Brittle

cashew, macadamia nut, almond and coconut brittle with fleur de sel and cayenne

How can something so delicious be so easy to make?  I would have been making brittle for years if I knew I could do it in under 30 minutes.  I might have made it earlier, except that, I had no cravings for brittle until now.  I am not quite sure what inspired me suddenly perusing the internet for brittle recipes, but once I did, I had to make some, but make some my way.

pumpkin seed, almond, pine nut brittle with red chile

“My way” meaning, it needed a bit of spice, a kick if you will and something to balance out the sweetness. I really don’t have a sweet tooth, but if something sweet is balanced with something salty and has a bit of spice too, I am in. I recently made some caramel truffles with fleur de sel and that is what likely set me on my way, the fleur de sel. It was a perfect end to a bite of delight. If it worked for chocolate, it will work for brittle too.   And it did.

I made a triple batch for starters, as the effort seemed too much for one cup of nuts. After that, I went a little crazy and did some smaller experimental batches. Two of those and then one more triple batch a week later as I had a lot of nuts and needed more brittle to give away for gifts.

First batch: Pumpkin seed, pine nut, almond brittle with NM red chile and fleur de sel
Second batch: Macadamia nut, almond, coconut brittle with cayenne and fleur de sel
Third batch:Coconut cardamom cayenne brittle with fleur de sel – for a friend with nut allergies.
Fourth batch: Cashew, macadamia, almond and coconut brittle with cayenne and fleur de sel.

Coconut cardamom cayenne brittle macadamia nut, almond, coconut brittle with cayenne

I think I can take a week off from brittling now. Yes, I know, I just made a word up. Every once in a while you just have to make a word up.
First, toast your nuts, or not, I like a toasted nut better, but you don’t have to.  These are pre-toasting.  I won’t show you the pic of the post toast. Needless to say, I severely burned the nuts I roasted for the first batch and had to re-roast. I am pretty good at burning nuts thanks to my uneven heating oven.  They went to the squirrels.  The second post toast I have no photos of.

nuts for toasting for brittle

Brittle with Fleur De Sel and Cayenne

3 cups nuts of your choice or unsweetened dried coconut
3 TBS chilled diced unsalted butter
3 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp fleur de sel
1/2 tsp cayenne – more or less to taste – I like it hot.
3 cups sugar
1.5 cups water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (keeps the sugar from seizing)

candy thermometer or temperature probe if you have one – it’s not necessary, just easier

Toast your nuts if you are a nut toaster. If you have a silpat, get two or three of those out and place them on your counter overlapping. If not, use three large cookie sheet size sheets of foil, over lap them slightly and butter them lightly with unsalted butter. The silpat needs no butter. In a bowl, combine nuts, diced butter, baking soda, fleur de sel and cayenne pepper. In a 3 quart pot, add your sugar, water and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil and let it cook until it is an amber color – this will be around 350F to 370F if you have a thermometer. It takes much longer to get to this point with this triple batch than with 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup water. Ten to 20 minutes. No need to stir the sugar mixture, but I can’t help myself, so I do. As soon as the color starts to darken, be on red alert and ready to go in an instant. Once it appears to be the color of honey or medium amber, cut the heat and immediately stir in the nut mixture, stir fast and stir hard. The mixture will sizzle and bubble up and act very excited in a happy way. Once incorporated, start pouring it out on to the buttered foil and spread as fast and thin as you can.  Admire your work and let it cool while you clean the pot. The easiest way to clean the pot and spoon is to fill the pot back up with water and bring it to a boil. Sugar of course dissolves in water. No scrubbing. No work.
Once the brittle is cooled, about 10 minutes more or less, you can start breaking it up into whatever size pieces you want. This brittle will keep in a sealed container for at least a month if your nuts were fresh. Try making it last that long, I dare you. Make sure you give some to your dentist, just in case you eat too much of it.

cashew, macadamia nut, almond and coconut brittle with fleur de sel and cayenne

i’m out

Thanksgiving week Menu Swap: sweet potatoes

heritage turkeys

Sea of Book of Yum is hosting the swap this week and has chosen sweet potatoes as the ingredient.  It took me a long time to realize that sweet potatoes are great.  As a kid they were always coated in marshmallows and brown sugar, not having a sweet tooth and not liking marshmallows much, the dish was never for me.  I really like sweet potatoes in a more savory dish.  Or in sweet potato fries.  Speaking of fries, that reminds me that soon we will start a new post series called Deep Fry Fridays, although I seem to deep fry more on Thursdays for the record.  Friday rhymes better.  Since we celiacs typically can’t eat any deep fried foods in restaurants because of cross contamination, I thought I would push our limits and have a deep fry fest month.  I am thinking January might do.  That gets us safely behind the busy holiday season, albeit everyone seems to diet in January.  Deep frying doesn’t have to be super fattening.  Sauteeing can be just as bad.  So stay tuned for some great ideas to dip into your fryer.  Send your suggestions this way too.  We will do a menu round up and see what is frying around the country.

