Tuesday, May 27, 2008
If it moves, Grill it!
If I could have changed anything about my life, it would be to have gone to culinary school. I would have done well as a pastry chef, methinks. At the eager age of 12 I made cream puffs from the Betty Crocker cook book my mother had when she was alive. Tonight, though, I decided to try my hand at making a puff pastry dessert called the Napoleon. A Napoleon is a simple thing, really. Just follow the directions on the Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets™ and fill the layers with anything you want. It is much like making a parfait.
I made Napoleon Bananapartes...pardon the pun.
1 box puff pastry sheets, thawed to room temperature unfolded and baked as two square puffs on separate, foil-lined cookie sheets.
2 boxes of instant vanilla pudding
4 cups of light cream
6 small bananas, just ripe, but firm
1 jar of Nutella, microwaved for 30 second intervals, until you can pour it.
1 tub of Dream Whip or other non dairy topping
Bake puff pastry in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack. And prepare filling.
Mix light cream into pudding mix and stir til thick, add sliced bananas and refridgerate for 15 minutes.
Slice open puff pastry at the point the top rises from the rest of the pastry. There will be a nice line you can use as a guide. You will be cutting it open horizontally.
Fill each half with the bananas and pudding mixture and drizzle with warm Nutella. Fold over the top of one pastry and layer a nice thick amount of the non dairy whipped topping. Add the other filled pastry, and drizzle Nutella over the top.
But we were having a large gathering of hungry family members and assorted boyfriends, so a Napoleon Bananaparte would hardly feed our crowd...which is why Lisa made the Strawberry Shortcakes.
I could give you a recipe, but this is one of those things that is done all the time, almost with the first strawberries of the season, so I won't post any recipe for that here.
And just so you don't fret about my well-being, and how I slaved, and I alone, all day, over a hot stove, let me assure you, I did mostly prepwork for the menfolk:
However, I did a whizbang job on the baked beans:
I took Bush's Baked Beans and improved them massively with an additional can of Bushes Black Beans. But first, I fried off a pound of bacon ends, which sell for much less than sliced bacon, and you are guaranteed to get nice hammy chunks in a pound of bacon ends. Just fry til they are crispy, drain almost all the fat off, save about 4 tablespoons and add onions. Fry the onions, and other vegetables, like jalapeños, if you would like, or bell peppers. I just did the onions. Add the cans of beans, and squirt in a good amount of ketchup...No measuring....just taste. A large heaping spoon or two of good mustard. I used a spicy brown, but you can use anything you like. Add a healthy couple of dashes of cumin, and a cup of brown sugar that has been laced heavily with cayenne pepper. Cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
And basically, that was the sum of my work! Here is what the hubster did:
Grilled Steak (Rib-eyes, what else!)
Grilled Egg Plant (one of five things you must eat before you die!)
This is one of the most delicious ways to eat egg plant. I love the meltaway taste. You simply cut them at about 1/3 to 1/2 of an inch thick, season with a marinade of your choice, or with oil and salt and pepper. We used a tomato basil marinade mix. Be sure to let them brown fully, and don't move them too early, they will turn to mush. Let them get a nice brown skin on them, and then they melt in your mouth.
Grilled Pork-Chops (Courtesy of my brother)
It is best to par-cook fatty pieces of chicken in the oven before taking them to the grill. This way, most of the fat cooks out and doesn't cause charring flame-ups, which, in spite of whatever anyone says, ruins the taste of the meat. Burnt is not tasty. But you know that! So cook legs and thighs for about a half hour in the oven before finishing them on the grill. You will get moist, fully cooked dark meat pieces, and you won't have nasty tasting burnt chicken.
And let us not forget the beautiful corn on the cob, which, thanks to warm weather being somewhere, grows all year round, practically. Unfortunately, corn is becoming difficult to buy because now our cars and SUVs have found out just how yummy corn is!
So this is what our picnic consisted of. My husband wanted to grill every kind of thing: fish, fowl, beast of burden and vile unclean haram thing. Who am I to argue! We surrounded the table, heavy with the day's bounty bowed our heads and gave God thanks, and thanks for our young men and women and for our old men and women who have served in our military past and present. The older daughters brought their boyfriends, who were happy to say grace with us, too.
We are truly blessed and fortunate, that there are those who are willing to sacrifice their time, their own freedom, their very lives for so many who are unwilling to be thankful.
I suppose it is their right, the hippies, that is, to not have to be grateful to better people, but that is just the way it is. In that vein, I present a Memorial Day Tribute from Comedy Central.
Mock zem, Mock zem All!