Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dessert: homemade pudding with pomegrate seeds

We had some milk and cream to use up before we left for vacation, so I made pudding, roughly based on a recipe in Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

Sift together:
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 T cornstarch
- pinch of salt

Whisk together:
- 4 tiny eggs
- 1 1/2 cups dairy (We had 1 cup whole milk + 1/2 cup half-and-half)

Whisk in the sugar mixture, and cook over low heat until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in:
- 1 T butter
- Seeds from one pomegranate

Pour into bowls and refrigerate. Yum!

Flavor-injected rump roast

Scott bought a "flavor injector" (a syringe) at Target the other day. I had my doubts, but now that I've seen it in action, I'm a believer. He filled it with a mustard-anchovy paste mixture and pumped it into our (grass-fed) rump roast, along with some garlic slivers. It cooked quicker than we expected, so it got a little dried out, but it tastes fantastic!

Last night we ate it with broccolini, and tonight we roasted some carrots and parsnips to have on the side. I always forget how good roasted root vegetables are.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beef stew - with Guinness!

Scott made this for dinner on Saturday, while I was off in Berkeley making cookies with Mavis, Maya and Nia. I came home pretty full (from eating lots of cookies), but I still had space in my belly for this - it's tasty!

Guinness Beef Stew

Serves 6 to 8

Make sure to buy large chunks of stew meat. Trim meat of excess fat, as necessary, and cut into 11/2-inch pieces. Be gentle when stirring in the flour in step 3-the fork-tender beef will fall apart if stirred too aggressively.

4 pounds boneless beef chuck stew meat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions , chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Guinness Draught
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate , chopped
2 bay leaves
5 carrots , peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound parsnips , peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes , scrubbed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker insert and repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.

2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, 1 1/4 cups stout, sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves and bring to boil, using wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker insert.

3. Add carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours (or cook on high for 6 to 7 hours). Set slow cooker to high. Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer until smooth, then stir mixture into slow cooker. Cook, covered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper, and discard bay leaf. Serve.

Make Ahead: You can prepare the recipe through step 2 the night before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. Refrigerate the browned beef and the onion mixture in separate containers. In the morning, transfer the beef and the onion mixture to the slow cooker and proceed with step 3.

Heads up

FYI - This blog is about to get more kitchen-y. I'm going to use it as a repository for our dinner recipes/concoctions, and I'm no longer automatically exporting posts to Facebook or Google Buzz.

Update on Mr. Mini

From my weekly pregnancy email (23 weeks!):
Turn on the radio and sway to the music. With her sense of movement well developed by now, your baby can feel you dance. And now that she's more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound (about as much as a large mango), you may be able to see her squirm underneath your clothes. Blood vessels in her lungs are developing to prepare for breathing, and the sounds that your baby's increasingly keen ears pick up are preparing her for entry into the outside world. Loud noises that become familiar now — such as your dog barking or the roar of the vacuum cleaner — probably won't faze her when she hears them outside the womb.

Translation - Mini McNiven loves kipping pull-ups and won't be fazed by the sound of loaded barbells crashing to the floor.

In other news, Scott and I picked out a first name for our little boy, but we're keeping it a secret until he's born. We still need to settle on a middle name, and we should have a girl's name in our back pocket for the slim chance that our ultrasound was misinterpreted!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Spent the day in Berkeley, at the 5th annual cookie baking party with Mavis, Maya and Nia.

I made Earl Grey cookies, which were pretty good, and someone else made lemon cornmeal black pepper cookies, which were really really good!

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Yield: Makes 6 dozen


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves, from approximately 6 tea bags
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces


Heat oven to 375° F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized.

Add the vanilla, 1 teaspoon water, and the butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Nancy Myers, Real Simple, MAY 2005

Lemon-Black Pepper Cornmeal Cookies

Epicurious | May 2001

by Lori Longbotham

Luscious Lemon Desserts

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, black pepper, if using, and salt together in a medium bowl.

    2. Beat the butter, sugar, and zest in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine well. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended; the dough will be crumbly.

    3. Press the dough together with your hands and divide it in half. Place each half on a sheet of wax paper and form each piece into a 10-by-1 1/4-inch log. Smooth each log with dampened fingers. Chill the logs, wrapped in wax paper, for at least 3 hours, or until firm.

    4. At least 25 minutes before baking, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter 2 large nonstick baking sheets.

    5. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and arrange the rounds 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.