Friday, October 28, 2011

Delicious Clam Chowder

Once or twice a year I make this Clam Chowder and it is always a hit! A couple of friends asked for my recipe so I figured I had better post it. Enjoy! I like to serve it in homemade bread bowls--for those, just use your favorite bread recipe and make individual size bowl loaves instead of the "normal" loaf.

Creamy Clam Chowder

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium white potatoes, diced
1 cup finely diced celery
2 (6 1/2 oz) cans chopped clams
1 bottle clams juice
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup butter
1 quart half and half
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 bay leaf

*Drain juice from clams and pour all clam juice over veggies in a medium sauce pan. Add bay leaf. If needed, add enough water to barely cover the veggies and simmer while covered until barely tender.
*Meanwhile, in a soup pot, melt butter, add flour and whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, Add cream, stir with wire whisk until smooth and thick.
*Add un-drained veggies, salt, clams, and vinegar. Heat. If chowder is too thick, add some milk. Add pepper (and additional salt if needed) until the seasoning is right.

Dad's Birthday Cake

For my dad's birthday I made this kayak cake. The cake itself is a carrot cake and I made cream cheese frosting. The recipe was delicious. I used the Wilton's pre-made fondant. It turned out wonderfully! Very happy with the end result.

Carrot Cake

Mix together the following ingredients:
     2 cups sugar
     3 eggs
     1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
     1 tsp. vanilla
     2 cups grated carrot
     3/4 cup flaked coconut
     1 small can crushed pineapple

Mix together in a separate bowl, then add to above mixture.
     3 cups flour
     1 tsp. cinnamon
     1 tsp. salt
     2 tsp. baking soda
     1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Bake in a greased and floured 9" x 13" cake pan at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

*Soften 4 oz. cream cheese and 1/4 cup butter at room temperature. Beat together until smooth.
*Beat in 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar and add 1 tsp. vanilla.
*Mix until smooth. Add milk to moisten if needed. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Award-Winning Coconut Cream Pie

At work our department sponsors a Pie Contest each year. Last year I made this coconut cream pie recipe and it won first place. This year I made it again, and it took 2nd place to a Peach-berry pie. I made that one too. :-) I hadn't ever made it before (...the Peach-berry) but I love peach/raspberry snapple, so I got the idea to combine the two flavors from that drink. I ended up adding some blueberries to it as well and it was REALLY delicious...if I do say so myself...but, the judges liked it too, because it beat out my coconut cream pie. I can't really give a recipe for the Peach-berry because I just sort-of threw it all togher...basic fruit pie (I use tapioca for thickening,) and used peaches and raspberries...and blueberries. See below for the crust recipes and the coconut cream recipe.
Coconut Cream Pie
2 baked 9-inch pie shells
1 quart milk (I use makes for a creamier pie...but I have used skim and it turns out well too.)
2 cups half-and-half
2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teasponn salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup coconut
1 quart whipping cream, whipped and lightly sweetened
1/4 cup coconut, toasted
 Reserve up to 1 cup of milk to mix with cornstarch. Place remaining milk in top of a double boiler and add half-and-half, butter, and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook until butter is melted and milk looks scalded

     In a bowl, whisk egg yolks until well broken up; then add 1/2 cup sugar and salt and whick together very well. Slowly add this mixture to the hot milk mixtuer, stirring constantly. Stir for approximately 1/2 minute and then allow to cook for 15-20 minutes. (This gives the eggs time to cook and starts the thickening process. Undercooking at this point slows the finishing process down by as much as half an hour.)

     Mix reserved milk and cornstarch together and slowly adad to the hot mixture. Be careful to stir constantly or lumps will form. Continue to stir for at least 2 minutes and every 5 minutes for the next 15-20 minutes. (A good test to see if the pudding is done enough is to stand up the whisk in the middle of the pudding with the whisk touching the bottom of the pan. If the whisk will stay straight up after you let go, the pudding is thick enough. In my experience, it takes closer to 30-45 mintues.)

     When pudding is thick enough, stir in the vanilla. Stir in coconut and remove the whole double boiler from stove (The hot water will help to keep the pudding hot while you dish up the pies.)
     Pour filling into pie shells. Fill pies so the tops are a little rounded. When cool, top with whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut. Makes 2 pies.

Crust I use for cream pies...
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup lard
1/4 cup margarine (I use Imperial...)
1/3 cup shortening
1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon nonfat dry milk (powdered)
1 1/2 cups pastry flour*
1 1/2 cups bread flour*
1/2 cup COLD water (may need 1 Tablespoon more....)

* I have used 3 cups of all-purpose flour and it works just fine.
     Using a pastry blender or food processor, blend together the fats. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, baking powder, salt, and dry milk powder together. Then add to the creamed mixture and mix briefly. Add flour and beat until it is blended. Pour water in and beat again only until water is incorporated.
     Divide dough into two balls. Roll out--I roll it out on lightly floured parchment or waxed paper...but however you like to roll out your crust--do it. :-)
     For pre-baked shells, bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
     For fruit pies and other pies that bake in the crust, fill pie shell and follow instructions for that particular pie recipe you are using.
     Yield: 2-3 pie shells.
Flaky Vegetable Oil Pie Crust
2 cups plus 4 Tablespoons sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons COLD water
Mix together in food processor. Separate into 2 equal pieces. Roll out between 2 pieces of lightly floured waxed paper.
***This crust is slightly more difficult to work with as it is SO flakey...but it is DELICIOUS. It get's crisper and is extremely flakey. I prefer it to the other recipe I posted for two-crust pies.