Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quick and Dirty Pie

Why is this pie so dirty? you may ask. It's cheap. It's easy. It's quick. And, of course, it's delicious. Four ingredients easy. Cookie dough, cool whip, pudding mix and milk. Of course, you can also make these ingredients really easily, but with store-bought ingredients, you'll  have it ready in 20 minutes. 20 minutes!
This recipe was created by my physics partner on a particularly dreary day of class. Sometimes it's important to take a break from all the learning and create something new. And, genius that he is, within seconds a new recipe had been produced! Cookie dough, he said! And fill a pie with light chocolate! 
Amazing. So amazing. How simple. Just pre-bake the cookie dough in a pie pan, whip up some pudding a voila! delicious. Plus, frozen cool whip is easy to decorate with. 

Oven Temp: 350 degrees
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Ready-In: 20 minutes (and a little cooling time)

1 tube of cookie dough (any kind is good, but went with chocolate chips)
1 tube of cool whip
2 boxes of pudding mix
3 cups of milk

Begin by rolling out the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface.

Press cookie dough into a pie pan. Bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes).

Messy work space

In the meantime, begin preparing the pudding. My recipe called for two cups of cold milk for every box, but use 3/4 of the suggested amount (so for two boxes, instead of using 4 cups of milk, I used 3 cups of milk). This will produce a thicker pudding. Because the ultimate goal is a moussey filling, you want to start with a thicker filling.

Let the pudding sit until firm.  It should take about 4 or 5 minutes. 

Someone was a little over-eager to test the pudding
 Once the pie crust is done,  you may notice it puffed up quite a bit. You'll want to press down the edges as flat as they can get using something flat, like the bottom of a bowl.

Super puffy crust
Using about 3/4 of the prepared pudding, mix the cool whip into your pudding. Depending on how thick/pale you want your filling to be, add in more or less. I went with about equal ratios of pudding to cool whip.
I kept the last 1/4 of the pudding separate and added milk into it to make a darker, less viscous layer that I wanted to pour on top to make a smooth layer.

All the ingredients assembled
 Once the crust is fairly cool, pour the lighter layer into the crust and smooth it out as best you can. Pour the darker layer on top. It should be watery enough  to just pour over.

 When ready, decorate with cool whip as you see fit.

Let it sit in the fridge to harden a little more.

Slice and serve with milk.

 And of course, enjoy.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

These are my absolute favorite cookies ever. I don't think there is anything I could do to make these cookies better. I got the recipe, once again, from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This recipe was SO GOOD, that it is also on her website and can be found right here.
My sister made these for the first time last week, and I fell in love. I don't know if anything, be it a fulfilling career, a happy marriage or child proteges, could offer me more than these. I think I could make them every week and be happy. 
I'm not a heart girl either. I don't wear heart-shaped necklaces or earrings. I don't like heart cut-out dresses. I'd rather make food that looks anatomically correct than make heart cut-outs. But these cookies are deserving of all of that cheesy love. So hearts galore. I also made a robot, but that was for my beautiful sister Sammy.

1 cup butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

First things first - we've got to brown the butter. I began by setting up a double boiler of sorts to ,melt it down then transferred the butter to a pan to begin the browning. The thing about browning is that it happens really quickly, so quickly in fact, that at can quickly go from brown to burnt in seconds. While some recipes call for blackened butter, buerre noir, it usually adds just an acidic flavor.

Heat the butter until it starts to boil, whisking constantly and turns a light tan color. Remove from heat immediately and let cool until luke warm.

Too crumbly! Need milk!
 Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. I knead mine a little at this stage because it always seems extremely crumbly. If you need, you may wish to add in a little milk to smooth it together (I use about 1/4 of a cup max.)

 Roll out cookie dough on well-floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top. (It does disappear once baked, though, so don’t overly fret if they go into the oven looking white.) Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes, depending on thickness. I believe 1/4 in is recommended.
 Every time you re-roll the dough, I recommend lightly flouring your counter.

Bake on a sheet lined with parchment paper or a well greased pan.

Once baked, transfer unto a wire rack and cool.

These are perfect for milk. Another house favorite is warming them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and eating with whipped cream on top.

How-To: Press Cheese

Per request of several readers, here's a how-to of my cheese press. It's relatively simple so long as you can find a good fit for the top of your cheese mold.

Here's what you need.

 I lucked out because my bowls happen to be the perfect size for my cheese mold. They are a little rounded, so my cheese has a little bit of an indent. However another method of cheese pressing that I read about suggested cutting our the right sized piece of cardboard, and layering flat cans (like cans of tuna) on top, and then piling books on those to get a perfectly shaped cheese.

But here's what I did. Starting with the cheese mold, layer your cheese cloth (mine was folded over about 4 times.), making sure there is some overhang.

Place in cheese. Layer with perfectly circumfrenced object.

Pile on books. 

