Last night i made my 4th attempt at Strawberry Chocolate Fudge. The others batches have all been OK, but not superb this time I think I nailed it. Recipe and instructions to come. Meanwhile I will leave you this little lesson learned, do not put fudge in your mini muffin tin with no liners, even a pampered chef non stick mini muffin pan would not let go of that stuff! At least the kids enjoyed eating the “leftovers” after I finally got the fudge out. Also using larger cupcake liners allows for huge pieces of fudge and gave me some ideas for layering options I might try for Christmas. The teachers got the fudge this morning and the emails indicate it’s great fudge.
This was my afternoon.
For the last several years we have grown a few kinds of basil and Babu makes batches of Pesto. Sometimes we give cubes or jars away as gifts, but mostly we cook with it throughout the year. This year we grew parsley and made chimichurri as well, but today’s post is about Pesto. Here is the recipe he uses. Our pesto is on the dry side of pesto’s. I don’t really like lots of oil and you can always add more when you cook with it if you think it needs it.
3 packed cups basil
4-5 gloves garlic
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts or a mix of both if you prefer
3/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan
1/4 t salt and pepper ( I disagree with this, but I don’t make it so who am I to complain)
3/4 cup olive oil
We use the food processor, cram all the crap in there except for the oil, then turn it on and give a bit to start blending, then add the oil through the top until it gets to the consistency we prefer and starts to come together. We then dole this mixture out into ice-cube trays or small, no more than 2 cup, glass or plastic freezer safe containers and freeze. The cubes get busted out of the trays and put into Ziploc freezer bags, the jars go straight into the freezer. Pesto is a bit like Guacamole in that the Basil oxidizes when exposed to air in the fridge and the top layer of it will turn darker than the pretty green underneath. So you don’t want to have more in the fridge that you can use within a weekish. I’m the one who lets thing go much further than him, so it’s kind of up to your own personal feelings about foods and their use by dates. I’ll eat the same leftovers for 5 lunch and dinners straight if they are good enough because that is how I cooked when I was poor and single in my 20’s. I’d make a batch of something and proceed to eat it every night for dinner and/or day for lunch until it was gone. I’m the girl who will sniff yogurt 10+ days past it’s sell by date and if it stands up to the test, go ahead and eat it. I still remember having a grocery budget of $50 a trip ( about twice a month) and going with a list, a calculator and my coupons. If I had enough left over I got a case of Diet Coke, if not decisions had to be made. But as usual I am digressing. ❤
OK so this year we are growing four kinds of basil and they all taste and smell a bit different. I have pics below so you can see how the varieties differ in looks.
Sweet Italian Basil
Spicy Globe Basil
Some years we mix the Basil’s into a sort of special pesto but for this batch we kept them fairly separate. Given the long hot summer we are having we should get at least one more batch out of the garden. But we are not the greatest at harvesting the plants before they flower, so I have to pick off flowers and then give them a haircut. It probably isn’t THAT big a deal to use the flowers but it will likely change the texture and taste of the batch if there are too many of them. Also we stripped the leaves off the stems so our batches are mostly leaves and not that many stems. Again, we do this because we have a bad habit of not harvesting enough. Shrugs, it’s a suburban kitchen garden, it is what it is so we adapt. If the stems are too thick or the plants are too leggy they can be fibrous and that can result in hairy pesto, BLEH! After we strip we give them a cold water bath wash and then I use my OXO Salad Spinner; BEST invention EVER, NO HOME should be without one of these, to spin the excess water from the leaves. Be sure to smash and peel your garlic. You can play with amounts of any of the ingredients to suit your personal tastes, I am a tweaker of ratios’s in almost all dishes. This is why I don’t bake and why I’m really good at sauces. OK, enough rambling It is late and I am tired from my run and staying up late last night so not all of these are labeled. Have a great week Lovies!
It’s hot in there.
Hello Lovies, It’s been a while since I have had time to write anything but AD story stuff. I have been craving this dish for months but it is a HUGE labor of love, so I didn’t have chance to make it until a weekend when I could share it with Lefty, One-eye and their families. I was given this recipe and taught how to make from a German friend, she purchased the spaetzle maker in Germany and brought it back for me to use while she taught me. You could probably improvise with a holey pizza pan or try to find one at a kitchen store. The Fondor and Maggi spices we purchased at our local grocery store and only use them for this dish. I don’t really measure when it comes to the spices, I just kind of shake or pur them in there until i get the desired taste. Here is what you need.
