Dulce de leche and strawberry ice cream cake

You could really use this technique with any combination of ice creams and cookies, but try this one—it is very refreshing and unique.

Dulce de leche and Strawberry Ice Cream cake

Crust:

12-15 dulce de leche cookies
6-8 shortbread cookies
3 T. butter, melted

Pie:

2 pints strawberry sorbet (Haagen-Daz recommended)
2 pints Dulce le Leche ice cream (also Haagen-Daz)

1 springform pan

What to do with those leftover cookies. (If you had any.)
What to do with those leftover cookies. (If you had any.)

1.) Pulse cookies in a food processor. While running, drizzle in butter. Take out 1 pint of the dulce de leche cream to soften—leave the rest in the freezer.

2.) Press crust into the bottom of a springform pan. Bake in a 350℉ oven for 10-12 minutes, or until just golden brown on the edges. Cool completely.

3.)  Spread the first layer of softened ice cream on top of the cool crust, making as smooth and even as possible. Put back in freezer and take out sorbet to soften.

4.) Alternate freezing the cake between layers and softening the next pint of ice cream until all 4 layers are frozen—about 45 minutes per layer but can be more or less depending on how you want to do it.

Notes: Start this cake the morning of the day before you want to serve it. If you’re making this outside of cookie season, you can make a simple graham cracker crust instead.

©2014 Tracey Henry

Bourbon Syrup with a side of auction regret

When life gives you a giant plaster statue of Jack Daniels, you should make Bourbon Syrup with Pecans.

(And never go to another silent auction again.)

I keep telling myself it was for charity.
I keep telling myself it was for charity.

Bourbon Syrup with Pecans

1 1/2 cups good maple syrup
1/2 cup bourbon (Jack Daniels, preferred since he is now the ambassador of my living room)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 ish cup of chopped pecans

Bring the maple syrup and bourbon to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Quickly add the cream and stir to combine. The bubbling will reduce immediately, add the pecans, turn down the heat and simmer on low for several more minutes.

Serve warm on waffles or ice cream.

Or on the rocks. Obviously, a woman with a 7 foot replica of moonshiner makes no judgments.

I feel better now.
I feel better now.

©2014 Tracey Henry

Beef Empanadas

When we lived in Tampa, I used to buy bootleg empanadas from an Argentinian in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant.

Now that we live in Nashville, I have to prepare my empanadas in my own kitchen. Which is probably more sanitary, but totally less interesting.

The following recipe is not nearly as good as Arturo’s trunk goodies, but they are a pretty darn good replication.

They aren’t the easiest nor the most authentic, but worth every minute over the stove.

Beef Empanadas

(This recipe makes about 40-45 empanadas—perfect for a crowd. Make ahead, then briefly heat in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up.)

Filling:

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes

1/4-1/2 cup rough chopped green olives
3 hard-boiled eggs, rough chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

Dough:

40-45 frozen empanada discs, defrosted (Goya recommended)
Vegetable oil for frying

1.) Brown ground beef in large skillet until no longer pink. Add onions, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until soft.

2.) Add spices and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add olives and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and then add the cilantro at the last minute. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your tastes, then set aside. (Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

3.) When ready to assemble, place 1-2 tablespoons of filling into the center of a defrosted dough disc, and fold over to seal. Crimp edges like a pie so filling does not leak through during frying. Place stuffed empanadas on a cookie sheet until ready to fry.

Empanadas before their Wesson makeover

4.) Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large, deep skillet. Fry a few at a time being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Fry for only 1-2 minutes on both sides being careful not to over-brown. They cook quite quickly. Drain on paper towels while cooking the next batch.

At this point, they are ready to eat, but if you want to do a couple of hours ahead of time, you can placed the cooked empanadas in a 350 oven for 5-10 minutes making sure not to get too browned or the filling will start to leak and get tough.

5.) Trunk sales optional.

After.

©2014 Tracey Henry

Fall recipe wrap-up

To wrap-up November, Thanksgiving and autumn celebrations in general, here are some promised links to two recipes I served at Fakesgiving–my favorite holiday.

Here is the corn pudding recipe I served–I doubled it and baked it twice as long and it was perfect.

And that delicious cider punch? Not only good for Halloween, but seriously a sophisticated cocktail all season long.

Cider punch--Not just for Halloween anymore.
Cider punch–Not just for Halloween anymore.

Things on our Thanksgiving Table–Sweet potatoes

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. I love a day that focuses on what’s good in life and then serves it up with gravy and football. There are no gifts, no decorations, no shopping other than the grocery store and I’m there every day of my life anyway.

