Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dr. Ray's Famous Grand Prize Chili

This is Chris' favorite chili recipe. It has a giant beefy, spicy flavor that will put hair on your chest! I guess being that I'm not a true Texan, I prefer beans in my chili and I like to add either a can of chopped tomatoes or another can of tomato sauce. I just think it needs a little acidity, but what do I know? This is grand prize chili, people! 

4 pounds chili meat (coarse chili ground or beef cut into small pieces, 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes, don't use hamburger meat)
2 medium yellow onions chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Seasoning spices*:
6 tablespoons Chili powder
2 tablespoon Cumin, ground
1 tablespoon Paprika*
1 teaspoon Oregano, ground
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Garlic salt
1 teaspoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Marjoram, ground
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Celery salt

Beef stock or water (I like to add a mixture of Campbell's beef broth and a regular brand, like Swanson's or Central Market. Campbell's is so incredibly rich that it really gives it a good flavor) I want to say if you buy a few cans of the Campbell's and a few boxes of Swanson's (32 oz boxes) you'll have more than enough.

Brown chili meat in a little oil. Add onion, garlic and continue cooking until the onions are beginning to soften. Add tomato sauce and seasonings. Add beef stock or water to just cover meat. Stir everything together and cook for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is tender. Correct seasonings (salt, etc.).

 Note: The list of seasoning spices may be premixed as a chili seasoning. The mixture may be scaled up, a times 10 increase will yield a mixing bowl full, which will fill 10 to 12 chili powder sized spice jars or keep in a large glass jar in the freezer. Use 3 or 4 tablespoons per pound of meat. It's a good seasoning for tacos as well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Black Pepper and Strawberry Macs

The MacTweets theme for this month was a spice and a fruit. Weird, but so many delicious combinations! At first I though of the obvious, like apple/cinnamon (yummy!), pumpkin pie (yummier!), and even thought of a lime/cilantro one but besides cilantro not being a spice I really just didn't want to go there! I decided on Black Pepper and Strawberry, which were super delicious! My favorite gelato flavor is an olive oil and black pepper. It is incredibly creamy with just a little bit of a fruity black pepper bite and I DREAM about it it's so delicious! I was hoping for the same effect with the macs. They were good, but next time I will change some things around. Also I decided to give the Italian Meringue version another try. It was better than the first few tries, but I can't quite seem to keep them from being hollow in the middles. Delicious nonetheless, of course! To punch up the strawberry flavor, I ground dehydrated strawberries in a coffee grinder along with the black pepper and filled them with a strawberry jam because I just wasn't sure how a buttercream would work with it. Next time I'll definitely try a mousseline type filling, though.

Here's the recipe that I used with the instructions on Not So Humble Pie's site:

150g confectioners sugar
150g almond meal
185g granulated sugar for syrup (plus one tablespoon for the meringue)
120g egg whites (divided)
50g water
1 tsp black pepper, finely ground
2 TB ground dehydrated strawberries

If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mactweets Challenge!

I've been lurking the Mactweets page for a while now but finally got the nerve (and the time!) to participate! Hopefully this will be the first of many posts. This month's challenge Mactweets Mac Attack is, what else, but Valentine's Day themed! This worked out well because a sweet friend of mine, who is the best party thrower in the history of party throwers, co-hosted a Valentine's Day themed bridal shower and asked me to make pink and red macarons for the event. I decided on strawberry buttercream filled pink macarons and chocolate ganache with raspberry center AND raspberry jam with rose buttercream filled red macarons. Way too much cuteness in one place!

I recently started using a new recipe for macarons and it has worked out much better for me than the previous one. No more hollow shells! I tweaked this one from Sucre' in New Orleans (which will be in another post, one of many many many that I am behind on). The main problem that I was having with macarons was in the baking. If I baked them on a Silpat they came out hollow. If I baked them on parchment they were misshapen (which I've now found out that you can spray the pan with cooking spray then place the parchment on top of it to hold it down OR space the macarons closer together to weigh the paper down) ANYWAY, I found these babies and LOVE them! They're the perfect balance between Silpats and parchment. You can also cut them to size for your baking sheets. I use these on half sheet baking pans that I double up for insulation.

