Saturday, February 15, 2014

Baked Apples With Caramel Mousse

Well, this lovely dessert is being posted just in time for Valentine's Day to be over. Serve it for your Oscar party...if you have one of those, or President's Day. Serve it for President's Day. Regardless of when you serve it, I'm guessing people will like this twist on the caramel apple because it is awesome. I served it VD night (Valentine's Day, because the other interpretation of that would be DISASTROUS) and the girlpren finished hers before I could even register that she was eating it. That sounds somewhat unflattering unless I mention that she's a slow eater.

I tried various apples with this recipe, and found that Fuji work the best. The Granny Smith was good, but the flavor of the wine didn't come through. Yes, there is wine in this. You could skip the wine and use a brown sugar/honey mixture, but then you don't get to say, "Oh, I already opened a bottle of wine. I might as well drink the rest so it doesn't spoil." Honey never spoils. Besides, who drinks a bottle of honey? Weirdo.

This recipe is kind of a pain in the ass, as you have to cook things, then let them cool so you can assemble everything. If the apples are hot, then the mousse will melt. If the caramel sauce is hot then the whipped cream will melt and the mousse won't form. The best way to make this is apples, then sauce, then mousse, then assemble, then eat. Don't try the last one first.


4 Fuji Apples ($1.69 for 3 lbs.)
12 oz. sweet wine ($9.99 for the Auslese or Icewine)
1 cup brown sugar ($1.69 for 32 oz.)
1/2 stick plus 1 tbsp (5 tbsp.) unsalted butter ($1.69 for 16 oz)
1/2 cup half and half ($1.59 for 32 oz.)
1 cup chilled heavy cream ($1.99 for 1 pint)
pinch of confectioners sugar ($1.29 for 32 oz.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Core the apples by scooping the core out from the top of the apple. Do not cut all the way through the apple to remove the core. You will be creating a shot glass sized cavity in the apple. Then shave the skin off the top of the apple about 1 inch down the apple.

Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar into each of the apple cavities and add 1/2 a tbsp of the butter. Fill the cavities with the wine. Place the apples in a small shallow baking dish and pour the rest of the wine in the dish. You want the liquid to cover the bottom of the dish and come up on the apples a bit. If you don't have enough liquid you can mix some water in. The rest of that wine is for drinking.

Place the apples in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour basting the tops of the apples every 15 minutes. The apples will start to brown on the top when done.

While the apples are baking away, you can make the caramel sauce. The recipe I use isn't an actual caramel sauce, it's more of a brown sugar sauce, but it's easy to make, tastes like caramel, and I can't think of a third thing. First, make sure you have brown sugar. I didn't. If you don't have brown sugar it is easy to make. First take 1 cup of sugar, and pour it into a mixing bowl. Then add 1 1/2 tbsp of molasses. Work them together with a fork until no more molasses chunks remain and the sugar is an even brown color. Freshest brown sugar you will ever have. If you don't have any molasses, go to the store and pick some up. While you're there, get some brown sugar. Oh, and do this before you bake the apples or you run the risk of starting a citywide fire.

Combine the remaining brown sugar, butter, and half and half in a small sauce pan over medium heat. heat and whisk or stir constantly for 5-7 minutes and you are done. Let the sauce cool to room temperature.

When the apples are done, take them out of the oven, dump the liquid in the apples, and put them into the fridge. It'll take a while for them to cool. Say about 1 and 1/2 hours. I waited several hours, so I'm making that time up. If you are making theses in a hurry I would say, "Really?" And you could put them in the freezer I guess, but don't let them freeze.

Once the apples and caramel sauce are cool, whip the heavy cream on high after adding a pinch of confectioners sugar. When you get firm peaks pour in about 4 tbsp of the caramel sauce and fold it in to the whipped cream. You do not need a lot of caramel to flavor the mousse. if you want it sweeter, add more caramel, if not, add less. If you work the cream too much it will deflate. You can have streaks of caramel in the mousse, it's OK.

