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Friday, May 01, 2009
Southern-Style Banana Pudding

My brother, Keith, considers himself a Southerner even though he was born and raised deep in the heart of Yankee territory.  He lives in Georgia now, which means we don't see each other much, but thanks to Facebook and my blog we talk as much now as we ever did.  He asked if I would post one of his recipes, which I am more than happy to do. 

Keith's heart isn't what it used to be, so he's supposed to cut down on all those nasty things like fat and sodium in his diet.  This recipe reflects those changes.  I have not made this pudding yet, since I had to make anniversary cheesecake this week, (love you, Honey!), but will get to it soon.  Don't wait for me to tell you how good it is, though~ I know Keith wouldn't steer you wrong.  Even if you are a Yank.

Southern-Style Banana Pudding

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
2 1/2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 egg volks. lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sliced ripe bananas (about 5 to 6)
45 reduced-fat vanilla wafers
4 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine flour and salt in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in low-fat and condensed milks and yolks, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, Arrange 1 cup banana slices in a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon 1/3 pudding mixture over bananas: top with 15 vanilla wafers. Repeat layers once: top with remaining bananas and pudding. Arrange remaining 15 wafers around inside edge of dish. Gently push wafers into pudding. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar. 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved (2 to 4 minutes) Spread meringue over pudding, sealing to edge of dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool at least 30 minutes.

Posted at 08:49 am by ChefGrace
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Chi Town

We really enjoyed our trip to Chicago during Spring Break, but we have been beyond busy since then, I didn't have the time to deal with the pictures until now. 

We spent the first day at the Museum of Science and Industry, which is a huge museum, with lots of hands-on activities.  The kids enjoyed it, and it was a great way to spend a cold and snowy day.  After that, we checked in to our hotel, The Wyndam, then headed out for a quick meal before turning in.

The next day was spent eating, shopping, and walking. First stop after breakfast was the Lego store, which is Jacob's whole reason for going to Chicago.   Later, we had lunch at the Signature Room on th 95th floor of the John Hancock building, and had such a horrible experience, I'm not even going to go into it. 

Alex, Erin and I spent some time at the American Girl Place and Lush Cosmetics after lunch, while the boys went to the bookstore.  We had a snack at the Hershey Shop before heading to the Apple store.  After that, it was time to grab the car and head to our favorite pizza place for dinner.  Gino's East never fails to disappoint, and this time was no exception.  We left Chicago with happy faces and leftover pizza.

Here are some photos from our trip:

Posted at 08:48 am by ChefGrace
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Friday, March 27, 2009
Friday Food Files

 Today's post is dedicated to Hideout, who helped me with some of my format issues. 

I'll be heading to Chicago this weekend, so I hope to have some blog-worthy tidbits to share next week.

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, which I came up with about 12 years ago when I found a huge load of morels mushrooms.  Morel season is almost here!

If nothing else, make the sauce and spoon it over pasta.  Be sure to have some crusty sourdough bread to scoop up every last drop.  It's THAT good.

Also, if you don't want to make your own polenta, it's okay to buy some.  I've used Jaxon Cornmeal Mush for years, and it's pretty tasty.  It comes in a tube, (like ground sausage), and is typically in the refrigerator section, near the biscuits.

Morel Mushrooms in Gorgonzola Cream over Crispy Polenta

For Mushrooms:
Soak, wash, and pat dry 1 lb. of morel mushrooms, (feel free to substitute other mushrooms if morels aren't available). 

Heat 2 T. butter over medium heat, add 1 tsp. fresh, chopped rosemary, 2 cloves of garlic, and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, and add a tablespoon of sherry, (optional), before removing from heat.  BE CAREFUL not to let your garlic burn, or it will ruin your precious mushrooms.  If you're worried about this, add the garlic after the mushrooms are done. 

For Gorgonzola Cream:
2 T. butter
1 C. heavy cream, (half and half may be used)
1/2 C. crumbled Gorgonzola

Melt butter in small sautee pan over medium-low heat.  Add cream and Gorgonzola, stir constantly until melted.  You can continue to cook and stir for a while longer for a thicker sauce.

For Polenta:
3 1/2 cups  water
1 T. salt
1 cup polenta (not instant)
2 ounces butter
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
Oil, for frying

Add salt to water and bring to boil. Once boiling, slowly stir in polenta. Cook, simmering on low, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butter, Parmesan, pepper and salt. Pour polenta into buttered 8 x 8- inch baking pan. Cool, then refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes to an hour, (or overnight.) Cut into 1/2" slices.  Heat 2 T. oil in non-stick pan over moderate-high heat.  When pan is hot, add polenta slices, and cook until crispy, a few minutes per side.  Add more oil to the pan, if needed for additional batches. 

edited to add:  I guess I could have posted the directions on how to assemble this, although it's pretty straightforward.  Put polenta slices on plate, top with mushrooms, spoon sauce over all and eat.  This pairs nicely with a sparkling wine, (what doesn't?!) or a zinfandel, (not the pink stuff.)


Posted at 03:51 pm by ChefGrace
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Technical Difficulties- Please Stand By

No need to adjust your set.

I'm currently trying to return to the way my blog used to look, and the editing may take a while.

HTML, it is a bitch.

eta:  It's getting there!   I'm trying to find the code to enlarge the title for each entry, but other than that, I'm fairly happy with it.  It's nice going back to the classic Friday Chef look.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Posted at 08:57 am by ChefGrace
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Sunday, March 22, 2009
Prize-Winning Cookies!

Alex won second place in the Girl Scout Bakeoff yesterday and was very happy with the results. We worked on this for about a month before deciding which recipe we wanted to use. Here's the list of rejects:

  • Potato Chip Cookies~ I loved these, (Eden's recipe), but Alex didn't like the texture.
  • Mexican Wedding Cakes~ We love them, but thought they might be too boring.
  • Mexican Wedding Cakes with crystallized ginger~ the ginger didn't make these any more exciting.
  • Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cakes~ the cocoa made them slightly bitter.
  • Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cakes with extra sugar~ We were sick of wedding cakes at this point.
  • Brandy Snaps~ it was a humid day and the snaps turned soggy.
  • Molasses Cookie~ too... Christmas-ish
  • Triple Chocolate Cookies (made with semi-sweet and milk chocolate)~ now we're getting somewhere.
  • Banana chocolate chip~ Alex turned her nose at these.
  • S'more bars~ we ended up wanting to keep these for ourselves.
  • Triple Chocolate (made with bittersweet and white chocolate). Yes.

My friend, Patti, said they each look like Mr. Bill.  Oh nooooo!

Here's the recipe, which we adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe on The Food Network:

Triple Chocolate Cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Posted at 08:42 pm by ChefGrace
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