Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brown Rice Pudding with Maple Blueberries

Until I moved to South Carolina a little over 2 years ago, hurricanes & earthquakes had very little impact on my life.  Sure, I have family in North Carolina and family in California, and when I would hear about hurricanes, I would think of my family in North Carolina and pray for their safety.  The same would happen regarding earthquakes in California.  The past two years I have spent in Charleston have, thankfully, shown very little hurricane activity (and very little earthquake activity.  I have been hearing this year that the experts are anticipating an above average hurricane activity season, but to be completely honest, I still had not given it much thought until this past week, when a "little" storm named Irene formed and began moving her way towards the East Coast.  

I am grateful that Charleston saw only a small, small portion of Irene's furry.  Some rain, some wind, but not anywhere near the destruction NC and the northern part of the East Cost are seeing (and will see).  My heart goes out to everyone affected by the devastation of this enormous storm.  

Ironically, one of my sisters just moved to Washington DC two weeks ago.  Not only will she be experiencing her first hurricane (and experiencing it much more than I will be, even though I am directly on the coast), she also got to experience the earthquake of earlier this week that impacted the Virginia/D.C/East Coast!  

Another irony is the name of this hurricane.  Irene.  Irene was the name of my late great grandmother.  She was neither large nor destructive :)  but is someone I loved very dearly and someone who has directly influenced my career path.  How ironic is it that the first hurricane both my sister and I experience is named the same as our late great grandmother?  I find it funny.... 

Even though it's still summer, some days call for comfort food.  Yesterday was one of such days.  With the stormy weather as a result of Hurricane Irene, this craaaazy cold I cannot seem to shake, and the end of my first week of teaching for the fall semester (where I am teaching 5 college courses), I needed comfort food!  And I needed it to be something I could make with ingredients I already had on hand.

On the drive home from school yesterday, inspiration hit me: rice pudding.  Something that can be served warm, cold, or room temp.  Something I could put in a warm bowl (warm rice pudding is my preference) and wrap my hands around it while I hunkered down in front of the TV and watched Irene's developing path. 

I used brown rice for my rice pudding because I had it on hand.  I'm not a big rice eater... especially white rice.  I'm more of a potatoes girl.  But I do like the nutty flavor and the slightly crunchy texture of brown rice.  And I found frozen wild blueberries in my freezer and I decided that might make an unexpected change from the raisin accompaniment traditional to rice pudding.  

A great thing about a big batch of rice pudding is the leftovers!  Now, I've got breakfast for the next couple of days too :) 


Brown Rice Pudding

This particular pudding is a little on the "soupy" side, which I how I prefer it.  If you do not want it to be as loose, reduce the amount of milk and perhaps add an additional egg or two.  

2 cups of Water
1 cup of Brown Rice (I used organic Texmati Brown Rice)
2 cups of Milk (I had whole milk on hand)
60 g Brown Sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
Freshly Grated Nutmeg, to taste
Splash of Bourbon (totally optional, but I think it adds to the depth of flavor of the pudding) 
1/4 c Real Maple Syrup 

1.  Combine the water and brown rice together in a heavy sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  (and take a nap during that 30 minutes, if you're me) 

2.  Add the milk (reducing the amount if you want a less soupy end product) and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

3.  Whisk the brown sugar and egg together.  Temper some of the hot rice milk mixture into the sugar and egg.  Return everything to the pot and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.  If it coats the back of the spoon and holds a line when you run your finger over the back of the spoon, it is done!  Do not allow it to boil, or else the mixture may curdle.  Remove from the heat.

4.  Off the heat, stir in the vanilla bean paste, nutmeg, splash of bourbon, and maple syrup.  

5.  Serve immediately, or serve chilled or at room temperature.  Top with maple blueberries, if desired.  Store any leftovers, covered, in the fridge.  

Maple Blueberry topping

inspired by this recipe from 101 cookbooks.  The original recipe is one of my favorite pancake toppings! 

180 g Blueberries (I used frozen wild blueberries, because they were what I had on hand.) 
100 g Real Maple Syrup 
Freshly grated Nutmeg, to taste

1.  Combine the blueberries and maple syrup in a sauce pan.  Heat until hot and until the blueberries have begun giving off their juices.  

2.  Remove from heat and add freshly grated nutmeg, to taste.  Store any leftovers in the fridge. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zucchini Scones

Getting back to a normal routine since finishing Kids Camps hasn't been easy.  In some ways, I was a bit burned out on baking (gasp) but it turns out, I was just burned out on the same recipes I had been making all summer with the kiddos.

We had some leftover shredded zucchini after the last cake decorating class-we had used it to make a zucchini cake with white chocolate pastry cream & white chocolate cream cheese icing.  I knew I wanted to try another zucchini dessert without making a zucchini cake.  No offense to to zucchini cake... I just wanted a change.

Summer is always a great time for zucchini.  My grandparents always grow lots of it, and growing up, I ate lots of zucchini in both savory and sweet applications.  My grandma makes a great chocolate zucchini cake that has even been my birthday cake previously!  But, like I said, I wanted a zucchini baked good that wasn't a cake.

I love to make scones.  Love.  As in, I make them several weekends a month.  I have one basic recipe and I tweak it each time based on what "mix-in" ingredients I have on hand.  So, I give you zucchini scones!  A great, unexpected summer-time scone.  

