Hanging out at the Dairy

Hanging out at the Dairy
Darci(far left) & the Wrights at the Creamery

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dessert #2

Now for Easter Dessert offering #2; my husband's Banana Creme Pie. It's creamy, fresh and comforting but of course, I'd like to elevate it if I could...homemade pastry creme filling instead of the traditional/common Banana Cream Instant Pudding, tall in a Spring form Pan and frozen! I'm already "elevated" to be working with son Alan creating "Dad's favorite"! Cooking with kids makes me happy...especially mine!

The 2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs are mixed in a medium sized bowl with 8oz melted unsalted butter and 2 Tablespoons cold water until well combined, the ingredients starting to clump together. The mixture is poured into a 9" spring form pan and pressed into the pan forming a firm foundation.  Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 12 minutes until edges are toasty. Cool crust in refrigerator until filling is ready to be added.

We're thinking a BIG banana creme pie for Dad so he slices up about 9 large, just yellow, firm bananas. We save the freckled, soft bananas for smoothies or banana bread at our house!

 He squeezed 2 key limes over the bananas to prevent browning and stirred the fruit to coat evenly.

The juice covered bananas are now added to the chilled spring form pan.

We are using the remaining pastry creme from the Strawberry/Rhubarb Tartletts. Double duty always works well for me! The chilled pastry creme is now poured over the bananas to cover all the fruit.

Freeze dessert for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible. Gently remove the spring form ring (sides) when ready to serve. Use a larger, sharp knife to cut slices, I used a warm carving knife.

And since we're "elevating" Easter desserts, I melted some chopped dark chocolate chunks in the microwave for about 1 minute, stirred the melting chocolate, back in the micro for about another 40 seconds depending on your microwave's strength, but less is more, just melted is what we're going for here. Also, a double boiler would have also worked fine, just taken longer and I'm impatient and HUNGRY!  Stir chocolate again, spoon over the slices of pie and ENJOY!

I know we enjoyed making Dad's favorite together but eating it with him was even better! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Dessert-take 1

Easter dinner is at our house this year so I'm needing a dry run of my 2 desserts. Yesterday's dry run was the Strawberry Rhubarb tartletts. The rhubarb in my garden is going CRAZY with our unusually wet spring, so I'm going with it!

About 6 firm, juicy stalks were harvested, washed and chopped into approx 1/4 inch thicknesses. Into my heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium high. Bubble, bubble but it's NOT toil, nor trouble!

 Now we add to the saucepan; a dozen or so fresh strawberries and a half cup of packed dark brown sugar, 1 T. good vanilla (mine is from Trader Joe's-inexpensive and high quality) and 1 t. cinnamon. This pot of yumminess cooks together for about 10 minutes or more, depending on how chunky you like your sauce. *PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees on convection bake (or regular bake).

I like mine chunky so that you can still see the individual fruit pieces. At this point, taste with spoon and possibly add a touch more sugar if the strawberries didn't add enough to balance the rhubarb's natural tartness. Every palate has different "tart" tolerances, so know your audience:) This sauce can be made in advance and kept chilled in fridge.

The pastry creme is a new venture for me and wanted to use as many local items as possible. (This was a less firm creme than some prefer, so if firmer is desired, please add 3 egg yolks to the 9 and cut the milk to 1 1/2 cups from the 2 cups and creme to half cup from the 1 cup). Pictured are Nash's eggs, key limes and ginger bought from their store, Trader Joe's Bourbon Vanilla, Sunny Farms Fresh unsalted butter and Dungeness Valley Creamery milk.

I separated 6 eggs from their whites. Notice how amazingly orange the yolks are!! This is a direct result of naturally fed chickens and worth the extra time to find and possibly extra cost. (Save the whites, they can be used for a meringue, an omelet, making marshmallows, any number of things.)

Using my rasp or micro plane, I grated the Tablespoon fresh ginger to add to the egg yolks. This tool is SOOOO handy for zesting citrus, grating hard cheeses, whole nutmeg or chocolate. It's a top 5 tools in my kitchen!

Into a medium/large bowl I whisked the 6 egg yolks, 1 T fresh grated ginger, 1/2 c. fine sugar, 1 T. vanilla and the juice from 1 Key Lime. The Key limes look like a small green golf ball and have thin, fragrant skins, are juicier and sweeter to me than most "regular" limes.

I transferred the rhubarb/strawberry sauce into another bowl, washed the saucepan and added 2 cups whole milk and 1 cup half and half on medium heat until steam began rising and bubbles formed on surface-approximately 5 minutes. *This next step is SUPER critical* We "temper the eggs", add warm/hot liquid to eggs so that they don't cook but emulsify to thicken the mixture.Take a ladle of the warm milk and slowly add while whisking constantly into the egg yolks. Then we add the warmed yolks into the warm saucepan of milk, also while whisking constantly.

