Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas To All

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Coconut Cranberry Frozen Yogurt

[12-31-10: See Cook's Notes below for another, more coconutty, version made on a whim over Christmas.]

My intention was to get this on the table (read blog) in plenty of time for Christmas.

I don't consider this to be plenty of time, but that's my rather disorganized life at the moment (year actually).

Just now I was about to say that maybe 2011 will find me a more organized cook and blogger, but who am I kidding?  I've always been this way and will offer no more excuses. Hmmm ...  I feel a New Year's resolution coming on:  No more excuses; Iyam who Iyam.

I do love to make frozen concoctions and this one is as easy as pie (why do they say that? Pie is not necessarily easy). Let's just say that this can be made up in no time at all and doesn't require much organization.

Except, you do have to remember to drain the yogurt before hand.

Make this full-fat, low-fat or non-, according to your own dictates.  If you prefer to leave out the cream, substitute a little more milk.  And because the recipe is not made with an ice cream custard base, you can use whatever sweetener you prefer and the texture will not be affected.  I prefer my ice creams and frozen yogurts to be less sweet than the commercial standard, but feel free to kick up the sugar if that floats your boat.

Coconut Cranberry Frozen Yogurt
Christine's orignial recipe
print recipe
2 cups plain yogurt, preferrably orgainc, drained
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup cream
1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup (scant) Splenda Sugar Blend, or 7-8 packets Splenda
2/3 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut, preferrably organic
1/2 tsp coconut flavoring (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Drain the yogurt by placing it in a damp cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl, set in the fridge for about 3 hours.  Use the drained liquid in another recipe or discard.  Use the drained yogurt in this recipe.
Combine the yogurt, milk, cream, sugar and extract and stir well.  Taste and adjust at will.
Stir in the shredded coconut.
Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.  When the yogurt mixture is semi-frozen, add the cranberries into the machine while it is running to mix them into the yogurt.
When the yogurt has finished processing, it can be soft-served directly from the mixer or spooned into an aritight container and frozen for about 1 hour before serving.

Scoop this into your prettiest holiday dishes and enjoy.

Cook's Notes:
This is best served the same day.  If kept frozen, you will have to let it thaw for at least a half hour in order for it to be scoopable.

Editor's note on 12-31-10
Josh, Kelly and Jackson visited over the holidays and one night I made a different version of the recipe above using only coconut milk.  We liked it very much so here it is:
Using the measurements above, drain the yogurt for 24 hours so it's very thick.
To the yogurt add one can of whole or lite coconut milk, the sugar, shredded coconut and flavoring. Stir or whisk well to blend.
Process as above, adding the cranberries last.
Serve soft immediately after processing or pack in an air-tight container and freeze for up to 2 hours before serving.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lentils Braised in Red Wine with Seared Duck Breast

This dish looks suspiciously like my recent chili recipe but I assure you it's a beast of an entirely different pursuasion.  Here I've incorporated lovely and tiny, dark green lentils with a mirepoix and red wine, cooking it down, down, down until the flavors have melted together and are ready to receive tiny slices of seared duck breast.  I made enough for company but you could cut this recipe in half for a family of four.

Lentils in Red Wine with Seared Duck Breast
Christine's original recipe
3 medium carrots (about), peeled and cut into small dice
2-3 stalks celery, cut into small dice
1 small to medium red onion, peeled and cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon duck fat or olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups small green lentils
2 cups good red wine (I used a French Côtes du Rhone)
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 cups hot water
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 boneless duck breasts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt duck fat (or olive oil, if using instead) over medium-high heat in a heavy pot.
Add the carrots, celery and onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic for another minute or two.
Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
Add the lentils, red wine, chicken stock, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf.
Stir and bring liquid to just under a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils absorb most of the liquid, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Check the lentils for doneness; they should be soft but not mushy.
If the liquid is gone before the lentils are cooked, add hot water in small amounts until the lentils are finished.
Remember to fish out the now de-leafed thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
To Prepare the Duck:
Just before the lentils are done, heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect for this) over hight heat.
Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the duck breasts in a diamond pattern, taking care to not cut through to the meat.  Season the duck on both sides with a pinch of sea salt and some grindings of black pepper.
Put the duck breasts in the skillet, fat side down and allow them to sear, untouched, until some of the fat has rendered and the skin is beginning to turn golden brown. Reduce the heat, if necessary, to keep the duck from scorching and the fat from burning.
Using tongs, turn the duck breasts and sear for another 5 minutes.
Remove the duck breasts to a plate and tent with foil.
Add a small amount of red wine to the skillet and deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and reducing the wine by two-thirds.
Pour all of this lovely goodness into the pot of lentils, which should be done by this time.
To serve:
Stir chopped parsley into the lentils then spoon them into warm bowls or plates.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the duck breasts crosswise into very thin strips and drape them over the lentils.
Open a bottle of the same red wine that was used in the cooking.


Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Crab Season!

The stacks of traps had been growing by height and breadth for several weeks in anticipation of opening day when right on time this year, with fairly calm if wet weather, crab season opened at 12:01 this morning.

All of we local crab lovers (some are crab fisherman lovers as well) wish our fleet safe sailing and a substantial catch.

Break out the champagne, pull out a recipe or two, and celebrate!

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved