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I've been working on this one for a while, and went through three different cocoa powders and three different chocolates. I settled on Peet's Dutch processed cocoa because it is good quality, not too expensive, and easy to come by. Peet's has been discontinued and now I'm using Cacao Barry Extra Brute. Valrhona 71% chocolate from the 3.5-oz bars worked best for me, although the 85% was good, too, but I wanted a less "bitter" taste and didn't want to use more sugar to sweeten or soften the flavor. If you like a more intense chocolate taste, the 85% will work, and you may not need more sugar. I weighed the chocolate and found that three squares of the bar equals 1.25-oz. Using more chocolate may result in a slightly thicker pudding, and therefore less cornstarch may be advisable.
I prefer to use 2% milk for this, but whole milk will be fine if that's your preference. My goal was to come up with a nice, rich flavor but keep the fat and sugar down as much as possible. 1% milk is not recommended, but it will work, sort of ...
1 teaspoon of espresso powder will be fine, but I preferred a little more kick in this pudding. I used Medaglia D'oro because it is easy to come by, not too expensive, and it seems to work just fine. I tried another brand at one point and, frankly, couldn't tell the difference. ETA 0n 7/19/2016: I now use Trader Joe's 100% Colombian Instant Coffee. It's less expensive than Medaglia D'oro and I prefer the flavor both in this pudding and for other uses.
Let me know how you like it ...
Shel’s Simple Old Fashioned Low Fat Chocolate Pudding
2 cups low fat (2%) milk - whole milk is OK
2 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs sugar
¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
2 Tbs good quality Dutch process cocoa
(1.25-oz 71% Valrhona Chocolate, chopped in small pieces)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso powder
Heat 2 cups milk in microwave for about two - three minutes depending on power level. Pour ½ cup milk into a small bowl and add the cornstarch, sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa, and stir until well mixed.
Put the remaining 1½ cups milk into a non-reactive saucepan, add the cocoa-milk mixture and the chopped chocolate, and heat on medium stirring frequently, almost constantly, until chocolate is dissolved and the mixture thickens. It should get to be almost lava-like, with an ocassional bursting bubble.
Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then add the vanilla extract and stir to incorporate well.
Pour into an appropriately sized bowl, or two to four serving dishes, let cool further, and then cover and refrigerate.
If you don't like a skin on your pudding, cover the pudding with plastic wrap or parchment paper cut to fit the bowl before covering and refrigerating.
Before serving, stir or whisk the pudding.
Honey Butter Japanese Sweet Potato
I always serve this dish with Tonkatsu. It is not too sweet and the flavors blend perfectly with the Tonkatsu sauce that is served with the pork.
1 sweet potato
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
Wrap the sweet potato in cling wrap and microwave for 3 to 4 minutes.* Cut into 1 1/2 inch thick strips.
Melt butter in a skillet and cook the sweet potato over medium heat.
When the potatoes are soft, add the honey, water and soy sauce to the pan. Mix well together and stir just until the liquid starts to turn to a syrup. Top it off with sesame seeds.
Instead of putting this in the microwave, I cut the potato into wedges and cook it in the instant pot for 2 minutes. This can be done a day ahead of when you need it.
For non-Louisianans, this dish has nothing to do with actual barbecue.
16 jumbo shrimp (12 per pound, about 1 1/2 pounds), with heads and shells.
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (Tony’s or other)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
French bread as accompaniment
In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.
Yield: 4 appetizers or 2 entrees
Head on shrimp are preferred, as there is so much flavor from the heads. However, de-headed, as pictured, is also good!
Traditionally served as part of a brunch/lunch spread, along with sweet dill pickles.
It can be also served as a dessert, I suggest having it along with some creme anglaise, sweetened ricotta or whipped cream if doing so.
- 400g dry spaghetti
- 250g sugar
- a few tbsp of water
- 50g butter
- 80g milk (or water)
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 to 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp dry ginger
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- a narrow and tall non stick pot, silicon mold or well greased aluminium pan. Choose a tall and narrow one for an impressive tall result.
- Optional but recommended: toast the dry pasta in a low oven until light reddish-brown (careful, it can easily go too far). This will lend the kugel an impressive dark-brown color and better texture.
- Cook the pasta al-dente. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, make a caramel out of sugar and water. If using a non stick pot for baking, you can make the caramel in it.
- Cook the caramel to an amber shade. If it is too dark, the result will not be sweet enough. You can add more sugar if it happen to darken too much. But make sure it's not burnt.
- Remove from heat.
- Add in the butter and mix.
- Mix in the milk.
- Mix the pasta into the caramel sauce.
- Make sure that the pasta isn't too hot, then mix in the milk, eggs, salt and spices. Mix well.
- Transfer to the baking pan/mold, or keep in the pot if its non stick.
- Cover well with aluminum foil, as air tight as you can.
- Bake for at least 9 hours and up to 16 (I haven't tried longer) at 90-100 deg C (195 F).
- You can put a few eggs in the oven as well to make haminados eggs, which are excellent in sandwiches.
- Before serving, pour 1/4 cup of boiling water on top of the kugel, then let it absorb for a short while.
- Remove from the pan and slice to serve.
- It reheats well in an oven or microwave.
See also the more familiar apple kugel:
This is similar to Italian polenta. Bests served along sour cream, stews (of beans, mushrooms, or meat - for examples search for "tokana") and red wine.
You have two options of serving it, resulting in different textures. If eaten fresh out of the oven, it is lightly set but creamy. If chilled overnight, it will solidify and resemble polenta made in the same fashion, at this point it eats more like cornbread.
Ingredients for quick stock - you can use 500ml of a pre made vegetable or chicken stock instead, you can also use store bought stock:
6 bay leaves 3 all spice berries, cracked a few celery stalks or a large bunch of celery leaves (I have leaves left after using the stalk for mirepoix) optional: 1/2 carrot, chopped 550ml (2.5 cup) water or stock
Ingredients for mamaliga:
250g of cornmeal 200ml (1 cup) milk 2 eggs optional: apx 100g of crumbled brained ewe milk cheese (e.g. feta) apx 80g somewhat aged cheese, ewe milk cheese is preferred (Burduf will be traditional, I use Manchego and and some smoked mozzarella) I appreciated the addition of smokiness, so if you don't include smoked cheese, maybe throw in a bit of smoked paprika or bacon salt to taste pepper some fresh thyme (optional and not traditional)
If making a quick stock, cook the water, bay leaves, all spice, celery and carrot - covered, until flavors are extracted. A pressure cooker makes quick work at that. Drain the stock, add the milk and cornmeal. Cook while stirring and scrapping the bottom until it is thickened. Let cool a little and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake at high heat (210C) until the top is set, apx 30 minutes. Place a few small pieces of butter on top and let them melt. You can chill it overnight to end up with a firmer texture, or resume baking immediately to end up with a softer creamier (but still set) texture. Bake until the top is crisp and well browned, ~15 minutes, or longer if it was chilled. Serve with stews, sour cream and wine.
This image is of it baked without chilling, as you can see, it is fully set, but not firm.
And this is after crisping again the next day. Firmer, not as creamy. Can be eaten like cornbread.
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