1 October 2017
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, May 2017
I'd not heard of German Pancakes until reading the article in Cook's Illustrated but they are similar to Dutch babies, which I have heard of but I don't remember eating. It seemed like a good thing to try as a part of "breakfast for dinner", a custardy concoction that reminded me of popovers or Yorkshire pudding.
The batter is simple to make: the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and ground nutmeg) are whisked together as are the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla extract). The wet ingredients are whisked into the dry in two portions creating a smooth batter. Butter is melted in a skillet, the batter is added, and the skillet is placed in a cold oven then baked at 375° for about 35 minutes. The finished pancake is sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar and served warm.
The pancake rose spectacularly during baking, rising several inches above the edges of the skillet. I suspect the skillet I used was a little too small and this may have contributed to the rise. I used the "German Pancake for Two" recipe which resulted in four servings for us. I enjoyed the pancake with the contrasting crisp crust, custardy interior, and hints of lemon and nutmeg. Diane was unimpressed. I was very skeptical about how this would fare as a left over and we didn't eat the second half of the pancake. It was an interesting experiment but I doubt I will make it again.
16 October 2017
Creamy Tapioca Pudding
Recipe from June 2010 Cook's Country
I've made pudding from scratch several times and have always been surprised how simple it is to make. The result is so much better than pudding made from a mix and not that much more difficult. However I had never made tapioca pudding so I was happy to find this recipe on the America's Test Kitchen web site. (I still wonder where all the little tapioca balls come from :-). )
It took a little over half an hour to make the pudding and most of the time was hands off waiting for the mixture to heat. Most of the ingredients (milk, egg, sugars, salt, and Minute tapioca) and mixed and let to sit for five minutes. The mixture is brought to a boil, stirred for two minutes and taken off heat. Vanilla extract is added and the pudding is refrigerated before serving with whipped cream.
As promised, the pudding is creamy. It would be hard to say it is smooth, though, with all of the little tapioca balls throughout. These make for an interesting texture in contrast to more homogeneous puddings. Diane doesn't like it and I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it. I like smooth chocolate pudding better so I might not try this again, but I am happy to have made it this time. (And I sort of know about the little balls of starch, but not in any detail.)
21 October 2017
Mashed Butternut Squash
Recipe from October 2013 Cook's Country
For Thanksgiving dinner, my mom almost always served mashed butternut squash as a side dish. It was good, but I don't really know how she made it. I imagine it was very simple, prepared like mashed potatoes by boiling the squash until tender, then mash it with some butter and perhaps milk or cream. I searched the ATK web site and found a very different recipe and gave it a try.
This recipe has many more ingredients. The squash is peeled, seeded, and cut into one-inch pieces that are seasoned and roasted until tender. While the squash is roasting, apples and onion are cooked in butter. (I used Jazz apples, rather than Granny Smith, which I grated on a box grater.) Then garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne are added. When the squash is done this is added to the apple mixture with maple syrup and mashed. Total time was about one hour and I halved the recipe.
We both liked this squash! It had a complex flavor. Warmth from the spices and sweetness from apples and maple syrup complemented the earthy flavor of the squash very well. It keeps well, too. This is not your mother's mashed squash, but I think we'll be making this again, perhaps for Thanksgiving.
21 October 2017
Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets
Recipe from September 2017 Cook's Illustrated
This recipe in a recent Cook's Illustrated looked very interesting. A simplified method for making fried chicken that promised a crispy exterior and that is easy to make, I knew I had to try this.
The recipe is indeed simple to execute. I purchased a package of three chicken breasts weighing 1.6 pounds. Each breast was cut in half horizontally then pounded so the thickness is uniform. These were dredged in an egg and salt mixture then coated with panko break crumbs that have been lightly crushed. They were then fried in a thin layer of oil. The whole process took 35 minutes and made enough fried chicken for three meals.
Simple yet yielding very good chicken. It was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside ... I love almost anything that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The leftovers, reheated in a skillet, were good as well, not quite as crispy or quite as juicy, but still good. The recipe included several simple sauces but we had the chicken with no sauce.