Porch chops, boneless are best. We sliced a pork roast up in thin slices.
Olive oil and butter for your pan. coat lightly but you want enough to get through several batches of chops if you are feeding a lot of people.
Paprika, coat each side of your chops and brown them lightly in the pan, once done take them out and set them aside on a plate, you will want the juices for when you return them to the pan.
Fresh Sliced mushrooms, I used about a pound but you can add or decrease to your taste. After the chops are done dump the shrooms in the pan and get them coated in the oil and spices left over from the chops. I add some Fondor and Maggi to this mixture and cook them down until they get well coated and start to reduce.
Once that is done I scooch them out to the sides of the pan and then add some flour and butter to the pan, about 2-4 tablespoons each depending on how thick I am trying to make my sauce. I use a wisk to work it all together and let the roux mixture cook a bit to get the raw out.
Once that is done I dump either half and half or heavy cream into the pan, you want enough sauce to cover your chops and shrooms, this time I used the whole large container of half and half, I think it is 4 cups. Whisk it together until it is all incorporated bring it to a soft boil and let it go for about 3-5 minutes, then turn it to medium low and return your chops and any juices to the pan. stir it around a bit to get the sauce in between everything. Move it to a back burner and let is simmer for about an hour. About an hous is as long as it is going to take you to make the spaetzle anyway.
Spaetzle dough is basically flour, eggs, salt and either milk or water. It is not an exact science, I like my dough to start a little runny because it thicken up as you work through your batches and i like it to move easily through the maker. YOu can add eggs or water or more flour to get the consistency you like. This time I used about 6 cups of flour , 7 eggs, 2 tsp salt, and probably 3 cups of water. I started out adding the first cup, then added it a 1/2 cup at a time till it was where I wanted it. While you are making your dough start a very large stock pot boiling on the stove and get a bowl ready to put the cooked spaetzle in. In a separate large bowl put all your flour in and make a well with your fingers, crack in all your eggs and add in your first bit of water, mix with a spoon adding water etc until it it how you like it. You do not want it as runny as pancakes, but you don’t want it too thick either. You really can’t screw it up so don’t stress too much.
Now comes the labor of love, standing over the stock pot dropping in the dough, letting it cook and rise to the top of the pot and then fishing it out. Rinse repeat, repeat , repeat. By the time I am done with this part I am so over it, it isn’t funny but it is so worth it.
Basically you are pushing the dough through the maker and it is dropping into the boiling water, it takes about 3-5 minutes per batch. I do this by setting the maker on top of the pot, pouring about 1/2 cup or so of dough onto the top of the maker and then using a scraper to push it down into the pan.. You want to work quickly and you want to try to get the top of the maker as clean as possible on each batch. Once you have all the dough through, remove the maker from the top of the pan and set it aside while you wait for them to be done. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon or other such slotted device and dump the finished spaetzle into a big bowl. Then put the maker back on, pour more dough on and repeat until all the dough is gone. Stir the whole batch a bit to mix it up, then serve it as abase for your Jager Streak mixture, some crusty bread for sopping up sauce, a salad and some German wine. We had a Riesling last night.
About every other batch or so you will have to scrape off the top of the maker to make sure it stay clean and the holes do not get clogged. You want to work as fast as possible and be careful of several pit falls.
1. Keep an eye on your boil, as you cook more the water will shrink and it can get tricky.
2. Work fast because the maker is metal is get hot, I take mine off in between batches to cool and so I can see what is going on in the pan. Don’t forget to keep the back of the pan clean as well. You do NOT want to plug the holes.
3. Do not get distracted while the dough is on the pan because you can end up sealing all the holes with a thin layer of Spaetzle dough, then your pot will overheat and possibly over boil. If this happens, it did to me this time, get as much through as possible, then remove it and scrape it clean. I tried to save any and all dough and cook it but this time I just tossed the mess and moved on.
4. If you have leftovers try not to microwave them, it is a cream sauce and it will separate and get yucky on you. I like to heat up in a pan with a little milk or cream if I have left.
Here are the pics.
