Sunny Salsa for a Stormy Day

This morning dawned gray, dreary and rainy. It was very hard to get everyone out of bed. I don’t know how your families are coping with Spring Forward- but, ever since last weekend’s time change, we have been struggling. Who knew that one pesky little hour could be so important? Anyway, after rousing- or attempting to in the case of my 11 year old- the troops, I went down to the kitchen to rustle up breakfast for all. Julia popped down, pointed towards the window and immediately announced, with a tone that was laced with equal parts of shock and horror: “Look Mommy, it’s flurrying!” Sure enough, there was snow descending from the sky.

So much for the first full day of spring! The worst part was that the snow kept falling for several hours. And, it had the nerve to accumulate in a blanket on my front lawn and on the tree branches. You have to be kidding me, right? Sure, this snow was wet and heavy and would be gone by tomorrow morning, but as far as I am concerned, the weather gods had real chutzpah to send snow on the first full day of spring-especially after this winter.

As the day continued, and the snow turned to a cold, miserable rain, it became clear to me that I would have to figure out some other way than the weather to celebrate spring. I took my dogs for a walk in the misery that was outside. As I was rounding a corner on Vine Street an idea came to me…what if I made a yummy, sunny salsa for chicken breasts? The kids would love it and it would take no time. Hmmm…the thought of mangos and avocado with some roasted onions and peppers sounded sunny and slightly exotic- though not too exotic to send my band of eaters running for the hills.

I made the salsa, grilled a simple chicken breast and combined the two. Wahoo! Turn on the calypso music and dance into the night! If this baby doesn’t make you all feel like sunshine on the table….nothing will. And, it takes less than 20 minutes of active time…how good is that? So, we might live in a snow globe, but I am sticking with the springtime thoughts- if only on the table.

Sunny Salsa for Grilled Chicken or Fish
Serves 4-6

2 medium red onions, roasted and roughly chopped
½ mango, diced
1 jalapeno, roasted and diced
½ c cilantro, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 c grape tomatoes, halved
3 T olive oil
1 ½ T lime juice
sea salt/pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve the onions, keeping their skin in tact and drizzle olive oil on the cut halves. Place cut side down on a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and dice.
2. Roast a jalapeno either in the broiler, turning as each side gets blackened, or using tongs, over a gas flame on your stovetop. Once the pepper’s skin is black all over; place the jalapeno in a bowl and cover the bowl top with plastic wrap. Allow the jalapeno to cool. Peel, seed and dice.
3. Combine the onions, jalapeno, mango, cilantro, avocado and tomatoes in a bowl. Add lime juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Personal Day in the kitchen

As a mom and a cook, I spend a lot of time dreaming up recipes that my entire family will eat. Three-quarters of us are very game eaters…it’s the last quarter that kills me every time. And, no matter how much one likes cooking, and you all know I do, the day in/day out grind of a picky eater can kill a person-or at least all their kitchen creativity.

So imagine my surprise the other day when an idea came to me…why couldn’t I take a personal day? Not from my duties as a mom or wife…nice try…but from the kitchen drudgery. Why couldn’t I focus solely on me when cooking dinner? If my husband, son or daughter didn’t love it, well, so be it. There’s always cereal in the pantry.

I went to town feeling incredibly free and looking for inspiration. On my way to the bank, I nipped into Dobbs & Bishop, our local cheese shop. The owner, knowing how game I am for anything food, pointed out that they had just begun stocking truffle butter. An idea started to form…there were two heads of cauliflower in my fridge at home…what if I pureed it with the truffle butter and some other stuff…how bad could it be?

I came home and started on the cauliflower immediately. I cooked, pureed, seasoned and tasted…ooh! So yummy! I grilled us all a steak and made a simple salad and served dinner. So the kids wouldn’t touch the cauliflower- okay, Julia tried it…Harrison just laughed…I didn’t care. This wasn’t about them. It was about me and I was so happy! My personal day- it was a success!

Fabulous Cauliflower Puree
Serves 6-8

2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
½ c grated Parmesan
1 t nutmeg
3 oz truffle butter
1 T unsalted butter
2 t black truffle oil
½ c chicken stock, plus more if needed
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the cauliflower and allow it to cook for 10 minutes- or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
2. Place the cauliflower in the base of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine until the mixture has the consistency of mashed potatoes. If needed, add more chicken stock ¼ cup at a time.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Well, hello there!