Now put the mousse in a piping bag, or, if you don't have a piping bag like the majority of us who aren't pastry chefs, a zip top bag. Cut the corner of the zip top bag off and you have yourself a disposable pastry bag. Take that mother earth! Pipe the mouse into the apples, then heat up the rest of the sauce and pour over the apples for presentation.

You will have leftover mousse and sauce, but this is not the kind of problem to complain about. People will be impressed that you made caramel mousse, and you can respond with things like, "Yes, you are right to be impressed." and "That's right, what have you ever done with your life?" It just drives the point home a little more. Now if you will excuse me, I have to buy copious amounts of discount Valentine's Day candy.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin Ciabatta French Toast With Honey Butter

Look at this! It's the beginning of fall, and I'm posting a relevant recipe. I'm pretty sure this is considered a sign of the apocalypse. End of days or not (chances are not, but the people who have predicted it have been wrong every time, so the law of averages* says that they must be right next time), it is always a good idea to have good French toast ready.

While grocery shopping the other day, I noticed my Aldi had moved everything around in an effort to give itself a makeover. This annoyed me. I like the fact that I know where everything is in the store. I realize that a revamp of the store can mean more money for the store as people who have established patterns of shopping will be forced to pass by items they normally do not, and may pick up those items, but I am constantly on the look out for new and interesting buys at Aldi anyway. Despite the fact that this is not the normal behavior of the average shopper, I still believe that the Aldi I shop at should be run according to my whims, and not what makes long term fiscal sense.

That being said, while searching for the bread in this new and unforgiving alien layout, I came across something new Aldi is offering.

 I don't know if all Aldis are doing this, but mine is. So there. I had already planned to do the French toast post, as they have brought back the Friendly Farms Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer, but now I could use exciting bread. There were many selections including some lovely French baguette, and since I was making French toast, the choice was obvious.

Yeah, so I picked the Italian bread. Stop judging me. If you read the title of the post you would know this already.


1 Egg ($1.29 for 12)
4 Slices ciabatta bread ($1.89 per loaf)
1/8 Cup half and half ($1.59 for 32 oz.)
3/8 Cup pumpkin spice coffee creamer ($1.49 for 16 oz.)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract($1.99 for 2 oz.)
1 Tbsp. Butter ($2.29 for 1 lbs.)

 Prepare your custard first. Crack the egg, add the creamer and half and half, and then add the vanilla. Whisk until combined. Now cut the bread. You want between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch pieces, thicker than that and you may have burnt outsides and uncooked insides. Soak the bread one side at a time in the custard, a few minutes each side. You can add seasoning to your custard if you like. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, ricin, whatever. I added cinnamon, but you really shouldn't add ricin. I'm pretty sure Aldi doesn't even carry it.

Heat up a small pan on medium heat. Add 1/2 the butter. When the butter bubbles and is nutty smelling, add the bread. Brown each side of the toast. Repeat.

1 Tbsp. Honey ($2.99 for 12 oz.)
3 Tbsp. Butter room temperature ($2.29 for 1 lbs.)

Take the softened butter and put it into a small bowl. Add honey. Mix. Done. Although you can put it in the fridge if you would like to solidify it again.

Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, just with the honey butter, or with ricin. Really though, don't serve it with ricin. I just watched the season finale of Breaking Bad and all I can think of is ricin made the same way I make cinnamon toast. Seriously, do not Walter White your French toast.

*The "Law of Averages" is made up nonsense that people who have never taken a statistics class use to explain how they want reality to be, not how it is.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Potato Chip Nachos

You know who doesn't have enough nacho dishes? The Amish. They are constantly asking me to post nacho recipes on the blog. They are also constantly asking me what a blog is. And by constantly, I mean that I may have never met an Amish person. Lot's of Mennonites, though.

Enough about the cultural bankruptcy that is the Amish lifestyle, we're hear to discuss nachos. Crispy chips, melted cheese, and often an assortment of meats and peppers and creams and beans and other meats piled so high that the bottom of the nacho dish begins to liquify from intense heat and pressure, ensuring that the chips are no longer crispy. At least that is what I assume happens.

