Thursday, October 19, 2023

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce

This here has to be one of my favorite recent recipes. I started making cold brew coffee recently, and this is what I've been using to sweeten it. And I also eat it by the spoonful on occasion. It tastes like See's Candies Butterscotch Lollipop in liquid form. Just delightful.

If you've never worked with molten sugar before, please be extra careful, and watch the video below to see the process. It's not a difficult recipe, but working with melted sugar is always  somewhat delicate and dangerous. 

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure this sauce would taste great on ice cream or the Butterscotch Pots de Creme that I have posted here on the blog. In any case, if you enjoy salted caramel, you'll love this recipe.

Please note that there's a very fine line between flavorful and burnt caramel, so if you're trying this for the first time, err on the side of a lighter-colored caramel. Once you get the feel of it, you can risk going a little darker the next time--because there WILL BE a next time.


Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • clean & warm 1/2 pint mason jar
  • heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • small saucepan
  • wire whisk
  • silicone spatula
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • Place cream in the small saucepan over low heat. Once it's hot, you can turn it off. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't boil.
  • Place the clean mason jar on the stove to stay a little warm while you make the caramel sauce.
  • Pour the sugar into the large saucepan set over medium heat.
  • It will take a while, like 5-8 minutes before you start seeing the sugar start to melt. When you start seeing melted patches, start gently swirling the pan to evenly distribute the sugar and prevent any burned spots. 
  • Continue melting and swirling the sugar until it's a deep amber color. Once it's deep amber, remove from the heat and pour in about half of the cream, which will bubble up violently. 
  • Whisk the sugar and cream together, making sure to get any sugar in the corners of the pan. 
  • Whisk in the remaining cream, and then the salt. Whisk until smooth, again paying attention to the corners of the pan. 
  • Pour the caramel sauce into the mason jar, scraping all the goodness in using a silicone spatula. 
  • Allow the caramel to cool enough to touch the jar without hurting yourself, put the top on the jar (not too tight), and allow to cool completely before placing in the refrigerator.
  • Use in your coffee or enjoy by the spoonful.
Makes about 1 cup of sauce

Ciabatta Rolls

Ciabatta Rolls

So, I started this post about eight years ago, and I cannot recall why I didn't finish it then. I didn't completely finish it today either. I just want to get the recipe posted because I think I'll be making it again. Perhaps there are other bread people out there who might be up for it as well. And perhaps I'll even make these again soon so I can take more pics or even make a TikTok about it. We shall see.
For now, this is what I have. 
There are so many things I love about these rolls, I don't know why I forgot about them. They're light, flavorful, versatile, and such a great sensory experience to make. The dough gets super puffy and jiggly (see video clip at the bottom), and they're delicious.
This week I used one of these for a fantastic breakfast sandwich with Black Forest ham, egg, and American cheese. Mmm. Super satisfying. The rest are waiting in the freezer for my nephews who visit next month, but I think I may try to bake some more because I'll want to eat and share these with Ezra AND I want to add more pics here.
Okay, enough rambling. Back to baking.

Ciabatta Rolls
    --adapted from Cook's Illustrated



1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms, about 1 minute. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).
2. FOR THE DOUGH: Place biga and dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until roughly combined and shaggy dough forms, about 1 minute; scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until dough becomes uniform mass that collects on paddle and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 6 minutes. Change to dough hook and knead bread on medium speed until smooth and shiny (dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.*
3. Spray silicone spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough six more times (total of eight turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes longer. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
4. Line two rimless baking sheets (or the underside of a baking sheet)** with parchment paper Transfer dough to liberally floured counter, being careful not to deflate completely. Liberally flour top of dough and divide in half. Adjust each piece of dough so cut side is facing up and dust with flour. Cut each half again in half along the length of the dough. Working with one fourth of the dough at a time, cut each strip into thirds (you will end up with 12 rolls in the end). 
With well-floured hands, take each piece of dough and press with your fingertips to stretch dough to a rough 3x5 inch rectangle. Fold rectangle into thirds and gently press the seam on the long side. Roll in a little bit of flour to prevent sticking. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough until you have six little loaves on each parchment lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let loaves sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (surfaces of loaves will develop small bubbles).
5. After this last rise, place one of the pans in the fridge while you bake the other. Using floured fingertips, evenly poke entire surface of each roll. Spray loaves lightly with water. Carefully slide parchment with loaves onto baking stone using jerking motion. Bake at 450 degrees, spraying loaves with water twice more during first 5 minutes of baking time, until crust is deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of loaves registers 210 degrees, 14-18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaves to room temperature, about 1 hour, before slicing and serving. Repeat with the other pan that's waiting in the fridge.

