Friday, March 29, 2013

Lulu the Baker: Carmelitas and Ina Garten: Caramel Sauce

Okay, this one definitely goes in the Evil Desserts file.  Cookie, chocolate, caramel?  That sounds like some pretty horrific evil to me.  These are so sweet and rich, you can only have a little.  Don't believe me?  Try it.  I dare you.  I made my own caramel sauce.  Because I don't like processed foods.  And because I'm a food nerd.  But you can certainly cheat and use those little individually wrapped squares.

Adapted from Lulu the Baker blog

32 caramel squares, unwrapped
½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Drizzle additional caramel sauce over the top and cool completely before cutting.

Notes: If you want to use homemade or store-bought caramel sauce in place of the caramel/cream mixture, use 1¼ cups of caramel sauce, and omit the caramel squares and heavy cream.  To make a 9x13-inch version, simply double the amounts.

Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Ina Garten

1½ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup water
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350°F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don't worry - the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

Makes about 2 cups

Sunday, March 17, 2013

King Arthur Flour: Overnight Coffee Cake

Sometimes it's nice to get up in the morning and be greeted by a warm breakfast waiting just for you.  Unfortunately, when you're single, the breakfast will not magically appear.  You have to get up, find your slippers, get some coffee, check the fridge, etc.  It's not really worth the effort when you could be better spending your time with further sleep.

Luckily this recipe solves most of those issues.  You whip this up the night before and just throw it in the oven in the morning.  That's about as easy as it gets.  Certainly easier than having to find a spouse to cook breakfast for you.  And this coffee cake doesn't leave towels on the bathroom floor.

Overnight Coffee Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon Pecan Topping

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar and brown sugar. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the buttermilk in two additions, alternating with the flour mixture.

Spread the cake mixture in a greased and floured 9x13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with the Cinnamon Pecan Topping and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 16 servings

Cinnamon Pecan Topping

½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cinnamon baking chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Garden & Gun: Country Captain

Maybe I'm a bad Southerner, but I honestly didn't realize there was actually a magazine called Garden & Gun.  I mean, how strange of a title is that?  It's like having a magazine called Puppies & Grenades.  But my brother-in-law swears by it, so we'll go with it.

I'd heard about Country Captain before.  Something about the curry powder coming into the port at Charleston, making this a bit of an oddity.  I figured I'd try it.  I have no problem with wild foods, so why not.  I mean, that curry powder list is long.  It has to be good, right?  Well, the dish was pretty good, but I honestly felt like with all those spices, I should have gotten a little more dancing in my mouth.  I'm wondering if the long cooking time baked out my goodies.  Next time maybe I'll reserve some for the finish.

Country Captain
From Garden and Gun magazine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1 whole chicken (cut into 10 pieces: wings, legs, thighs, and quarter breasts), patted dry with paper towels and seasoned with coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced green bell pepper
1 fresh hot chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Homemade Curry Powder
2 cups good-quality canned tomatoes, chopped
1 cup tomato juice (reserved from can of tomatoes)
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ cup seedless raisins 
Grated toasted fresh coconut

Place large ovenproof braiser 
or oval Dutch oven (in which the chicken fits in a single layer) over moderate heat, and melt butter and bacon fat until slightly foaming, about 3 to 5 minutes. Raise heat, add chicken, and brown well on all sides. Remove crisped pieces to platter, continuing until all pieces are golden brown.
Lower heat to moderate and add the onion, celery, peppers, and garlic, using a wooden spoon to stir well. Slowly add curry powder, stirring well to evenly coat all the vegetables, and cook until they are tender, stirring frequently, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, stock, and bay leaves, 
and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Bring liquid to simmer, return chicken to pot, and cover tightly.

Cook on top of the stove over low flame until chicken is cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Transfer chicken to beds of rice in shallow bowls, sprinkle with raisins and coconut and serve surrounded by condiments 
like thinly sliced scallions, crushed roasted peanuts or almonds, green tomato or apple chutney, pickled hot peppers, or pickled okra.

Homemade Curry Powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander
2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground clove
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch Colman’s mustard powder
1 pinch dried thyme