The other week I was at a restaurant that had a potato chip nacho plate with blue cheese. It. Was. Awesome. Their dish used truffle oil on the chips, which is wonderful, but something I do not have. I tweaked the dish until I made something that made me start eating it, suddenly look down to find there was no more, and become very sad.


2 Lbs. Russet potatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick (10 Lbs. for $1.99)
3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil (17 oz. for $3.29)
1 Tbsp. Red pepper flake (3.75 oz. for $0.99)
1 Tbsp. Paprika (3.75 oz. for $0.99)
1 tsp. Hot sauce (17 oz. for $0.99)
Sea Salt ($1.49 per grinder)
Pepper ($1.49 per grinder)
Brown sugar (32 oz. for $1.49)
Blue cheese (5 oz. for $2.99)

Set oven to 400 degrees. Clean or peel the potatoes as is your preference. Slice them into 1/4 inch slices. If you do not have a mandolin, this will be a pain in the ass.

Once sliced, put them in a bowl of water with enough water to cover them. Combine the oil, pepper flake, paprika, and hot sauce in a bowl where you can fit all the potato slices. Salt and pepper to taste. Take the potatoes out of the water and pat them dry then throw them into the bowl and coat them well.

Place the slices on baking sheets and put them into the oven rotating the top sheet to the bottom after about 15 minutes. It should take 30-40 minutes for the chips to finish, but watch them. If your chips are not all uniform some will be done quicker than others. If you see a chip that's done (browned around the edges) remove it with tongs and set them on a rack to dry.

Dry the chips about 5 minutes. Add salt and brown sugar to taste. Now build the nachos by setting down a layer of chips and topping it with a layer of sprinkled blue cheese. keep going until you have enough. Turn on the broiler of your oven and put the nachos right beneath it. Remove when the cheese is melty and delicious looking. If you oven doesn't have a broiler just put the nachos in the still hot oven and watch to make sure the chips don't start burning.

I was very pleased with this concoction. It's like WASP nachos. Serve these at the country club and they may consider you for membership. Maybe. Probably not.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bacon Haricots Verts

THIS RECIPE IS A LIE! Well, not really, but I wanted to start off with something dramatic. I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and the fact that this is a vegetable recipe makes it seem untrustworthy to me. Damn vegetables and their damn vitamins and minerals. Damn them. Ever since I started shopping at Aldi, however, I find myself buying and eating more fruits and vegetables. This may have to do with Megan always adding them to our cart, but I can't be sure.

My grandmother was from Alabama. She had a certain way to cook green beans that was extremely southern. As in green beans + bacon = cooking them together all day. The result was very tasty, but mushy. This recipe keeps the bacon, but leaves you with crisp beans.

There is wisdom in cooking vegetables with bacon (or deep frying them, but that's another post) especially for people like me who are not of the vegetarian persuasion. If you asked me to eat a bowl of nails, I wouldn't do it, but if you told me they were cooked with bacon...I still wouldn't eat it, but I'd consider it. There it is. Bacon makes you eat healthier.


16 oz. fresh green beans ($1.39)
2 slices bacon diced ($2.99 for 16 oz.)
1/2 small onion diced ($0.99 for 2 lbs.)
1 tbs butter ($2.29 for 1 lbs.)
Salt and pepper to taste

First rinse off and prepare the green beans. By prepare them, I mean snap off both ends of the beans, and get rid of any that look like you might not want to eat them. One thing about Aldi produce is that it goes bad quickly. Do not expect to buy green beans and then cook them a month later. I have been assured by numerous people who have no background in agriculture whatsoever, that the fact that the produce does not last indefinitely is a good thing. I invite these people to go live on an organic farm and use ancient Chinese medicine that led to an average life expectancy of 40 and an infant mortality rate of  50%. I prefer my apples irradiated.

