27 December 2013

Sugarplums V2

Sugarplums V2

We made Alton Brown's recipe last year, this time I made my own adjustments and they came out awesome. This is a spicy treat, not overly sweet and definitely leans toward the adult palette, especially folks who skew toward granola stuff.

  • 3 oz pistachio nuts, toasted and chopped
  • 3 oz walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 4 oz dried cherries
  • 4 oz candied dates
  • 4 oz dried plums
  • 4 oz dried figs
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp anise seed, toasted
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seed, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 c honey
  • raw, coarse sugar to coat
Toast the seeds and nuts and set aside.

Place nuts and fruit in a food processor and pulse a few times so ingredients are finely chopped and mixed but don't overdo it and get mush.

Mix up the seeds, salt and sugar in a large bowl, add the fruit and honey and then mix thoroughly with your hands. A glove would be a good idea here...but whatever. If the mixture isn't quite holding together, add honey by the tablespoon until you have a mix that is stable without being gooey.

Pinch off balls no larger than a melon-ball and roll in coarse sugar.

Gives between 50-75 sugarplums depending on the size of the ball.

Sweet Chili con Carne

Sweet Chili con Carne

Image scraped from doerlefoods.com
I made this for a potluck. I started here and made my own adjustments.

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup pre-soaked pinto beans
  • 1 cup pre-soaked navy beans
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp dill
  • 3/4 c molasses
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
Brown and drain the ground beef, cook and crumble the bacon. Throw everything in a big ol kettle and simmer for about 3 hours.
You could do this in a slow cooker too and set it on low for about 6 hours.

Topher Toffee

I've been making toffee for years, tinkering with various recipes, and I'm feeling like it's time I contribute a few of my own to the web. No intention of this becoming my cooking blog but you can see whatever I'm thinking about here: http://www.pinterest.com/cryptopur/food/

Butterscotch Topping
Topher Toffee

  1. 2 cups (4 sticks) of butter cut into cubes
  2. 2 cups of sugar
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1/2 tsp cardamom
  5. 2 cups chocolate or butterscotch chips - butterscotch used here. (mini chips melt easier but not a big deal)
  6. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/4 tsp caraway seed or anise seed
  8. 1/4 c slivered or sliced almonds

Melt butter, sugar and spices together in a heavy bottom kettle. Stir continuously in one direction to prevent the butter from separating.

Once everything is melted clip a candy thermometer to the side and heat to 285 degrees. Stir occasionally and be ready to wait 20-30 minutes...it takes a while. 285 is, in my more experienced opinion, just a tad high so I will often remove the heat just south of that.

While it’s cooking, line a 13X9 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. 

Toast the almonds and caraway seeds together in a dry skillet over med-high heat and set aside.

Once removed from the burner add the baking soda and still in quickly. Pour the toffee into the pan when it reaches temperature and allow it to flatten out on a level surface.

After 5 minutes, sprinkle chips over hot toffee and allow about 5 minutes to melt. Then spread the melted chips over the toffee to create an even layer.

Now sprinkle the almond/seed mixture over the soft chocolate and press down gently to set them and let it all cool to room temperature – about an hour.

Lift the toffee out of the pan by the paper/foil and break the hardened toffee into bite sized chucks.

All done!