Ok, so here is the recipe:

100g caster sugar
100g egg whites (I age mine for 5 days in the fridge, covered with a paper towel)
125g powdered sugar
125g ground almonds
25g caster sugar (If it's humid outside I add 5g powdered egg whites to this)

Put caster sugar, almonds and powdered sugar in food processor and process until very fine. Sieve mixture through fine strainer to get any lumps out. Now whisk the egg white together with the second part of sugar at middle speed. Gradually whisk the egg white mixture to become very stiff (add color now if applicable). Fold the sugar/almond mix into meringue. I used to fold it into the meringue in thirds but now I dump the meringue into the sugar/almond mixture and fold and it works just as well. Now pipe the batter onto your parchment in 1.5 inch rounds, give it a good rap on the counter to get air bubbles out, then let sit for a good hour or so until it is not tacky to the touch. Preheat oven to 320. When macarons are ready, bake for 5 minutes, then briefly open the oven door to let some of the steam out, then continue baking for another 8-10 minutes. Let cool on pan, then fill.

For these beauties, I spread seedless red raspberry jam on one side and piped rose flavored Italian meringue buttercream on the other side. Then I smashed them together and let them hang out to become BFFs for a few days. I think they're in love. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

King Cakes!

It's that time of year again! We're still not sure if we're going home to New Orleans for Mardi Gras or not this year but either way I have been busy busy making King Cakes! I still have not perfected a really good King Cake icing. Most that I've tried have a raw powdered sugar taste to them and I'm convinced that the real deal has a little butter in it so if anyone has a good recipe please let me know! I also love the crunch of biting into granulated sugar, it's what a King Cake should taste like!

**I'll upload pictures soon

Freezes Well            Preparation time- 5 ½ hours   Makes two 9 X 12 inch cakes

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter  
2/3 cup 99% fat free skim evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages dry yeast (Fleishmann's is best and make sure to check the date of expiration)
1\3 cup warm water
4 eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
5 cups flour
1 cup flour, set aside for kneading and rolling

In a saucepan, melt 1 stick butter, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast, and water. Let stand until foaming, about 5-10 minutes.  Beat eggs into yeast; then milk mixture and rinds. Stir in flour, ½ cup at a time, reserving 1 cup to flour kneading surface.
Knead dough until smooth, about 5-10 minutes. Place in large mixing bowl greased with 1 tablespoon butter; turning dough once to grease top; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted

1 egg, beaten
1 cup sugar, colored (1/3 cup each of yellow, purple and green)
2 plastic babies (3/4 inch) or 2 lucky beans (dried fava)
For filling, mix sugars and cinnamon. Set aside.
For topping, tint sugar by mixing food coloring until desired color is reached (for purple use equal amounts of blue and red food coloring). A food processor aids in mixing and keeps the sugar from being too moist.

When dough has doubled, punch down and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll half into a rectangle 30 X 15. Brush with half of melted butter and cut into 3 lengthwise strips. Sprinkle half of sugar mixture on strips, leaving a 1 inch lengthwise strip free for sealing. Fold each strip lengthwise toward the center, sealing the seam. You will now have 3-30 inch strips with sugar mixture enclosed in each. Braid the 3 strips and make a circle by joining the ends. Repeat with other half of dough.

Place each cake on a 10 X 15 baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1 hr.  (Alternatively, instead of cutting and braiding the dough you can sprinkle the mixture on top of your rolled dough, then roll it up like a giant cinnamon roll and form it into an oval shape but personally, I think it's prettier braided.)

Brush each with egg and sprinkle the top with colored sugars, alternating colors.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 20 minutes.
Remove from pan immediately so sugar will not harden. While still warm, place 1 plastic baby in each from underneath.
*To freeze: Wrap cooled cake tightly in plastic. Before serving, remove plastic and thaw. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Lemon Macarons

I had an order last week for lemon macarons. My mind immediately went to those nasty little bastards that I call my second try at macarons. Not cool. I made a promise to the lemon gods that I'd do better this time.

Since I've all but sworn off the italian meringue method, I followed my (sort of) trusty macaron recipe that is adapted from Tartlette's basic macaron recipe. I decided not to add lemon zest to the batter this time, but might try it again next time, but will probably add it to the food processor along with the almonds and powdered sugar.

This order coincided beautifully with a wedding cake tasting that I had for Friday morning. They didn't give me a whole lot of direction when it came to cake/filling flavors so I just made a few new ones and a few of my favorites/best sellers. I made a dark chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream, chocolate cake with whipped chocolate ganache, white cake with almond buttercream, white cake with raspberry mousse and white chocolate buttercream and a white cake with lemon curd and lemon mascarpone filling. 