 Now, boil enough water to cover the beans, and set up a bowl big enough to fit all the beans with some ice water in it. You can boil the water in a pot, but if you do it in a large saucepan, you will have to clean fewer dishes later. Once the water is boiling, add the beans for 1 minute. Then drain the beans and put them in the ice water bath. Take them out of the bath once cooled and pat them dry with paper towels.

Next heat up that saucepan again over medium heat. Once hot, throw in the diced bacon. Cook until there is enough bacon grease to work with, we don't want the bacon crispy yet. Add the onions and 1 tbs butter as well as salt and pepper. Start cooking those onions until they start to brown stirring frequently.

Now, add the the beans. You will only need to cook the beans until they are heated through, a couple of minutes. You can add more salt and pepper if you like. Just make sure it tastes the way you like, unless you're making this for someone else, then make it taste the way you like anyway. They're getting a free meal and shouldn't complain.

 There you have it. Green beans with bacon and onion, or Bacon haricots verts if you're feeling fancy. Seriously, call it that and most people will think it's some superb French masterpiece, assuming of course you didn't screw up the recipe. If they don't think it's a superb French masterpiece, I blame you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lobster Rolls

Remember how I said I was going to post more, then disappeared off the face of the Earth. Remember that? That was fun.

Seeing as my last post was in the summer and all about shellfish, and it is now the dead of winter, this post is all about shellfish. For those of you who have not lived in the Northeast section of the U.S., they have this awesome thing called a lobster roll. It doesn't make up for the horribleness of winter, but it comes close.

Lobster rolls are basically tuna salad sandwiches, but instead of tuna you use lobster. I KNOW RIGHT?! They are extremely prevalent in Maine, where the residents begin lobster fishing at age fetus. Even the McDonald's up there have lobster rolls. How strange is that?

"What are you eating?"


"Where did you get it?"

"McDonald's . . . ewwww*"

*The ewwww is for when the other person's head exploded from hearing that you can get lobster at a damn McDonald's.


2 frozen Maine lobster tails ($12.99) or frozen whole lobster ($9.99)
3 Tbsp mayonnaise ($1.99 for 30 oz.)
1 stalk celery ($0.79 for bunch)
2 Tbsp butter ($2.29 for 16 oz.)
2 hoagies ($1.79 for 6) or hot dog buns ($0.79 for 8)
2 leaves romaine lettuce rinsed and dried ($1.99 for 3 hearts)
Salt and pepper to taste

First, cook up the lobster however it says on the package. Here is how to cook the whole lobster from an old post:

Boil enough water to cover the lobster. Just dump the lobster in the boiling water, mesh bag and all. return the water to boiling and boil 12-15 minutes. Remove the lobster from the boiling water. Get rid of the lobster water, it stinks. Now it's time to get all the meat out of the shell. Get 3 bowls. Put the cooked lobster in one, use one for the meat and the other for discarded shell. The majority of the meat will be in the claws and the tail. Your hands are the best tools, but a kitchen knife and a rolling pin are good to have as well. By the way, you should let the lobster cool before you shell it. If you are currently burned, then I suggest reading the entire recipe through before cooking anything. Really, instant gratification only works if you want to be instantly gratified, or burned by hot lobster juice.

Once you have all the meat out of the lobster shell, chop it and the single celery stalk up.

Do not dice the lobster, you want big lobster pieces. add the mayo, lobster and celery to a bowl and mix it up. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 Meanwhile, melt the butter and spread it on the open hoagies or hotdog buns. then, toast them butter side down on medium in a frying pan or in the oven under the broiler. If you use the broiler keep an eye on them as they will burn and cause firemen to come to your home. Not sexy firemen either, the kind who are pissed off you don't know how to use your broiler.

Line the now toasted (but not burnt) bread with the lettuce and shovel in the lobster mix. Now, shovel all this into your face.

If you want to change up the recipe a bit, add some hot sauce, or Dijon mustard, or an old tire (do not add that last one).

