Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Holiday Season Tiramisu 

I'm probably going to be fat. Our holiday season has ushered in a cornucopia of desserts and the calories that accompany them but folks this is a simple and elegant dessert that you should try and a perfect dessert to make ahead of time and take with you when you need to "bring a dessert". Here again, we are going to attempt to make something we have never made before and document the process. Fingers crossed.


We found this in Food & Wine's November 2014 issue.


Gather the following ingredients:

1 - 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
0.5 cup of light brown sugar
0.25 teaspoon of ground ginger
0.75 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
0.25 teaspoon of kosher salt
 0.75 cup of granulated sugar
1.25 cups of mascarpone cheese
2.5 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of brewed coffee
2 - 7 oz packages of dry ladyfingers
Dark chocolate shavings

45 minutes to prep and overnight chilled. Serves about 12.


In a large bowl whisk the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger. salt, nutmeg, and half a cup of the granulated sugar

Add mascarpone and 1.5 cups of cream beat with a hand mixer until soft peaks form

Soft peaks! Great name for a strip club.

Separately, mix the brewed coffee and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar until dissolved.

Now assemble.

Dip both sides of the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture and place in a single layer at the bottom of the bowl. Work fast, the ladyfingers disintegrate quickly once dipped.

Use a 4 quart trifle dish

Then add 1 cup of the pumpkin mousse.

Repeat 5 times

Place in the fridge and chill overnight.

Just before serving...

Use an electric mixture to beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar until soft peaks form.

Dollop on top and shave some chocolate for garnish.


It is excellent. We used a great rich coffee so it had a strong coffee flavor that mixed well with the sweetness of the pumpkin and sugar. Try this one out because it was a big hit at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Notice that we didn't take a photo of it once served because we couldn't figure out how to get it out of the serving dish in a pretty way.

Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:

So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ginger Pumpkin Cupcakes with Butter Cream Icing

Katie's Thanksgiving Cupcake 

We've spoken previously about the joy that Saturday night cupcakes have brought to my life because of the happiness that comes from spending time with my kids. Over the years, we have made a lot of cupcakes. Many many cupcakes.

Because of my extensive experience making and eating cupcakes, I feel comfortable stating that I am a bit of a cupcake connoisseur. So, I would hope that you would take it from me that this is the best cupcake we have made. It is not subjective, it is an empirical fact.

If you only make one cupcake in your life, make this one.


We began making this cupcake years ago but limited ourselves to make it in the fall usually as a Thanksgiving treat. Honestly, I can't remember where we found it but we did find this recipe somewhere and if I can ever figure out where it came from, I'll update the site with a link.


Gather the following ingredients:


2 cups of all purpose flour
1 (3.4 oz) package of instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 teaspoons baking soda
0.25 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon ground allspice
0.25 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup of finely chopped crystallized ginger (I promise you NEED this)
1 cup of butter at room temp
1 cup white sugar
1 cup of packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz can) of pumpkin puree


1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
6 egg yokes, lightly beaten
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 cups of butter, softened
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Not complicated but lets follow along in execution.


As I mentioned earlier, my daughter and I often make cupcakes on Saturday night and have done this since she was a child. She is a senior in high school this year and we recently made our favorite together. Now folks, we worked our way up to this from buying the premixed, it is a lot of ingredients but well worth the effort.

So let's go...

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mise en Place

Chop up the crystallized ginger. You can find it in the grocery store. I think we bought ours at Kroger.

Add the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and crystallized ginger.

Then whisk together and set aside.

Then beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with a mixer until it is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next.

Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg.

Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until it is just incorporated. Mix this by hand so that you do not overwork the flour.

Pour the batter into muffin cups.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now let's tackle the icing.

This seemed difficult to me when I read about how to do it but it really isn't, just take it step by step.

First bring the sugar and water to a gentle boil.

It will look like this:

Then remove from heat and pour a small about (a 1/4 of a cup at a time) into the lightly whipped egg yolks until it warms them up.

Then back on heat for 2 minutes stirring constantly until it starts to thicken.

Then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

LET IT REACH ROOM TEMPERATURE (you can put it in the fridge). Can you hear me?

