Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stir Fry Beef and Spinach with Noodles

Many years ago, in 1994,  I was a finalist in the National Beef Cookoff, sponsored by the Cattleman's Association...I will forever think of this time in my life whenever I hear this song




I didn't win, but I got an all expenses paid trip to Little Rock, Arkansas (visit summary: a lot of Bill and Hillary Clinton and TCBY Yogurt, which was founded there.  Not much else)  But I also got to know what I affectionately called "the beef people" pretty well.   I  did a lot of press with them,  because even though I didn't win, a hugely pregnant woman engineer fit right into their marketing plan and that is how I learned about this recipe.   The beauty of this recipe is that is as simple as spaghetti sauce from a jar, but yet it is not.   If you don't have sirloin tip steak available, just make it with hamburger.    It is really, really good.   And it can be "what's for dinner" on a Tuesday night, in 30 minutes. 


Alpha Delta Alpha Cookbook



In 2005, my sorority published a cookbook in honor of the 25th anniversary of it's founding at Michigan Tech.   I didn't know it had even existed until recently, and one of my sorority sisters mailed it to me so I could scan it in and share it.   So here it is!  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Coconut Cream Pie


Last Sunday was Easter, and it sure doesn't feel like Easter around here.  The weather is still very much winter.   It's 18 degrees out this morning, for example.   It's been snowing the past few days.  My daughter had to work, so she wasn't able to come for Easter dinner, and my son is at college, and my family was out of town, so I invited some friends over instead.    I have always loved coconut cream pie, but I realized I had never made one before in my life.   I recently picked up Zingerman's Bakehouse Cookbook and it's described as one of the first pies for spring. 

First of all, I tried their pastry crust recipe, which is an all butter affair.   I wasn't overly impressed,   it came out tougher than my typical shortening based crust, but I did learn a great tip in their  directions.   They suggest that when the crust is crumbly, stop adding water and turn the mixture onto the counter and push out sections of dough with the heal of your hand once....they call it "schmearing, and then fold it back on itself with a bench scraper.  Sure enough, this technique made the crust hold together! 

Otherwise, I did love how this pie came out. It's got both coconut milk and toasted coconut in it.   Here's my take on their recipe....

Coconut Cream Pie

1 9" single pie crust, blind baked
1 1/4 c. unsweetened flaked coconut  (had to buy at People's Food Coop, check health food stores)
3/4 c. granulated sugar (their recipe included an addition 2 T., don't bother.  Must have been a remainder from an industrial sized recipe)
1/4 c. corn starch (ditto,  theirs had an additional 1.5 t, not needed)
1/2 t. kosher salt  (their recipe called for sea salt)
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 can coconut milk (the kind you use for Thai recipes, not pina coladas.  Their recipe called for 1 1/2 cups and since the can I had was slightly less than that, I wasn't willing to open another for a little bit more)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. butter (I used salted, don't keep unsalted around)

For Whipped Cream Topping
1/2  pt. heavy cream  (original recipe called for 12 oz.....that would be way too much!)
2 t. vanilla (original recipe called for 1/2 vanilla bean seeds, I didn't bother)
2 T. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Spread coconut onto a cookie sheet.   Toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, stirring a couple times, until golden brown.   In a medium saucepan, stir sugar, starch and salt.  Add the milks and the egg yolks, whisk to combine.  Cook the filling until it thickens and comes to a boil.   Continue to cook for 1 minute while stirring.    I was a little nervous because there was no temperature called out and I like to use a thermometer for this, but it was just fine. Reserve 1/4 c. coconut for topping.  Remove from heat and add remaining coconut, vanilla add butter and stir. Pour filling in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and let it cool for 30 minutes at room temperature

Stir mixture again and pour into cooled pie crust.   Cover with plastic wrap again and press into filling, refrigerate for 2 hours.  To make whipped cream, put ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer and using whisk attachment, beat on high until firm peaks form.   Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut.   Enjoy!