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Amazeballs Roasted Shrimp

So, the habit of one post a month seems to be hard to break. There's work, and all the other things that are not work that I have to deal with, like watching Game of Thrones. We also went on a Caribbean cruise. Neither Megan nor I are very well suited to the Caribbean climate, as we are both pasty to the point of being Morlocks. Luckily, we were on the largest cruise ship in the world, and there was plenty of shade and air conditioning to be had. There was also plenty of seafood. Lobster, scallops, and shrimp all made an appearance. Several appearances, actually. We would regularly sneak in to the concierge club for free champagne and food, including some amazeballs shrimp. I'm not sure what the recipe was, but these are amazeballs as well.


1 package frozen shrimp ($4.99 for 16 oz.)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil ($3.49 for 17 oz.)

Thaw your shrimp and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel the shrimp. Place the shrimp on a baking sheet and drizzle the oil over them, then salt and pepper them.

Put the shrimp in the oven for about 9 minutes or until pink and just cooked through. Now take them out of the oven (this is an extremely important step). You are done.

You can make a sauce if you like. The one I made was just ketchup and some horseradish sauce I found. These are great with or without sauce. I used the medium shrimp, but the jumbo would work just as well. This also may be the easiest recipe I've yet posted. You're welcome, lazy people. Eat these and pretend you're on a Caribbean cruise. Have someone bring you free champagne. That helps.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Balsamic Tortellini Skewers

It is officially summer, by which I mean it is not yet officially summer. Damn Solstice. It is, however, hot, just a little muggy, and there are tourists everywhere. To me, that says summer. This is true if you are in North America. For some reason this blog has a good deal of traffic from Australia, so if you happen to be from Australia and reading this, just replace "summer" with "winter" and "muggy" with "Vegemite."

Since it is unofficially summer, I thought it would be a good idea to have a picnic, and needed some picnic type food. These certainly fit the bill. They are filling, tasty, and served cold, so they're particularly refreshing on those days you may develop swamp-ass. I should mention, the remedy is to eat them, not to apply them directly to the affected area. People will stare.

 This recipe is includes things I like, but feel free to substitute veggies, meats, and cheeses you like. This is a pretty versatile recipe, so go nuts. If you use something like onions, though, I would cook them first. You can choose not to, but you will be wrong.


1 package stuffed tortellini ($1.99)
1/2 pint (20) grape tomatoes ($1.69 for 1 pint)
4 oz. fresh mozzarella ($2.69 for  8 oz.)
2 oz. sliced pepperoni ($1.99 for 7 oz.)
drizzle light balsamic dressing ($1.29 for 16oz.)
sprinkle of Parmesan cheese ($2.29 for 8 oz.)

Not for eating: bamboo skewers (I don't know if Aldi actually sells these. I've had a package for years, and we never seem to run out.)

First cook the pasta according to directions. Then, pour the pasta into a colander and rinse the cooked pasta under cold water. gather everything else together. If you decide to use any ingredients that need to be cooked, cook them first, then let them cool before assembly. Cut the rest of the ingredients into bite sized pieces. I cut the tomatoes in 1/2 and just guestimated the cheese.

Now put a tortellini on a skewer and follow it up with the other ingredients in any order you like. I try to go in a certain order that has all the ingredients on the skewer before repeating any single ingredient. This is because I'm a tad OCD. If your mental health issue is something else, like untreated paranoid schizophrenia, you might want to try putting on the tortellini followed by a live penguin, but not anything blue (blue is trying to steal your life-force). The point is, put on what you like in the order you like. I try to get 3 tortellini to a skewer.

Once you have all your tortellini skewered-up, lay them on a platter or Tupperware tub. Pour over the dressing, not drowning the skewers, but getting dressing on all of them.

Pop the skewers in the fridge for a couple of hours. When you are ready to eat them, take them out of the fridge and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on them. Molto bene! Which I believe is Italian for, "I'm about to eat some skewers I just made, would you like to try them? They have tortellini, balsamic dressing, and cheese on them, so you might not want to have one if you are lactose intolerant." Such a strange and beautiful language. I'm surprised that phrase is as popular as it is. Seems oddly specific. Oh well.