Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Apple Raisin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Sense of Home Kitchen

Apple Raisin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
~From the Sense of Home Kitchen, adapted from Bon App├ętit, November 2000~
Makes 6 servings

Bread Pudding
2 cups  half and half
2 cups lightly sweetened chunky applesauce (homemade, if available), excess liquid drained through a fine sieve
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups 1/2-inch cubes day old challah (egg bread)
1/2 cup golden raisins

Caramel Sauce
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream

For the bread pudding
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk half and half, drained chunky applesauce, dark brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until well blended.  Fold in bread cubes.  Stir in golden raisins.  Transfer mixture to an 11 x 7-inch glass or enamel covered stoneware baking dish.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Bake bread pudding until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

For caramel sauce
Whisk brown sugar and butter in a heavy medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat until the butter melts.  Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.  Resist the temptation to stick a finger into this hot, yummy sauce until it has cooled.

Serve the bread pudding warm with the caramel sauce drizzled over the top.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Recipes / Desserts

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pressure Canning Chicken Stock Or Is That Chicken Broth?

Sense of Home Kitchen

With this year's chickens in the freezer it is time to take out of the freezer any chickens left over from last fall.  Which makes this the time of year I pressure can chicken stock, or is that chicken broth?  Although they seem like the same thing, there is a difference between chicken stock and chicken broth.  Chicken stock has a richer flavor and when used to deglaze a pan it will bind the pan drippings, making it a good substitute for butter in sauces.  The reason for this is gelatin is released when bones are simmered for a long time.

Chicken stock is made by simmering chicken bones for several hours, approximately six to eight, to release the gelatin. The back and neck are good parts for this, as are the breast bones with little meat left on them.  Chicken broth on the other hand is made from the meat, as well as other parts.  For broth the bird is only simmered for approximately 3 hours.

So why do I call what I made chicken stock even though I used the whole bird?  Quite simply because of the length of time I simmered the bird.  Look at the gelatin in that cooled stock in the above photo.  When stock is refrigerated it will turn to a gel consistency, scrape the hardened fat off the top and you are left with a very flavorful and nutritious gelee that turns liquid when heated.  I like to use the whole chicken as well as celery tops, onion ends, mushroom stems, garlic, herbs, and even a few carrot ends.  For several months before making stock I save these ends while cooking and place them in a freezer bag in the deep freeze.  Then on the day I make stock I take the bag out of the freezer and place the vegetable pieces straight into the pot.

Making and pressure canning stock is really best done over the course of two days.  The first day the chicken or bones are covered with water, vegetable pieces are placed in the pot and slowly simmered for approximately six to eight hours.  Any chicken meat on the bones will be falling off and the carcass will easily fall apart.    I do this both in my crock pot and on my stove top since I always make several batches at the same time.  Once the stock is done and cooled enough to handle, strain it through a fine sieve, discard the vegetables and bones and save the pieces of meat.  I then place the meat in 2 cup measures, in freezer containers, this provides for a quick meal, such as soups, casseroles, or sandwiches later.  Then the stock is placed in the refrigerator overnight, uncovered.  The following day scrape the solid fat off the top of the stock, reheat the stock, prepare your jars and pressure can according to the directions that came with your canner.  Mine says to can at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for quart jars, however, yours may be different and if you are at a higher altitude you will need to adjust for that.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Homemade Living / Kitchen and Pantry

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hollandaise Sauce

Sense of Home Kitchen

Hollandaise Sauce
~from the Sense of Home Kitchen, adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything"~
Makes about 1 cup

The key to this recipe is to start with really fresh eggs that you trust, preferably eggs from a local farm.  This way you don't have to worry so much about how hot you are heating your eggs and if they are safe.  Try this sauce poured over a fried egg, Canadian bacon, tomato, open-faced sandwich.

3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Put the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over very low heat.  Heat, whisking constantly,until light, foamy and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  In a separate pan, over low heat, or in the microwave, melt the butter; careful not to let it brown.  Combine the heated egg yolks, lemon juice, and paprika in the blender, and begin blending.  While the blender is running slowly drizzle in the butter, the mixture will continue to thicken.  Taste and add more paprika if desired.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Recipes / Sauces / Eggs / Breakfast 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Slugs in the Kitchen Garden

Sense of Home Kitchen

With all the rain we have had this summer we have an unusually high number of slugs.  Thanks to our cold winters our slugs are small, nothing like they grow them in the Northwest, but they do a tremendous amount of damage to the produce.  They have eaten 1/3 of a good sized cucumber, the green bean leaves look more like lace than leaves, and it is a race to see who can get to the tomatoes first, which means I pick tomatoes before they are completely ripe, cheating us out of that extra flavor they get ripening on the vine.   To make sure we have enough produce to preserve for winter use I have had to become more aggressive in my efforts to rid the garden of slugs.  

I was recently at a local community harvest festival where there were booths set up for everything from gardening to canning to making cheese to dying wool.  I settled in at the gardening booth for a while asking various questions, but what I was really anxious to learn was how to control my growing slug population.  The horticulturist I spoke with said that slugs do not like to crawl across sand or gravel, this jogged my memory all the way back to a conversation I had with the man we hired to till our garden this spring.  He suggested we add a few bags of sand to the garden to make the soil more friable (we have lots of clay).  I had intended to wait until we tilled again to add the sand, but I figured now might be a better time if it discourages the slugs.  So off to Tractor Supply Company I headed and came home with two good sized bags of sand.  We just sprinkled it over the garden like we were sprinkling powdered sugar on a a cake.  Some fell on the tomato vines, the tomatoes, the beans, potatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and some on the soil itself.

This trick has worked amazingly well.  The slugs are now avoiding the areas of sand and when I do find them they are not looking as plump and healthy as they were before.  My next move was to use beer traps, I say let them die happy.  The beer traps also work very well, the slugs crawl into the beer and, some say, dry out from the beer.  Or perhaps they are just attracted to the smell and end up drowning in the beer.  Either way we have reduced the population considerably.

Tonight when picking tomatoes I noticed that there are a few frogs in the garden helping us reduce our slug population as well.  With the combination of these methods to reduce or discourage slugs, I have seen much larger fruit and vegetable yields.  I now have 25 quarts of whole tomatoes canned and enough tomatoes to make and can salsa for the winter, I would not want to go all winter without my homemade salsa.  I also hope to make and can several jars of tomato soup this fall.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Homemade Living / In the Garden