I realize it has been mighty quiet around The Dinner Dilemma lately, and I apologize for that. It is not because I haven’t had great food to write about, it’s just that I felt written out. I needed to take a little break. And so, I did. And, it was a good break; but now I’m back at my keyboard pounding away again and very happy to be doing so. I’ve missed you! And, I’ve got several weeks worth of yummy things to tell you about. Though I wasn’t writing, I was cooking, researching and playing in the kitchen- and I will happily share the bounty of those play days with you.

But first, let’s talk about the weather. In New York, it has finally turned. Spring is coming- of this I am sure. The snow has finally melted away leaving a muddy, brown and tan wasteland. Ugly, yes, but I’ll take it! Snow Bells are blooming, crocuses are popping up, and I can see a good 4-5 inches of tulip stems poking through the mud. Hurray! And so, because I am incapable of not thinking ahead, my thoughts turn (albeit longingly) to summer food.

In the summer- well, honestly, all the time- I crave good salads. I admit that I have a “favorite” year round salad- one that I make almost every night. At this point in the year, after a brutal winter with little veggie innovation, I am bored of my “go to” baby romaine with tomatoes, Parmesan, red onion, craisins, yellow pepper all dressed with a lemon juice vinaigrette. So, now that the ice has melted away and spring is clearly going to arrive, it is the perfect time for me to shake the salad box up and see what fabulous things can be done in lieu of the tried and true!

I came upon a recipe in Fine Cooking for a steak salad and it stuck with me. In fact, it haunted me. I found myself thinking about the recipe over and over again. It had to be tried. There were, of course, little tweaks to be made. But, for the first go around, I made it pretty much as written. It was a home run-in fact, a grand slam. Rarely does a salad recipe leave me weak. This one does. I find myself thinking for reasons to serve it- I could have so and so and such and such for lunch….I could have it as a starter for dinner on X night…and so on. This salad is so good that Julia has asked for it for breakfast, lunch and dinner….sadly, after dinner, there was none left for the breakfast and lunch, but it’s the thought that counts.

So, on that note, I am back. Hopefully with a bang! Happy March all- remember, in like a lion, out like a lamb!

Thai Inspired Steak Salad
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Serves 4

For the Steak and Asparagus
½ T black peppercorns
1 t coriander seed
1 t fennel seed
Sea salt
1 lbs. thick-cut New York strip steak
2 T olive oil
1 lbs thick asparagus, tough ends removed
Freshly ground pepper

For the Vinaigrette
3 T chicken broth, more as needed
2 ½ T hoisin sauce
2 T olive oil
2 T white wine vinegar
1 ½ t soy sauce
2 t minced fresh ginger
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t minced garlic
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad
4 cups baby romaine, or any other baby greens
1 large mango, peeled and slivered into thin wedges
½ small red onion, thinly sliced and soaked briefly in ice water
4-6 radishes, thinly sliced

1. Prepare the steak and asparagus. Put the peppercorns, coriander, fennel and ½ t salt in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Coat the steak with 1 T of the olive oil and then the peppercorn/spice mixture. Set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to 1½ hours.
2. Toss the asparagus with the remaining 1 T of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Make the vinaigrette in a blender. Combine all the ingredients and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix, adding more broth if necessary to achieve a silky consistency.
4. Grill the steak and asparagus. Prepare a grill to a high heat. Grill the steak for 5 minutes, flip and cook the steak on the second side until rare- about 4 minutes. Remove the steak from the grill and put on a cutting board. Tent with foil to keep warm. Let the meat rest.
5. Place the asparagus on the grill and cook, turning a couple of times, until crisp tender- about 5 minutes.
6. Assemble the salad by arranging the asparagus, baby greens, mango on a platter. Thinly slice the steak and arrange over the salad. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and garnish with the red onion and radishes.

Time to dust (the snow) off the grill…

I have not written much lately because I have been too busy being in a funk for the last few weeks. This winter has seemed interminable. It’s not the cold that I mind- it’s the consecutive days, turning into weeks, of gray, dull light that send me to the loony-bin.

