Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Banana Pudding


I love banana pudding! It is what I survived on my first two years of college when we had to go to the dining hall. Furman didn't have the best food, but they did have a darn good banana pudding (and chicken finger Tuesday). There really isn't much to making banana pudding, and I prefer to go light on the banana (sometimes I eliminate it all together). I'm sure there is a long standing debate on whether it is real banana pudding when you use pudding mix instead of making it from scratch, but the mix is just so easy. Here is my "semi-homemade" version of banana pudding. If you want the "real" stuff, check out the side of the Nilla wafer box.

Banana Pudding

Ingredients:
1 large box of vanilla pudding mix
3 1/2 to 4 cups milk
1 banana, sliced thin
Vanilla wafers (as many or as few as you like)
Vanilla extract
Whipped Cream (fresh or cool whip)


Directions:
1. Prepare pudding mix according to mix, however add some extra milk 1/2 to 1 cup. I find that mixing pudding in a blender usually comes out lump-free, whereas whenever I use a mixer there are always lumps.
2. Stir in 1 to 2 tsp of vanilla extract to enhance the flavor (this makes it taste more homemade!)
3. Fold in some whipped cream - an extra large scoop or so, reserving the rest for layering or on top.
4. In a large bowl (I used my trifle dish and doubled the recipe), put a small amount of pudding on bottom and then place a layer of cookies. Top cookies with bananas.
Cover with a generous amount of pudding and then a layer of whipped cream (optional). Repeat over again with layers of cookies, banana, pudding, whipped cream. I added a layer of whipped cream to my first layer, then realized I wouldn't have enough for each layer so just saved the rest for on top.
5. Refrigerate a few hours in order to allow time for the cookies to soften.



Whipped Cream

Ingredients:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 c powdered sugar (more if not sweet enough)

Directions:
1. Chill mixing bowls and beater
2. Pour whipping cream into chilled bowl and begin to whip on medium high speed with electric mixer.
3. As the cream starts to thicken, slowly add in the sugar.
4. Whip until peaks are formed and held. If you over-whip you will be close to having butter. Taste and make sure the sweetness is right.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Custard

This is probably one of my proudest cooking accomplishments to date! This is not the regular custard you think of that resembles pudding; it is a drink that is similar to egg nog. My grandmother would make this for us every year and when I think of Christmas I think of custard.

Each year my grandmother brought the custard and proclaimed it would be her last year making it as she always burned the milk and the final product was full of lumps. This made me nervous that the recipe would be difficult, however I was determined to try. I never had the opportunity to make this with my grandmother, but luckily she left a handwritten recipe for my mom and her sister. I was very nervous that I would experience the troubles Nana used to have, however I found it very easy (as long as you have a big enough pot). Mine turned out with the exact flavor I remember and completely lump free! I can't wait to take over the tradition of making custard for our family....it will have to start next year though because the Kasiks are heading to Mexico!!

Custard

Ingredients:
1/2 gallon whole or 2% milk (I used 2% as I couldn't bring myself to go with the full fat version)
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I think I used closer to 1 c as I added more sugar after everything was added)
1/4 c sugar for egg whites
2 T flour
2 T vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a LARGE pot (make sure there is plenty of extra room) pour the entire 1/2 gallon of milk and bring to a boil. Make sure to constantly stir and watch this to prevent the milk from scorching.
2. While waiting for milk to boil, beat egg whites with a mixer on high until stiff peaks form, adding 1/4 cup of sugar while they whip. This is where a stand mixer comes in handy as you can just turn it on and get back to whisking your milk.
3. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks together and set aside. My grandmother's instructions said to add a little cold milk to this so they don't knot up later on. She also specified that she used a fork to whisk egg yolks. :)
4. In another bowl, stir together sugar and flour. Add some cold milk to this and whisk together so there are no lumps and to dissolve the sugar.
5. Once milk comes to a boil, add some of the warm liquid to the egg yolks to temper them and then add them back to the boiling milk.
6. Also add in the sugar/flour mixture and whisk into the milk and bring the milk back to a boil.
7. Once the milk mixture comes back to a boil, remove 2 cups and slowly add to egg whites as mixer is going (after they are firm). This will make the egg whites liquidy.
8. Add egg whites to the milk and whisk to make sure everything is well incorporated. I let this cook a minute or two, but my grandmother didn't specify what to do in her instructions.
**See how the mixture has doubled in size from the first picture of the milk in the pan alone. That is the importance of having a large pot!! I actually need a bigger one. :)
9. Add vanilla and remove from heat.
10. Taste the mix and see if it needs a little more sugar. It will get sweeter and thicker as it cools. It should end up being similar to the consistency of egg nog, although maybe a little thinner.
11. Once the mixture has cooled down some, transfer to a pitcher or back into the milk jug (that is how Nana always stored it). Put in refrigerator and then drink when cold. Make sure to shake up jug before pouring as when I made it a little film formed on top that may cause lumps.

***If you think your custard is lump, strain it before pouring into pitcher.

I hope you enjoy custard as much as I do!! I apologize the pictures aren't the best, but it is hard to photograph a drink. :)

Hot Browns


The Brown Hotel is a historic hotel in downtown Louisville, KY and the birthplace of the Hot Brown. According to the hotel's history, it was a hot spot for dinner dances in the 1920s. After the guests retired their dancing shoes for the night, they were always hungry for a late night meal. This led the chef at the hotel to come up with the Hot Brown. It is a delicious open-faced turkey sandwich with a mornay sauce (fancy name for a parmesan cream sauce). I hope you give this a try the next time you have turkey leftovers (or chicken would work too). If you visit the Brown hotel's website they have their recipe posted, yet I made a few adjustments to make it less fattening (i.e. I didn't use heavy cream).

I made this a couple weeks ago so I don't remember my exact measurements, but I am just remaking the bechamel sauce I use for mac and cheese, just slightly thicker.

Hot Brown

Ingredients:
4 to 6 pieces white bread
Turkey breast
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c (or more) grated parmesan cheese, and extra to sprinkle on top
4 to 6 slices crispy bacon
Tomato slices
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Melt butter in mixing bowl in microwave
2. Add flour, whisk, and then microwave 30 seconds
3. Add milk, whisk, and microwave at 2 minute intervals until thick (just like macaroni so see that post for pictures)
4. Once thickened, add in cheese to melt and salt and pepper to taste - you now have a mornay sauce
5. Toast bread slices and remove crusts. Place in a baking dish (I used 4 pieces but had lots of extra sauce at the end so you could do 6, possibly 8, pieces)
5. Place generous amount of turkey on top of bread.
6. Top with tomato slice, if desired. I left the tomato out when making it for myself and Kris.
7. Cover with mornay sauce and then top with some extra cheese.
8. Put under broiler until cheese melts.
9. Top with bacon slices and enjoy!