Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pie Time

I don't think I've ever made pie before, at least not that I can remember. On Saturday, we made Junior's Toasted Coconut Custard Pie quickly, so we could take it with us to my Grandma's house. It was her birthday, and she's been dropping hints to my mom about a specific type of pie she liked in New York. Hopefully this will be close to what she's looking for, though we had to use a pre-made pie crust since we were short on time. We sampled a tiny piece before we left, and it was delicious. Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Junior's Toasted Coconut Custard Pie

(adapted from Junior's Toasted Coconut Custard Pie, which is probably from Junior's)

Pastry crust for single-crust pie
4 extra-large eggs
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 C flaked coconut
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg


  1. Heat the oven to 425 F and butter a 9-in deep-dish pie plate.
  2. Mix and chill the pastry. Roll it out 1/8-in thick on a lightly floured surface and trim to a 15-inch circle. Transfer the pastry to the pie plate, leaving a 1 1/2-in overhang. Fold under the edge to stand up 1 in high and flute. Prick it all over with the tines of a fork. Place the unbaked shell in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  3. To partially bake the shell before filling it, place a piece of foil in the center and weigh it down with pie weights, uncooked beans, or rice. Blind-bake the crust just until it begins to set, about 8 minutes; remove the foil and pie weights, and return the shell to the oven until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the crust from the oven to a cooling rack, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
  4. While the crust is baking, make the coconut custard filling. Using an electric mixer set on high, beat the eggs in a large bowl until thick and light yellow, about 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a small bowl and beat this mixture into the eggs until thoroughly mixed. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium.
  6. Add the cream, milk, and vanilla, and beat the filling until light and frothy, about 3 minutes more. Stir in 1 1/4 C of the coconut. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust, dot with the butter, and sprinkle with the nutmeg.
  7. Bake the pie for 30 minutes; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 C of coconut, and continue baking the pie until the filling is golden, the coconut is toasty, and the filling jiggles only slightly in the center, about 20 to 30 minutes more. The pie is ready to come out of the oven when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pie on a wire rack for 1 hour. Serve the pie at room temperature or refrigerate until it's cold. Store any leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 servings

I discussed this recipe here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pork with Polenta and Broccoli Rabe

We don't usually make meat with two side dishes, but that's what happened last night. We made Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork, Creamy Polenta, and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic. Despite the meat being on its own, even I enjoyed it! The flavors were good, and the meat was thin. The side dishes were made with some random stuff we had that didn't have a purpose originally. The polenta was smooth and delicious. We scaled down the recipe a bit so we wouldn't have too many leftovers. Also, we haven't had broccoli rabe since earlier in the year, so we enjoyed its return.

Also, this is what we discovered tonight. Not great pictures, but you should be able to see the kittens. I've been wondering why water seemed to be coming out of the tree stand and making the sheet wet, but now I know!

For some reason, they like water that isn't in their bowls. Now that we've shut the toilets off from them, they've discovered another source.

Broccoli Rabe with Garlic

(adapted from Sunset's Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chiles (Rape Fritte))

1 lb whole broccoli rabe
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise, if large
~1/4 tsp sea salt


  1. Trim broccoli rabe, removing tough parts of stems and any stems with a hollow core. Split stems (or quarter them if large) so they'll cook at the same rate as the florets. Rinse well.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add broccoli rabe (you may have to add in batches, waiting until some cooks down) and cook until tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Scoop out and set aside about 1/4 C cooking liquid, then drain broccoli rabe in a colander. Let sit until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes, then squeeze gently to remove excess moisture.
  3. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli rabe and 1/4 tsp salt, and toss to coat with oil. Increase heat to high and cook until broccoli rabe is heated through and flavorful, about 5 minutes (if it looks dry, moisten with some of the reserved cooking liquid). Season with salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

I discussed this recipe here.

Creamy Polenta

(adapted from Southern Living's Creamy Polenta Recipe)

7 C chicken broth
2 C polenta
1 (8 oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese


  1. Bring 6 C chicken broth to a light boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Slowly stir in polenta. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until polenta thickens. (Do not boil.)
  3. Stir in cream cheese until blended. Stir in remaining chicken broth. Cover and keep warm.

Yield: 6 servings

I discussed this recipe here.

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops

(adapted from Cooking Light's Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops)

1 C panko bread crumbs
1/4 C (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp honey Dijon mustard
2 large egg whites
4 (4 oz) boneless thin-cut pork loin chops, trimmed
1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil


  1. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine mustard and egg whites in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork, flour, egg white mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and done.

Yield: 4 servings

I discussed this recipe here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Tree!

It's Advent, and Christmas is not too far away! We picked up a tree on Saturday, and today I received my first ornament from one of the kids I teach on Wednesday nights. So, until we get a chance to decorate the tree completely, the lone ornament will have to do the trick. (You can see the baby tree to the side. I had time to decorate that one on Monday.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pasta and Veggies, Mostly

I wouldn't have come up with the combination on my own, at least not the cauliflower, but this Farfalle with Cauliflower and Turkey Sausage was a good meal. For some reason we liked it even better as leftovers. The 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper scared me, so we took it down to a little more than a 1/4 tsp. The sliced garlic was very flavorful. I was hesitant since I thought it'd be too strong in bigger chunks, but it was nice. Also, based on some comments, we added broccoli to the original recipe, and I'm glad we did, since there wouldn't have been much color otherwise.

John made this one for us since I was busy writing a paper. He mentioned how he liked baking the veggies and sausage. It was a nice variation from our typical stir-fry.

Farfalle with Cauliflower and Turkey Sausage

(adapted from Cooking Light's Farfalle with Cauliflower and Turkey Sausage)

2 (4 oz) links mild Italian turkey sausage
3 C small cauliflower florets
2 C small broccoli florets 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt, divided
5 garlic cloves, sliced
4 C uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 C (2 oz) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Pierce sausage several times with a knife. Combine sausage, cauliflower, broccoli, and 1 Tbsp oil in a small roasting pan; toss. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 tsp salt. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Add garlic to pan; toss. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until sausage is done. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut sausage crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain, reserving 2 Tbsp pasta cooking water. Combine pasta, reserved cooking water, remaining 1 Tbsp oil, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl; toss. Add cauliflower mixture, sausage, and cheese; toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Yield: 4 servings

I discussed this recipe here.