actively teach a number of basic geometric and mathematical concepts.

My father used to make these every year at Christmas, and came up with a number of different versions involving small variations. They're one of my fondest memories of my father. There are all sorts of videos on YouTube showing how to make the stars, as well as instructions about how to make them on the Web; I've linked to a few below. It's a good idea to practice using plain paper first; it can take a bit to get the hang of making the stars. Once you understand the basic method, try using two colors of paper, or try different kinds of points, or using ribbon. I've made stars that were a foot or more across, as well as stars that are smaller than an aspirin. Here's one site about making German stars; here's another that's a downloadable, printable .pdf. Here are two YouTube videos: video 1, video 2.
Star image credit: Kate Ter Haar.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dessert Again

The weather has warmed back up here in Texas, 72 degrees on the 10th of December, WOW!! So, I'm not thinking hot drinks, today. I do have a wonderful recipe for a cake that is great for the holidays when you're having friends over. Don't want to do this for just a few people. It is super rich and about a thousand calories per bite, but double yummy. it really easy and pretty impressive tasting. Company raves about it. As a matter of fact, the recipe is called "Better Than Sex Chocolate Cake", but I'm not sure about that claim. You be the judge.

BETTER THAN SEX CHOCOLATE CAKE

One box of German chocolate cake mix (mix & bake according to the package
directions,in a 9"x13" pan.)
1 can of Eagle Brand condensed milk
1 jar of caramel ice cream topping
1 bag toffee chips
1 tub of Cool Chip (can use low fat and sugar free)

When the cake is baked and cooled, poke holes in it over the entire surface about 1 inch apart. You can use a wooden spoon handle or use your fingers. Nobody will know.

Pour the can of Eagle Brand over the entire surface and allow to soak in.

Top that with the caramel topping and sprinkle with toffee bits to your preference.

Frost that with the Cool Whip and sprinkle on more toffee bits.

Chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours before cutting.

Be prepared for it to disappear quickly.


This one is okay for Kids, except for a possible sugar high.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

As promised, here is my Kahlua recipe. Easy, inexpensive, and very good. Also not recommended or suitable for children. Try a little Kahlua and cream over ice. Or my favorite way to use it is as a topping for chocolate ice cream. It's also good in coffee or hot chocolate.

Homemade Kahlua
Ingredients:
2 cup water
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 ½ T instant coffee (I use instant espresso powder)
1 ½ T vanilla extract
1 tsp caramel syrup coffee flavoring
1 tsp rum extract (or real rum)
2 cup vodka
Directions:
· Heat first three ingredients over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved
· Stir vodka and flavorings
· Cover until cooled to room temperature (very important to cover to keep the alcohol from evaropating.)
· Store in dark colored, screw-top 750 ml bottle
· Cure for 30 days(If you can stand it)

Baked Ziti

Gotta love Italian food too. Here's a requested recipe. Love it when you all read the blog and comment.

EASY BAKED ZITI

1 16oz pkg. ziti
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
28 ounces pasta sauce (okay to use bottle sauce or make your own if you don't mind the extra work)
1 egg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (either fresh grated or the other kind)
1 cup ricotta cheese (can substitute cottage cheese if necessary)
6 ounces mozzerella cheese, grated
Non stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make ziti according to directions on the package, be careful not to overcook. [...because nobody likes soggy noodles -- ed. note]
Drain well.
In a bowl, mix pasta and olive oil until pasta is well coated.
Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Pour pasta sauce in the bowl with the pasta and oil and mix well. spread 1/2 the pasta mixture into the baking dish.

Mix the egg, ricotta and Pamesan cheese in a separate bowl. Spoon this mixture over the pasta and top with 1/2 of the mozzerella cheese. Spread the remaining pasta mixture for a second layer. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzerella over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until bubbling hot. Serves about 6.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Warm Bread Pudding w/Bourbon Sauce

Since I confessed to the world that I like bourbon, I probably should share another favorite recipe. This is a New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce. YUM!!
After typing this out, I'm going to make a batch, just for me, cause I can.


BREAD PUDDING

1 pound of French Bread (the firmer,the better)
3-1/4 cups milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup raisins (raisins and pecans are optional)

Tear the bread into medium pieces (about 1 inch cubes). Add cinnamon and sugar, toss lightly. Mix milk and lightly beaten eggs and vanilla and add to bread mixture. Place 1/2 of mixture in buttered casserole dish. Layer pecans and raisins, if used. Top with rest of mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes of until lightly browned. Serve warm with warm Bourbon sauce. (If you have leftovers, it microwaves great for re-warming).

BOURBON SAUCE

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablspoon Bourbon (I must confess, I find a tablespoon rather insipid. I use a good 1/4 of a cup).
What can I say, I like the taste of Bourbon, Also, I usually double the recipe, because the sauce is wonderful. The bread pudding is good, but, just something to pour the sauce on.

This is also not necessarily recommended or suitable for children. While the alcohol boils away, it still has the wonderful bourbon flavor.

In a sauce pan, mix all the ingredients. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Serve warm over warm bread pudding.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cold Weather Thoughts

With the onset of the Holiday Season and colder weather, I'm thinking fireplace and warm drinks. One of my favorite warm drinks is Irish coffee. There is nothing like sitting by the fireplace, with a warm Irish Coffee, watching 'Miracle on 34Th Street', or 'A Christmas Carol'. Yep, you guessed it, I'm a Christmas junkie. I start listening to Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day and watching my collection of Christmas DVD's until my husband threatens to demolish the TV. But, I remind him it's only one season of the year and what a glorious Reason for the season, and pass him another cup.
I want to share my recipe for Irish Creme for those of you who enjoy a warm pick me up on occasion.

IRISH CREME

14 oz Eagle Brand milk
4 whole eggs
1 cup dark rum OR brandy OR bourbon (I like bourbon)
2 Tablespoons strong, cold coffee (I have used 1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder)
1 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients in blender. Mix 30 seconds on medium. Bottle and refrigerate - keeps up to 3 weeks.

Add for strength desired to cup of hot coffee and enjoy. Also good over ice with a little milk or cream added. This is NOT suitable or recommended for children.