Salted Caramel Almond Cookies

April 27th, 2017

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies 4

I try very hard not to eat sweets.  But there are a few sweets that I can’t resist.  They all seem to have a hint of salt.  Salted dark chocolate is a favorite.  But while we were in Paris a few years ago, I fell in love with salted caramel macarons. The caramel was sweet and smooth. The salt added just the right counterpoint. I have been in love with that combination ever since.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies

Because I have not mastered macarons yet, this recipe for Salted Caramel Almond Cookies fit into my “can do” repertoire. The cookies are buttery and nutty on the outside and richly caramel with a bit of salt at the center.  It hits all of the right taste buds in your mouth.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies 2

As an aside, the worn cutting board that the cookies are on was my Mother’s and my Grandmothers before her.  They both used it to roll out their pie crusts.  It is one of my treasured possessions.

Lake Lure Spring 2

I love Spring at the lake.  We have had lots of rain but a few mornings ago the sun came out and reflected the vibrant spring green of the trees onto the lake.  It was magical.

SALTED CARAMEL ALMOND COOKIES (Bliss Victoria Magazine)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped sliced almonds
Caramel (recipe follows)
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.  Add egg yolks, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, nutmeg, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined.  Roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.

In a separate small bowl, place almonds.

Dip cooke balls in egg whites, letting excess drip off; dredge in almonds to coat. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans.  Using a spoon, make an indentation in center of cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes. carefully press indentations down again; bake until cookies are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.  Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Spoon warm Caramel into indentations in cookies.  Let stand at room temperature until caramel is cool.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Serve immediately, or store in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

CARAMEL

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature

In a large skillet,whisk together sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is honey-colored, about 10 minutes. (Mine took longer).  Add butter, whisking until melted.  Remove from heat, and gradually whisk in cream until mixture is smooth.  Pour into a heatproof container.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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Antiquing and Crock Pot Potatoes

April 20th, 2017

Crock Pot Potato Wedges

One of the harbingers of Spring for me is my get together with blogging buddy Penny of Enjoying the Simple Things.  While we were shopping my crock pot was ready and waiting to offer these herb flecked potato wedges to accompany David’s grilled meat and a quickly tossed salad.

Antique shopping

Our first stop on our antiquing outing is always The Screen Door.  It is one of our favorite antique malls for unique finds.  This wire wall hanging was tempting, but we passed on it.

Antique shopping

We saw this Chateauneuf du-pape bucket at another place.  I am now thinking that I should have bought this.  I can just see it filled with greenery or fresh or dried flowers.

Fig Pappardelle

Shopping works up at appetite and we always have lunch on the patio of Fig, our favorite French bistro. I ordered the very un-French Pappardelle Bolognese.  It was creamy and studded with delicious sausage.

Fig Salmon

Penny ordered the salmon with potatoes and fresh peas drizzled with a mustard cream sauce.  Fig does the best job with salmon.  It is always flaky and cooked to perfection.

Crock Pot Potato Wedges

It was good to come home to these tender and tasty potato wedges.  This recipe is good for a crowd too.  I love recipes that cook themselves so I can concentrate on other parts of a meal.

CROCK POT POTATO WEDGES (The Magical Slow Cooker)

  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes (about 8 cups after being cut)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • more parmesan for serving
  1. Wash and cut the potatoes into wedges. Add to the slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. Pour this over the potatoes and stir. Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.
  2. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
  3. Sprinkle with additional cheese for serving if desired.

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Easter Bread

April 12th, 2017

Easter Bread

We will be spending Easter with out family in Cary, NC.  There are so many memories in my mind of growing up with Easter traditions. The cute dress accessorized with hat and gloves, the Easter egg hunt, and the clove spiked ham on the table.  Things have changed somewhat from my 50’s memories.  Now we can attend church in whatever suites us; no gloves, no hat necessary. But this year I did buy a polished cotton flowered dress with coordinating sweater to celebrate the season.  At my age, I even might add a jaunty hat.  Our kids are on a trip right before the weekend, so I am not sure what our Easter dinner will entail. We may be eating out.  But I had to contribute something.  This bread came about because I had some leftover King Arthur baker’s cinnamon filling mix.  But don’t worry if you don’t have the mix.  You can get the same results with 1/2 cup softened butter mixed with 1 cup of brown sugar and 4 to 5 tablespoons of cinnamon.

Easter Bread

The bread looks complicated, but following the very simple directions you end up with a layered yeast bread with cinnamon swirls, bananas and dried pineapple.  The bananas and dried pineapple work well in this bread.  It is amazing toasted with the warm banana chunks and pineapple melting in your mouth.

Easter Bread

Whatever you have planned for your Easter holiday, I wish you well and encourage you to try this lovely bread from King Arthur Flour.  Have a great Easter weekend.

EASTER BREAD (King Arthur Flour)

This unusual sweet bread is stuffed with bananas and pineapple, plus rich cinnamon filling. The concept comes to us courtesy of Ricardo Neves Gonzalez, one of our Brazilian readers, who makes it at his bakery. Thanks, Ricardo!