Hope that was helpful!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cheese, Round 1

For Christmas my brother bought me this cheesemaking kit. By coincidence, my sister bought HIM a cheesemaking kit. You could say my family rides on our own special brainwave. Having never made cheese before, I am more than slightly intimidated. I enjoy making things and then getting to eat them within an hour or two, but this, THIS you must wait for so you don't down how delicious the fruit of your labors are. The cheddar ages for 2 months MINIMUM, and the parmesan, which I'm dying to try, takes 10 months. I realized that by the time I get to enjoy it, I'll be in college. The thought was too intimidating, so I decided to hold off on that adventure for another day.
As I began making my cheese, I followed the directions very carefully, but despite reading them over and over again, I felt confused and did everything lacking the confidence I like to feel when cooking. My kit came from Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit. Perhaps the ONLY cheesemaking kit, but still awesome. It comes with all the extremeophiles that you need and cheese cloth, strainer, thermometer. Unfortunately, my thermometer broke halfway through making, so I switched to my chocolate thermometer, but I'd recommend having a high quality extra handy if you're about to make this.

 Due to the size restrictions of my pots, I made a half batch - so one gallon of milk instead of two.

1 gallon whole milk (You can use whatever you have at your grocery store, so long as it is NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 teaspoon Mesophilic DVI MA culture              
1/2 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water (OR 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in 1⁄2 cup nonchlorinated water)
1 tablespoon noniodized salt

In a large cooking pot, warm the milk to 90ºF (32.2ºC). Add the mesophilic culture and stir in gently until blended. Topstir for about one minutes using a slotted spoon to gently stir the cream on top. Allow to sit for an hour while maintaining constant temperature of 90ºF (I turned my burner  to its lowest heat and kept an eye on it.
Slowly add the rennet solution into the milk, stirring gently with a whisk. Stir for very gently for a couple minutes. Allow the milk to set for 1 to 2 hours until a firm curd is set. Gently cut it using a knife that reaches the bottom of the pot.

Cutting the curds
 Cut the curds into 1/4-inch  cubes. Allow the curds to sit for 15 minutes to firm up.
Fill a sink with hot water (around 105ºF).

Place the pot in the hot water to warm the curds up to 100ºF, slowly. It should take between 20-30 minutes. During this time, gently stir the curds every few minutes so they don’t mat together.

 Let sit at 100ºF for 15 minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour in the mixture to drain off the whey. Pour quickly and do not allow the curds to mat.

Mix the curds to separate any particles that have matted. Add the salt and mix thoroughly.

Hang the cheese in the cheesecloth for an hour to let any extra whey drip away.

Place the cheesecloth and the curds into a mold.

Dripping whey

Press the cheese with about 10 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes. Remove the cheese from the press and flip it. Press the cheese with about 20 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.

FINALLY putting those college course catalogs to good use
 Remove the cheese from the press and flip it. Press the cheese with about 20 pounds of weight for another 12 hours. Remove the cheese from the press.
Place the cheese on a wooden cutting board and dry at room temperature for 3 to 5 days until it feels dry and begins to form a rind.

At this point you want to wax the cheese and age it in your refrigerator for 2 to 24 months. The longer the cheese is aged, the sharper the flavor it will develop.
Not sure how to wax? Here's a how-to!

Cheese all rindy and ready to go

I bought a pound of cheese wax (and yes, you do really want to use cheese wax, not paraffin or melted crayons. Cheese wax is designed to be more flexible so it is less likely to break during the drying period.)

 I made a double boiler using my large cheese pot (now cleaned) and a metal bowl. Melt the wax and paint the cheese with one thin layer.

Wait for it to dry, then paint another layer, being careful to fill in any holes or bubbles. I recommend painting on a label so you know when it is good to eat.

Store in a cool, humid place if possible. Refrigerators, while not ideal, will do the job.

I keep my wax in a metal container so I never have to clean it out. Just let it cool so it's ready for the next use! Also, you can peel the wax of cheese, wash it, and use it again!

Aaron's Pulled Pork (and the Fixin's)

For my dad's birthday I got him a crockpot. He uses it almost every weekend - but lately he's started to moan that all his recipes end of tasting the same. After he is done lamenting, he'll add as a sidenote that it might have something to do with the fact that he always uses the same ingredients. Hmmmmm.....
Well, my brother, Aaron, wanted to give us a new recipe that was easy. He told me to say
"Few ingredients! 10 hours! No time!" 
There you go, folks - the main selling points of pulled pork. It's true, though. You put it in the crockpot for 10 hours and when you pull it out, it's done all the work for you. 
In addition, he also provided a homemade coleslaw and barbeque sauce through recipes that his girlfriend gave to us. The recipes didn't come with measurements, so you get to have some fun experimenting! All you need to add in is some buns and you've got a scrumptious, easy feast. When Aaron went out to the store to get ingredients, he came back with 5 pounds of "Pork Shoulder Butt". We're still not sure what part of the pig we ate....

Pulled Pork
4-5 lbs. pork meat (shoulder and/or butt works well)
2 tbls molasses
1/4 cup cidar vinegar

Finely chopped cabbage
2 part mayonnaise
1 part vinegar 
1 part relish
salt and sugar to flavor

BBQ Sauce 
1 cup white vinegar 
1 cup cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pork "Shoulder/Butt"

The master chef pulling apart the fork

 Mmmmmmm, an easy recipe for a lazy sunday.

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