Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mini Pecan Pie Trifles

Even though I tell less experienced cooks to never use a recipe for guests that they haven't tried out before, I myself do it all of the time. I am a Ninja Warrior when it comes to trying new things. Fearless and stealthy. My sister wanted Pumpkin Pie Trifle for Thanksgiving. "but I made that last year!", I cried. She claimed that it was her favorite. "How about Pecan Pie Trifle?" , she countered. I wondered, is that even a thing? It turns out that it was a thing.. I love the internet - not only is it a thing, but generous cooks have shown their work so that we can all be inspired. There were Pecan Pie Trifle Shooters (excellent idea) and giant standard trifles. And then I had an Epiphany - Mini Pecan Pie Trifle in those mini jam jars. YES

How I made Mini Pecan Pie Mini Trifles
Step 1 - send Mr. Hunting Creek to Variety Store to obtain teeny jam jars.
Step 2-wash jars. Admire their extreme cuteness. Set tops aside.
Step 3. Figure out how to make mini Pecan Pie Trifles. Some of my fellow cooks suggested cutting up an existing pecan pie. If I were making a standard size trifle that would work, but I wanted everything on a smaller scale. I decided to make pecan pie cookie bars, stealing the recipe right out of Betty Crocker.. I added a tablespoon of rum.
Those worked perfectly - not too thick, and I could cut them up into small pieces, but still tasting like pecan pie. (You will have more cookie bars than you need, but no one ever complains about extra cookies at Christmas. Don't chop all of them up. I chopped about half., with plenty of tastes..I mean, testing bites.)
Step 4. what about the creamy part? This is entirely up to the chef. You could make a traditional pastry cream. Or maybe vanilla pudding.. I wanted something fancier than that - I decided on a Tiramisu filling = which is the easiest thing in the world - mascarpone cheese with whipped cream, to which I added vanilla, rum and sugar- it was delicious. I had to make myself stop testing.
Step 5 - embellishing - what would make this special? I debated different options - chocolate? Caramel? Fruit? I decided on a caramel sauce - also super easy to make or buy. You can do either. I went the easy route and used Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel Caramel sauce, which I happened to have on hand due to its extreme deliciousness, (and my extreme laziness about large vats of molten sugar)
Step 6 - assembly. Cut up the Pecan Pie Bars into little chunks. Mine were about half an inch. You can get all OCD about this, like some cooks I know, or you can be slapdash like me - no one is going to be able to tell! Sprinkle some of these in the bottom of each mini jar. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Stop licking your fingers, you'll get sick. Then a scoop of the mascarpone cream. I used my tablespoon cookie scoop so I would not get cream all over everything and it worked perfectly. I then smoothed the cream to the edges to cover the cookie squares, (I used my mini spatula) and then sprinkled more cookie squares on top, then drizzled more caramel sauce on top of that.If you warm up the caramel sauce in the microwave a little bit, it is easier to drizzle.
Perfection! I texted the picture to my sister.(Kind of like sending food porn, yes?) She loved them.
On Thanksgiving, everyone liked how cute and small they were - just enough for a serving.
I left the jars at my sister's house, telling her that she needs to think up a mini dessert for Christmas.
I need to send Mr. Hunting Creek back for more little jars. I have some ideas of my own.

Friday, November 23, 2012

New Christmas List

Bhutanese Flag

A couple years ago Mr. Hunting Creek was buying a used computer game from a small store near our home when the young woman helping him with his list suddenly looked up from the list and asked, "Are you J.Hunting Creeks father? Is this J's list? " and of course he is, and it was. J. Hunting Creeks lists are so recognizably him that anyone who knows him , knows him from his list.
His lists from the past have included such items as bars of gold, throwing knives, silk smoking jackets and taxidermy animals, so anyone seeing those items once would never forget them..It is Christmas List as art form. J. considers making a list consisting of pajamas and gift cards to be rookie material. Your list should both reveal who you are and also what you aspire to be. Let that be an inspiration for us all.

Here is the list from this year:

J’s Christmas List 2012

A gun belt
Something from space
A neon sign
A copy of the New York Times from the day I was born, or the Economist from that week. The Washington Post is not an acceptable substitute.
Disguises (pilot’s uniform w/ fake mustache, doctor’s uniform, Dalai Lama/Pope/Prophet Muhammad outfit, etc.)
A prop from a moderately well-known movie (with certificate of authenticity of course)
Something signed by a world leader (G20 members only. Come on, guys)
A functional pocket watch, top hat, and monocle
A full-size flag of either Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Brunei, Seychelles, Swaziland, or Montenegro (list is in order of preference)
Something really tall
A smaller version of a toaster oven, if that exists? Approx. the size of a lunch box
Smaller versions of things in general (not miniature toy versions but actual functional versions of things like those tiny trampolines)
A taser (will be used only on myself, willing participants, or unwilling assailants, purchase only if potentially having my death on your hands is worth the risk)
A breathalyzer
Like, a lot of ankle socks. A lot (for real you guys my dad keeps stealing mine).
Something that would have been worth a lot of money a long time ago, but today is not (has to have been an existing product at the time when it would have been valuable, by which I mean no recent inventions that would have been valuable just because they weren’t invented yet)
Piece of the Berlin Wall – without graffiti, please
Piece of the Great Wall of China – graffiti acceptable if in Chinese
All gifts from previous years are still acceptable, and if you can mix them together that would be sweet (e.g. gold-plated taxidermy animals)
All gifts can be replaced with their approximate value in cash (so that I can maximize utility), as long as the cash is wrapped like a present and accompanied by a note saying what the cash is replacing (in case I want to buy it myself).

Now that you have read the list of a Master, what list would you write? Will your new list include what you want in your secret heart? Sewing lessons from Ralph Rucci? Dancing lessons from a Broadway choreographer? Cooking lessons with Eric Ripert? A trip to Chiang Mai?
Only by learning what we truly desire and then expressing those desires, can we take the necessary steps toward realizing those dreams. The dreams might start with a silk top hat and a monocle, but who knows where they will lead.
Take another look at your Christmas List and see if it needs a rewrite. I know mine does.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cat Fish

There are fish in here

There's a disturbance in the cat-force. My sister brought some new fish for my aquarium and they are driving the cats insane . They have knocked that calendar you see on the floor off of the wall, and thrown everything on top of the bookcase out of their way.

What are you looking at?
Every time I turn around one of them is trying to catch a fish.I had to shut the door to my office last night to keep them out.
They are plotting something right now, I know it.