Because he has been excited about experimenting with his meat grinder, my husband wanted to make his own burger blend for dinner. (This time, he used a combination of beef brisket and chuck steak. It was a success!) I made curly fries, corn on the cob, and a green salad with ice box buttermilk dressing to serve on the side. I think that he really wanted me to have time to focus on this incredible dessert!
This bread pudding recipe was adapted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks- a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. The “pro tip” in this recipe was to use melted vanilla bean ice cream as a shortcut crème anglaise to drizzle over the top. It was rich, indulgent, and absolutely fabulous.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
8 to 9 ounces brioche (I used 6 slices of Trader Joe’s brioche)
1 1/2 extra-large whole eggs (I divide an egg in half by weight)
4 extra-large egg yolks
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
7 ounces (1/2 pint) vanilla bean ice cream, melted, for serving (I used Häagen-Dazs)
Place the ice cream in a pitcher in the refrigerator to melt.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with a rack in the center.
Cut six 3/4-inch slices of brioche. (Trader Joe’s brioche is pre-sliced.) Keep 3 1/2 slices whole. Trim the crusts from the remaining 2 1/2 slices; cut into 1-inch dice.
In a single layer, spread the whole slices and cut pieces of brioche on a rimmed sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, to lightly toast the bread.
Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl, preferably with a spout. Set aside.
Line a 2-inch deep baking dish with the whole slices of brioche, cutting them to fit in a single layer. (I used a 9 1/2-inch round, ceramic baking dish. An 8×8-inch square dish, or equivalent, could be substituted.)
Distribute the diced brioche on top.
Pour the custard over the top of the bread and press down lightly so that the bread is soaked with custard. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough to allow the baking dish to sit flat. (I used a large roasting pan with handles. I also placed a silicone mat underneath the baking dish to prevent it from moving within the pan.)
Pour about 1 inch of the hottest tap water into the roasting pan, being sure not to get any water into the custard.
Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting the foil to make sure that it doesn’t touch the custard. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and set. Test by inserting a knife in the center- it should come out clean.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, drizzled with melted ice cream.
Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂
The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.
This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.
Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T sour cream
4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
2 T finely chopped red onion
1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.
These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.
This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.
My husband absolutely loves the overnight buttermilk oat pancakes served at Main Road Biscuit Company on the North Fork of Long Island. We have tried a couple of versions to try to replicate them at home. Now I love them too! 🙂
This first version was adapted from Molly Wizenberg@Orangette.net, via Food52.com, contributed by Catherine Lamb. We used sea salt, butter instead of oil, and added vanilla extract as well as fresh strawberries and bananas. We ate them for breakfast on Mother’s Day as well as my husband’s birthday. Great.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted and cooled (can substitute coconut oil or any oil of choice)
oil or non-stick spray for greasing the pan or griddle
fresh bananas and fresh or frozen strawberries, diced, optional
nuts or chocolate chips, optional
pure maple syrup, yogurt, berries, or bananas, for serving
The night before, mix the oats and buttermilk together in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
If you’re feeling especially efficient, mix the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl and set aside on the counter. (a great plan!)
The next morning, take the oat mixture out of the fridge. If you haven’t already, mix the dry ingredients together with a whisk until incorporated.
Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter (or oil) to the oat mixture, stir together, then add the dry ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated, but be careful not to overmix. Batter will be very thick.
Grease a griddle or large pan with and set it over medium-high heat. When you flick water at the skillet and it sizzles, it’s ready.
Ladle the batter onto the hot pan (I used a 1/3 cup measure, but feel free to adjust if you want larger or smaller pancakes). If desired, sprinkle on sliced bananas, berries (fresh or frozen), nuts, or chocolate chips. (I mixed both diced bananas and strawberries into the batter prior to placing on the griddle.)
When the top of the batter bubbles, the edges begin to set, and the bottom is bronzed, flip pancakes. They’re done when the underside is done and they don’t squish when pressed lightly with your finger.
Serve with maple syrup or a dollop of yogurt and additional berries and/or banana slices, as desired.
This second version was also wonderful. It is Swedish in origin. The original recipe suggests serving them with lingonberry jam instead of maple syrup.
