Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grown up Ice Cream

Often when I get home from work this time of year I do the needed outside things before I even go inside, sometimes I will salt the driveway or shovel...  you know to get them out of the way before I take off my wet shoes and coat.  Then, once I am in the house I am in for the night.  I was doing that on Friday when the incident happened.

A few minutes after the "incident"  Kris came home and said, "Wow! What did you do?  Were you in a fight?".  I gave her a quick run down...

"Were you drinking?"

"No! I just got home."

The next day my mom called and I described what had happened.

Her first question, "Had you been drinking?"

I went to work yesterday and the questions started, "what happened to your face?"  "Did you go the the hospital?" "Jeez what did you clean that with?" (answer to that... Vodka) and of course, "how much did you have to drink?"

Can you tell that I am trying to build tension?  I know, I am not Dean Koontz or anything but really; a nerdy food blog isn't a popular suspense novel and I don't get to build tension very often.  So are you ready to hear what the incident was?

On Friday I quickly walked through the house and went to the back patio to take out the garbage, I walked around the garbage can to drop the kitchen bag into it and lost my footing on the ice... I am sure that my arms were still attached to my body but they immediately became useless.  My feet flew into the air and I landed, on my face on the snow and ice covered lawn chair.  Then, since a plastic chaise is no match for a flying 200 pound man I slid off the back of the chair onto the snow and ice covered patio.  After flopping around a bit I spent the next few moments scanning the neighbors windows to make sure that no one saw me then started crawling around in the snow, in the dark, looking for my new progressive lens glasses.

For those of you that aren't there yet "progressive lens" is a term they use now because it seems more polite than,  "here are your bifocals old man... $400.00 please, oh and by the way every time that you look down for the next several weeks you can expect headaches and mild nausea."

When I got inside and looked in the mirror I saw that I looked like Brad Pitt from Fight Club OK, I wish.... I looked more like a middle aged man that fell on his face, almost recovered then fell on his face again.  By the way I am fine, just a little banged up, I am half torn between embarrassed and wishing that I had video because it would rock to see.

The only thing that makes me wonder is why everybody asked if I had been drinking...  Whatever goes on in their heads I'll never guess.  On Saturday I made one of my favorite desserts, yes sometimes baking is calming.  Then I took out my new toy and tried something new!

Brandy Ice-Cream:

2 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of one lemon
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
3 TBS Brandy

To make custard:
Pour Half and Half into a saucepan, add vanilla to and grate in the lemon zest then bring mixture to a light boil.

While that is heating whisk together the brown sugar and yolks in a metal bowl until combined well. Add hot cream mixture to yolk mixture in a slow stream, stirring as you go then return custard to pan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and coats back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. (Do not let it boil)

Pour custard through a strainer into bowl and cool slightly. Stir in brandy and chill for a couple of hours until cold. Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker.following the instructions.

After it was done mixing I put it back into the freezer for about half an hour to firm up, I have to say this one worked!  Smooth and creamy with a brandy flavor that wasn't at all overpowering, backed by the vanilla and a hint of lemon.  Really wonderful for the first time out!

This is served with my very favorite dessert Apple Shortbread Bars.  When I pulled up the recipe to make it this time I was thinking to myself, "this is so simple, why is it so yummy?"  Answer: maybe it has something to do with the 3 sticks of butter I put in.  So healthy? Maybe not but if you want a rice cake after you fell on your face twice that is fine with me but I think that I earned this.

Oh and because I have them...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spring Rolls

I mentioned before that My middle daughter Miss El visited us between Christmas and New Year this year.  When she was here the last time she was telling me that she wanted to try something different.
"You know those things with the wrappers... not egg rolls but with the vegetables and stuff inside, they are cold and have shrimp and stuff."
Of course Spring Rolls!  I pulled the wrappers out of the pantry and we played around with them for a bit.  They are odd little things, when they are fresh from the box they are dry brittle circles but soak them in warm water for a few minutes and they become slippery but sturdy and extremely pliable wraps for a light lunch.

Anyway Miss El, Miss Lu and I decided to make some.  I laid out the ingredients in bowls for us, they were
Salad spring mix
Shredded carrots
Julienned chicken
Shrimp sauteed in garlic butter
Wasabi vinegrette
Italian dressing

Wasabi dressing is simple to make and adds a bit of bright pop to these the ingredients are:
1 Tbs Sugar
1 Tbs Powdered Wasabi
3 Tbs Rice Vinegar
3 Tbs Vegetable Oil
1 Tbs Water
a splash of soy sauce
Mix it all together and BANG you have a bright dressing for salads or something like this!

Take your Spring Roll Wrappers and soak for a few minutes until pliable.

Fill with your favorite ingredients and roll (burrito style)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Marsala

So it started like this...

After we got past the holidays, you know the insane time at work, my middle daughter visited for a week (snow painting adventures of my previous post)  things just started to settle just a bit.  Then my boss calls this meeting and announces that, "all of you are going to work harder over the next couple of months than you have ever worked in your lives."

My first thought was something along the lines of. "well color me inspired."  We had just come off of feeding around 2200 guests Prime Rib, Crispy Tilapia, Butternut Squash and buckets full of Lemon Basil Orzo.  That was on top of all of the parties and what not that the holiday season brings us.  Well it has been a couple of weeks since that meeting and things are settling down a bit.

Ok enough about my job, I have some new toys...

My beautiful wife Kris bought me a new camera for Christmas, the old one was just a little beat up, note the lens pointed in an odd direction and yes that is duct tape holding it together.

Oh, here is Kris' work with the new camera... Mr. Man and I were going to watch just one episode of Batman and what do you know... and who falls asleep in a chef's coat? I am such a dork!

I finally bought an ice cream maker, it is the cutest little thing, I have only used it once but have a good list of recipes to start with... Say didn't they made lobster ice cream on Iron Chef a couple of weeks ago?  I guess I am saying that I have some stuff in the works so be sure to stick around I'll get to it soon!  I had to use the catalog photo because I left my table so messy this weekend.

Anyway this post isn't about my new stuff it it really about an old favorite...

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Marsala.

1 pork tenderloin (about a pound)
4 TBS butter (I use unsalted) divided
1 medium onion diced
about half a pound of Portabella  mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken broth
fresh parsley to garnish

Melt half your butter in a heavy skillet, I pulled out my favorite, the iron skillet, when hot but just short of smoking, brown the pork on all sides, set that aside while you do the rest.

Add the onions and mushrooms to the same skillet and saute together until the liquid that the mushrooms give is evaporated (maybe 10 minutes).  Then add the Marsala and cook until it is almost evaporated (about another 10 minutes.  Add the chicken broth then put the Pork Tenderloin in the same pan and cook until it is to your liking, medium rareish to me, (another 10 minutes at a low simmer) then pull the pork out and put it on your serving platter to rest.  Turn up the heat on the sauce add the rest of your butter and reduce to about 3/4 cup.

Slice the pork tenderloin into medallions and serve.  We picked pasta, but I really love this with potatoes too.  For as simple as it is to make this is wicked good... good enough to get Miss Lu up for seconds.