But, in the last week we have had some bright light and brilliant blue skies. The end is near! Sure, we got more snow this morning- but I am optimistically clinging to the notion that we are through the worst of it…the light is at the end of the tunnel and it is brighter and higher in the sky. I will take it!

So, the clearer light and the growing hours of sun have gotten me all excited for spring. And that, at dinnertime, means one thing- regular outdoor grilling. Last week I dusted the residual snow off the grill and decided that it was time to fire it up-charcoal and all. But, what to grill? A trip to Costco proved fruitful. There were beautiful flank steaks aplenty. If I marinated one, I’d be good to go.

I set about thinking about a marinade. The kids love anything with an oriental feel- so I knew that soy sauce, ginger and garlic were no brainer ingredients. The real question was: what would be the base? I thought about ketchup, but we were in short supply-somehow I’d failed to figure that out before the Costco run, natch! Okay, so ketchup was out but a tour of the pantry told me that I had a great deal of canned tomato sauce…hmmm.

With the phrase “how bad could it be,” running through my brain and feeling like a magician making a secret potion, I mixed the stuff together. I marinated the steaks for a day and then grilled them. The children and adults alike loved it. It was delicious and the perfect “springing into grilling season grill.”

Flank Steak Marinade
Makes enough to marinate about 3 large steaks

Mix together in a bowl:

1-15 oz can of Tomato Sauce
1 c soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ T fresh finely grated ginger, with juice

Place the flank steak in a ziploc bag, or large, deep pan. Cover with marinade. Let stand in the refrigerator, flipping every 12 hours for 24 to 48 hours.

Prepare a grill to medium high heat. Grill steaks, basting occasionally with marinade for 4 minutes a side. Check meat for desired rareness. If the meat is too rare, let meat rest under tinfoil for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Bowl of Sunshine

I have had a very serious case of Winter Fatigue. It came on suddenly- about a week ago and boy, has it been strong. I have felt as gray as the skies overhead and my “get-up-and-go” and the bounce in my step have all gotten up and gone to warmer- I hope- climates. Honestly, the only reason I am able to write this now is because the sun is finally really shining and temperatures outside have soared to the mid-40’s. Hallelujah! The end is near!

It has been a grueling winter here in the Northeast and I guess it finally just got to me. But, though I have not been writing, I have been cooking, and eating. We have had some pretty yummy things in the past few weeks. One of those yummy creations, Brazilian Butternut Squash Soup, just has to be shared. It is too good. And, while I can feel the end of winter is near, I know that we will have more days when the wind whips around buildings and cuts you like a knife. When that happens, this soup is the perfect thing to come home to. It looks and tastes like sunshine in a bowl.

Brazilian Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6
3 lbs peeled and cubed butternut squash
¼ c olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 t crushed red pepper
2 t salt
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 c chicken stock
¼ c parsley, chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
Pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a medium to large saucepan set over medium high heat. Sauté the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper for 2-3 minutes or until onion is soft and translucent.
2. Add the red pepper, butternut squash and salt and continue to sauté the mixture for another 3 minutes or so.
3. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the squash is soft and cooked through- about 20 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls and top with parsley and scallions.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Cut Your Noodles

Our daughter Julia, our delicious foodie, is Chinese by birth. I say by birth because we adopted Julia when she was 10 months old and, since then, she has lived right here in the good ole’ USA. The honest truth is that my girl is more comfortable noshing on a hot dog smothered in ketchup than eating dim sum with chopsticks.

When we adopted her, I had visions that we would celebrate every Chinese holiday. This was her heritage after all, and we were so fortunate to have her. I would give it all I had. But, then real life happened. Truth be told, it is hard to celebrate both Chinese AND American holidays and not go completely crazy. (One could argue, quite persuasively, that it’s hard to fully celebrate only one culture’s holidays and not end up in the loony-bin!) But, celebrating both would mean that there would be a holiday or a festival every other week! Just commit me now. So with my sanity on the line, we quickly cut it to Chinese New Year. Once a year I could pull out all the proverbial stops-or dragons, as it were.

Chinese New Year typically comes in late January or early February and marks the beginning of Spring. This year Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, began Thursday, February 3, a school night.

