Showing posts with label caramel sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caramel sauce. Show all posts

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I KNOW A MAMA WHO

Wakes up every Monday morning and vows to stop drinking wine forever and ever and ever and ever.  Forgets to drop her son off at his best friend's birthday party. Can't remember how she got from point A to point B but knows a car was involved and that the kids were in it. Likes to eat caramel sauce on top of caramel ice cream for lunch. Slams the dishwasher door shut with such anger that it breaks. Feels guilty when she does anything for herself. Drowns out her newborn baby's screams with Eminem. Wears her nightgown underneath her coat during the Monday morning carpool drop off. Knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could lift a truck if her son were trapped under it. Takes forever cooking dinner so that she can be by herself in the kitchen.  Makes her son go without his morning milk because she needs it for her coffee. Kicks a hole in the kitchen wall. Desperately misses her pre-breastfeeding breasts. Drinks martinis while cutting her childrens' hair. Grounds herself by placing a hand on her son's head. Wants to run away once a month. Still believes that Prince Charming is coming. Yells what the fuck at her son. Parallel parks her car into a tree branch. Sneaks in while her children sleep and inhales their exhales. Has an abortion because she is scared her marriage won't survive a third child. Keeps pretending she's too tired to read "Charlotte's Web" to her son because she doesn't want to live through Charlotte dying again. Doesn't love her babies until they're no longer babies. Says to her son you are my beauty cakes my little goose my precious donut. Doesn't always use a car seat. Calls her son a jerk in front of his best friend. Listens to Kelly Clarkson even when the kids aren't in the car. Is always one poem away from bursting into tears. Climbs into bed with her son when he's sleeping because that's when it seems like he loves her the most. Is scared of her daughter's beauty. Forgets she has children. Wonders if the love she feels for her son is the same kind of love that other moms feel. Gets jealous when someone else's kid is amazing. Loves one of her children more than the other. Throws books at her husband. Feeds her son dinner in the bath. Yells at her kids a little bit every day. Calls her husband  motherfucker in front of her son. Still knows the dance moves from Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" video. Flirts with her daughter's teacher. Is one tantrum away from taking away Christmas.  Thinks white bean soup with potatoes and Brussels sprouts can fix anything. Wishes she had a large tribe of women picking her up, carrying her along, rooting her on. Says out loud I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama and still doesn't quite believe itFeels like she's drowning. Feels like a superhero.

(Thank you to the six women who told me about mamahood and then oh so generously allowed me to intertwine their stories with mine. I owe them all truckloads of soup and ice cream.)
I've had a lot of Caramel Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce on hand for the past two years.  But I just started making this White Bean and Potato Soup with Brussels Sprouts. My newfound cracked out love for Brussels sprouts has sort of freaked me out (I used to hide them in my napkin or try to feed them to the dog). I coat them in pesto and crème fraîche. I sear the heck out of them in brown butter. I nibble on their crispy little caramelized leaves. I crave them as much as caramel ice cream. 

Make some crème fraîche and keep it festering on your counter for a few days. Confit some garlic and set it aside to cool. And then get busy making some soup. 
WHITE BEAN AND POTATO SOUP WITH GARLIC BROWN-BUTTER BRUSSELS SPROUTS
printable recipe
serves 4-6

for the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon fat)
3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 head fennel (tough outer layer peeled off), cored and diced
kosher salt
3 anchovies
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
10 medium-sized potatoes (my favorite are Yukon gold or butterball), peeled and cut into about 2" by 2" pieces
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 cups or more white beans (navy, cannellini, or butter; previously cooked or from a jar or can)
kosher salt/pepper to taste
lemon juice
white or sherry wine vinegar

for the Brussels sprouts:
24 Brussels sprouts
kosher salt
pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cloves garlic confit
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt/pepper to taste

optional toppings:
chopped parsley
olive oil
coarse salt
thick balsamic vinegar
parmesan cheese
pine nuts
croutons

