Sufganiyot

Hanukkah gets short shrift around here, even though we always got Ru and Otis in on the act in years past (much to their chagrin). Gil really only observes the high holidays, and our nieces live in the midwest, so Christmas is more of a thing with the NJ Roths. But since it’s the holiday of fried food — something I can definitely get behind with my own roots — we’d be remiss not to devote one day during Sweets Week to something appropriate for the season.

While latkes are understandably popular snacks associated with Hanukkah, sufganiyot captured my heart some time ago, as any jelly donut will. Darcie found a terrific recipe at Bon Appetit/Epicurious that turned out delicious, not-too-sweet sweets, just perfect to share with you today.

Bacon Pralines

I know, I know. It’s gimmicky. Been done to death. Horribly unhealthy, etc. And I’m really not one to indiscriminately add bacon to things — especially sweets — but it’s something I always suspected might be worth the indulgence, so I’m not sorry for this praline adulteration. Not one bit.

I used my dad’s recipe for pralines and simply swapped out a portion of the pecans for an equal amount of chopped, cooked bacon. The results were pretty much what you’d expect. But if you’re a purist, you can’t go wrong with the original recipe. Just serve a little bacon on the side.

Find Darcie’s post here, and let us know what you think if you decide to try these!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Bacon Pralines

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly
If you're looking for a dessert that's a little bit different, these bacon pralines will fit the bill. Deliciously.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 16 Large marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon (finely chopped)

Note

If you'd prefer a regular praline to one loaded with bacon, simply remove the bacon and add another 1/2 cup of toasted pecan halves to the recipe, then sprinkle pralines with Maldon or other finishing salt just after you've spooned them onto the surface to cool.

Directions

Prepare your surface by covering a heat-safe area of your counter or a table with freezer paper. Spray paper well with cooking spray.
Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans and bacon. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 240° F. Remove pot from burner, add vanilla extract and beat mixture vigorously with a spoon until it begins to thicken. This will ensure the pralines don't spread too much.
Drop mixture by tablespoon or two onto greased freezer paper. Cool to room temperature before serving.

 

2016 Advent Calendar — Brigadieros

Assorted Brigadieros

Hello, it’s nice to see you again! I thought I’d jump back into blogging with both feet, so welcome to this year’s Advent Calendar, a joint effort with my friend and local food stylist, Darcie Hunter. In addition to her beautiful styling work, Darcie’s an excellent cook and a recipe developer, so we thought it’d be a lot of fun to collaborate on the calendar for this trip around the sun. For the next 25 days, you’ll get holiday posts, recipes and gift ideas when you visit either of our websites.

We’ve decided to break up the month into weekly categories to bring a little more organization to this endeavor than you’ve seen in years past. Today through Sunday, we’ll have gift ideas for family and friends (including those of the four-legged/furry variety). Starting next Monday we’ll bring you seven days of drinks, followed by a week of small bites, then a strong finish for Christmas week with sweet treats to enjoy while waiting for Santa.

So let’s get started, shall we? Our first gift to you is a recipe for Brigadieros, little Brazilian candies with a caramel base that can be customized to fit your tastes. These are fun to make with the kiddos and package well in a small tin for thoughtful, homemade gifts.

We hope you enjoy them. For the rest of the Advent Calendar, you can follow along here for my daily posts and check out Darcie’s posts at her website, Gourmet Creative. We’ll also be sharing to our Instagram feeds, @amyrothphoto and @darcie_hunter, so there will be no shortage of ways to find us each day.

Now, let’s get to cooking! We’ll see you again tomorrow.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Brigadieros

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
Occasion Christmas
These Brazilian caramel candies are simple to prepare and make a beautiful packaged gift.

Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa per batch (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon gingerbread or pumpkin spice (optional)
  • sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, cocoa powder (optional)

Note

I've listed a few suggested flavorings and coatings as optional in the ingredients, so pair up the ones that sound good to you — cocoa with chocolate sprinkles, coconut extract with coconut flakes, etc. — or make up your own! And if you find a great combination, please be sure to let me know in the comments section.

Directions

Pour the sweetened condensed milk and butter into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, stirring continually to avoid burning. The mixture will thicken and darken. You will know it is ready when a spoon dragged through the mixture separates the caramel for a few seconds.
Remove from the heat and stir in flavorings as desired. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, scoop out small spoonfuls and roll into balls. Immediately coat in toppings such as sprinkles or nuts. Place finished Brigadieros in small candy cups and serve, or package in cute boxes for gift-giving.

Holiday Treats, Part II

…and a side of insulin.

I’ll continue to post about pralines every year because they really are one of my favorite things of the season. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I have my first bite. After my 20th bite, it just feels like I need a nap.

