Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The blog has moved!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Hello, everyone!

I know it's been a long time since I've posted here but I just wanted to give you a heads up that I have moved this blog to a new address.  The new blog, The Serial Hobbyist Girl at, is a consolidation of my various themed blogs.  Having just one blog to worry about makes it easier for me to add content more often and keep track of myself.  Please, come visit and update your subscription!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pudin de Pan (Cuban Bread Pudding)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I have a confession to make:  I am a terrible Cuban.  It's true.  Cubans everywhere change their ways when they emigrate but the one thing that they hold on to, aside from being loud, is the habit of eating Cuban food every day.  I, on the other hand, do so rarely, and cook it even more rarely.  It's not that I don't like it, I like it just fine, it's that I find it rather time consuming.  So, when I do make something Cuban, it's usually a dessert.  Of course, this has nothing to do with my sweet tooth....nooo...  One of the desserts that I always associate with my mom and growing up in Cuba is pudin.  Pudin is technically bread pudding but it is not at all like the bread pudding that the Americans and the British eat.  The ingredients are the same but the preparation, texture, and consistency are very different.

This particular recipe is delicious, yet a bit different in flavor from what my mom usually makes.  I used nutmeg, which I have never seen her use.  The pudin was so good that even my husband, who hates bread pudding, loved it.

Pudin de Pan Cubano

1/2 pound of day-old brioche, cubed
2 cups of milk
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted
    For the caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  On the stove, bring a pot of water to a simmer.

In a large bowl, soak the bread in the milk with the nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Soak until the bread starts falling apart, approximately 15 minutes.  Mash the bread with a fork to break up any lumps.  

In the mean time, make the caramel by melting the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Once the sugar is completely melted, cook it for a further couple of minutes, taking care not to burn it.  Pour the caramel into a 6 cup metal mold and, working quickly, rotate the mold to cover the sides with the caramel.  It will thicken very fast, then it will harden and may crack; this is OK.

Beat the eggs with the sugar and the melted butter, add to the bread mixture and stir to combine.  Pour into the prepared mold, place the mold in a roasting pan and pour enough hot water in the roasting pan to come halfway the mold.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes up clean, approximately 1.5-2 hours.  Remove the mold from the water bath, let it cool before turning the pudin out onto a serving dish.

I actually used two smaller molds and made two small pudins instead of a large one.  The molds used for this type of dessert are really just pudding basins like this or Charlotte pans in varying sizes.  You may also use cake pans as long as are not the removable bottom type.  I'd stay away from pans with grooves, shapes, etc.   Be very careful when turning the cooled pudin onto a serving dish; make sure you use a dish with a lip as the caramel, which may be more abundant than in the picture, may spill.

I know that the pudin here is baked in a water bath, but I have to say that, as a child, I never once saw anyone make it this way.  In Cuba, it is made in a pressure cooker.  Of course, this has everything to do with adaptability; most people in Cuba have pressure cookers but no ovens.  Every Cuban household in the United States has a pressure cooker too, and I thought about writing the recipe that way, but I realize that, aside from that community, most people do not have pressure cookers.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oatmeal Banana-Berry Smoothie

Sunday, August 12, 2012
I recently bought a Vitamix blender and I've been using it every day, some times twice a day.  WOW, that thing is powerful!  I bought it because I used my KitchenAid blender often, especially for breakfast smoothies I can drink on the go, but it was never quite good enough to make vegetable smoothies.  It didn't have enough power and the consistency was kinda gross.  Maybe it's just me.  The Vitamix has no issues whatsoever delivering perfectly smooth smoothies, whether they are fruit, vegetable, or both.  I love it so far.

But that's not why I'm posting after SO long!  I just want to share with you, if I still have any followers, an excellent and healthy breakfast smoothie....although I just had it for dinner.  Some time ago I read the book This is Why You're Fat, by Jackie Warner, and one of her recommendations is that you eat oatmeal every day.  The premise is that oatmeal because oatmeal is slow to digest, it gives you a steady stream of energy, rather than a "tide," as other carbs usually do.  Additionally, it's full of soluble fiber, which helps carry fat out of the body.  I like oatmeal, but I never have the time to make it and eat it at home, as I eat my breakfast on the go. Then I came across a smoothie recipe that has oatmeal in it.  I was skeptical at first but I gave it a shot with some modifications and I loved it.  Even my picky four year old, who doesn't even try new foods let alone actually like them, loved it.  So, here it is.

Oatmeal Banana-Berry Smoothie

1/2 large banana
5 medium strawberries
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup old fashioned oats (same as rolled oats) uncooked
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1/8 tsp vanilla
Ice to taste (I used about 1.5 cups ice cubes)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve.

Makes 1 large serving, approximately 24 oz
Contains approximately 180 calories

I added a packet of Stevia in the Raw because I like things super sweet but it didn't really need it. I don't drink milk and I'm trying to go completely dairy free (pesky cheese, I can't quit it!) so I used almond milk but you can use whatever milk you prefer.  Almond milk is actually quite high in calories so if you use something like flax milk the calorie count will be lower.  If you use regular cows milk, it's about the same.

Anyhow, there it is, breakfast through a straw!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Kufta and Rice

Friday, December 24, 2010
Every once in a while I make a meal for the sake of eating something but not really expecting great things from it.  Every once in a while those meals, simple as they may be in preparation and ingredients, surpass all the expectations I never had.  This meal was one of them.

I had defrosted some ground beef with the intention of making enchiladas but then decided I didn't want enchiladas again and I wanted to try something else. I looked through some books and finally opened one I had not opened very often before.  The book had some pages doggie-eared and I opened it to the first one.  Kufta Mishwiya.  Bingo!  Of course, I needed a starch because that's how we roll so I looked in the same book for a rice recipe.  Rizz Mufalfal.  The name of the book is From the Lands of Figs and Olives and I've had it for a long time.  It is a book with traditional recipes from the Middle East and North Africa.  This is probably one of the first cookbooks I ever bought so I've had it for about 10 years or so.  I had not made anything from it yet and now I wonder what took me so long.

I haven't traveled much through the Middle East and North Africa. I've only been to Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain but, for the most part, I have fond memories of the area.  Mostly about food but that's the case with most places I've been to.  I am a big carnivore so I'm always drawn to rotisseries, spits, etc.  When I was in Egypt someone I knew locally took me to a small hole in the wall type restaurant in the middle of a souq in an area of Cairo that tourists would probably never find on their own.  I had the best kufta of my life there.   This person, a Canadian living in Cairo and working for National Geographic, took me some other great places I'd never have found on my own but I digress.  I also had a lot of kufta on my own in the two weeks I was there.  So, when I think Middle Eastern food, I think kufta.

The kufta and the rice are very, very easy to make but man, do they taste good.  The process of almost frying the rice in butter before cooking it in the water makes this taste like no rice I've ever had.  It cooks up beautifully.  I added some yellow coloring just for kicks but it does not impact the taste at all.  The picky eater in the house, my husband, agrees with me in that this is seriously good stuff so I suppose I'll be making it again.

This isn't actually Egyptian style kufta, it's Syrian and Lebanese.  The recipes are adapted from the book.  Now that I look at them in the picture, they are not very good looking once cooked, they look rather hhmm....shady.  However, I can guarantee they do not taste like what they look like!

Kufta Mishwiya

1 lb beef (it does not have to be ground but it's fine if it is)
1 small onion
two handfuls fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
4 tbsp butter if frying

In the bowl of a food processor, chop the onion and parsley.  Add the beef and the rest of the ingredients and process until it is all combined and looks like a paste.  Form the meat into cylinder shapes around a skewer.  If using wooden skewers, soak before using.

Broil in the oven or over charcoal or fry in a frying pan in heated butter, turning frequently to brown evenly. 

Serves 4

Rizz Mufalfal (Arabic Plain Rice)

1/4 cup butter
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
salt to taste
(yellow coloring if desired)

Place the butter in a saucepan with a lid and melt.  Add the rice and stir-fry on high heat for a few minutes.  Make sure not to burn the rice.  Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and allow the rice to finish cooking in its own steam, covered. for 5 minutes.

Serves 4


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dang Life

Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I haven't cooked a real meal in so long that I think I forgot how.


Saturday, August 7, 2010


Saturday, August 7, 2010
This week I made a cake for a friend's baby shower.  It was Devil's Food Cake with Oreo Swiss Meringue Buttercream filling.  I don't like chocolate normally and even I ate it!  It was good and yes, I realize I'm tooting my own horn :P.

 The guts:


Monday, July 12, 2010

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Monday, July 12, 2010
Being the shopping addict that I am (to some degree anyway), sometimes I just can't resist a sale. A couple of weeks ago I was grocery shopping and the blueberry punnets were BOGO so I got two.  My husband had bought a lot of those green plastic tubs that are supposed to keep your produce fresh for longer and I stuck the blueberries in there.  I made some pancakes at some point but that didn't use much fruit, I still had a lot to figure out how to use.

I considered pie, jam, preserves, you name it.  I finally decided to make some ice cream.  Well, frozen yogurt to be exact (I also had a large pot of yogurt waiting to be used).  Turns out, I had just the right amount of berries!

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

2 cups blueberries
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups whole milk, natural, plain yogurt (NOT LOW FAT)

Put the blueberries, sugar and water into a saucepan and heat over medium low until the sugar dissolves and the berries start to give out their juice.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Put the cooled berries and yogurt into a blender and process until the mixture is smooth.  Pour into a strainer set over a large bowl and push the mixture through in a circular motion with the back of a spatula.  Discard the solids that remain in the strainer. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for one hour.

Churn using an ice cream machine until frozen.  Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and freeze for 3 hours before serving.

If it is frozen for longer and becomes too hard, remove the lid and place in the refrigerator to soften about 30 minutes before serving.

I'm not a huge fan of frozen yogurt, mostly because the ones I've had before are crap, but this one is good! It does freeze rock hard though and needs to be left to soften so it will help curb your impulse frozen yogurt binges!

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