My table–like yours–is a patchwork quilt of traditional family recipes, things I’ve discovered along the way, my guest’s tasty contributions and an annual new experiment. There are sacred things–the stuffing and the pumpkin pie–in which I never stray for fear of revolt, and there’s things that can be a bit more adventuresome and no one will notice.

I’ve used this sweet potato recipe for the past 15 years and it’s one of my favorites. I’ve made it so many times I had forgotten what the original recipe looked like, but here is a link to the 1997 issue of Bon Appétit. Feel free to use more sweet potatoes (I always do) and adjust the seasonings accordingly. It can be made ahead and refrigerated, just make the topping right before baking.

Awesome Whipped Potatoes with Brown Sugar Pecan Topping

P.S. No marshmallows were harmed in the making of these delicious yams.

©2013 Tracey Henry

Old school rice pilaf

This easy and flavorful side is a souvenir from my youth when I thought rice only came in two varieties: Minute or pilaf.

I left the Minute Rice back in the 80’s and the pilaf seemed doomed to stay there as well until a few months ago when I resurrected it.

We’ve eaten it probably a dozen times since.

Rice pilaf
Old School Rice Pilaf

Olive oil and a couple tablespoons of butter
3-4 Angel Hair pasta nests, broken up and crumbled by hand (buy a big box and then you’ll have enough for pilaf for months)
2 cups long-grain or Basmati rice
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (plus more)
1 bay leaf

1.) Brown the crumbled pasta nests in a large pot with the olive oil and butter over medium heat for about 1 minute and then add the uncooked rice. Coat the rice and pasta with the butter and oil for a couple of minutes, toasting it by stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the pasta–it’s super thin–but you do want it to brown.

2.) Add the broth and the bay leaf, bring to a boil, and then quickly reduce the heat to a low simmer with the lid on until the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. (Check periodically so it doesn’t burn. You can add more liquid–water or chicken broth) if it gets too dry.

3.) Turn off the heat with the lid still on and let stand a few minutes to get the rice nice and fluffy. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

4.) Realize rice is better in 20 minutes rather than five.

©2013 Tracey Henry

Scott’s Biscotti

Lately I’ve been making a lot of healthy brain food that doesn’t taste like salmon.

Here’s a biscotti recipe that I adapted from Ann Burrell that incorporates whole nuts, berries and dark chocolate in a not-so-sweet cookie for breakfast or dessert. She dips hers into a chocolate ganache, but I like the chocolate on the inside. It’s decadent enough without the dipped and extras.

And it’s a long way from lox and better than a bagel.

Scott’s Biscotti

1 stick of room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 white for brushing on the top
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 lemon, zested
1/2 cup toasted almonds, rough chopped
4-6 oz package of dried cherries
2-4 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

A couple of tablespoons of raw or turbinado sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 300°. Beat together the sugar and eggs until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and then almond extract until well combined.

2.) Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Fold in cherries, almonds and chocolate chunks until just combined.

3.) Divide the dough in half and shape two long, skinny logs on a piece of parchment paper about 12 inches long. You really don’t have to roll it out–it’s sticky but will shape nicely. Flatten the tops just slightly, and brush with the egg white until glossy and then sprinkle with the raw sugar.

4.) Bake for 35 minutes until somewhat firm–they bake again so it will be on the soft side at this stage. Remove from oven and cool 10-20 minutes before slicing into thick slices on an angle.

5.) Arrange the slices back on the cookie sheet and bake for another 10-12 minutes until hard. Cool completely on a rack.

©2013 Tracey Henry

I don't know how good it is for your brain, but it's certainly good for the soul.
I don’t know how good it is for your brain, but it’s certainly good for the soul.

Marie-Inspired Chicken and Rice

Fall. Comfort food. It is time.

This particular dish is an imperfect version of a delicious original Lebanese Chicken and Rice dish that got me through two rough periods of morning sickness cooked by a friend’s mother who probably thought I would starve to death during my last pregnancy.

Because I need this dinner for myself and people I care about more than once a year when Mrs. Nammour visits this country, I came up with this version that in no way compares to hers, but still hits the spot–pregnant or not.

In fact, it is so good, so wonderfully healing and comforting, I named my daughter after her.

Comfort in a dish.
Comfort in a dish.

Marie-Inspired Chicken and Rice

1 rotisserie chicken, cut up and bones and skin discarded
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups long grain rice
32 oz. hot chicken stock

1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds and/or pine nuts

1.) Strip chicken from bones, discard skin. Chop or shred into bite-size pieces.