Dough

  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup lukewarm water*
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • *Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

Filling

  • 3/4 cup Baker’s Cinnamon Filling ( Or recipe in post using 3/4 cups.  No water)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2/3 cup diced dried pineapple

Topping

Directions

  1. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, until you have a soft, smooth dough.
  2. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.
  3. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
  4. Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle about 18″ x 14″.
  5. Make the cinnamon filling: Mix the Baker’s Cinnamon Filling and water to make a smooth paste.
  6. Looking at the dough horizontally (so it’s 18″ long), spread half the filling down the center third of the dough
  7. Slice each banana into about 12 rounds. Space the slices atop the filling.
  8. Fold one of the end pieces into the center to cover the bananas and filling.
  9. Spread the remaining filling atop the piece of dough you’ve just folded into the center, and distribute the dried pineapple evenly atop the filling.
  10. Fold the other side of the dough over the filling to cover it. Pull the long side seam underneath, and tuck each end underneath, too. You should have a long, flat log with no filling showing.
  11. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 diagonal slashes atop the loaf, cutting through both layers of dough; this will allow steam to escape.
  12. Brush with the beaten egg white, and sprinkle with the coarse or Demerara sugar.
  13. Cover the loaf gently with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 1 hour. It won’t rise much, if at all. Towards the end of the resting period, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  14. Bake the loaf in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Tent with foil, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, till it’s golden brown and a sharp knife poked into the center doesn’t reveal any raw dough.
  15. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.
  16. Yield: 1 large loaf, about 16 servings.

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Deviled Eggs with Bacon Jam

April 4th, 2017

Deviled Eggs with Bacon Jam

We attended our friend’s Celebration of Life event last weekend.  It was a perfect remembrance of Karen, replete with her favorite food and music.  Shrimp and grits were passed in small mason jars with spoons. Kentucky fried chicken legs in the signature buckets centered one table.  Oysters, crab cakes and biscuits adorned another table.  But my favorite food offering was the deviled eggs with bacon jam.

Deviled Eggs with Bacon Jam

With Easter approaching, I can’t think of a better choice for your holiday table.  I have been wanting to make bacon jam for quite a while.  It is actually very easy and can even be done in the crock pot. Bacon, in combination with strong coffee, brown sugar, vinegar and maple syrup cooked to a jam consistency is a unique experience. There are so many uses for it too.  Slather it on hamburgers, use as a topping for crostini, add to grilled cheese sandwiches or top deviled eggs as I did.  Store the leftover jam in mason jars in the refrigerator.

Deviled eggs with bacon Jam

This is so good that we are having a hard time stopping before we eat the entire tray.  Spring is in the air and these deviled eggs are perfect for Easter.

BACON JAM ( Leite’s Culinaria )

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into smallish dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real deal, please)

DIRECTIONS

  • 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned and crisp, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towel-lined plates to drain.
  • 2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from the skillet. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the coffee, vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the bacon and stir to combine.
  • 3. If making this on a stovetop, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If making this in a slow-cooker, transfer the mixture to a 6-quart slow-cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  • 4. Let the bacon concoction cool slightly before transferring it to a food processor and pulsing until coarsely chopped. Spoon the bacon lusciousness into individual jars or other resealable containers and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Transfer to a pan and rewarm gently over low heat prior to indulging.  Makes 3 cups.

Serve with your favorite deviled egg recipe

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Herbed Brown Rice Stuffing

March 28th, 2017

Herbed Brown Rice

Brown rice has never been a favorite in our house.  But its nutritional value is so much better than white rice.  I was going through my stash of ancient Gourmet Magazines the other day and found this recipe for Herbed Brown Rice Stuffing to accompany a roasted chicken.  We had just gotten home from our 6 weeks in Florida and cooking was not high on my “to do” list. I put the rice on to cook (It takes 40 minutes), headed for the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and finished the additions to the rice when I got home.

Herbed Brown Rice Casserole

The boring brown rice was transformed with the addition of roasted red peppers, chopped vegetables, bacon, tomato paste, parsley and chicken broth.  Plus, we had enough to go with our pork chops for the next night.

New York 2

I lost a friend last month.  So many memories.  We went on a girls’ trip to New York City a few years ago and posed for this picture in the “Friends” fountain in Central Park.  Karen (center), you will live on in our hearts always.

HERBED BROWN-RICE STUFFING ( Gourmet Magazine May 1992 )

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 rib of celery, chopped fine
1 small green pepper, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
7 ounce jar roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained and puréed in a food processor
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion greens
4 cups cooked brown rice

In a heavy saucepan cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and transfer it with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.  In the fat remaining in the pan cook the onion, the celery, the bell pepper, and the garlic over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, add the red pepper purée, the tomato paste, and the broth, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until it is thickened.  In a bowl stir together the vegetable mixture, the bacon, the parsley, the scallion, the rice, and salt and pepper to taste, transfer the stuffing to a baking dish, and heat it in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until it is hot.  Serves 4 to 6.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.