Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a cake for fall: brown butter and toasted pecan

Always watch the sugar. 

That voice that tells you, when you put sugar in a dry pan on high heat, "Just go into the other room for just a moment, just turn away for a minute, you won't forget about the sugar, just leave it for a second, it'll be fine." That voice is a liar. Maybe you don't hear that voice, maybe you are better at recognizing that the voice is wrong, maybe you stay with your sugar. I listened. And of course I didn't come right back, of course I forgot there was sugar in a pan over an open flame cranked up to eleven. I started grabbing recipes, assembling supplies, puttering. By the time I remembered the sugar, my apartment was full of smoke. Can't-see-across-the-room kind of smoke. And the sugar wasn't just burnt, it was on fire. Flame actually leaping out of the pan: a blackened, charred, disgusting sugar inferno.  

And then all the fire alarms went off. In the whole building. On a Saturday morning. No one in the building could turn the fire alarms off, so the firepeople had to come, in a great big firetruck just to turn off the alarm. I'm pretty sure everyone who lives in my building hates me now.

So watch the sugar. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

toffee with pecans and smoked salt

I'm working on few recipes for food gifts that I can make and package for Christmas presents. This pecan toffee is definitely on the list. They are pretty quick and easy to make and very tasty. They store well, so you can make them a little in advance if you wish. Store them in the fridge or somewhere cool. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

keep on hand: preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are great to have around. They are very easy and inexpensive to make, but quite expensive to buy. Whenever I see them for sale a teeny jar costs $10-15.  You will feel very smug when you have homemade preserved lemons and you see those fancy expensive ones in shops. They also make an excellent last minute host gift if you keep an extra jar or two in the fridge. 

Preserved lemons add this wonderful salty, bright boost to all sorts of dishes. I like to puree them  into salad dressing and hummus, mince them and rub onto fish or stick a whole preserved lemon inside a chicken I'm roasting. They are traditionally used in North African cooking, but they are very versatile and I find they work well with all sorts of different flavours, especially feta, halloumi, mint, garlic and chilies.