While I’m on baby hiatus, I wanted to share one of my favorite holiday recipes. Note: This video was shot back in 2009, which explains why I still have hair. Happy Holidays!
This is a recipe that has taken quite a few holiday seasons to develop, but I guarantee that you’ll NEVER be satisfied with another caramel again. It was developed at an elevation of 4500 feet, so add 1 degree of cooking temperature for every 500 feet in elevation drop (IE: 244 degrees at sea level, 240 degrees at 2000 feet).
Ingredients: 1/2 cup salted butter cut into small chunks 2 cups DARK brown sugar (light brown sugar doesn’t work) 2 cups light corn syrup 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 cups heavy cream 1 tablespoon vanilla
Combine corn syrup and dark brown sugar in large saucepan (I use a 6 qt pan). Place on medium heat and stir till dissolved. Then increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for 2-3 minutes, keeping sides of the pan clean (this is important as dirty pan sides cause sugar chunks in the finished product, and the boiling creates a darker, more flavorful caramel due to a chemical process called Maillard reaction that takes place between the milk fat (protein), and the lactose, fructose and glucose (carbohydrate).
Add butter, one chunk at a time, stirring constantly. Add salt. Keep stirring as you slowly pour in cream so mixture does not stop boiling. STOP STIRRING after the cream is completely incorporated. Cook without stirring to 236 degrees (see note above about changes to final temperature based on elevation) and take off the heat. Add vanilla. Without scraping the pan, pour into a generously buttered 9″X12″ pan (I use Pyrex as it makes it easier to remove the next day). Put the pan on a cooling rack and let cool for 12+ hours. I usually cover the pan with plastic wrap after 1-2 hours of cooling.
Turn the pan over onto a cutting surface and the caramel block should slowly fall on to your surface. If not, you may try heating the bottom of the pan in hot tap water, or if all else fails, gently help it out with a rubber spatula.
Cut caramel into squares and wrap in waxed paper.
Smoked Sea Salt Caramel – Substitute 1/8th teaspoon salt with 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt (applewood preferred). Add a couple of drops of liquid smoke.
Chocolate Caramel – Finely chop 3 oz of unsweetened bakers chocolate. After removing from heat, add vanilla as directed, then add the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is incorporated and you have a consistent looking caramel.
You MAY have noticed I’ve been absent as of late. The Mrs. and I just gave birth to baby #3, and I’ve taken a little time off to get things situated on the homefront. I WILL, however, be posting older holiday recipes throughout the month.
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, at least 6 oz each.
3 cups of premade stuffing
8 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Butterfly each chicken breast, then open the breast and wrap in plastic wrap. Using either a kitchen mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken to an even thickness. Repeat until all the chicken breasts are done.
Remove the chicken breasts from the plastic wrap. Put 2 slices of prosciutto on each chicken breast. Place 3/4 cups of stuffing on top of each chicken breast, leaving a 3/4″ margin around the edges.
Roll each chicken breast into a log. Secure the log with toothpicks.
Bake at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (approximately 50 minutes).
Remove from the oven, and slice each chicken roulade into 3/4″ inch widths. Top with cranberry sauce.
Brussels can be one of those horror inducing foods from childhood. No doubt made worse by an inattentive cook boiling the life out of them. However, pan frying is a GREAT way to keep the crispness and life in a Brussels Sprout.
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons nonpareil capers
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Juice from one half of a lemon (1 Tbs)
2 Tbs Butter
Rinse all the Brussels and remove outer leaves. Cut into halves.
In a large saute pan, preheat olive oil over medium heat. Add the Brussels and cook until sprouts start to brown, stirring occasionally.
Once brown, add butter and remove from heat when melted. Add capers and lemon juice. Garnish with Parmesan. Add salt to taste.
Almost every octogenarian homemaker on the planet has at one time or another kept a sourdough culture. It’s part of our cultural heritage, and sadly, a skill that hasn’t successfully passed from on generation to the next.