For the days leading up to the big day, I researched food. In China, all food served at the New Year feast has meaning for the year to come and a reason for its’ place on the table. Noodles- never cut and the longer the better- symbolize long life; oranges, wealth; chicken, happiness; spring rolls, wealth again; shrimp, happiness and good fortune; snow peas, unity; green vegetables, close family ties; whole fish, prosperity. You get the idea.

Anyway, as I searched cookbooks and the web, I was continually drawn to the noodle dishes. Given my family of eaters, the idea of a noodle dish seemed tremendously appealing. The noodles dishes held something for everything- my kids love noodles- whose don’t- and I could dress them up with some sort of chicken, sea food or fish and, of course, plenty of veggies. Yes, a noodle dish was the answer. It would anchor our family New Year banquet.

I was all set. I was ready- all I had to do was shop. Then the ice storm hit. (What was that about Chinese New Year symbolizing the beginning of Spring?) All my big plans for a feast, albeit small, slid- literally- down the driveway. We ended up having Spaghetti from the freezer and I considered myself lucky to have gotten the noodle thing in!

The good news is that Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days. I might have missed the first night, but I could make a fourth quarter recovery! And, while we have not had a traditional feast- we have had one fabulous dish! The results are below and are worthy of an Emperor’s table. Maybe if I start planning now, I’ll get that feast ready by the Year of the Dragon!

Long Life Noodles with Happy Shrimp
Adapted from Jaden Hair
Serves 4

1 lb of thin spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente
1 ½ lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 t sea salt, divided
1 t cornstarch
3 T grapeseed oil
4 t garlic, minced
2 ½ t fresh ginger, minced
1 ½ t red pepper flakes
1½ c snow peas, sliced thin on the diagonal
1½ c carrots, cut into matchsticks
6 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced thin
4 t soy sauce
3 t vermouth
1 t sesame oil
sesame seeds (optional)

Place shrimp in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt and the cornstarch. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse the shrimp well, washing off the salt and the cornstarch. Pat very dry with paper towels.

In a wok or a large skillet, heat the oil on high until very hot. Add the shrimp and cook until halfway cooked through, about 1 minute each side. Remove shrimp, keeping as much oil in the pan as possible, and set aside on a plate. Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the carrots and snow peas. Fry, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until vegetables are cooked but still retain a slight crunch. Add the soy sauce, vermouth and scallions. Stir to combine. Add the noodles and shrimp. Toss well to combine. Let cook for 2 minutes until shrimp is cooked through. Toss with sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Note: For kids, or picky eaters, halve the ginger and remove the red pepper flakes.
Note #2: This would be fabulous made ahead and served at room temperature or even cold.

Cod, it’s good!

The sun is shining and the temperature is over 40 degrees Fahrenheit! Hurray! This past week of weather- complete with an ice storm, unremittingly gray skies and sub-zero temperatures- really got under my skin. So, today’s mild temperatures and bright sunshine are a much needed and welcome respite.

But this week, while the weather may have been awful outside, some good cooking did happen inside my kitchen. You all know how I love to grill- well, even I have to admit that weather this bad simply does not permit outdoor grilling. So, when my fabulous neighbors Pop and Pete were coming to dinner and requested fish, I knew I could not rely on my favorite cooking technique. I would have to cook in the kitchen- no outside for me! Not with this winter.

I decided, given this was an adult dinner, to revisit the Cod recipe that had gotten my children all upset-but to tinker with it, substantially. Pete adores caramelized onions. What if I cooked the fish on a bed of caramelized onions? And what if I spiced the Panko crust with jalapeno and cilantro and used saki instead of white wine? This was starting to sound interesting- and perfect for a miserable winter night outside.

I made the fish; we dug into it. It was fabulous- light, yet warm and cozy and perfect for a rainy, cold night. This remade recipe- cod, it was good!

Cod with Caramelized Onions, Cilantro and Jalapeno
Serves 4

2 large sweet onions, like Vidalia, thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
2 lbs of cod filet, cut into individual serving pieces
1 jalapeno, minced
½ c cilantro, minced
1 c Panko
3 T butter, melted
juice of one lemon
½ c saki
3 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, about 20- 25 minutes. Place the onions in the bottom of a oven proof casserole.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 400.
3. In a small mixing bowl, mix the jalapeno, cilantro, Panko and melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place the fish in a single layer on the bed of onions. Pour ¼ c of saki around the fish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish.
5. Pat the Panko mixture on the top of the fish and pour the rest of the saki over the fish. Sprinkle with bacon crumbs.
6. Bake in the 400 oven for 20 minutes, or until fish is translucent and flakes. Serve immediately.

