Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Rosie Makes Mr. Hawthorne A Birthday Cake. It's Pound/Lemon/Pistachio. And Caramel!

Mr. Hawthorne's birthday was not too long ago and throughout the years, I've made all manner of cakes for this auspicious occasion.  I've done cheesecakes, tiramisus, dense and intense chocolate cakes, coconut pecan cakes, boozy, rum-saturated cakes - you name it, I've done it.  I thought I'd try something a little different this year.  I wanted something like a pound cake but in a bundt pan.  And I had pistachios.  And lemons. And a homemade vanilla pudding mixture still in the fridge leftover from that rum cake. So there's my start.

First, I liberally buttered and pistachio-ed my bundt pan.

Here are all my ingredients.

Rosie's Pistachio and Lemon Bundt Cake
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 oz. homemade vanilla pudding mix  (Recipe below.)
6 eggs, room temperature
3 cups sifted cake flour
zest of 2 lemons
Caramel glaze  (Recipe below.)

Heat oven to 325°.
Cream butter and cream cheese on medium high speed until nice and ... creamy.
Slowly beat in sugar and dry pudding mix.
Continue beating mixture for about 7 minutes.  Don't skimp on the whip time here.  Because the eggs are the only leavening ingredients (no baking soda or powder), you want to whip plenty of air into the cake during the creaming process so you'll get the lift you want during baking.
Reduce speed to medium low and beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated.
Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour, about a cup at a time, until just incorporated.  Do not overbeat.
Stir in lemon zest.
Pour batter into prepared bundt pan, smoothing top.
Bake for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and let cool completely.

When cool, take a skewer or chopstick and punch holes through top of cake.
Drizzle caramel glaze over top and sides of cake, letting the glaze go into the holes. This way, you'll have nice little tunnels of caramel channeling through the cake.

Vanilla Pudding Mix
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 whole vanilla beans
Combine dry milk, cornstarch, sugar, and salt.  Slice down the length of the vanilla beans and scrape out seeds, adding them to the dry ingredients.  Whisk until evenly distributed.  Don't throw out the scraped beans.  Slice into thirds and throw them into the mixture as well.  Pour mixture into a zip-lock plastic bag and keep in refrigerator.  The mixture keeps well in the fridge.  If you ever use additional vanilla bean seeds, save the beans and throw them into the mix as well.  (One can never have too much vanilla.)

Now, if you want to make pudding - combine 1 1/4 cups of the mix with 2 cups of milk in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and continue whisking until mixture thickens and coats spoon.  (About 5 minutes.)  Pour into a container and let set for 10 minutes before serving, or refrigerate.

Caramel Glaze
4 TB unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
In small sauce pan, melt butter.  Stir in brown sugar and salt and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring, until dissolved.  Add heavy cream, bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes.  Let cool.

Pour batter into bundt pan and...

...smooth it out.

Bake 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in pan 10-15 minutes.
Then invert onto a rack.

Let cool completely.

For the caramel:
Melt butter and add brown sugar.
Cook for a minute or so.
Add in cream ...
...and bring to boil.

Cook about 2 minutes until thickened.
Let cool.
Pour caramel over cake.
Halfway through pouring, I decided to punch holes into the cake with a skewer.
Note to self:  Self, next time poke more holes to hold the caramel.

It's a partay!

Ohhh,  this is goooooood.
Texture is perfect.
Flavor is lemony.
Pistachios and caramel make it even better.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Lunch At The Hawthornes'. Psst! We're Having Shrimp. And Shrimp.

Today, we’re having shrimp.  And more shrimp.
And instead of writing the recipes straight down, I’m going to give you the step-by-step, convoluted way I made lunch for us today.  In real time.
As I said, it’s shrimp.  Youngest Hawthorne wanted shrimp and grits.  And I wanted some kind of shrimp soup.

I had a 16 or so ounce package of some really nice shrimp which I peeled and de-tracted.  Yes, I say de-tract not de-vein because that black line running down the back of the shrimp is the digestive tract, not a vein.  Save all the shrimp shells.  They’ll be going into a shrimp stock for my soup.

For the stock, in addition to the shrimp shells, I have a carrot, some celery, and some onion.  Don’t bother peeling either the carrot or the onion.  Just coarsely chop the celery, carrot, and onion.

Shrimp shells, chopped onion, carrot, celery, and some bay leaves all went into a pan.

Cover with water.

Bring to a boil, then cut the heat to low and let it bare-simmer for about 40 minutes.

Here’s my stock after 40 minutes.  I just cut off the heat and let it set while I started on the next step.

Now, I’m switching over to the shrimp and grits.
(I told you I’m cooking in real time today.  Everything’s in the order I did it.)

For the shrimp and grits, I chopped up some red and orange peppers I picked from my deck garden.  Chopped up a little onion.  And sliced some hot sausage.

I seasoned my shrimp with Togarashi seasoning.  It’s got chile peppers, black and white sesame seeds, and lemon and orange zest in it.

The grits were leftover from breakfast.  And by the way, if you can find them, try Lakeside grits.  They're my favorite.  I just added a bit more grits to them, some more water, cooked 'em some more, then added some cheddar cheese and butter.  I don't think there's such a thing as "too much" cheese or butter, so add what you want.  Heated them up until juuuuust riiiiight.  Taste test!

You want them a little runny.

Now, in a medium skillet, I heated up about a tablespoon each oil and butter, until the butter was just turning brown.

Then I added in the sliced sausage.

This is the sausage I happened to have.
Kielbasa or andouille would do just fine.

Slightly brown the sausage on each side.

Like this.

Then I added in the shrimp.

Cook about 75 seconds on one side.

Then turn the shrimp over and...

...add in the onion and peppers.

Cook about another minute.
Until shrimp is just done.

Pour some grits on your plate and top with shrimp, sausage, onion, and peppers.

The Hawthornes were quite happy with my shrimp and grits.
Nice creamy, cheesy, buttery grits.
Hot sausage.  Spicy shrimp cooked to perfection.

My mouth is happy!

First course is done.
Next up is my shrimp soup

I finely chopped some onion, carrot, and celery.

I melted a little butter in my pan and added in the finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot.

Stir over medium heat for about two minutes.

Next, I added in a tablespoon of butter, let it melt, then sprinkled in about 3 tablespoons of flour.

Cook over medium heat, stirring, another two minutes, to cook the raw taste out of the flour.

The flour will help to thicken my soup.

Now, remember that nice shrimp stock?
We’re getting ready to use it now.

Pour in about 3/4 cup.
Medium heat.
Letting it thicken.

Then slowly pour in another 3/4 cup or so.
Stir and let thicken.

Maybe 3 minutes.
And it’s nice and thick.
Cut heat to low.

Next, drop in the Togarashi-seasoned shrimp.
As much as you’d like.

And add in about 1/2 cup cream.

Let shrimp cook about 2 minutes.

Then I poured in 1/4 cup sherry.
(I know that doesn’t look like sherry, but it is.  I poured the sherry into the measuring cup that I used for the cream.)
Cook about another minute until soup is heated through and shrimp is just done.
Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

And serve!
I toasted some buttered bagel slices to accompany the soup.

Hmmmm...  something’s missing.

I know!
It needs some green.
Chopped chives.

This is perfect!
Creamy.  Shrimpy.  Just the right amount of sherry.