November 24, 2004

Carrot Casserole

This is my wife's favorite thanksgiving dish. It has been a tradition at her house ever since she grew up. Now that we do thanksgiving at my family's, I've adapted her mother's recipe and we bring the dish from time to time. I have to tell you, I never thought I would use velveeta cheese on a recipe, but it is a must in this one. It's delicious!


4 lb carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise (1/2-1" slices)

1 stick butter
2 shallots, finely diced.
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 cup flour

2 cups whole milk

1 8oz Velveeta Cheese package, cut into slices.

Fresh bread crumbs (optional)


Steam or boil the carrots until done. Set aside on strainer when done.

While the carrots are cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

Add the shallots and cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the salt, pepper and mustard, stir to combine and cook for a few minutes.

Add the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn.

Add the milk and stir to combine. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce starts boiling and thickens. Set aside.

Using a deep caserole dish, layer half the carrots, then the velveeta slices, and finally the rest of the carrots. Pour sauce on top and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 20 minutes or until it is heated through and the cheese is completely melted.

November 23, 2004

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg (fresh nutmeg is important here - none of that year old drek)
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (canned pumpkin is fine but not pumpkin pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.

Add enough hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the outside of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

A little turbinado sugar on the top and a torch.

November 22, 2004

Christmas Stollen

Adapted from Julia Child's Baking With Julia recipe for Pulla bread.

1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup dried appricots, chopped
1/4 cup dark rum, preferably aged rum

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 F)

1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to 105-110 F

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 stick (4 oz) sweet unsalted butter, melted (I use Land O'Lakes. I don't recommend Price Chopper's)

4 1/2 - 5 cups floor

1/2 cup unblanched or blanched almonds (doesn't really matter), coarsely chopped

1 egg
2 tablespoon heavy cream
pearl sugar
chopped blanched almonds

Ahead of time
Combine raisins, appricots and rum in a small bowl with cover. Let it sit until most of the rum has been absorved by the fruit (e.g. overnight).

Directions (using Kitchen Aid mixer)
Scald the milk (heat until right before it simmers) in a pan or the microwave. Let cool until it reaches 105-110 F (about 20-25 minutes).

In mixer bowl, combine the yeast and the warm water and let sit until the yeast is dissolved (about 5 minutes or until the hot milk reaches its desirable temperature).

Add the milk, sugar, cardamon, salt and eggs and mix on medium (#4) with paddle attachment until combined.

Add 2 cups of the flour and mix until combined.

Add the melted butter and mix until combined.

Change from paddle attachment to dough hook and add the rest of the flour (on a dry day I would add 2 1/2 cups and on a moist day 3 cups). Knead with dough hook on low (#2) and then medium (#4) speed until combined. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Continue kneading with dough hook on medium (#4) speed for about 10 minutes or so. The dough should stop being sticky. If it is still sticky, add more flour.

After ten minutes, add the chopped almonds and continue kneading for 5 minutes or so. Then add the rum-soaked fruit and knead until they are well incorporated (5-10 minutes more). You could choose to finish the kneading by hand but you don't have to.

Remember to watch the mixer as it tends to get quite hot after 20-25 minutes of keading. Let it cool if it gets too hot so you don't burn it.

First Rise

Grease a large bowl with butter and place the dough in it. Turn the dough so that its surface is greased completely. Cover with wet towel and let rise until almost doubled; about 45-60 minutes.

Second Rise

Turn dough onto table and punch down slightly. You can now do whatever you like. I usually cut the dough into two, then each half into thirds. I then roll each third into 14" cilinders which I then braid together, ending up with 2 braided loaves.

Cover prepared loaves with a warm wet towel and let rise until almost doubled; 45-60 minutes.

Baking Preparation

Beat heavy cream and egg together and brush it over the loaves. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. If you don't have pearl sugar you can use regular sugar as well.


Bake in 350 F pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

November 19, 2004

Bellini's Pappardelle


Bellini’s Italian Eatery


Clifton Park
Village Plaza Shopping Center
19 Clifton Country Road
Clifton Park, NY 12065

Price Chopper Plaza
Slingerlands, NY 12159

Ingredients for Pappardelle in order:

  • 1 OZ Olive Oil
  • 2 - 5 OZ Chicken Breasts
  • Seasoned Flour
  • 1 TSP. Roasted Garlic
  • ¼ Cup Sun dried Julienne Tomatoes
  • 5 Spears of Asparagus cut in 3
  • ¼ Cup Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 OZ. White Wine
  • 4 OZ Chicken Stock
  • 4 OZ. Alfredo
  • 1 Bag Pappardelle (pasta)
  • Green Basil

  1. Heat olive oil in pan
  2. Dredge the Chicken Breasts in the Flour
  3. Place chicken in hot pan, brown on first side and turn over
  4. Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, cut asparagus and artichoke hearts.
  5. Deglaze the pan with white wine
  6. Add the chicken stock and Alfredo
  7. Remove the chicken and cut each piece into four
  8. Place pieces back in pan
  9. Heat pasta, add to pan, and toss to combine
  10. Transfer to plate and garnish with basil around rim of the plate.

November 12, 2004

Vanilla Crème Brûlee

Vanilla Crème Brûlee

(from Mike's blog)

I altered Gotham Bar and Grill's version by substituting the more traditional vanilla bean for the 1/2 cup of chopped ginger. I still prefer the water bath method of cooking the creme over the stovetop method espoused by Julia Child. Gotham is IMHO one of the best restaurants in all of Manhattan. I hope they don't mind me paraphrasing their recipe here.

Makes 8 servings

4 C Heavy cream
1 Vanilla bean
12 large egg yolks
1 C sugar

Preheat oven to 325 deg.

Cut the vanilla bean length-wise and scrape the seeds into a medium sized saucepan. Put the pod in there too. Bring it to a simmer and keep it simmering gently for 30 minutes.

In a non-reactive bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar. Gradually pour in the cream, whisking as you pour. Strain through a wire mesh sieve into another bowl. Discard the vanilla pod. Stir to distrubute the seeds evenly.

Place 6 oz. ramekins in a baking dish and ladle equal amounts of the egg/cream mixture into each. Put enough hot water into the baking pan so that it comes up to 1/2 the height of the ramekins. Bake for 40-50 minutes until firm (the centers may still be a bit loose).

Remove ramekins from water bath and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Do this the night before:
For the sugar crust on top...
Use 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar. Rub the sugar through a wire sieve over a rimmed cookie sheet and let dry overnight. This gets rid of any moisture. The next day, rub the sugar over the ramekins. YOu can put the ramekins under a broiler to carmelize the sugar, but its much cooler to use a mini hand-held propane torch