Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Brittle!

So last night I made a bunch of brittle with a friend. Wow! It was actually pretty easy. The thought of a candy thermometer intimidated me, but this $4 purchase was a godsend.

A couple of notes for Brittle in general and then the recipes
1. Aluminum foil is a very important step in the process. Make sure you use it. Also try to avoid overlaps in the paper - they tend to put ridges into the brittle where small pieces of tin foil stick
2. Non-stick cooking spray is SO important. We must have spend 5 minutes removing small pieces of foil from one brittle because I was an idiot
3. Baking sheet, shmaking sheet. I used a tray and a cookie plate, as well. Anything with a slight ridge will work, I think.
4. We used small clear gift bags and wrote out labels to put the brittle in. Each recipe made about 8 bags for us. Be careful to invest in sturdy bags - sharp ends of brittle can slide through plastic bags sometimes.

Okay, so we modified one recipe (out of necessity)

1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 cups roasted walnuts, broken in pieces
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 stick butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1. prep you pan,tray, etc with foil and non-stick cooking spray
2. Small sauce pan (this is pretty important so that the candy thermometer can sit in it). I never know what small or medium means - for me, the ideal saucepan was about 4 inches deep and maybe 6 inches wide? 8 inches?
Okay, in that saucepan, put water and sugar in and stir lightly. Then add corn syrup and salt. Stick in the candy thermometer and then move it to medium-high heat. Cook until thermometer says 225 degrees.

4. Add walnuts and stir. temperature will go down a bit, but cook until the temperature reads 290 degrees

5. Remove from heat and then add butter, baking soda, and peanut butter - stir.

6. Pour into pan and let cool.

Original recipe

Second brittle we made was Ginger Sesame Brittle This one was my favorite recipe. It didn't make as much as I had thought it would, though, so I'd double this recipe. I also doubled the amount of ginger. It tasted very asian, unsurprisingly. Delicious!

Third brittle we made was Spicy Peanut Brittle. This recipe was kind of a pain because I couldn't find chipolte chile powder, but invested in new chile powder that did come from ground up chiles. This brittle wasn't bad, but it tasty a little cheesy. It was also a cheese-color. I think I'd use a different source of heat if I did this again, perhaps straight up cayenne?

Fourth brittle we made was a disaster. It's beer brittle, but I won't even link to the recipe because it still hasn't set 14 hourus later. When I figure out how to repair it, I'll let y'all know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's the cornish game hen?

I've made versions of this recipe twice now, and both times it has impressed with presentation and taste.

1 Cornish game hen, defrosted
1/4 cup of butter melted in one bowl; another 1/4 cup of butter melted in another bowl
half a green bell pepper finely chopped
half of a red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup of sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
handful of parsley finely chopped (probably 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp italian seasoning
salt & pepper

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. In a bowl, mix everything but 1/4 cup of butter.
3. Place the bird in a baking dish. I have a casserole dish with a glass lid that works beautifully (something like this) Stuff the inside of the bird with the vegetable mix. Put the rest on top of the bird.
4. pour remaining 1/4 cup of butter on bird.
5. cook for 85 minutes at 325 with glass cover on.
6. Remove lid and bake for another 5 minutes at 500 degrees or until skin is brown.

I think this recipe could be easily made into a one dish dinner by adding some vegetables around the side of the dish. Chunks of parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. Just place them around the bird in the same dish. The butter and seasoning of the bird would probably spread, especially given the additional butter.

Indian Sweet Potato Fries

3 sweet potatoes cut in medallions
2 tablespoons of EVOO
4 tsp of curry
1/2 tbsp of garlic chopped
salt and pepper

I cooked them at 325 for 45 minutes, but mostly because I had the oven set for something else. they turned out a little mushy this way.

I liked this shape, I think it did a good job of capturing some of the flavors. If I were to redo this, I'd add more Indian spice - perhaps tumeric? more curry?

The other thing that would have been interesting would have been to have made some indian dip or aioli to go with this. Perhaps a little tamarind or mango chutney?

Okay reader(s) - leave comments with ideas on how to up the flavor on this recipe!

(original recipe found here)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stain Glass Christmas Trees

I take no claim for the original idea and recipe, so I'll just link to it.

I was into the look of the cookies, though, so here it is.

1. 2 bags of life savers
2. Green granulated sugars
3. Food mist - Green
4. White cookie frosting.