I borrowed the recipe for both the curd and the mascarpone filling from Ms. Humble. Actually, for the cake I just borrowed the whole darn recipe, but since it was a cake for a tasting I had a ton left over. (Oh, darn!) I colored the macaron shells with a little lemon yellow coloring and filled with with both the lemon curd and the lemon mascarpone filling so that it wouldn't be too sweet nor too tart. Oh. Man. They were awesome! This will definitely be one that is added to the "menu". It also begs to be replicated with other fruits... maybe Louisiana strawberries with fresh sweetened whipped cream? Like a strawberry shortcake macaron? (I need to find a way to get said strawberries back to Austin, of course, but Mardi Gras might work out beautifully this year...)
 In all their lemony glory!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Daring Bakers - Pecan Crostata

My original plan for the challenge this month was some sort of a caramel and chocolate ganache crostata. Sounds good, huh? Some day it will be but instead I decided to make a crostata for the husband's birthday. Since his birthday falls around Thanksgiving, it usually got lumped in with the family Thanksgiving celebration and his birthday "cake" was always a pecan pie, his favorite. With a candle, of course. I, on the other hand, do NOT like pecan pies. I try to like them, but the goopy sweet snot in the middle always ruins it for me. I usually end up eating the pecan topping and sadly throwing the rest away.

I decided that it was perfect for this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Since the tart pan is so shallow, it would have a better goop to pecan ratio. Awwwww yeah. But please don't tell my husband that I sacrificed his beloved pecan pie with something that would suit my tastes better. On his birthday. Whoops.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

I used the crostata recipe provided by Simona and it came out perfectly! Since I am a bit of the lazy side, I made the dough in my food processor. Here's how it goes:

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl.

  • Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  • Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  • Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  • Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it
  • Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  • Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  • Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

    *Superfine sugar is also referred to as baker's sugar, caster sugar or ultrafine. I found it at my local supermarket but it cost $5 for a small 1 lb bag. Instead, you can just put regular granulated sugar in a food processor and let it run until it's very fine.

    **The vanilla sugar idea sounded delicious but I didn't have any vanilla beans on hand, nor have I ever stored the beans in sugar so I added about a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to the sugar before  running it through the processor. Turned out really well and smelled divine!

    I blind baked the crostata at 350 degrees for 20 minutes before I filled it.

    Now, for the filling I used a recipe from Bon Vivant, but adapted it to my crostata.

    ½ cup light corn syrup
    ½ cup packed brown sugar
    3 tablespoons/ 45 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    3 large eggs
    2 teaspoons espresso powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    7 ounces/ 200 grams pecan halves or pieces
    (I also used a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips but would not add them next time)

    Preheat the oven to 425F/ 220C.
    In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar until smooth, then add the melted butter, whisking as you do so. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into the mixture before adding the next.
    Whisk everything until you get a smooth foamy mixture, then add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and beat everything in. Rap the bowl against the counter a few times to remove any bubbles from the batter, then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Pour the filling into the crust.
    Place the baking pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. In the meantime, get your crust shield ready, or prepare one by cutting a 9-inch circle out of an 11-inch square of aluminium foil. When the 15 minutes are over, lower the heat to 325F/ 170C, place the foil shield over the crust and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pie has puffed, is brown and doesn’t jiggle when tapped.
    Remove the foil shield, leave to cool to temperature before cutting and serving.

    Yum. Minimal goop.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010


    Well, today was the big bake sale! I made 4 dozen cupcakes and about 30 bags of macarons (3 in each bag). The cupcakes were dark chocolate (using my favorite, Hershey's Black Magic) with salted caramel buttercream, and also vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream. The flavors of macarons were similar, pecan pie and dark chocolate ganache filled.

    The sale went really really well, I'm happy to report! By 3pm I was sold out of all goodies and we made ... $195 for Team Hudson!!! As exhausted as I am, it's a really amazing feeling. Since it went so well, I'm thinking that I'll hold another one in December! If so, I'm thinking of dark chocolate whoopie pies with a peppermint cream, more macarons, maybe egg nog? The pecan pie macs are such a huge hit, it would be a shame to not involve them as well... and one more... maybe a mexican hot chocolate macaron? I'll have to work on it and see what I can come up with!