They're wonderfully spicy.  And they've got beautiful streaks of green zucchini throughout.  People may give you a few funny looks when you explain what they are... And that they do contain vegetables.  But in the end, the scones still disappeared quickly!  

And disappearing baked goods is the best sign of a great baked good :)   Icing is optional on these, but my insatiable sweet tooth always gives in to icing.

Fresh zucchini is always best.  But if you find yourself with a huge amount of extra zucchini, grate it, squeeze as much liquid from it as possible, and freeze it.  Then, you can have summer-flavored baked goods all year long.

One last side note before the recipe.... On my last trip back from ND, I was given a couple plates and silverware that belonged to my late great grandma.  This shoot was the first time I was able to use them!  I thought their golden tones matched the zucchini scones quite well :)

4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 c AP flour
1/4 c Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
1 c buttermilk (plus additional, if necessary)
1 c grated zucchini, dried well
Flat Icing, as needed

1.  Grate the unsalted butter on a box grater. (Putting the box grater on a plastic-wrap-lined plate works well for me).  Throw the grated butter into the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter is hard.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg (I use my hands).

3.  Once the butter is hard, toss it gently with the dry ingredients, being careful not to melt the butter with your body heat.

4.  Add the buttermilk and grated zucchini and mix quickly with your hands.  The mixture shouldn't be dry.  If it is, add an additional splash of buttermilk.

5.  Using a portion scoop, scoop mounds of scone dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan.  Leave enough space between mounds so that the scones can expand slightly as they bake.

6.  Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool slightly.

7.  Make flat icing, using confectioners sugar and enough liquid (water... cream... milk) to make it fluid.  Drizzle or dip the slightly warm scones into the flat icing.  (Personally, I like to dip them.... more icing).  Allow the icing to harden and serve!  These scones are best enjoyed the day they are made.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

(almost) Silent Sunday: Kids' Camps

Want to know what's been keeping me busy all summer? 

134 KIDS (ages 8-16)!   I have a whole new respect for elementary/middle/high school teachers! 

Here's a pictoral representation of the 7 weeks of Kids' Camps I just finished teaching at Trident Technical College....  I look forward to no longer dreaming every night that 16 small voices are calling "Chef V!  Chef V!"

Pastry Boot Camp 

 June 6-10 class (ages 8-11)

 Banana Cream Pie

 Peach Bacon Pizza

Cinnamon Rolls

Cake Decorating
Rice Krispy Treat Cake

 Student Work

Rice Krispy Treat Cake 

Zucchini Cupcakes with White Chocolate Pastry Cream & White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Zucchini cake bites with White Chocolate Pastry Cream, White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing & Candied Zucchini

Strawberry Whipped Cream Torte

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing & Chocolate Decoration

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing & Chocolate Decoration

Devils' Food Cake with Swiss Meringue Icing 

Cake Truffles & Cake Pops: Devils Food, Red Velvet, Zucchini, Vanilla

 June 7-13 class (ages 8-11)

  July 18-22 class (ages 8-11)

 Aug 1-5 AM class (ages 8-11) 

 Aug 1-5 PM class (ages 12-16) 

The Art of Chocolate 
 Things dipped in chocolate (Pretzels, Oreos, Potato Chips, Strawberries...) 

Tuxedo Strawberries

Things dipped in chocolate (Strawberries, Pretzels, Potato Chips) 

Clusters (Cashew, Feuilletine, Frosted Flakes, Marshmallows) 

Apple Jack Clusters

Sweet & Salty Mix for clusters

Nutella Truffles

Raspberry Truffles (pink stripes) & Nutella Truffles (white stripes) 

Triple Chocolate cookies sandwiched with Chocolate Butter cream, 
dipped in dark chocolate & striped with white chocolate

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing & white chocolate striping 

Chocolate Cake Bites with Chocolate Icing & Piped Chocolate Garnish

 June 20-24 class (ages 8-11) 

 July 25-29 AM class (ages 12-16) 
 July 25-29 PM class (ages 8-11) 

Outtakes & Quotes

 What happens when kids crack eggs.... 

Quote (while I was demonstrating how to cut a pineapple): "NOOOOOOOO! Not Sponge Bob's house?!?" 

Quote (during a Cake Decorating week)
Student: When do we get to play with the fondu? 
Me: you mean Fondant? 
Student: Yeah, that stuff...

Quote (while showing a student how to get hardened chocolate off a table)
Me: "Just use a little elbow grease"
Student (very seriously): "Where do I get the elbow grease?"

Frequent Quote of all the weeks:  
"Chef V, can I lick the spoon?"
"Chef V, Can I eat it?"

Another Frequent Quote of all the weeks: 
"Chef V, are there any MORE dishes I can wash?" 
(they just loved the giant 3 compartment sinks)  

Quote (overheard during class): "This is the BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!" 

And that about sums my summer up! Yes, it was a great challenge, but also greatly rewarding :) 

Finally, a BIG thank you to my assistants throughout the summer: Megan (who helped all summer, a great majority of my camps), Laura, Abby, Sonia, Georgia, Alexis, Sarah, Sandrea, Amber, Caroline & others....