October 11, 2005
Caramel Apple Happiness
Melting pot Harlem- Harlem of honey and chocolate and caramel and rum and vinegar and lemon and lime and gall. ~ Langston Hughes
Caramel and candy apples are treats that we tend to give up in adulthood because eating them is just a pain in the ass. When we're kids we don't care that caramel is getting in our hair or smearing our lipstick to our ears...but well, grown up prissy sluts do mind. We've got far more naughty activities to contemplate that will smear our make-up.
For those of you out there who will be hosting parties for grown-ups, there is a nifty way to preserve caramel apple happiness for your party guests without making them messy.
You should figure 1/2 apple per guest if serving as hors d'oeuvres or 1 apple per guest if serving as dessert. I prefer very firm and tart granny smith apples, but any "eating" apple will do.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 dash kosher salt
1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon double-strength vanilla
(Each of these should be placed is a separate disposable pie tin or shallow bowl)
crushed candy pieces
crushed cookie pieces
I. Prepare Caramel Dip
Melt butter in 2-qt saucepan; add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Mix vigorously. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until mixture comes to a full boil. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes with frequent stirring until mixture reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer (firm-ball stage in a cold water candy test - 20 to 25 minutes). Stir in the vanilla and then immediately remove from heat.
Note: My Grammy's recipe calls for a "candy corn sized dab" of paraffin to be melted into the mixture, but I believe this is for caramel candy squares and not dipping caramel.
II. Prepare Apple Wedges
Fill a large bowl with 1 quart of cool water. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice (fresh squeezed is better). Stir lightly. The water is now acidulated and will prevent sliced apples from browning.
Rise off and core 3 or 4 large granny smith apples and cut into wedge slices. Immediately place slices in the bowl of acidulated water. It's best not to do too many apples at once because over-soaking will make the apples mushy.
III. Dip Apple Wedges
Pat apple wedges dry with a paper towel and spear upon a long toothpick. Dip first in caramel and then into the fixins of your preference.
Set onto wax paper covered tray. Will keep well in a cool place overnight, but best kept in the fridge.
To serve as hors d'oeuvres, keep on Halloween colored toothpicks and arrange on tray.
To serve as a dessert, make up as kabobs by slipping four slices onto Halloween themed swizzle sticks. Best served with Carmel Apple Cocktails (1 oz DeKuyper® Sour Apple Pucker schnapps + 1 shot caramel liqueur + 1/2 cup chilled apple cider).
So endth my Martha Stewart entry for the year.
March 25, 2005
Spare Time and Dirty Water
You would be referring to the flute fetish band geek, who made me her bitch, and ditched me after prom. ~ American Pie II
Geeks with spare time are fun. They do things like this:
The problem is that apparently, they also drink stuff like:
March 24, 2005
Secret's in the Sauce
The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell. ~ Andrew Carnegie
I need a good brand of Oyster Sauce. The only brand carried by my local market tastes like ass (and I mean that in a bad way). I need a recommend. Hello? Cooking people? Ray? Moriarty? Anyone?
March 11, 2005
Life Is Like a Buddha of Chocolates
It's not that chocolates are a substitute for love. Love is a substitute for chocolate. Chocolate is, let's face it, far more reliable than a man. ~ Miranda Ingram
Chocolate Deities ROCKS! The chocolate is above average (I'd call it mid to lower Tier 2 -- more on this below) but sometimes food CAN be all about the concept!
My Personal Hierarchy of Chocolate:
#1. There are some European chocolates that are just sublime. I call these my Tier One chocolates. Of these, my favorite is Reber. Of Reber, my favorites are the Mozart line. There are other European chocolates, but they get very expensive.
#2. Tier Two is American/Americanized chocolates that are far above par. This tier is the majority of my chocolate eating palate. Godiva gets a lot of press, but they're not my best. My vote always goes to Ghirardelli. They're based out of San Fran and their caramel-filled squares and dark chocolate is heaven. Also included here is DeBrand, and Scharffen Berger and I don't think they make anything that isn't yummy. The bottom of Tier 2 would be like Ferrero Rocher and Fannie May.
#3. Tier three is reserved for stuff which is nummy and not very expensive but still really good to keep in the freezer for emergencies. I would include Dove and Symphony here (and Cadbury caramel eggs). I find that this stuff is largely unacceptable unless it has stuff like toffee chips and almonds put into the mix ;-)
#4. The very bottom tier is for candy-bar type chocolate. Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, Kit Kat, Twix, Whatchamacallit. Those things. Edible in an emergency.
Come On, Baby, Light My Fire
Fire that's closest kept burns most of all. ~ Willy Shakes
I want a kitchen torch. Primarily because I want to learn to make crème brulée, but also because I am always looking for creative ways to set things on fire.
Problem is there are about 10,000 kitchen torches on the market, so someone hit me with the one they recommend, please.
March 10, 2005
Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage. ~ Woody Allen
Every so often, there are culinary delights that are labeled to be "better than sex." This is what I and those like-minded individuals in my circle refer to as "food porn." There are certain chocolate and spice and chocolate and coffee and chocolate merchants that qualify. They know who they are.
My current orgasm-getter is Cuban Food Market.
I am not that far from Miami, relatively speaking, but I have a fucknut of a time getting my hands on Cuban crackers and guava paste to name only a few items.
Oh baby. Oh baby. Oh baby. YEAH that's the spot.
February 24, 2005
One Tough Gazookus Who Hates All Palookas...
Sea Hag don't never tempt me ~ Coolio
I use a lot of olive oil in my cooking. This is largely because the majority of my nourishment is based on Italian recipes. It’s not that I don’t like this new trendy national obsession with Asian food (or fusions of Asian/whatever), it’s just that I’m limited in my capacity. With Italian ingredients, I know what will taste good with what. When I have to throw something together that isn’t exactly following a recipe, I know what compliments what. And I’m constantly winging meals because, well, I’m impatient and forgetful and often key ingredients for one meal or another will not be represented by my pantry.
However, the various olive oil scandals have made me very picky about what olive oil I use these days. Which sounds food snobby. I mean, most people are content to trot down to the local Supermart and grab a bottle of Bertolli and be done with it. Except that there is a somewhat hush-hush scandal regarding Bertolli and other olive oil importers that claims they are diluting their olive oil with Turkish hazelnut oil. So of course I started looking into it and found an FDA study from the 90’s which found that the majority (read: over 90%) of olive oils are diluted with other oils. Bummer. Domestic olive oils (mostly out of California) are also suspect because there are even fewer regulations in place to police US olive oil, and because it’s hard not to notice when you look at the numbers that far more olive oil is produced out of the US than there are olives grown annually. Ooops.
So, I figure the olive oils that have been politic enough to make it to my local grocery store shelf have compromised far too much to be of any actual value. Plus they’re mostly in clear plastic bottles which just won’t do. So, I'm going to try my hand at Bariani (their story here).
Opaque bottle, good background, small company. I figure it's worth dipping my bread into once or twice.