Cook and whisk for about 8-10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Pour pastry creme into glass bowl to not impart any flavors and cover with clear plastic wrap DIRECTLY on pastry creme's surface. This application doesn't allow a skin to form on the creme's surface-it's a good thing, you'll not want to waste a drop! Into the refrigerator it goes if you're making the pastry creme ahead of time or the freezer if you're needing to jump start the chilling process.


This is a previously frozen sheet of puff pastry from Trader Joe's made with butter, not shortening. The box comes with 2 sheets, easily stored in my freezer and isn't expensive-trifecta!!! The sheet is still VERY cold and we need to work quickly so that the dough stays cold prior to baking.

The sheet of puff pastry is cut into 4 equal pieces on a cutting board with a sharp paring knife. Each piece then gets cut diagonally toward center but leaving some space uncut in the middle for the filling.

The chilled pastry creme is then spooned onto the prepared squares. 1Tablespoon is applied to uncut center and smoothed out to cover the uncut area.

The chilled strawberry/rhubarb sauce is then spooned on top of the pastry creme's silky foundation. About 2 Tablespoons or more if desired, it depends on the ratio of fruit to creme you prefer.

This next step looks tricky but it's not...it's another prime example of why puff pastry can make us cooks look like Rock Stars! Fold each of the cut puff pastry corners toward the fruit center. Brush the pastry using a pastry brush with milk, creme, half and half or the egg white for a shiny, toasty pastry surface. Notice that I've transferred the filled pastry to my baking sheet. I am using my FAVORITE Silpat mat and perforated Demarle baking sheet as it will crisps the pastry bottom better than a conventional baking sheet. Trust me!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bangers and Mash ala Darci

Again with the Spring theme...this time it's Bangers (or sausages) and making smashed potatoes (boiled with skin on) with sun chokes and Yukon Gold potatoes from Nash's store.

Sun chokes are this funny looking tuber which look to me to be related to fresh ginger but have a starchy consistency that tastes to me a cross between a turnip and a Yukon Gold type of potato. Into a stock pot of hot water, I put the 3 peeled sun chokes and about 12 whole small Yukon Gold potatoes. For additional flavor while boiling I added 4 pealed garlic toes, 2 dried bay leaves, a half a slice white onion (all the produce was from Nash's), a dozen or so peppercorns and a few grinds of sea salt and boiled for about 10 minutes.
While the spuds/chokes were boiling away, I took these "new-to-me" natural Smoked Andouille chicken sausages (2 pkgs. of 4 ea.) and sauteed them with the other half of the white onion with a few tablespoons of Canola oil for about 10 minutes, with the lid on for expediting the onion's carmelization process.

After about 10 minutes, make sure your veggies are all "fork tender", which is when your fork easily penetrates the food when inserted, then use a slotted spoon to place in mixer bowl.  I added about a half cup of buttermilk and a few tablespoons of Sunny Farms' farm butter(it's a premium European style butter; denser, unsalted, much less water) to the mix but now I wish that I had just added milk or heavy cream. My young son thought that they were too "sour" or tangy-my estimation was from the buttermilk.  Turn mixer/beaters on "low" until the liquid is absorbed or you'll be displaying your spuds on you and your kitchen! Turn off and taste the mixture; does it need additional seasoning? I added another few cracks of ground pepper and sea salt, then you can finish on "high speed" until the consistency you prefer is reached. My family prefers pretty smooth without any large lumps, about 3-4 minutes.

Now for the GORGEOUS (what a food geek I am-LOL!) cauliflower from Nash's. They are the one of the quintessential Spring veggies to me and the small heads seem sweeter to my palate. Now need to fuss with these babies, just cut them into quarters and blanched for a minute in the same boiling water I used after the potatoes were put into the mixer bowl. Please season as you wish if they need more salt and/or pepper. My trick to get my guys to eat more veggies is to have their favorite Ranch Dressing from Sunny Farms in a little dish for dipping. True story-it works!

Another happy family dinner, at least I liked the food:) We ate healthfully, quickly and we tried some new items...that's my idea of time well spent together! Bon Appetite!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A villain for grillin'