Happy Friday Lovies! Thanks again for indulging me in scaling back the writing for the holidays. It’s been crazy over here. Work end of year go-live shenanigans abound. House is decorated, post to come I promise. Mini Boobs made me a crap ton of bows for my DIY greenery swags this year and they look fabulous. Cards have been sent and presents are planned. The first big holiday party at the Lola house for the season is tomorrow, my Bad Gurls are coming! Every year for more than a few I have made fudge for gifts and parties. this started when I got invited to one of those Holiday Cookie Exchange parties and I don’t bake. I’ve talked about this before, baking is too exact for me. I can do it, but I much more enjoy something like fudge which is more about ratios and fiddling, like normal cooking. Plus technically fudge is kind of like making a sauce, and I love making sauces! This year we headed to Trader Joe’s to gather most of our ingredients. My first fudge obligation was the Division meeting at work on Tuesday. Saturday night The Husband and I attended the work Casino Christmas Party. Shorty helped me shop via pic texting. We chose well, I felt great. the Husband looked great and we had an absolute blast. I parked my butt at the craps table all night and turned in $4500 in chips at the end of the night. It wasn’t enough to win the top 3 prizes but i got my fix in a BIG way! can’t wait until next year! We got home quite late and I got up early on Sunday ready to tackle the fudge. Five hours later, with help, I was done! We are all set for gifts and parties this year.
Cherry Chocolate Almond Fudge
I can’t really take full credit for this recipe. It started out as the Pampered Chef easy 5 minute fudge recipe a few years ago and over the years I have adapted it to where it stands today. For each single batch this is what you need. I make it in triple batches at a time so I can just dump the whole can of sweetened condensed milk in. Plus last year I tried making all 7 batches at once at though it turned out ok, it was a mixing nightmare.
1 12oz bag of chips. I mixed dark and semi-sweet and a ratio of 1 dark to 2 semi sweet.
1 can Betty Crocker frosting of your choice, I prefer the ones with Hersheys in them. I mixed dark and milk and cherry to make the 3 cans for the triple batch
1/2 cup slivered almonds. More or less depending on your taste.
1/3-2/3 cups dried cherries. More or less depending on your taste. I mixed Bing and Montmerency
1tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/3 can sweetened condensed milk. This adds shiny smoothness and I forgot it in the first batch, which was not as pretty but tasted just the same. It strictly a for looks thing.
Start by turning your stove on low to medium low, it is VERY important to DO NOT over heat this or it will get gritty and yucky. Gently melt and stir all the frosting together first. Once that is done stir in the chips until they are melted.
While chocolate is melting I place the almonds and cherries toegther in a glass bowl and kind of mix them up with my hands. then I microwaved the mixture in 3 bursts of 30 seconds each, stirring in between. this heats up the nuts and cherries and starts the release of the natural oils in both. This makes for yummier fudge and allows you to get it from pan to freezer faster.
Once your frosting and chips are properly melted, but not overcooked, I dump in the add-ins, sweetened condensed milk and extract. Stir a little bit more and you are ready to get it out of the pan.
You have a couple of choices here. There is the dump in multiple pans, freeze and then break your wrist cutting huge rows of fudge later method. Or this year I had the brilliant idea that I would make the fudge “prettier” by scooping it into mini muffin cups. I’m not going to lie to you, both of these methods suck for huge amounts of fudge. However I am sticking to the scooping method from now on. I used the Pampered Chef little metal scoop with the metal sweeper thingy that helps you get it out. If you choose this method it is best to turn off the heat and let it cool a bit before you start scooping. Each triple batch makes roughly 150 pieces of fudge in mini muffin cups. By the end I made The Husband do the scooping because my right wrist was shot. The kids had friends over and the girls helped with the fudge transfer. I also think I ended up using every available pan in the house and a few from the neighbors for staging the cups into the freezer. It took almost all my big Tupperware to house the end results.
6 pieces is roughly a 1/4 pound of fudge.
Strawberry Chocolate Fudge
My Boss teasingly asked if I was making strawberry for her instead of cherry. So I decided to find some strawberries and give it a try. I found a bag at trader Joe’s of dried ones and used them. I just dumped the whole bag in. It’s ok, but next time I’m going to chop them up in smaller pieces and re-hydrate them a tiny bit. You don’t want too much additional liquid. I was hoping the mixture would soften them up a bit, and it did but not as much as I would of liked. It was also the very last batch and 5 hours past when I started. I;m still on the fence if this batch is good enough to give her, so if I give it a take 2 I will report back with the results.
Here are the pics. Enjoy!!!