Monday, December 26, 2011

Steamed Whiskey and Marmalade Pudding with Sauce Anglaise

I was put in charge of dessert for Christmas dinner so I gathered a list of Christmasy sounding recipes and presented them to the family for an informal poll. Elaine and Axel F narrowed it down to Frozen Peppermint Bouche de Noel and this one. Upon presenting these two final options to mom and dad I received the response: 'the whiskey one. When we see whiskey, we react.' The whiskey one it was.

This recipe is from last December's issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I was skeptical about whether or not a "steamed pudding" would actually be appetizing...luckily it was not only appetizing but really rich, delicious and special enough for Christmas dinner.


1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
2 tbs whiskey (I may have added extra!)

1 3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter (1 cup), at room temp
3/4 cup citrus marmalade*
Zest of one orange
4 large eggs
2/3 cup whiskey**
1 3/4 cup self rising flour***

Special equipment: 8 3/4 cup ramekins, buttered and floured (do this thoroughly, you'll be sorry otherwise!)

To do:

To make the sauce, whisk together egg yolks, milk, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds. The recipe said to discard the vanilla bean itself, but I threw it in to impart some additional flavor. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. The recipe said 9 minutes, I cooked it for more like 12-15. It likely depends on whether your ingredients are cold or at room temperature. I was surprised there was no tempering of the yolks situation but this worked out just fine. I did strain mine at the end to get out some lumpy bits at the bottom of the pan. Once done, transfer sauce to a bowl and put in the refrigerator until cool. This can be done up to 2 days in advance.

For the puddings, beat together the sugar and butter until blended and smooth. Add the marmalade and zest and beat again. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the whiskey and then the flour until combined. Divide the batter equally among the ramekins. I will admit, I only had 6 ramekins and I definitely filled them too full...if you have the prescribed 8, I think you will have better luck in terms of both cooking time (mine took longer than expected) and portion size (these are so rich and mine were definitely too big).

Cover the ramekins with buttered foil (important!) and place in a rack inside a roasting pan. Add hot water to the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bring the water to a gentle boil then reduce heat to medium high and cover with foil. Steam the puddings for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. At some point you will think, "these are never going to cook!!" Do not despair, they will, although you may need to turn up the heat and or add additional hot water to the pan.

Once cooked through, carefully remove the ramekins from the roasting pan, run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate. Mine came out fairly easily with a minimum or angst and drama, but next time, I will take better care with my butter and flour in the crevices as the caked did stick a bit around the edges. Top with sauce and serve.

This was like a cross between a pudding and a cake, extremely moist but with a tender cake crumb. The bitterness from the whiskey and marmalade is a perfect balance to the super sweet sauce.

*You can use any kind of citrus is fine. I used one that I made in my jams class at the BCAE that was made from oranges, lemons and limes.

**I used Jameson, you use what you like.

***You will definitely need to use self rising flour, as there no other leavening in the pudding. If you cant find or don't want to purchase a whole sack of the stuff, you can make it yourself by combining 1 1/4 teaspoons Baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup of flour you need.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


A quick post about a WAY to make pizza, rather than a full on recipe (everyone has their favorite pizza dough recipe, OR a buck for a bag of dough at TJ's is a totally great substitute for making your own).

This method is what Mario Batali suggests as a pizza process in his book Molto Gusto (I've referenced the book here before, you should totally get it - gorgeous recipes, most of them vegetarian, but some meat too, totally terrific!  and great photos, one for every recipe, which is awesome).

Basically, you par cook your dough on the STOVETOP!  You can do many crusts at once and freeze them for super quick pizza making in the future!  You need a nice heavy cast iron skillet (if you don't have one, go to a thrift store near you and buy one for a buck.  Or, go to a kitchen store and buy a new one for 20 bucks.  Read up on how to use and care for them here).

Anyway, you heat a cast iron pan on the stove top over medium heat for several minutes.  Make sure your dough is lovely and rested, soft and at room temperature.  Pat out small rounds of dough (4 oz. if you have a scale - which if you bought a pound of dough at the store means you're dividing your dough into 4 pieces) - just big enough for an individual pizza size, maybe 8-10 inches when it's patted out (however big your cast iron pan is would be a good way to decide this).  Press the dough out (Mario recommends using a mix of flour and semolina to dust your surface, because the semolina gives you a little extra crunch in the final pizza); as you press it out, leave a little rim around the edge, but with the main part as thin as you can possibly make it - in fact, when you think it's thin enough, tell yourself you can get it just a little thinner.

Throw it in the preheated pan and cook it for a few minutes, until lightly brown and dry looking on the underside, with some darker brown spots.  Flip it over and cook for slightly less time, until the dough on the second side is definitely dry with some golden spots.  You can press on any thicker spots at this point to encourage them to cook through.  Remove to a rack or cookie sheet to cool completely.  Continue to do this with all your dough.

The fun thing is, you can make pizzas now, but you can also save some crusts for later - they freeze incredibly well.  Thaw before you use them.

So the actually turning into pizza part I must differ slightly with Mr. Batali, much as it pains me to do so.  His instructions have you top the par cooked crust with your preferred toppings and then slide it under the broiler.  In my home oven, this resulted in amazingly crusty tops, but soggy bottoms!  I don't like that in a pizza.  SO I heated my cast iron griddle (wide and totally flat; if you only have a cast iron skillet with high sides, I'd recommend using an overturned cookie sheet, to make sliding on crusts topped with sauce a cheese easier), and put it in the oven on the top rack under the broiler set on high to preheat, so that I could throw the pizzas on that (I'm afraid the heat of the broiler would kill a pizza stone, can anyone confirm or deny this?  I don't want to test my theory on MY pizza stone) - anyway, the cast iron base provided toasty heat to crisp the underside while the broiler melted the cheese (and browned the salami) and turned the top crust mahogany and crispy like I've never managed before.

Next time I might go so far as to briefly broil the crust UPSIDE DOWN before removing it, putting on the toppings, and sliding it back under the broiler right side up.

A warning he gives is that you really want to top and broil these one at a time - so plan this for the kind of meal where that would work out for you.  You don't want to have a bunch of them sitting with sauce and cheese and what-have-you on top for any length of time before they go under the broiler or the crust will get soggy.  NO TO SOGGY PIZZA!  So the method is, top the crust as fast as you can and broil it!  Eat it!  Top and broil another!  And another!  Axel F and I ate three of these for dinner once and were very full (but not uncomfortably so).  So I'd bank on 1-2 per person.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hamburgers with Pork Belly and Tomato Jam

Elaine was over and we were making burgers.  And that seemed pretty boring so obviously the only thing to do is to take some left over pork belly (from a DELICIOUS dinner at Vee Vee in Jamaica Plain), fry it up and put it on top.  Diabolical?  Maybe.  Delicious?  Definitely.  So, the next time you have leftover pork belly in the fridge (all the time, right?) consider this.

Make your burgers as you would normally (I just mixed my meat with worcestershire sauce and salted and peppered the patties before cooking).  Fry burgers to your desired doneness (medium rare, obvy) and then quickly fry up your pork belly, just to warm it and give it a little crunch on the outside.  Toast some delicious sourdough, spread on some tomato jam (I make this recipe, so spicy and delicious) and top with burgers and pork belly.

I served these with a super simple salad and celery root which I cubed and roasted with butter, salt and pepper in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour until tender and golden brown.