Creamy Pralines

After making several batches of these in one weekend, I have a few tips to ensure success. First, spray the waxed paper very well; these are sticky suckers that need the lubrication. Second, don’t bother with the candy thermometer until about 5 minutes after you’ve added the pecans; it really just gets in the way and the mixture won’t come up to temperature before that. Third, after you’ve added the vanilla extract, beat the praline batter vigorously until it really begins to thicken and your arm is getting tired. If you spoon them out too soon, they’ll spread too much, which leads to thin pralines that take up far too much counter space.

2 cups white sugar
1 stick butter
16 large marshmallows
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
finishing salt

Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F. (I always go to 240 degrees. The end result is much better at the higher end of the range.) Remove from burner. Add vanilla and beat until mixture thickens. Drop by tablespoon or two onto greased waxed paper. While still hot, sprinkle with finishing salt.

Yield: 48 small pralines or 15 large.

From the Market: Weeks 9 & 10

peach ice cream

The word of the week was peaches. They’re my favorite fruit-as-fruit (with tomatoes as my favorite fruit-as-vegetable), so I’ve been heading to the farmers’ market even more eagerly on Saturday mornings than usual. The peaches have been spilling over, so apart from being eaten out of hand, mixed with yogurt for breakfast, atop salads and in salsas, they made a command performance in the quintessential summer dessert — peach ice cream (using my Aunt’s recipe for the custard base).

And because I love nothing more than gilding the lily, raspberry-blueberry coulis really set this off, providing a tart counterpoint to the smooth sweetness of the ice cream. It’s really simple to make, too. Just throw 2-3 handfuls of berries into a small saucepan, add a little sugar (I used about a tablespoon of vanilla sugar) and some lemon juice. Cook it over medium heat until the berries break down and the sauce starts to thicken. Cool, and use it to top whatever comes to mind.

Peaches from Treelicious Orchards and Orchards of Conklin and berries from the latter.

We’ve been eating out a bit lately, discovering new dishes and supporting new restaurants, which resulted in haunted dreams of Picnic‘s truffled corn chowder and the urge to create my own summer dish. Since buying a truffle is hard to justify as part of an experimental dish for only Gil and myself, I went in a completely different (read: cheaper) direction while still keeping it in the chowder family. What I came up with was nothing like Picnic’s masterpiece, but it was a worthy addition to my repertoire. Here’s what I did to make Smoked Corn Chowder.

It started with meat, as you probably knew it would. I scored the skin of two duck breast halves, gave them a good all-over coating of my beef rub, then left them uncovered in the fridge for a few hours before firing up the smoker. To keep the corn from overcooking (and to take advantage of the delicious duck fat that would be rendering from the breasts), I placed two shucked ears of corn on the lower level of my Weber Smokey Mountain (just above the water pan) and the duck breasts in the center of the top rack.

Before I go any farther, you should know that Gil takes whatever’s put in front of him with equanimity, typically. He keeps his head down and eats whatever I make without much censure or praise, no matter the how I feel about what’s on the plate. But these duck breasts earned the title The Best Thing Ever from him. (Take that as you will.) And they were awfully good, even if the skin didn’t get entirely crispy, which turned out to be a good thing for the chowder.

To take advantage of that extra fat on the smoked breasts, I devised a workable solution: I’d chop the seasoned fat from 1/2 of a duck breast and render it in place of bacon in the chowder. When the skin had crisped and given up as much fat as possible, I set it aside to use as garnish for the finished soup. The rest of the chowder was a pretty standard affair, but the smoked corn and slight hint of duck really added something special to it.

with crispy duck skin

I liked the proportion of smoked corn to fresh — the smoke wasn’t overwhelming, but gave the silky chowder a depth it doesn’t usually have. Feel free to play with amounts for more or less of the smoky goodness.

I assume Gil agreed, because we ate it all in one sitting. Nom, indeed.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Weeks 9 & 10”

Ice cream!

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We’ve had a weird spring-into-summer around here. It’s easier to appreciate freakishly cool days now that we’re nearing the end of July, but it was tough going for a couple of months, when the sun kept to itself and seasonal cooking seemed like a faintly-remembered dream. The dreary weather even convinced me that this drink would be a perfectly refreshing and appropriate summer quaff, but when corn debuted at the farmers’ market two weeks ago, warmer weather did too, and any desire to sip on a hot beverage went right out the window.