However, starting and maintaining a culture is one of the simplest things a home cook can do. And the benefits go far and beyond the minuscule effort needed to keep a culture alive.
A good sourdough culture is a mixture of flour, water, and yeast. And as those ingredients work together, they create amazing flavors that don’t exist any other way.
Starting a culture is easy:
1 clean wide mouthed vessel (I use a wide mouth 1 qt Mason Jar).
1 thin cloth/towel
1 cup flour
1 cup room temperature water
1/2 tsp yeast
Combine the flour, water and yeast in a wide jar and mix well. Cover the jar with a cloth.
For 2-3 days stir the concoction every time you happen to be in the kitchen.
On day 3 add equal parts of flour and water once a day, and stir.
Points to remember:
-The starter should smell like bread, with a slight acidic hint. If the starter smells musty or moldy throw it away and start over.
-Over time, the yeast population in your starter will change to reflect the dominant yeast in your area. Virtually every living fruit or grain contains yeast, and those yeasts will eventually take over.
-Keep the starter covered with a breathable cloth. The cloth will keep insects out, but still allow your starter to release carbon dioxide.
-The yeast grows quickest at temps between 70 and 100 degrees. The water you add needs to be warm, but not hot.
-Yeast needs two things to grow: flour and water. Add a small amount of flour and water (1-2 Tbs) in equal proportions every day to keep the colony strong, but you can go up to a week without feeding.
-If you’ll have a prolonged absence, your starter will freeze well. When it’s time to unthaw, put it in the fridge for 2-3 days and then refresh with flour and water.
-A byproduct of yeast is acetic and lactic acid. This lowers the pH of the starter, and makes it next to impossible for other bacteria to grow.
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter (add flour and water to your existing starter at least 8 hours before pancake time).
2 Tbs cooking oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
Additional water as necessary (see recipe for details)
1/2 tsp baking soda
Preheat pan over medium heat (target temp of 375-400 degrees).
Combine all the ingredients except for the baking soda and additional water and mix well in a bowl with plenty of “headroom. (Headroom is the distance between your mixture and the top of the bowl).
Add enough water until drops of batter drizzled into the dough make dimples.
Right before you pour the batter into your pan/griddle, add the baking soda and quickly mix. The batter will grow quickly, up to twice its original volume.
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup of dry mashed potato flakes
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp table salt
1 cup flour plus 1/4 cup for dusting as you roll the pasta
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs of fresh minced sage (or 2 tsp dry rubbed sage)
Juice from one half a lemon (or 4 tsp lemon juice from concentrate)
1/2 cup of quartered whole mushrooms
Put a stockpot at least 6 quarts big on the stove and heat on high
While the water is warming up, combine pumpkin, potato flakes, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and egg. Mix well.
Add the flour to the pumpkin mixture and mix until combined.
Split the dough into 4 portions, and roll out each portion into a long “worm” about 1/2″ thick.
Cut the worms into 1″ lengths. Using the tines of a fork, gently drag the fork tines across the top of each 1″ length, creating divots in the gnocchi.
In a shallow frypan over medium heat add the butter and cook until the butter bubbles, and starts to brown.
Add the gnocchi to boiling water.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add sage, mushrooms and lemon juice.
Cook until the mushrooms are tender.
Once the gnocchi starts to float in the boiling water (about 3-4 minutes) remove.
Toss the gnocchi with the citrus butter sauce and enjoy!
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Using kitchen shears, cut the spine out of the chicken.
Place the chicken, skin side down on a cutting board, and push down until keel bone snaps.
Sprinkle the salt on top of the chicken and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Add olive oil to an oven safe frying pan and preheat oil over high heat.
Place the chicken skin side down in the frying pan, taking care to spread the chicken out evenly across the pan.
Place another pan on top of the chicken and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the top of the chicken. Flip the chicken so the skin side is up.
Add the onions and chicken stock to the pan.
Put the pan in the oven and cook until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees. (35-40 minutes).
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting/serving.