The mailman motto has nothing on me...I grill in ANY kind of weather (and we've had them ALL this Spring) and LOVE it! Grilling is a form of cooking that is personally captivating; the flames, the marinades or dry rubs, the smoky flavor, the sounds and aroma of sizzling, crackling foods...my troubles melt away with every waft of smoke and turn of the tongs. Especially if there is a nice glass of red nearby!
The cold and soggy Spring in Sequim hasn't even fazed me! It was grilled pork chops last night for the Ulins, actually blade steaks to be exact, bone in. Some cracks of on my sea salt grinder and freshly ground pepper on each side of the steaks and thrusted onto the pre-heated propane grill for 5-6 minutes each side (these blade steaks were thicker than my usual Sunny Farm's steaks)!
Onto the side dishes...Having just been to Nash's store earlier today, I picked up some of their famous "sweet" carrots, garlic, ginger and yams. My thought was that if the yams were cut the same size as the carrots, it would be infinitely more interesting side dish than plain old sauteed carrots, and it was! My heavy bottomed saute pan softened the half onion thinly sliced, the four ginger slices and the peeled and larger than matchstick sliced yam for 5 minutes in Canola oil before adding the 3 toes sliced garlic and four peeled and larger than matchstick sliced Nash's carrots. 
Before serving, I brushed the pork with Kobe steak sauce (an Asian style steak sauce available in most groceries-also an excellent marinade) for the last few minutes on the grill and let the delectable steaks rest for 10 minutes. Resting relaxes meat after the stress of being cooked and redistributes the juices throughout.  I also removed the sliced ginger from the veggies as it's imparted it's flavor into the dish and is alarmingly pungent to some most in sliced form.
There were leftover black-eyed peas with smoked ham hock from lunch and I warmed those to accompany the "BBQ" feel of my meal. Both husband and young son (and son's dinner guest) enjoyed the veggie combination of yams and carrots. The country style smoked ham in the black eyed peas gave some earthy, creamy depth to the sweet veggies and the tang of the Kobe steak sauced grilled pork chops.
 As the family feasted on their dinner, the grillin' villain felt victorious and eagerly anticipates her next caped crusade...perhaps a grilled pizza or grilled polenta with herbs and onions. Tune in next time grill fans!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

 It's not been your "typical" Spring weather this year in Sequim, WA; cooler and wetter than usual. This isn't exactly the best weather trend to one who longs to scratch in her garden without wearing Gortex and long underwear!
So instead of "making lemonade" out of the current showery forecast, I thought of a book my son and I read and watched during our sunny Spring Break; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs! Smiling at the thought of our wacky weather, I literally "made some meatballs" or at least a nice spaghetti with meat sauce. Sometimes I make sauce completely from scratch but yesterday was nice in the morning, so I weeded part of my garden in the moderately warm sunlight and didn't start my sauce early enough in the day.
To my quick fixes,the pantry and freezer, out came dried pasta, 2 jars of already made spaghetti sauce, a can of organic tomato chunks, a pound of Sunny Farms ground pork and some of my families grass-fed ground hamburger. Out to my herb garden for snips of rosemary and oregano and several toes of fresh garlic and an onion from the produce basket on my kitchen counter. The meats thawed and were added to the now translucent chopped onion, fresh herbs and garlic, already at work in my generous saute pan. Sea salt and pepper were ground over the browning meats, then the sauces, then half the can of tomatoes. I have a already mentioned HUGE saute pan so feel free to adjust the quantities to fit your cooking gear.

The finished pasta was topped with ladles of this chunky read goodness and finished with a dose of fresh graded Parmesan cheese. YUM, dinner is served! Who knows...tomorrow's weather might bring rivers of maple syrup or snow mashed potatoes:) Bring it on!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rainshadow Coffee Roasting Company

The coffee is now flowing at Rainshadow Coffee Roasting Company! The paper is off the windows and open for business while the espresso bar and coffee counters are being built (I like to watch a work in progress!). My son Alan and I stopped by yesterday and visited with Don Batcheller (owner) who is hard at work creating his new coffee shop and coffee roasting operation on 157 West Cedar Street in Sequim, WA. The shop looks across the street at Sequim City Hall and has fantastic light from a bank of windows, tempting baked goods, bistro tables and some fun board games. Alan and I played checkers while I sipped a lovely cup of fresh brewed Ethiopian drip coffee. Don likes a "big" cup of coffee; brewed to specifically let much of the coffee's natural oils and flavor into your cup through the brewing process. You don't have to be a coffee purist to enjoy the experience but if you are, Don is a man of great coffee passion!

 Thanks for the great cup of joe Don~we'll be back soon for another cup and to watch your shop evolve!  My son Alan and I give it a big "thumbs up!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Break in Palm Springs

So we recovered quickly from our rain delayed arrival in Palm Springs, CA! We got our chance to do our favorite things, reading by the pool, swimming, golfing, cooking and eating! The weather couldn't have been better; sunny and hot!

We got to pick fresh lemons from the community's many citrus trees and make fresh squeezed lemonade for our poolside nourishment. Not tough duty:)
Planning ahead for dinner involved slicing chicken breasts and marinating them in fresh lemons, garlic and rosemary from my Mom's garden. and then onto their propane grill for dinner with some prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

 Living in the heat is a challenge for some, but for the Ulin's Spring Break, it was just what the Doctor ordered!