Saturday: Porchetta, leftover from the freezer, ancho chile, cilantro new potatoes, roasted broccoli

Sunday: Szechuan beef (using our grass fed beef) and broccoli stir fry

Monday:  Pizza!!  I will be trying out Whole Foods 365 GF pizza crust mix.

Tuesday: Chicken ala Veracruzana from one of Rick Bayless’s books, arepas (chicken raised by my brother)

Wednesday:Grilled salmon, ethnicity to be determined, sides to be determined.  Leaving this one up in the air for now.  Maybe an Indian theme.

Thursday:  Thanksgiving!  Our menu this year is mostly based on Gourmet’s Come Together menu, very modern Mexican/New Mexican.

Apps: shrimp cocktail with cilantro and lime, chipotle meatballs, guacamole, chips and fresh salsa using my canned tomatoes and adding fresh cilantro, onion and serranos.

Salad: Clementine Jicama Salad

Main course and sides:mango salsa with pomegranate, spiced roasted sweet potatoes, adobo turkey with red-chile gravy (brined and charcoal grilled), corn-bread and chorizo stuffing, poblano potato gratin, green beans with a brown butter shallot sauce, center cut pork loin with rib on the rotisserie (with my homemade Mexican rub), rice (to go with the gravy),  and cranberry sauce (you have to have it)

Desserts:lattice apple pie with mexican brown sugar (although GF it probably won’t be latticed), chocolate cinnamon cream pie, with Pamela’s chocolate cookies used as the crust vs graham crackers, Haagen Daz Swiss Vanilla Rum ice cream

No, I am not cooking all of it, a good friend of mine and her hubby are bringing the meatballs, the stuffing and apple pie and making them all GF, another set of good friends (my aunt and uncle) are bringing sweet potatoes to roast and cranberries.  Both are bringing lots of wine. Both are coming from far away to join us.

Localvore part: We are using our ground pork in the meatballs, skipping the veal, the heritage turkey raised by my brother, the pork loin that we helped raise and butcher, tomatoes that I raised and canned, apples from the farm, potatoes from the farm and all garlic used is from my brother and sister in law.  The tortilla chips are made localy in Ann Arbor and are addictive. Oh, and our bubbly and several wines are local from LMawby Vineyards and 45, a new winery in Suttons Bay, both with great winemakers.

Friday : Brunch with the house guests: Sausage and Egg Casserole with slow roasted tomatoes and mozzarella (using pomodori al forno tomatoes instead of sundried) – this is naturally GF and I made it years ago and finally found the recipe again, recovery bloody marys, home roasted coffee.

Dinner:  Pork Pozole Party: our good friend Dan is in town (as well as our Thanksgiving guests) and we are hosting a party for him so that he has a chance to see everyone.  Pozole sounded like a tasty crowd pleaser and is comfort food for me when it is cold out and it is already cold cold cold out.  Radishes, shredded cabbage and onion for toppings.  We will use our pork for the pozole and red chiles from NM.  Margaritas will flow.

So, a wonderful week is on it’s way and once again, we have a lot to be thankful for!  Happy Thankgiving to all of you!

pigs and apples Ginger with her sides of porkour thanksgiving turkeyheritage turkeys purple potatoes in the gardenripe ready to can tomatoes garden fingerling potatoes apples apples

i’m out

Menu of the Week: Onions

I consider onions to be a staple, along with tomatoes.  I use almost a bag of onions a week.  Onions are very healthy for you and full of fiber and of course delicious.

This week’s menu swap is hosted by Manda at Asparagus Thin so make sure you check out her menu and blog as well as all the other menu posts.  This week’s ingredient is onions.

Saturday:  Grilled wild caught Sockeye Salmon with dill and garlic and a dill horseradish yogurt sauce and creamed spinach (with onions).

Sunday:  Over at a friends for grilled leg of lamb

Monday:  On the road 🙁 for work, of course.  All these night meetings mess with my cooking routine.  Maybe I will pack a waffle turkey sandwich.  I really like using waffles for sandwich bread.

Tuesday:  Italian American

Stuffed Shells!  Finally!  I will be stuffing mine with a ricotta and Italian sausage mixture  and topping it off with marinara sauce and some fresh mozzarella.  Onions will certainly be a factor in this dinner.

Wednesday: Indian

Cardamon Chicken with garlic and onions, lemon basmati rice.  Maybe onion pakora if it isn’t too hot out.

Thursday: New Mexican

Green chile harvest!  I will roast them and make a green chile cheese tamale casserole with some red chile sauce on the side.  A side of pinto beans simmered with chipotle, jalapeno and onions sounds good too.