The recipe was adapted from the former Tres Joli Bakery Café in Oakton, Virginia, via Bon Appétit and epicurious.com. I added frozen blueberries to the batter and served them drizzled with maple syrup.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 cups old-fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cooking oil spray or melted butter, for skillet or griddle
pure maple syrup or lingonberry preserves, for serving
fresh or frozen blueberries, optional
whipped cream, for serving, optional
Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl.
Add to dry ingredients; whisk until blended but some small lumps still remain.
Cover with plastic wrap and let batter stand to thicken, about 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 250°F. (or set a warming drawer to medium)
Heat heavy large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush skillet with melted butter or coat with cooking oil spray.
Fold fresh or frozen blueberries into the prepared batter, if desired. (I added 1 cup of frozen blueberries.)
Working in batches, ladle batter by 1/4 to 1/3 cupfuls onto the pan. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Turn pancakes over; cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet or serving platter. Keep warm in oven or warming drawer.
Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with more butter or cooking spray, as necessary.
Serve with lingonberry preserves or syrup, topped with fresh blueberries and/or whipped cream, as desired.
This cheesy pasta lived up to its title as “classic.” The combination of cheeses gave it the perfect velvety texture. We ate it as part of my husband’s birthday feast this year. Everyone loved it!
The recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. The original recipe also notes that the recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch square baking dish. Great.
Yield: one 9×13-inch casserole: Serves 6 to 8 as a main course or 10 to 12 as a side dish
For the Bread Crumb Topping:
6 slices (about 6 ounces) good-quality white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces (I used Trader Joe’s Sourdough sandwich bread)
3 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
For the Casserole:
1 pound elbow macaroni (I used Trader Joe’s)
5 T unsalted butter
6 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups milk (whole, low-fat, or skim okay)(I used 3 cups whole and 2 cups low-fat)
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
To Prepare the Bread Crumbs:
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the bread and butter until the crumbs are no larger than 1/8-inch, about 10 to 15 pulses. Set aside.
To Prepare the Pasta & Cheese:
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the broiler.
Place a 9×13-inch broiler safe baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. (I also covered the enameled handles of my baking dish with foil to protect them from the heat of the broiler.)
Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until the pasta is tender (NOT al dente).
Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water (for reheating leftovers). Drain in a colander and set aside.
In the now-empty Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium-high heat until foaming.
Add the flour, mustard, and cayenne; whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. (I used a flat whisk.)
Whisking constantly, gradually add the the milk; bring the mixture to a boil. The mixture must reach a full boil to fully thicken.
After the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated cheeses and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Whisk until the cheeses are completely melted.
Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is steaming and heated through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and sprinkle the top evenly with the bread crumbs.
Broil until the crumbs are deep golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, rotating the pan if necessary for even browning. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @500 degrees.) Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
My entire family looks forward to my husband’s birthday feast. It typically involves a lot of comfort food like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. 🙂 We always have his favorite Vanilla Bean Cheesecake as our celebratory dessert.
When my food blog friend Jess@Cooking is My Sport posted Cornmeal Sage Chicken Biscuits, I knew that my husband would absolutely love them. My first thought was to serve them on Valentine’s Day but then I realized that they would be perfect for his birthday dinner. Jess is an amazing cook and baker but most of all I must say that she is a complete master of biscuits. I learned many new techniques from her post in order to make biscuits thick enough to create a sandwich. Flaky and amazing! I also loved that she incorporated cornmeal in both the biscuits and the seasoned flour that is used to coat the fried chicken. This recipe also made all of us fans of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.
I served these fried chicken biscuits with classic macaroni and cheese and green salad dressed with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. The chicken biscuit recipe was adapted from CookingisMySport.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the proportions, cut the biscuits into squares, and omitted the topping. My daughter declared it was the best birthday feast ever. 🙂
Yield: Serves 12 to 14
For the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:
Yield: approximately 14 2-inch biscuits
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp coarse salt
2 T baking powder
2 tsp ground sage
1 T savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus more if necessary
For the Fried Chicken Thighs:
Yield: about 16 to 18 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 heaping tsp savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups buttermilk
8 to 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), trimmed, halved crosswise, patted dry
8 cups vegetable oil
hot sauce, for serving, optional (we used Chipotle Cholula)
bread and butter pickles, for serving, optional
To Make the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, coarse salt, baking powder, sugar, ground sage and the seasoning mix.
