Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two-Hundredth Recipe!

Thanks for being here, dear reader. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your company. You kept reading, so I kept writing…And after two-and-a-half years at it, I've come to the two-hundredth recipe here on Hungry Cravings! That's right, I said Two! Hundredth! Recipe! And still counting!

I spent a lot of time thinking of a recipe that would be worthy of number 200. I knew it had to be big. Huge. Irresistible. Better than chocolate, even. And if there's any one thing that's better than chocolate, it's lemon. Nothing makes the taste buds feel alive like lemon. And now, dear reader, for the two-hundredth recipe…Drumroll please…May I present to you Frozen Meyer Lemon Mousse!

"I'm obsessed with lemons," I mused between bites of the mousse. To which my husband replied, "Yeah, anyone who's read the first 199 recipes would know."

Frozen Meyer Lemon Mousse
Printable Recipe

1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
¾ cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream

Combine the lemon juice and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Return the lemon juice to the pan and add the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until an instant-read thermometer registers 230˚F. When the sugar syrup is nearly ready, start whipping the egg yolks in a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. With the motor running on high, add the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream. Continue to whip on high until light and fluffy and cooled to room temperature. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Stir 1/3 of the cream into the yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining cream. Divide the mixture among 8 acetate-lined individual cake rings on a parchment-lined baking tray. Freeze for 4 to 6 hours, or until solid.

To unmold, transfer the frozen mousses to dessert plates. Slide off the cake rings and peel away the acetate.

Serves 8. This light and refreshing dessert is super puckery and not for the faint of tart. Good any time of year, but especially in the winter when citrus is in season. You will need about 6 large Meyer lemons for this recipe. If you don't have cake rings, simply make and serve the mousse in ramekins. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I have but a moment and a simple treat to share with you today…

Nutmeg Sugar Cookies
Printable Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of the nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar on medium until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough comes together, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk together the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg in a medium bowl. Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful, roll each scoop of dough in the sugar mixture to coat, and arrange the scoops of dough 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking trays. Flatten each scoop of dough with the bottom of a cup. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Makes about 45 cookies. Also good with cinnamon in place of the nutmeg. Cookies keep for several days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

All Baked Custards Are Not Created Equal

Flan, crème brûlée, pot de crème, crème caramel…Why all the different names for what seems to be the same dessert?

They're all baked custards. They all require the use of a water bath. And they're all silky smooth, creamy, and delicious. But there's more to it than that…

Flan, a popular Spanish dessert, is typically made with milk and whole eggs. It's baked in large or individual molds that have been lined with caramel. The whole eggs allow flan to be unmolded and still hold its shape. When flan is inverted onto a plate, the caramel sauces the custard.

Crème caramel is the French name for flan.

The favorite French dessert crème brûlée is substantially richer than flan. It's usually made with heavy cream and egg yolks, and it isn't firm enough to unmold. Once the custard is set, sugar is sprinkled over the top and caramelized using a culinary torch or broiler, yielding a shatteringly crisp caramel topping that's a delicious contrast to the velvety custard beneath. Crème brûlée is often baked in broad, shallow individual molds because more surface area means more caramel topping. (If you ask me, part of the pleasure of crème brûlée is tapping the crust with a spoon—I love to hear the crack of the caramel before I take the first bite.)

Pot de crème is made with heavy cream and egg yolks but may include milk or whole eggs. It's luxuriously rich and cannot be unmolded successfully, so it's served in the vessel in which it's baked, be it traditional lidded pot de crème mold, ramekin, or other oven-proof cup. I think of pot de crème as crème brûlée without the brûlée topping.

Orange Flans
Printable Recipe

1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup water
3 cups milk
Grated zest of 2 oranges
5 large eggs
Pinch kosher salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine ¾ cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 6 to 7 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Working quickly, divide the hot caramel among 10 ramekins, swirling each ramekin so that the caramel coats the bottom and half way up the sides.

Preheat the oven to 325˚F Combine the milk and orange zest in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Whisk together the eggs, salt, and remaining ¾ cup of sugar in a medium bowl. Continue whisking while adding the hot milk in a thin stream. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the vanilla and skim off any foam from the surface. Divide the mixture among the ramekins and place them into a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins and bake for 38 to 42 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm.

To unmold, run the tip of a paring knife around the inside of each ramekin and invert onto a dessert plate.

Serves 10. Good any time of year, but especially in the winter when citrus is in season. You can tell that the flans are done when they jiggle like gelatin. Flans may be baked a day or two in advance and kept covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Unmold just before serving.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Healthy Start

Lofty goals, hopes and dreams, aspirations soar as we welcome another year. New Year's resolutions are certainly inspiring, but I'm taking this opportunity to remind myself that every single day of the year is a good time to reflect upon self improvement.

If eating healthier is one of your goals for 2011 as it is mine, here's a nutritious dish to get you started.

But before I get to the recipe, I want to share that Hungry Cravings was the Foodista Drink Blog of the Day on New Year's Eve, and my Pomegranate-Grapefruit Champagne Sparklers were featured on Gourmet Live's Weekly Roundup: Creative Cocktails. Also, this week's Cooking Club of America Online Find is my Coconut Tapioca Pudding. I couldn't be more thankful for all the link love!

Quinoa, Squash & Leek Pilaf with Runny Eggs
Printable Recipe

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, pale part only, sliced
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 ½ cups quinoa
1 quart vegetable broth
¾ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 eggs
Grated Parmegiano-Reggiano, for serving

Heat a small, heavy pot over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the leeks and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the butternut squash and quinoa and stir until coated with the oil. Add the broth and thyme, season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Cook the eggs sunny side up with the remaining tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Divide the quinoa among individual bowls, top each with an egg and plenty of Parmegiano, and serve immediately.

Serves 6 as a vegetarian main course.

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