Friday: South American

Bolones de verde (plantains grated and made into a dough and stuffed with cheese) – a snack I had in Ecuador that is actually Colombian and hard to find a recipe so I will be tasting and creating from a memory over 15 years old!  Along with this, grilled grass fed beef ribeye steaks with chimichurri sauce (with onions,  parsley, oregano, cilantro in the sauce).  Some grilled veggies for a side dish.

Happy eating!  Next week I will be in Flagstaff AZ for work for 7 days and will be eating from a college cafeteria and therefore I will not be posting a menu.  I hope simply to survive!

i’m out

Menu of the week: It’s peachy baby!

Unfortunately, being further North than the rest of the GF bloggers leaves MI peachless right now.  We need about one more month before they start showing up at the farmer’s markets.  I don’t have any frozen right now and I don’t care for canned peaches, so perhaps I will sub with a mango – which of course is never in season in MI.  Fruits and Veggies that are grown in MI I am trying to wait until they are ready in MI.  Stuff that will never be grown here – avocados, mangoes, limes – I just have to clear a guilty pathway to my conscience as I can go local as much as possible, but enjoy a global cuisine.  I at least reduce my “shipped from CA” footprint a little bit.  Now I feel very guilty about my mangoes that were on sale.

For some great use of peaches, check out the Gluten Free menu swap, hosted this week by the creator of the swap, Natalie at Gluten Free Mommy.  I will just take note of everyone’s recipes and hold on to those ideas for August.  I used all my frozen peaches in margaritas over the winter.

Here’s what’s cooking in Lansing MI this week, it’s a very porky menu and a very local menu this go around:

Saturday:

lunch: green chile cheese tamales (from our dear friend Trader Joe) with NM red chile sauce

dinner: grilled mustard marinated pork loin with a pear green peppercorn demi glaze (featuring homemade demi glaze!), wild mushroom risotto and grilled asparagus

Sunday:

lunch: local free range organic breakfast sausages, scrabbled egg yolks with veggies (I can’t eat egg whites)

dinner: smoked ribs from our pig pancetta (only a few pieces of pork left in the freezer 🙁 ), red cabbage slaw with a ginger, garlic, lemon dressing and chives, Michigan made potato chips and  fresh dill dip

Monday:

Lunch (working from home today) Spanish style: Clam and chorizo soup with tomatoes, white wine saffron, shallots, garlic, chives and parsley.  I really have no idea how this sentence alone gave itself italics and I can’t seem to make it go away.  It was a tasty lunch though….

Dinner: Italian fusion: Maple Leaf Farm duck breasts porchetta style, stuffed with fennel seed, rosemary and garlic.  Baby new potatoes grilled with mustard and herbs.

Tuesday:  On the road and home brew club if I get back early – I brewed a GF porter on Sunday thanks to the motivation of Sally and Dan of Aprovechar – pics here and tasting soon as it is fermenting fast!

Wednesday:  Potato leek soup with local milk, farm market leeks, potatoes and some locally made German knockwurst (we just have so many great local food sources here in MI!) – lots of fresh herbs will be in the soup.

Thursday: local potato chip, Parmesan (not at all local) crusted fish, sides TBD from farmer’s market availability.

Friday Thai:  pad thai with spicy, crispy tofu and garden cilantro, spring rolls and maybe some shrimp hot and sour soup.

The menu looks just peachy to me!

i’m out

Menu of the Week March 31st: Lemons!

Gluten Free Menu Swap Monday - Lemons
This week’s menu swap is hosted by Gluten Free Mommy and the ingredient is lemon! The ironic thing is I used about a dozen lemons in last week’s menu. I was in a lemon mood and ate most of the 8×8 pan of double lemon bars myself over the week.

Sunday: Wales, home of the leek

Leek Potato soup with tarragon

Monday: Alsatian

Trout Choucroute from March Gourmet mag – perhaps. I will be subbing Artic Char. I am not sure about fish and sauerkraut. Sides will be broccoli, maybe in casserole form, and polenta. Edited to add – this is definitely a dish that we will not, repeat not be making again.  The fish itself was tasty, but the rest of the dish was a sour flop.  Even my polenta experiment didn’t work the way I planned.  Oh well.

Tuesday: Indian

Boti Gosht with grass fed beef and lemon rice, dal (maybe), bajji (onion fritters with chickpeas) and green mango salad

Wednesday: New Mexican

Tamales with red chile sauce

Thursday: All American

Mac and cheese with a green salad

Friday: Southwest fusion

White Chicken Chili loaded with green chiles and creamy cornbread. Since my bf won’t eat beans, I will be pureeing them in a known attempt to disguise them and he will see if he can get over his psychological bean burden. Wish me luck!

Happy eating!

i’m out