2.) In small saucepan, heat chicken stock.

3.) In a large pot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and ground beef until no longer pink. Add garlic.

4.) Stir in spices and salt, cook for a minute, and then add rice and stir so that the raw rice gets well-coated and combined. (If you like a spicier dish, you may add cayenne pepper or chili flakes.)

5.) Add hot chicken stock, stir to combine, and then turn down heat to simmer. Cook about 20 minutes–checking occasionally–until rice is cooked and stock is absorbed.

6.) Add the chicken and nuts and simmer a few minutes longer.

This one pot meal is perfect to bring to a sick friend, a starving pregnant woman, or anyone in need of food for the soul.

Scarecrow Salad

A couple of decades ago for a “Halloween-Themed Meal,” I’d have put out a bowl of Frankenberry and called it a night.

Four children and the invention of the Internet later, I feel an unnatural urge to theme everything we eat in October into some sort of spooky, ghoulish or otherwise macabrely-crafted fare.

Today I came up with this Scarecrow Salad. It’s a deconstructed, then constructed again, updated Oriental cabbage salad with edamame.

And a cry for help.

This deconstructed Oriental slaw will only scare away Halloween hunger. (And attract bad jokes.)
This deconstructed Oriental slaw will only scare away Halloween hunger. (And attract bad jokes.)

Scarecrow Salad

1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped (2 whole leaves reserved)
1/2 head of purple cabbage, chopped (2 whole leaves reserved)
3 scallions, 2 chopped, 1 cut into 3 equal pieces
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
2/3 c. shelled edamame, thawed
2/3 c. Chinese noodles

Dressing:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 oil seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 c. oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Assemble the scarecrow on a large plater first. With the chopped green cabbage, form two “legs,” then use the purple cabbage to form the chest and arms. Place a small mound of the almonds for the head, while the 3 scallion pieces forms the hat.

Lay trimmed pieces of the whole cabbage leaves over the body and limbs accordingly to give it a cohesive look. Place a small amount of Chinese noodles at the feet and hands, an edamame for the buttons and features for the face.

This only uses a fraction of the ingredients–all of the rest should be placed into a large bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, and pour over the salad in the bowl. Toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, but preferably 2-4. (Cover the scarecrow platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate as well.)

Serve the dressed salad along side of the scarecrow, or, after your guests have been adequately amused, explain that a tornado has blown through and Mr. Scarecrow was blown back into the bowl. He may not have a brain, but you have a stomach so all’s fair in Oz.

©2013 Tracey Henry

White Turkey Chili

There’s only a week until Halloween and we have a lot to do, people. There are copious amounts of food-coloring, meat-sculpturing, vegetable-carving and other compound verbs that you never thought would be part of your late October repertoire.

Let’s get started, shall we?

I’m always on the look out for a good white chili recipe, but I haven’t found one that takes all of the elements I like into one bowl.

So I came up with this one.

It’s a true slow-cooker recipe–not one of those fake ones that makes you prepare 9/10 of the ingredients on the stovetop before putting into the crock pot. I hate those. Why bother unless you really love doing dishes.

Because this is made with ground turkey rather than beef, I think it’s well-suited to be put in the crock-pot raw. The only explanations I can find for browning first is for depth of flavor and to drain off the fat. With lean turkey, there isn’t much fat to drain off, so have at it. It will be cooked thoroughly after 8 hours.

Also, this uses dried beans rather than canned which allows the bean to hold up and still have a nice texture.

Enjoy responsibly.

Scare up a pot of this on Halloween night or anytime you need a little comfort.
Scare up a pot of this on Halloween night or anytime you need a little comfort.

White Turkey Chili

1 package lean ground turkey (it’s a little over a pound)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package of dried white navy beans or other white bean
1 10 oz can of Rotel tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 t. pepper

32 oz carton of chicken broth
1 12 oz bottle of beer

1/2 cup heavy cream

Shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chopped scallions for toppings

1.) Put the ground turkey on the bottom of a heating slowly and break up slightly. Add next 11 ingredients and gently combine.

2.) Cook covered (duh) for either 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. If it gets dry at any point, don’t be afraid to add more broth, beer or water.

3.) With 30 minutes left to go in the cooking time, add the heavy cream and continue cooking.

4.) Serve with your favorite chili toppings, but be aware of hitchhiking ghosts.

©2013 Tracey Henry