Makes 12 large rolls

** I use a baking stone in my oven, and it's always in there. If you do not have a baking stone, just bake the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet and ignore all of the instructions to slide the rolls onto the bakig stone. Just put the baking sheets in the oven to bake.

*It's kind of tricky to keep track of the steps of dough development, so here's a summary/check list:
  • Prepare biga the night/day before.
  • Mix dough.
  • Let dough rise 60 minutes.
  • Fold dough 8 turns with greased spatula. 
  • Let dough rise 30 minutes. 
  • Fold 8 turns again .
  • Let dough rise 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven.
  • Form loaves. 
  • Loaves rise 30 minutes. 
  • Poke loaves with fingertips.
  • Spray with water 
  • Bake 14-18 minutes.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

I realized the other day that I don't yet have a recipe for beef stew on this site. So weird. Today's stew that you see here is actually an experiment that went well, so now it will become my beef stew post here. 

I basically modified my recipe for Swiss steak by adding stew meat instead of steak, and I added more liquid and carrots. I suppose I could have cubed some potatoes and added them when I added the carrots, but serving the stew over mashed potatoes sounded more cozy and comforting today, so that's what we've got here.

This made so much that I was able to send a bunch home with my son, take some to my in-laws, and have leftovers for my husband and myself as well. I think it would probably freeze pretty well too, but I distributed it well enough that I didn't get the chance to check that assumption. 

At any rate, I think this is a solid, delicious beef stew that I will definitely be making again. 

Beef Stew

  • 4 pounds beef stew meat (preferably large chunks)
  • 2 (approx) teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 (approx) teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup flour (I used Better Batter Gluten Free AP Flour)
  • vegetable oil for browning meat
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 cups beef broth (I used 5 teaspoons beef base in 5 cups warm water) 
  • 2-3 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped curly parsley
  • 1-2 batches of mashed potatoes (here's a garlic mashed potatoes recipe if you need one)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the onions, celery and garlic. Set aside.

Place a portion of the meat on a cutting board and sprinkle each with a little kosher salt and pepper.

Then using a meat tenderizing mallet pound each piece to about 1/2 an inch thickness. Be sure to pound on both sides of each piece of meat. If you have some exceptionally large pieces (bigger than 2 inches), you can cut them in half. If you have stew meat that is cut into small pieces, you can skip this step.

Place the flour in a medium bowl and toss each piece of tenderized met in the flour. You can toss several pieces at once, making sure to shake off any excess flour. Do this with all of the meat and set aside until ready to brown the meat.

Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. When oil is hot, carefully place steak into the pan taking care not to crowd. You will need to brown the meat in many batches, adding oil between batches. When each piece of meat is browned on each side, move to a large bowl to wait.

When all meat has been browned, add the onions, celery and garlic to the Dutch oven. Stir veggies and cook just long enough until they start to wilt. Add paprika and oregano and stir. Pour in the beef broth and stir. Add the meat back into the Dutch oven, making sure you cover the meat with the veggies and liquid.

Place cover on Dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours and then stir in the carrots. Bake another hour or so, or until meat is very tender. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Taste for salt level and add more salt, if needed.

Serve over mashed potatoes and sprinkle with a little more parsley, if desired.

Makes about 8 to 12  servings

You can see the mashed potatoes a little better in this pic.

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