Despite the thermometer’s reluctance to get with the game, I’ve been experimenting with different ice creams this “summer,” and mostly successfully. (We won’t discuss last weekend’s vegan debacle — it never happened, you hear me?) My latest version was an attempt to 1) rejigger the sweet corn and milk drink into a frozen dessert, and 2) use ingredients already in my house (goat’s milk yogurt) instead of going to the store (for the standard stuff). By combining recipes, I ended up with a frozen yogurt I’ll quite happily nom on all week. The best part is that it’s so well-balanced — not too sweet, not too goaty, not too corny — that each ingredient complements the others without overpowering them.

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My earlier attempts at ice cream-making actually involved ice cream, not frozen yogurt. Imagine!

My favorite ice cream since I was a little girl has been my godmother’s cherry vanilla (though her banana version was a very close second). K&B had excellent cherry vanilla as well, but they’re gone, pecan, so I kept it in the family and asked my dad to get my aunt’s recipe the next time he saw her. After making both cherry vanilla and banana versions, I’m really happy to say it wasn’t just an exalted memory, but that this ice cream really is that good … so good that peach probably isn’t too far away. I just need to make sure the weather holds up.

Better get to it before an early autumn arrives.

090705_cherryvan

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “Ice cream!”

Da posto

Time passed, and it was decreed that cook eat FRET needed a little root work, and thus made her pilgrimage to New York. She’s the outgoing sort who has food-blogger friends from all over the country (world, at this point?), so Gil and I met up with her, Zen Can Cook and Colloquial Cooking for dinner at Del Posto Friday night. Thursday Night Smackdown was unable to make it, so we feasted on her portion of the lardo that came around with the bread basket, and I’ll blame her when my skinny jeans no longer fit.

Our dinner companions were everything you could ask for — friendly, smart and talented, and honestly just lovely people, all-around. I’ll leave a review of the food to them, but must put in a plug for my dessert, the Sfera di Caprino, Celery & Fig Agrodolce & Celery Sorbetto, as the menu so mouthwateringly puts it. Delicious and unusual. Probably not something I’ll try to duplicate even in the slightest, but if someone out there would like to do the honors, I would not complain if you got back to me with your recipe.

Grazie!

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It has been brought to my attention (though it hadn’t really escaped my notice) that I don’t post often enough. But that’s not entirely true; just check my guest post at TNS for evidence.

090426_trout_raw

But I do have a couple of things from last weekend that are sitting in my drafts folder collecting pixel-dust, so maybe the criticism is justified. It’s really a shame, because this meal could only have been better if I’d caught the trout myself minutes before firing up the (brand new) grill. But without access to decent trout streams here, I thought Whole Foods would be an acceptable substitute. I stuffed the fish with thin lemon slices and sprigs of thyme just before grilling — simple preparations are perfect with fresh trout. Dinner was on the table about 15 minutes later, served with an avocado, tomato and red onion salad, and grilled asparagus on the side. It’s that time of year, after all.

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Hey Cecily, you asked what I could do with limes…does this work?

090503_cookie

Cornmeal cookies with lime glaze, inspired by the same at Amy’s Bread. These were a little crispier and less cakey than the originals, but were still just my kind of cookie — crumbly, crunchy, sweet/tart and completely lacking in chocolate.

090426_cookiesbaked

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And just for you, Claire — more Rufus pictures:

090426_ru_nose

The thing about a greyhound is, it’s really hard to get the nose and eyes in focus at the same time if your camera isn’t on a tripod.

090426_ru_eyes

But the boy really knows how to relax.

090426_ru_grimace

And I could learn a thing or two about patience from him.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Da posto”

It’s a neighborly day in the neighborhood

I’m a terrible neighbor. Oh, I don’t let Rufus pockmark neighbors’ yards with calling cards or have crazy drink-till-dawn parties or have a car on blocks in the front yard, but I’ve found other less obvious ways to be a bad person.

Those of you who are lucky enough to be in warmer climates at the moment might not have heard, but it’s cold here. Negative wind chill cold. Unacceptably cold. AND it snowed like a sonofabitch last weekend. So we’re all miserable, is what I’m getting at. When it snows over the weekend, Gil and I sometimes shovel the driveway, but more often he just drives over the snow in his Honda Element and we don’t think too much about it. Last weekend, however, in the midst of all the wintery misery, our neighbor came over with his snow blower to take care of the dirty work for us.

As he was doing his thing, I looked over at our fruit bowl and noticed a few blackened bananas there just begging to be made into banana bread. So I dug out my version of a Cooking Light recipe and got to work on some bread for this wonderful, generous man.

And when it came out of the oven, I took a few pictures.

And then we sampled a slice just to make sure it was gift-worthy, which of course, rendered the entire loaf un-gift-worthy.

And those being the last of our bananas, there was no thank-you banana bread. Therefore, I am a bad neighbor.

But a happy one.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “It’s a neighborly day in the neighborhood”