directions:
Place large soup pot on the stove over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add celery, onion, fennel, and big pinch salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened (about 10 minutes). Add anchovies and garlic, stir for a minute on medium heat until anchovies are dissolved (use back of wooden spoon to help them disintegrate). Add wine. Stir and cook down until liquid evaporates (about a minute). Add potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Add white beans and simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove and puree half of the soup (or use an immersion blender). Add puree back to chunky soup. Taste and adjust. Season with salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice/vinegar. If it's too thick, add more chicken stock. Cover and keep warm while you make Brussels sprouts.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim stems off of Brussels sprouts and remove any brown outer leaves. Grate off half of each Brussels sprout. Set grated slaw aside. Don't worry if the intact halves look scrappy and funky. Salt and pepper exposed grated sides. Heat butter in a cast iron pan on high heat until it just starts to brown. Place Brussels sprouts grated-edges down into the brown butter. Keep an eye on them. When they're nicely browned (a minute or so), add olive oil, toss them about, and then throw the pan into the oven. Cook until just tender (about 20-25 minutes). Remove from the oven and toss in grated Brussels sprouts slaw, lemon zest, garlic confit, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mush up the garlic confit so that it spreads throughout the slaw. Throw back in the oven for two minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and taste. Season as needed.

Serve soup piping hot. Garnish with cooked Brussels sprouts/slaw and any of the optional toppings above. The soup freezes beautifully.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BICOASTAL BREAD

If you had come over to our house anytime this past month, you would have been forced to eat a piece of bread pudding prepared one of the following ways: savory, sweet, crisp, quite moist, too dry, hot, cold, sliced, bland, scooped, creamy, with asparagus and cheese, packed with chocolate chunks, infused with vanilla and orange, drenched in maple syrup, drizzled with caramel sauce, or, of course, topped with lots of vanilla bean ice cream. Nine batches of bread pudding. Twenty taste testers. Quite a range of opinions. People are very picky about their bread pudding. No one likes it when you muck with their comfort food.
This is the loaf that started my obsession with bread pudding (I bought it at Tavern in Los Angeles). I left it out for five days to get stale before cutting it open. I got 2 bread puddings out of it. 
A few weeks later, I brought back six pounds of HELLA YUMMY BREAD from New York City. (Yes, we have great bread in Berkeley but there's something nice about having a little bit of NYC in my freezer at all times.)  I needed to check a second suitcase just for the bread. Two feet of brioche from Balthazar Bakery. One foot of Eli's Farmer's bread from Zabar's. And 26 H&H bagels. I sliced and froze it all. I busted out 3 more bread puddings from the Balthazar brioche.
Bella is always up for eating bread pudding. Dash is always up for making it. He knows all the ingredients but he still does not know how to crack an egg. 

"I squeeze egg open?"
"I add milk now?"
"So so so much of sugar. I cut the vanilla stick. I cut it. I CUT IT!!!!!!!!"
Both Bella and Dash were psyched to shove chocolate chunks deep into the moistened bread.
Bella and I HAD to taste test bread pudding every night while we watched the Olympics. Exhausting work. Our conclusions:

1. Bread pudding made from brioche has the best flavor. 
2. Bread pudding is great for breakfast. And lunch.
3. We prefer bread pudding that's baked in a shallow dish, not too moist, and with lots of crunchy crusty sugary top. Lots of people disagreed with us.
4. Less sugar in the custard (only 1/2 cup), more sugar in the toppings.
5. Bread pudding is good at every temperature but it's best right out of the oven all puffed and golden with ice cream and some kind of sauce. Bella was happy with caramel, butterscotch, chocolate, maple, or honey.
After eating a gazillion variations, I finally burned out on the sweet bread pudding. Below is a savory one with asparagus (spring has arrived), pecorino, parmesan, garlic, and shallots. Good by itself. Even better served next to butter lettuce drenched in meyer lemon/caper vinaigrette.
P.S. If you don't feel like making your own bread pudding AND you live in the Bay Area, head over to the new Elmwood Cafe (formerly Ozzie's Soda Fountain--with lots of Ozzie's spirit still around for those of you who grew up going there). Seven days a week they're serving tasty savory bread pudding (leek/feta, roasted pepper/feta, sausage/spinach just to name a few). And half of Elmwood Cafe's profits go to charity. Amazing. Check out their fan page on facebook for more details.

P.P.S. Pastry chefs Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine in San Francisco recommend frying up leftover bread pudding as if it's french toast. Genius. We're having that for breakfast tomorrow with cinnamon sugar.

RECIPES:
You can use any kind of white bread for these recipes. Just know that different kinds of bread absorb different amounts of custard. Be prepared to make a little extra custard. I leave the crust on unless it's very thick (like on a baguette).

