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Texas Cooking Texas Cooking
* Monthly Food Newsletter *
April, 2013

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We are pleased to feature a fine dinner that we recently prepared and enjoyed (along with a fine bottle of Llano Estacado Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve -- who says you can't serve red wine with poultry?). Cornish hens make a delightful company dinner. Not only does their appearance say "special", but the ease of preparation won't have you spending lots of time in the kitchen. And the juiciness and flavor of these little hens just cannot be beat. They are definitely a welcome change of pace from the usual chicken entrée.

We have paired our Cornish hens with an outstanding side dish, Rice with Garlic & Pine Nuts. This is another fine dish that can only be improved with a few spoonfuls of sauce from the Cornish hens.

And for dessert, Banana Pudding still warm from the oven. Need we say more?

May's is going to be a great month to learn how to make beef jerkey. Want another reason to subscribe to the Texas Cooking newsletter? Our newsletters announce new recipes that are added to our cookbook.

Last minute cooking questions? Ask them in our message boards.

What's for dinner?

Baked Cornish Hens Dinner Baked Cornish Hens

Cornish hens are delicious, easy to prepare and make an elegant presentation. They weigh right at one pound each, and are so good that there are never any leftovers.

  • 4 Cornish hens
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or dried rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
  • White wine or dry sherry (not cooking sherry)
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Rub hens with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Combine the remaining butter and other ingredients and use to baste hens liberally. Use all the butter mixture.

Bake at 350°F degrees for 1 hour, basting with the butter mixture every 15 minutes.

Remove hens from pan and deglaze the pan juices with a few tablespoons of white wine or dry sherry. Serve sauce over rice or potatoes.


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Rice with Garlic & Pine Nuts

The flavors of the baked, caramelized garlic and toasted pine nuts transform an ordinary rice dish to something special. From an article featuring Texas rice recipes.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 roasted head of garlic (see Note below)
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 3/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Swirl in the garlic purèe. Add the rice and pine nuts. Sauté, stirring and tossing, until the rice is heated through and has absorbed the butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley. Serve hot.

To toast the pine nuts, add them to a good-sized, dry skillet and, over medium-high heat, stir briskly until lightly toasted.

To roast garlic, put a whole, unpeeled head of garlic (that's a head of garlic -- not just one clove) in a pan or baking dish in an oven preheated to 350°F. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over it and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until it is soft. You can speed up the process by slicing a half inch or so off the top of the garlic head. "Topped" garlic heads will roast in about 30 minutes. You can roast several heads at a time and refrigerate what you don't need immediately. Roasted garlic keeps well.

For garlic purèe, wait until roasted garlic head has cooled, then separate the cloves and squeeze the contents from each skin. Mash garlic with the back of a spoon to produce a rough "purèe."

Banana Pudding

You're Pudding Me On!

The Banana Pudding recipe you'll find here makes the best banana pudding I have ever tasted. I'll admit that statement qualifies the title of the article, but I'll bet it's the best banana pudding you've ever tasted, too.

The key to great banana pudding is ripe bananas. In fact, they should be very ripe. Yellow with little brown specks. Bananas ripen best in the dark, so put them in a paper bag and check on them until they're perfect. They ripen every bit as well when they're in the refrigerator, too, assuming it's dark in your refrigerator.

  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter (not margarine)
  • 5 egg yolks (large eggs or better)
  • box of Vanilla wafers
  • 5-6 ripe bananas

Meringue

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line the bottom of a 9" x 9" baking dish with a layer of vanilla wafers. This recipe will not use the whole box, so you may snack, but don't get carried away.

Peel the bananas and slice into 3/8-inch rounds; use a ruler (I'm kidding). Cover the banana slices with plastic wrap to keep them from darkening and quickly make your pudding.

Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a bowl, and stir well to mix. Mash out any flour lumps with the back of your spoon. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, beat the egg yolks well (just use a fork or whisk, but beat them well). Over medium heat, add the flour mixture to the egg yolks, alternately with the milk and vanilla, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil and, when the mixture begins to thicken, add the butter, continuing to stir. Keep boiling and stirring until mixture reaches a nice pudding consistency. [Note: If you're working with an electric cooktop, adjust the heat so that it's hot enough to boil, but not so hot that the pudding scorches.] Remove from heat.

Place a layer of banana slices in the baking dish on top of the vanilla wafers. Don't stint and put one slice of banana per wafer. Line those banana slices up edge-to-edge. Pour, spreading as necessary, half of the pudding over the banana layer. Put down another layer of vanilla wafers, another layer of banana slices, and cover with the remaining pudding.

Beat the egg whites at high speed until they form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar. At high speed, gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the vanilla into the meringue, and spread the meringue over the pudding, sealing it at the sides of the dish.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until meringue browns, 12 to 15 minutes, depending upon your oven.

The size and shape of the baking dish are important. If you don't have a 9" x 9" baking dish, you really should. It's a handy size to have.

This recipe makes 6 or 8 servings, and you can count on people asking for seconds.



You can find these and over 700 more recipes in Grandma's Cookbook.

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