The Dreaded Phone Call…

Arrgh!! It’s 5:32 am and the phone rings. The caller ID confirms what the sinking in my stomach has already told me. It is the kid’s school calling. No school, or a delayed opening. Either way, more sleep for all. But wait, the recording on the other end of the line is saying something about an early DISMISSAL! It’s dark, I can’t see, I am barely thinking. I am confused, it’s 5:33 am now and my mind is working way too hard. Then he repeats himself. The recorded voice is not calling about a delayed opening- no, an early dismissal- starting at 11 am. Everyone still needs to be at school at their regular start. Now I am fully awake and cranky. Since we all needed to get up at the regular time anyway, couldn’t that announcement have waited until 6 or 6:30 am? I ask you…

And, to add insult to injury after that rude awakening, I am going to get nothing done today. My children come home from school starting at 11 am! It is a crazy but true fact that my children have not had one complete week of school- without a snow day, a delayed start or an early dismissal since before Christmas. Like I said, arrgh!!!!

So, I little time to write! Here’s what I am making for dinner- it’s my sister’s recipe and is yummy and perfect for a snowy, icy night. Toss in some roast potatoes and some roast veggies and you have a home run dinner.

Roast Lamb
Adapted from Lisa Fitzgibbons
Serves 6

Leg of lamb (5-7 lbs bone in or out)
Zest of 1 lemon
3 T Dijon mustard
Several cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into shards that can be inserted in lamb
Herbs de Provence, either dry or make your own using fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage, and chop
½ c white wine

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
2. Place lamb in roasting pan. Insert knife about 1/2″ into lamb at various places around lamb. Insert garlic shards into slits.
3. Salt and pepper lamb. Spread several tablespoons of Dijon mustard over lamb surface. Sprinkle surface with lemon zest and herbs.
4. Roast 20 mins./lb. for rare or 25 mins./lb. for medium. Basting ( I just pour the wine over the lamb) with the wine after about 45 minutes in oven.

Col. Mustard, in the kitchen, with a rib…

I am a carnivore. And, my children are carnivores. In fact, I come from a long line of carnivores. We like our meat and more importantly, we like our bones! There is something so satisfying about a big bone loaded with beef. It might be heavy, and not so good for you, but gosh, it feels right when the weather is cold and miserable. And, this winter, I’m starting to feel like we have cornered the market on cold and miserable. Anyway, back to the bones…

On Saturday, as I always do, I started to think about what I would make for our Sunday family dinner. I wanted something we would all like, but with a twist. I admit that I am bored of the usual meat and potato dinners. I wanted something fresh and slightly fun. I am not sure how you (and your children) feel about ribs, but here we love them! They are finger food extraordinaire! We can’t get enough- even my children would agree. So the idea of ribs started rolling around in my brain. But, given this weather, the pork version feels too delicate. This weather demands the big guys: short ribs- lots of beef on a bone- cooked until tender. Mmmm…

Now, short ribs began calling my name- but what to do with them? Harrison is not a fan of anything that resembles a stew- so traditional braising probably would not cut it as far as he was concerned. With this as a perimeter, I started to think about all the bones I’ve had in my life- and the different ways they were prepared. One batch of bones stood out: when I was a child we had a favorite dish called Deviled Roast Beef and made with leftover roast beef and the rib bones. The slices of beef and the bones were coated in egg and corn flake crumbs, pan fried, and then served with a mustard based sauce. It was heaven. Could I create a variation using short ribs?

I got to work immediately. I bought my short ribs at my butcher shop, made a marinade up that mimicked the sauce from my youth and soaked those puppies overnight. I roasted the beef, let them cool a bit, basted them in the marinade and coated them in cornflake crumbs. I drizzled the pan drippings over the ribs and put it all back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Then I plated dinner. Julia had eaten at a friend’s house, but walked in just as I was putting dinner for the rest of us on the table. I don’t know what she ate the first time, but my girl ponied right up to the table and chowed down on a huge short rib. She loved them- everyone did.