VANILLA BEAN AND ORANGE BREAD PUDDING
You can add chocolate chunks (any size) to this recipe by pressing them into the moistened bread right before baking. If you like a lot of surface area that's crunchy then bake it in an 8"x12" pan. If you like it more moist and custardy then bake it in a smaller (but deeper) loaf pan.
serves 6-8

-butter for greasing baking dish
-10-12 slices of white sandwich bread or brioche, sliced about 1/2" thick (if the bread isn't stale you can lightly toasted it in the oven on both sides until it's dry)
-7 eggs
-6 cups whole milk (or substitute a cup or two with heavy cream for richer pudding)
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup sugar
-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 vanilla bean, sliced in half and seeds scraped out
-2 tablespoons orange juice
-1/2 teaspoon orange zest.
-3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your baking dish with butter. 

You can tear the bread or cut it into nice square cubes (it will end up looking pretty much the same either way). Spread bread in baking pan.

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Strain the mixture into a large pitcher. Add salt, sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, orange juice and orange zest. Mix well. Pour custard over the bread and let it sit for a few minutes. It's okay to have a few corners of bread peeking up above the custard (they will brown nicely). If the bread soaks up all the custard you'll want to make and add some more (2 cups milk + 1 egg + 2 tablespoons sugar +1 teaspoon vanilla + pinch of salt). 

Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top in an even layer. Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the top is golden brown. If it's not nicely browned you can put it under the broiler for a few minutes (keep an eye on it the whole time). 

Serve right out of the oven if you can. Top with vanilla ice cream and some sort of sweet sauce (caramel, chocolate, maple syrup, and honey work well). You can also serve it warm or room temperature. I don't recommend serving it cold.

BREAD PUDDING WITH ASPARAGUS AND SHALLOTS printable recipe
You can make this with any combination of sausage, leeks, baby onions, bacon, ham, pancetta, or winter greens.
serves 4-6

-olive oil for greasing baking dish
-12 stalks of asparagus, trimmed, peeled (unless they're really thin), and cut into 1" pieces
-3 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 clove grated garlic
-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
-pepper to taste
-10-12 slices of stale white sandwich bread or brioche (if the bread isn't stale you can lightly toasted it in the oven on both sides until it's dry)
-7 eggs
-6 cups whole milk (or substitute a cup or two with heavy cream for richer pudding)
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or any combination of parmesan, pecorino, cheddar, or gruyere), split in half

Preheat broiler to 450°F. Grease a baking dish (about 8"x12") with olive oil. Set aside.

On a sheet pan, mix together asparagus, shallots, olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Place under the broiler very briefly to get a bit of color on the asparagus and shallots. Stir a few times. Charring them a bit is fine. Set aside to cool. 

Turn broiler off and turn oven down to 350°F.  

Tear the bread into small pieces or cut it into nice square cubes (it will end up looking pretty much the same either way). Spread bread in baking pan. Whisk together the eggs and milk. Strain the mixture into a large pitcher. Whisk in salt and nutmeg. Add asparagus/shallot mixture and 1/2 the cheese. Stir together. Pour mixture over bread. I used my hands to evenly spread the asparagus, cheese, and shallots throughout the pieces of bread. It's okay to have a few corners of bread peeking up above the custard (they will brown nicely). If the bread has soaked up all the custard you should make and add some more custard (2 cups milk + 1 egg + pinch of salt). 

Sprinkle other 1/2 of cheese over the top. Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until most of the custard is absorbed and the top is golden brown.

Friday, March 5, 2010

BERKELEY BLOGGERS

Here's a shout-out to my friend Erin over at Yummy Supper. She is a friend from high school and a fabulous food blogger and photographer. We've been dorking out together on tag clouds, diffused light, and dreamy f/1.4 lenses.

Erin came over the other day for lunch and gave me a bouquet of herbs and collards from her garden and a Mason jar full of her homemade granola. I had just made some of her caramel sauce. That afternoon, Dash and I put together a tasty snack: layers of yogurt, granola, and caramel. Loads of caramel. 

"Thank you for this snack. Thank you, mama. Thank you for this snack. Thank you." Damn. This kid is polite if you feed him yogurt parfaits. 
See you in a few days with posts about Romanesco/white bean pesto (sorry, I can't stop making pesto), vanilla bean bread pudding, and Dash's mad knife skills. 

Meanwhile, head on over to Yummy Supper.