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Creamy Chewy Caramels

I've been on something of a sugar binge, and nothing will do but for me to teach myself how to make the caramels I want. The first time I tried to make caramels, I used this recipe from 101Cookbooks, and they mostly came out okay-ish, but either due to the extremely high temperatures inside my apartment (that place was a sauna) or some other deficiency, they tended to melt at room temperature. My next try was these orange-scented caramels from the Craftzine blog, which came out like rocks. Hard sticky ones. My dad lost a crown to those suckers.

However, a little help from Google brought me to this recipe, from about.com of all places, and I have found my happy caramel place, where the caramels are perfect and wonderful (and don't need corn syrup).

Time: ~30 mins to make, ~2hrs or so to cool
Cheapness: not bad.
Difficulty: pay attention and be bold
Meal: dessert
Servings: not enough for your entire Christmas gift list, but enough for that small party you are going to.

Recipe, with my modifications notedCollapse )

xposted to dreamwidth here

prompt: 20 dishes you need to know?

I subscribe to the Serious Eats newsletter. Some of the recipes, food photos, and ideas are great. The website also has lots of ongoing discussion threads, including the 20 Dishes you need to know.

The original poster is looking for 20 basic dishes to cook every month, which means cooking 5 days a week and repeating each dish once a month (or more, I guess). The thread includes lots of good points: what if you're a vegetarian? Why not come up with basic techniques to expand on? etc. etc.

I propose the question to you, readers of kitchen_fu: if you cook, what dishes do you think are essential? Are there any you wish you knew, and don't? Any you prefer only to eat at restaurants?

My proposed list contains starting-point dishes; most of these would ideally be served with other dishes that would make it a complete meal. There's also some overlap.

1. Pasta with stuff (sauce, cheese, veggies, fish, etc.). I love noodle things! Mac & cheese is particularly good with sliced tomatoes, if you can get nice tomatoes.
2. Grilled cheese (with various spreads, such as pesto/ grainy mustard/ wasabi mayo, and possibly veggies or even sliced apples)
3. Pizza (homemade crust if I'm ambitious, pre-purchased if not; topped with various sauces and nibbly bits like olives, sundried tomatoes, pineapple, mushrooms)
4. Omelets/ frittatas
5. Chili (like this one)
6. Various soups (I made spicy sweet potato and coconut soup last night, and it's probably even better today, with the flavors melding)
7. Lentils with naan
8. Stir-fries with tofu
9. Roasted veggies
10. Couscous/ quinoa/ orzo with veggies and protein, such as tofu/ black beans/ chickpeas (I haven't conquered regular/ non-minute rice, we are not pals)
11. Baked/ broiled fish. There are lots of ways to make fish: rubs, marinades, with some lemon, etc. Make sure you go ocean-friendly.
12. In the summertime, grilled anything! I love the little Foreman Grill but the flavor's not the same.
13. Matzo ball soup (vegan version here); I usually just make it from a box, and use veggie stock. Someday I'll make it from scratch (though still meat-free). mitchco makes a wonderful spicy version.
14. Spinach salad with various add-ins: marinated artichoke hearts, red onion, carrot, sunflower seeds/ almonds, apples, pears, citrus fruit, feta, chickpeas, etc.
15. Bourekas. My mom taught me to make these with frozen puff pastry sheets and stuffed with feta; now I stuff them with lots of things, including feta & spinach; cheddar and jam/ jelly; pesto; and leftover potatoes.
16. Waffles! Here are thoughts on those delicious and versatile food items from one of my favorite food bloggers. ;)
17. Hummus or other chickpea/bean spreads. Red Pepped Hummus, for example.
18. Squash--roasted, grilled, baked, etc. Can be served as a main or side dish or made into soup.

Now I'm hungry! :)


Total Classic

I went foraging through a parish cook book, which is substantially older than I am, in search of a traditional recipe from my familial home town. Not only did I find my late Aunt Tug's recipe the book was full of other wonderful finds. I'm sharing them here.

You may recall in Feasting On Asphalt that Alton Brown went looking for Burgoo in Evansville.  He would have been rewarded by asking for chowder.

Read more...Collapse )


I love bread. Here are two recipes for you.

1) Beer Bread! Yeast can be confusing and tricky; I have often used expired yeast and had sad results. Here, the beer provides the yeasty-ness. This bread is delicious and looks good; a few ways to dress it up:
* sprinkle on some rosemary
* do an egg wash
* drizzle on some honey
* add in cheese and spices, for example, cheddar and dill, and there are more ideas at the end

I would recommend a nicer beer, not anything marked "light" or in a can.

2) Hamburger Buns! I always forget to grab these at the store. I haven't made this recipe, but it looks pretty good. Let me know what you think!


sweet milky rice

From my friend Meaghan's Argentinian friend. Meaghan hasn't tried this, nor have I, but doesn't it sound good? I'd recommend halving it unless you're serving it to a lot of people; 3 cups of dry rice is a whole lot. Please let me know if you make it!

put in a pot:
* 3 cups rice
* 6 cups water

* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 1/2 tsp vanilla
* 2 cups brown sugar

bring to boil, turn heat down and let it boil until water is gone.

* 3 1/2 cup of milk
* bring to boil and turn heat off
* cover pot w/a lid and let it rest for 20 minutes.

* replace white rice w/ brown rice
* use 1/2 amount of sugar and add dry fruits (plums, dried berries, and raisins are the best for sweetening)

red peppered hummus

I tried the "Red Goddess Hummus" at Trader Joe's and re-created it at home with some tweaks. Here are the recipe & my comments.

1 jar Goddess Dressing (I used some tahini and just dumped it in--about 4 heaping tablespoons I guess)
2 cans chickpeas, drained (I used one can, but this is a good way to make a bigger amount)
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
chopped garlic to taste
sprinkle of salt and pepper (my addition)

Add all ingredients but chickpeas to blender. Blend! Add chickpeas. Blend more to desired consistency. Eat with desired accompaniment, such as crudités, pita bread, tortilla chips, etc.

Spinach and Rice Soup

I have a new favorite! My Dad has a delightful tome called The Soup Bible, which is where I saw this recipe. My interpretation is more hearty, less liquid-y than I think the original recipe intended.

Onwards!Collapse )

today's food: i made a lot of it!

If you want the recipes, I can write up some approximations.

For breakfast, there were savory cheddar-green pea waffles with salsa, scrambled eggs, and vegetarian bacon.

For dinner, there were chickpea burgers on hamburger buns with ketchup and red onion rings.

I have also made pasta salad with vegetarian chicken for tomorrow's lunch based on this recipe, and have applesauce-oatmeal muffins in the oven right now. Delicious!


Spicy Molasses Cookies!

These are from my friend Laurie. She claims they get better after a couple of days. In fact, this is what she said: "The thing about these cookies is that they get even better after they've been stored a day or two. Chewier and spicier. They are holiday Christmas pros because they know how to outlast all the limp sugar cookies and whiny fruit bars. Go spicy molasses cookies!"

Spicy Molasses Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
very generous 1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps ground cardamom
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
sugar for rolling (see below)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg until smooth.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Stir flour mixture into molasses mixture.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in extra sugar mix (use a mix of plain sugar, muscovado, and turbinado sugar if you are a total baking geek) before placing on baking sheet.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set but not browned.

Cool for 5-10 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Makes 3 - 3 1/2 dozen cookies!