1. Crush a bunch of life savers in separate bags. Its important to keep the colors in separate bowls. A word to the wise - don't do this in advance. I crushed my candy the day before and it got stuck back together in a weird way. It was a serious pain to split apart. I ended up using two full bags of life savers for the 100 cookie production, so estimate appropriately.
2. Ln a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. Make your sugar cookies and roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the christmas tree and place it on the cookie sheet. Too thick and the stain glass effect won't work as well.
4. Once you have your cookie sheet filled, *then* cut out the circles for stain glass. I used a shot glass to accomplish the task.
5. Fill the wholes the crushed candy. Fill, but do not overfill the whole! If you do, it'll spill over the cookie and look not very nice.
6. Pour some green sugar over the cookie. It may seem like a lot, but it looks much better this way. If at all possible, try to keep the green sugar from falling in the whole or over the hard candy. It'll blur the stain glass part.
7. Bake as decorate. Let cool quite a bit.
8. Use the food mist to spray the trees green. Let dry.
9. Use the Cookie frostng to make the garland. The bottle says let sit 45 minutes, but trust me, it's more like an hour at least.

Wait for the praise :)

Marinated Bell Peppers

I needed an asian side dish and had bell peppers, so here's what I made

1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
2 yellow bell peppers
1 tbspn of minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450
2. Place peppers on rack directly to cook. roast for 15 minutes, turning every five minutes. Use some kitchen tongs to turn the peppers. Be careful at the ten minute mark as the peppers may be juicy and easily split.
3. Put them in a paperbag and allow the heat to steam the peppers while they cool. This process will take about 15 minutes. Trust me, don't short change this time because it is invaluable to the next step
4. Wash the peppers in cold water and remove the thin outer skin. Also remove the steam and clean out the seeds from the inside. Place in a colander to rinse as you are working on the other peppers.
5. Lightly pat dry the peppers afterwards. They'll be much tastier if there isn't a lot of water to detract from the ingredients.
6. While the peppers are drying, take out a medium bowl and mix up the other ingredients.
7. Add dry peppers to oil mixture in bowl.

For original recipes click

Gingery Apple Pie


So this rcipe isn't quite so vegan, but I'll explain a simple substitution that would make it vegan. I've made it twice and varied it a little to make it totally delicious

Pie crust (frozen pre-made for me both times - next time I'll get adventurous)

4 Granny Smith apples thin sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 cup of sugar
sprinkle of salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter - 1 stick
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
2. In a food processor, put all crumb toppings and pulse until clumpy. I think it helps if the butt is put in the microwave for about 30 seconds. my goal is to soften it but not to melt it. Put it in the fridge once it is clumped. It is way easier to spread it out if the clumps are very cold.
3. Wash & dry the apples. Now, the first time I made it I peeled the apples. Second time I didn't. I think peeling isn't worth the effort, but the pie didn't cut a little nicer when the apples were peeled. Regardless, take out your mandoline slicer and thin slice the apples. Funny shapes are okay. Place them in a very large bowl that will allow them to be mixed. Lightly salt to get juice to come out.
4. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, fresh ginger. Let me emphasize that the short cut of adding these to the apples is not helpful - they should be premixed together or else disaster occurs.
5. Slowly add sugar mixture over the apples while mixing well.
6. Layer the apples on the pie crust. Those odd shaped pieces help to fill in flat layers around the round slices of the apples.
7. Bake for a total of 55-60 minutes until the top is golden brown. I think this pie tastes better cold (especially the next day), but if you want to serve it hot and need to travel with it, I recommend par cooking it for 45 minutes and, upon reaching your final destination, putting it in the oven there for 10-15 minutes. Basically, par cook but add 5 minutes to allow the pie to reheat.

1. to make it vegan, the butter could be replaced with any vegan butter. I don't think there'd be any issue with that.
2. Apple + Pear - I think mixing the two soft fruits would be delicious.
3. Add some vanilla extract to the apple filling. Given how much cinnamon I use, I would be careful to not use too much extract - it could all end up masking the natural taste of the apples.
4. Up the ginger factor by a lot. I mean A LOT. The amount I use means the taste has not been very strong at all.
5. Brown sugar for the apple mixture. Although I think the white sugar might be important for the crumb topping, I think the filling is really pretty negotiable and so think that substitution would be healthier and just as delicious.

For the original recipe, go here