In a mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, cream the butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Gradually beat in cooked sugar mixture and then add the confectioners' sugar and beat until creamy about another 5 minutes.

It should look like this

If necessary, place it in the fridge to firm up to ideal spreading consistency.

Then assemble.

After the cake part cooks for 20 minutes, pull them out of the oven and out of the cupcake pan and let them cool on a wire rack. You can't put the butter cream on them until they cool or it will melt into liquid butter.

We use a piping bag to apply the icing

Garnish with a few of the crystallized ginger chunks. Slice them up.


This is the best cupcake we have made. Spend a Saturday night making cupcakes with your daughter. As they say, that is the good stuff.

Please help support our site by clicking through the Amazon links next time you want to buy something and we will get a little bit of credit. I suggest this thermometer below:

Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Gray) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Risotto with Shrimp on the Big Green Egg

Direct from the old country 

Risotto was a highlight of our trip. A seafood risotto in Venice is one the the finer things in life. We thought we would try to make our own version.


We followed two different recipes. One had a great process description and the other had the ingredients that we wanted to use. The first we used was a process description that we found in our Lidia Bastianich cookbook and the other was the recipe from fine cooking. We just googled based on ingredients we had and found this one from fine cooking.


Gather the following ingredients:

5 - cups of chicken stock
1.5 - cup of peas
2 - cups dried mushrooms
2 - tablespoons butter
1 - med yellow onion
2 - cups of arborio rice
0.3 - cup dry white wine
1 - cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
1 - tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1.5 - teaspoons of chopped parsley
1 - pound of shrimp

this serves at least 4. We had A LOT of leftovers.

The process is complicated. Let's step though it in execution...


First we reconstituted the mushrooms

and heated the chicken stock that we made and froze earlier in the year.

Then strained the mushrooms and added the mushroom juice to the stock

We melted the butter and added the chopped onion. Cook until onions are golden and coated with oil but not brown.

Add a half cup of stock to slow the process.

Once cooked down, pour in the rice all at once and stir to coat the rice with oil. Stirred until it was popping as we stirred.

After 3 minutes at med heat add the wine

Then start ladling in the stock and add the mushrooms. Stir until the liquid is cooked down to the point your spoon leaves a clean track on the bottom of the pan.

Continue to stir in a ladle full at a time. Let it cook down/absorb into the rice before adding another

Go ahead a pour a big glass of wine for this effort. It is probably 25 minutes of stirring. It is hot work. A man needs to stay hydrated.

After the rice gets to the point that it has a nice bite (soft but not a gel) add in the cheese

Stir in

Then add the peas and balsamic at the end.

In the mean time on the BGE

We tossed our whole Georgia fresh shrimp in olive oil and smoked paprika. We used 25s (That is shrimp lingo for 25 shrimp per pound people).

Then on the grill for just a few minutes at 400. Direct heat.

Skewered the shrimp and cooked for 2 minutes each side then closed down for 2 more minutes.

Then pull them off and plate on the risotto.

You are officially Venetian with Georgia flair!


A great process and a great flavor but a few things we would change. First, it was too thick and that was particularly pronounced after adding the cheese. Next time, we would skip adding the cheese. Not only did the cheese thicken the risotto too much it also masked the flavor of the peas and rice and mushrooms which had a nice flavor before we stirred in so much cheese. Too strong. Also, consider the carryover. The risotto should be a little thin because it will continue to thicken so plan for that. Cook it a little thinner and less or no cheese.

Also, peel the shrimp ahead of time. While it doesn't present as well, it is more practical and friendly.

Standby, we will be making this again and updating our recipe and process. This is a great example of exactly the sort of thing that caused us to start this web site. Next time we will simply improve this process and document.

Please help support our site, buy something you like on Amazon. Simply click through the links below and though you can pick anything, I suggest the thermometer and knives below:

So apparently Thermoworks doesn't sell through Amazon anymore. You must buy direct. Still the thermometer to have. Go here and order direct. 

Aaron Franklin's Favorite trimming knife:

Dexter-Russell (S131F-6PCP) - 6" Boning Knife - Sani-Safe Series

Aaron Franklin's Favorite Brisket cutting/serving knife:

Sani-Safe S140-12SC-PCP 12" Scalloped Roast Slicer