Deviled Short Ribs
Serves 4

For the marinade:
1 ½ c olive oil
¼ c Dijon mustard
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 t Tabasco (or more!)
1 t Worcestershire
1/3 c white wine

3 lbs short ribs
1 c. cornflake crumbs

1. At least the day before (I would probably marinate for 48 hours next time), mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the ribs. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, turning several times to make sure the meat marinates evenly.
2. Preheat the oven to 375. Place the ribs on a baking sheet, reserving marinade, for 1-½ hours. DO NOT THROW AWAY MARINADE- set aside.
3. Remove ribs from the oven and let cool until you are able to handle- about 15 minutes. While the ribs cool, place the cornflake crumbs on a plate. When the ribs are cool enough to handle, baste ribs with the leftover marinade and roll immediately in the cornflake crumbs.
4. Place ribs on a clean baking sheet and drizzle the drippings from the first baking over top of ribs. Return the ribs to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the crust browns.

In which I enter a diabetic coma- happily, turn one, and ask for help…

Today The Dinner Dilemma is a year old! How exciting! In honor of the big day- and because snow just keeps falling (yes, we are in the middle of ANOTHER large winter storm. Seriously people, what is the deal? I really do feel like I am living at the North Pole. Next thing you know there will be a polar bear knocking at the kitchen door asking to borrow a cup of sugar!) I decided to try a recipe for Butterscotch Pudding with Rum Sauce. I have been dying to try it- but felt like I needed a reason because the recipe just looked too decadent to make without cause. The Dinner Dilemma’s birthday, coupled with coping with yet another major snowstorm, was the perfect excuse. Butterscotch Pudding with Rum Sauce would be mine!

So, this morning I shopped for the ingredients and this afternoon I whipped up the pudding and threw together the sauce. I put them both together, took a bite and WOW! I may have to eat the entire batch. I may not share. They are that good. Seriously. The pudding is delicious; and the Rum Sauce is spectacular- the combination, divine. Just check me into the hospital now, because the diabetic coma is sure to follow…but it will have been completely worth it.

The Rum Sauce had me at hello. It is that good. Not to mention, it is versatile. It would be particularly good on vanilla or coffee ice cream with toffee bits tossed on top and about a thousand other ways. Ohh, what I will do with this rum sauce…stay tuned, ‘cause it’s going to be good. In the meantime, I’ll give you the recipe as it was written. And, should you choose to accept it, I’ll give you and assignment…

I have been writing this blog for a year now and I have one issue: I don’t hear from you guys nearly as often as I’d like. I know that you are out there- last night alone over 600 of you read my post about becoming a food terrorist. Yet, the silence is deafening. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, and I do hope you will, is to send me feedback and ideas. What do YOU want to eat? Make? Think about? How can I help? What works for you…what doesn’t? You get the idea. You can email me, or just comment on posts. Either way, I’d love it!

In the meantime- I give you nirvana…

Butterscotch Pudding with Rum Sauce
Lulu Powers
Serves 10

For the pudding:
5 T salted butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1 ½ t kosher salt
2 c heavy cream
1 c whole milk
1 T Scotch
1 T rum
1 t vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 T cornstarch
Rum Sauce (recipe to follow)
Maldon Sea Salt

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over very low heat
2. Add the sugar and salt and stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and begins to bubble. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick.
3. Slowly stir in the cream. When the cream has been fully incorporated, stir in the milk, Scotch, rum and vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch together until smooth.
5. Whisk 1 cup of the cream mixture slowly into the eggs to temper them. (this will prevent the eggs from curdling.) Add the tempered mixture back in the saucepan and whisk to combine.
6. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly for 3 to 5 minutes. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat to low and continue stirring as it thickens.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a mixing bowl.
8. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the top and let cool to room temperature. Place pudding in refrigerator.
9. Divide the pudding among 10 small glasses or bowls and serve with 1 tablespoon of the rum sauce, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Rum Sauce
Makes 1 ½ cup

1 c packed dark brown sugar
½ c dark corn syrup
½ c heavy cream
4 T unsalted butter
¼ c golden rum
1 t vanilla extract

1. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream and butter in a heavy medium saucepan.
2. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and vanilla.
4. Let cool to room temperature.

Note: Sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to one month. Just reheat in the microwave or over a double-boiler.

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