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients; stir with a fork.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the sour cream. Using a fork, incorporated it into the dry ingredients until it forms thick clumps.
Make another well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough. (I added 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk.)
Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board, or a clean, smooth countertop with flour. (I used a silpat baking mat.)
Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)
Use a bench scraper (or a large sharp knife) to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square.
Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky.) (I formed a 9×7-inch rectangle, about 2-inches thick.)
Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it.
Using a bench scraper (or very sharp knife), trim the edges of the rectangle. (I trimmed it to form a 6×8-inch rectangle.)
Using a biscuit cutter or a knife, cut the dough into rounds or squares about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much. (I cut my dough into 12 2-inch squares and reformed the trimmed edges into 2 additional 2-inch squares.)
Place the cut biscuits on the parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet, placing them close to each other (it will help them rise higher).
Place the tray into the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Spray the top of the biscuits with cooking spray.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 22 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly. (I baked mine for 22 minutes total, covering them with foil after 20 minutes.)
To Make the Fried Chicken Thighs:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper, foil, or plastic wrap on the bottom; place a wire rack on top.
Line a second rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels; place a wire rack on top.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cayenne, spice mix, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.
Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl.
Working with one piece at a time, toss chicken in flour mixture, dip in buttermilk, then toss again in flour mixture. Transfer to the wire rack over the wax paper/foil/plastic wrap-lined baking sheet to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.
Repeat dipping process until all of the chicken is double-coated.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees. (I used a large stainless steel Dutch oven fitted with a thermometer. I found it much easier to control the temperature of the oil in this pot versus using a cast iron skillet as I have in the past.)
Working in batches of no more than 3 or 4 pieces at a time, use tongs to place the chicken in the hot oil. Using a slotted spoon, turn it occasionally and cook until each piece is golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side. (I tried to cook pieces similar in size at the same time.)
Using a slotted spoon or clean tongs, remove chicken to the wire rack over the paper towel-lined sheet pan. At this point, use an instant read thermometer to confirm that the chicken is cooked, having an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
To assemble: Split a biscuit in half (it will have a natural breaking point) and assemble the sandwich with chicken topped with pickles, as desired. Serve with hot sauce to pass at the table, as desired.
Much to my husband’s displeasure, another birthday tradition is to document the many seasonal feathered visitors who arrive to celebrate with us. Like clockwork, the night heron arrived on his birthday morning while I was making pancakes. 🙂
Not to brag, but Mother’s Day was my daughter’s favorite holiday when she was little. ❤ It has now been surpassed by her birthday, Easter, and Christmas, of course, but she still recognizes it is an important day. 🙂 She tirelessly made this cake- completely independently- for Mother’s Day this year.
My son made a family favorite (my choice!), Penne with Vodka-Cream Sauce, for our Mother’s Day dinner. He served it with garlic bread and a giant salad. This lovely dessert topped off our celebratory meal. Lucky me! 🙂
The recipe was adapted from one of our favorite birthday cakes, Rainbow Sprinkle Cake, contributed to The New York Times by Julia Moskin. She used 8-inch pans, omitted the sprinkles, and modified the proportions and baking time. She also topped the cake with fresh strawberries. Delicious.
For the Cake:
1/2 cup/110 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), slightly softened, more for pans
1 1/2 cups/190 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
2 1/4 cups/225 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound fresh strawberries, optional
To Make the Cake:
Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
Butter and line the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
Divide batter evenly between the pans (approximately 400 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (She baked the cakes for 22 minutes.)
Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.
To Make the Frosting & Finish the Cake:
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
Using a bread knife, cut off any domed or uneven parts of each cake to make flat surfaces.
Place one of the cakes on a platter or a cake stand, cut side up. Line the edges with parchment or wax paper to keep the cake stand clean.
Using an offset spatula, frost the top.
Stack the other layer on top, cut side down.
Place remaining frosting on top of the cake and, working from the center outward, frost the top and sides of the cake, as desired. (She kept the sides relatively naked.)
Top the cake with sliced strawberries, as desired.
Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.