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Soup with Wine, Made-from-Scratch Pudding

Posted: January 4, 2012 - 9:55am  |  Updated: January 4, 2012 - 10:00am
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For a satisfying one-dish supper, serve Vegetable-Beef Soup with Red Wine with an assortment of hearty breads and rolls. Eating nourishing comfort foods, like soup, is a great stress reliever.
For a satisfying one-dish supper, serve Vegetable-Beef Soup with Red Wine with an assortment of hearty breads and rolls. Eating nourishing comfort foods, like soup, is a great stress reliever.

From late October to the end of the year, it's a very demanding time in the kitchen. Between holiday cookie baking (and shipping), to the celebratory meals of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, there never truly is a respite for those of us who cook and bake. Busy cooks, whose responsibilities include a whole lot more than cooking, particularly feel seasonal stress and come this time of the year, welcome ways to restore balance into our lives. Returning ourselves and those we cook for to simpler meals like soup, for instance, is a good way to begin the restorative process. In fact, many of you have shared that your bodies are actually screaming for soup - chicken, beef, no meat at all, you don't care -- as long as it's hot, nutritious and chock full of vegetables. For those in need of a sweeter post-holiday stress-reducer, a homemade old-fashioned kind of pudding, such as butterscotch, has been known to deliciously do the job, as well. You'll find two recipes for butterscotch here, one that is baked, from Sur La Table's "Simple Comforts: 50 Heartwarming Recipes, the other for a less-rich version, cooked on top of the stove. Even if you find yourself enviably stress-free and feeling rather well - trust me - a bowlful of steaming soup or velvety, made-from-scratch pudding, will make you even better.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.   

Vegetable-Beef  Soup with Red Wine

3 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic minced
2 quarts rich beef stock
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
3 celery stalks, with leaves, slices
2 medium carrots, sliced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 (14.5 ounce) can cut green beans, drained
1 (8.5 ounce) can baby lima beans, drained
1 (11-ounce) can vacuum-packed whole kernel corn
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 medium head cabbage, cut into eighths
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnishing
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a large soup pot, or Dutch oven, cook onion, beef and garlic, until beef is browned. Drain fat from pot. Add remaining ingredients to pot, except for the cabbage salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one hour. After one hour, add cabbage to the soup pot, cooking for 20 minutes, more.  Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper, to taste, before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Old-Fashioned, Better-Than-Any-Box Butterscotch Pudding

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula until blended. Bring the thick sugar mixture to a boil and cook, stirring and scraping, for about 4 minutes from the time it starts to bubble. At first it will look puffy and frothy, but eventually it turns smoother and creamier as the moisture cooks off. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan well so the sugar caramelizes but doesn't burn. Carefully pour in the cream and milk. It will sizzle and the sugar will seize up in a lump, but that's okay. Gently whisk the mixture over medium heat until all the sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. Put the egg and eggs yolks into a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Gently whisk in the hot cream until well blended, but don't whisk vigorously because you don't want to work air into the pudding. Put six 6-ounce cups into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and pour the pudding batter into the cups. Add very hot water to the baking dish so it comes halfway up the ramekins. Cover the whole dish with foil and carefully transfer the dish in the oven. Don't let the water slosh into the puddings. Bake until the edges of the puddings are set and the centers are still quite wobbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, take the puddings from the water bath using tongs or a kitchen towel to protect your hands and let them cool for about an hour on a rack. Cover each with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days. Serves 6*.
*Kitchen Ade Note:  Using 6-ounce ramekins, I was able to get 8 servings from this recipe.

Stove-Top Soft Butterscotch Pudding

2 1/4 cups whole milk
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, optional
Place 2 cups of the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stirring constantly, cook mixture to scalding, then remove pan for heat. Combine the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup of  milk into a small mixing bowl, stirring to blend until smooth. Whisk cornstarch mixture into scalded milk mixture, then return pan to medium-low heat heat, stirring until the mixture thickens and begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly and being careful not to let mixture burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter (if using) and vanilla, mixing until butter is complelely melted. Divide pudding among four small serving dishes, covering each with a piece of plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming on top of the pudding. (If you like the skin that forms on top of the pudding as it cools - skip this step). Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours, or enjoy warm. Pudding is best eaten within one day of making. Makes 4 servings.

Kitchen Ade Cooking Tool Tip: Chicago Metallic's Creme Brulee Six-Piece Set

Chicago Metallic's Creme Brulee Six-Piece Set, which comes equipped with an 8-inch square aluminized steel baking dish, chrome wire holding rack and four (6-ounce) porcelain ramekins, makes transporting pudding and custards to and from the oven in a water bath an easy process. To use the set, the wire rack is placed into the pan and then the pan is filled halfway with hot water. After the pan is filled with the water, the ramekins are placed into the wire rack and the pudding mixture is poured into the cups. (For this pudding recipe, I used two Creme Brulee sets.) Find the set, which retails for approximately $20, at Sur La Table, www.surlatable.com, 800-243-0852, or at other stores and on-line sources specializing in kitchenware and cook's tools.  

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