Master Class: It was a good year

Favorite recipes from the ‘Chicago Tribune’s’ Good Eating section for 2011.

Chocolate pudding 311 (photo credit: Chicago Tribune/MCT)
Chocolate pudding 311
(photo credit: Chicago Tribune/MCT)
The following recipes were adapted where necessary to make them kosher.
✔ 1 can (425 gr.) lychees ✔ 3⁄4 cup syrup, reserved ✔ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 11⁄2 cups sparkling wine, plus more for serving ✔ 4 whole fresh or canned lychees, optional
Combine lychees, reserved syrup and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth.Strain mixture into a bowl. Add sparkling wine; stir to combine. Pour mixture into baking dish; stir once. Freeze overnight. Scrape the granita, using the back of a fork. Pile into chilled martini glasses.
Top with more sparkling wine and a whole lychee, if desired.
✔ 1 cup coconut cream ✔ 2 cloves garlic, crushed ✔ 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard ✔ 6 halves boneless, skinless chicken breast ✔ 1⁄2 cup flour ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt ✔ 2 eggs ✔ 3 cups (170 gr.) panko bread crumbs ✔ 3⁄4 cup peanut or vegetable oil ✔ Salsa verde (see recipe) ✔ Parsley or cilantro sprigs
Mix the coconut cream, garlic and mustard in a large shallow dish. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic wrap; lightly pound to 1 cm. thickness. Add the chicken to the coconut mixture; turn to coat it well. Repeat with remaining chicken. Cover chicken; refrigerate 1-4 hours.
Mix flour and salt on a plate. Mix eggs with 2 Tbsp. water in a pie plate. Put panko crumbs into another plate. Remove chicken from the coconut cream mixture; shake off excess. Lightly coat each breast with flour mixture. Dip into eggs to coat both sides. Roll in crumbs to cover completely. Place chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let stand 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 200º. Set another wire rack over a baking sheet; place in the oven. Heat 1⁄4 inch of oil in a skillet large enough to hold some of the chicken in a single, uncrowded layer. (Use 2 skillets if necessary.) Add the chicken.
Fry over medium-high heat (adjust heat so oil does not smoke) until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn; fry until golden and chicken is almost firm when pressed, 2-3 minutes.Transfer the chicken to the rack in the oven while you cook the rest. Lightly drizzle some of the salsa onto 6 plates. Top with a piece of chicken. Garnish with parsley.
Salsa Verde Makes 12⁄ cup
Choose the amount of chili and garlic you want to use based on your affinity for spiciness.
✔ 2 to 3 serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded ✔ 2 green onions, trimmed, roughly chopped ✔ 1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled ✔ 2 cups (about 56 gr.) baby spinach leaves ✔ 1⁄2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley or cilantro ✔ 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil ✔ 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice ✔ 2 Tbsp. water ✔ 1 tsp. salt
Drop chilies, onions and garlic into a food processor with the machine running to mince finely. Add remaining ingredients. Process, scraping container once or twice, until smooth.
Adjust with a little more water if needed for a smooth, slightly thick sauce. Can refrigerate 2-3 days.
✔ 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato ✔ 3⁄4 cup light brown sugar✔ 3 eggs ✔ 1 can (425 gr.) coconut milk plus milk to make 2 cups ✔ 2 tsp. vanilla ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. salt ✔ 1⁄2 cup wide strips of coconut ✔ 1⁄2 cup whipping cream or parve whipping cream ✔ 1 Tbsp. rum, or to taste
Heat the oven to 105º. Place sweet potato in medium bowl; mix in sugar. Beat in eggs. Beat in coconut milk mixture, vanilla and salt. Pour the pudding mixture into a 6-cup baking dish. Put the dish in a larger pan; pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until set, 1 hour, 30 minutes. Cool.
Put the coconut shavings on a baking sheet; toast until crisp and browned, about 2 minutes. Whip cream in medium bowl to soft peaks; add rum. Whip to stiff peaks. Serve pudding with whipped cream; garnish with toasted coconut.
This German dumpling soup is meaty and satisfying without being heavy.
Filling: ✔ 3 cups crustless white bread, cubed ✔ 1⁄3 cup beef stock ✔ 1 small yellow onion, minced ✔ 1 clove garlic, minced ✔ 225 gr. ground beef ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg ✔ 1⁄2 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach ✔ 1⁄4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley ✔ 1 large egg yolk ✔ 1 tsp. salt
Wrappers and broth: ✔ 50 round or square wonton or pot-sticker wrappers ✔ 8 cups low-sodium beef broth ✔ 1 tsp. salt
For the filling, place the bread cubes in a large bowl; add stock. Work the mixture with hands until the bread becomes small bits. Squeeze out any excess liquid by small handfuls. Place the bread pulp in a bowl.
Place the onion with oil in a large skillet; cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and the beef; cook, stirring to break up meat, until beef is browned, about 3 minutes. Mix in the nutmeg. Let cool slightly in the pan. Place in a food processor with the spinach; pulse until the beef is minced.Transfer to a large bowl; mix in the bread pulp, parsley, egg yolk and salt. Cover; refrigerate 30-60 minutes.
Lay 4-6 wrappers on a work surface; brush half of them with a little water. Place 1 rounded Tbsp. of filling in the center of each. Top each with an unbrushed wrapper. Press the edges of the dough together; pinch to seal. Place the dumplings in a single layer on a floured kitchen towel on a tray; keep covered with a towel. Repeat with remaining wrappers.
Meanwhile, heat the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir in the salt; cover. Reduce the heat to medium. Gently drop half of the dumplings, one at a time, into the broth. Stir carefully to prevent sticking. Cook until all are floating, 2-3 minutes; cook 3 more minutes. Remove to a plate; top with a spoonful of the broth. Cook the remaining dumplings. Return the first batch to the broth; heat to warm through.
When food editor Carol Mighton Haddix saw this recipe from chef Randal Jacobs of Elate restaurant in Chicago, she just had to use it in this year’s Halloween section. Chef Jacobs serves the custard in oversize coffee cups, but you can also use ramekins.
✔ 11⁄2 cups whipping cream (or parve whipping cream) ✔ 1⁄2 cup milk (or soy milk) ✔ 11⁄2 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 5 egg yolks, beaten ✔ 140 gr. chocolate
✔ 2 cups chopped Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups ✔ 1 vanilla bean ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt ✔ 4 mint leaves
Heat oven to 180º. Combine 11⁄4 cups of cream, milk and 1 Tbsp. sugar in a small saucepan; heat almost to a boil. In a bowl, whisk a little of the hot mixture into the egg yolks just to warm them. Whisk the egg-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk-cream mixture. Add milk chocolate; let melt, about 1 minute. Whisk to incorporate.
Put mixture through a finemesh strainer; divide among six ramekins. Top with 11⁄2 cups of the chopped Reese’s. Place ramekins in a large baking pan. Fill the pan with hot water to the same height as the mixture in the ramekins. Cover with foil; bake until set, about 35 minutes. Remove ramekins from the pan; top with remaining 1⁄2 cup of the peanut butter cups; let cool. Refrigerate 2 hours.
Beat remaining 1⁄4 cup of the cream and 1⁄2 Tbsp. of the sugar in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Slice vanilla bean lengthwise; scrape out the pulp. Mix with sea salt. Place a dollop of whipped cream on each pot de creme; garnish with vanilla salt and torn mint leaves. ■