Storm the Cassoulet

Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

slow roast toma

This is a slow-roasted version of stove-top tomato sauce, and it’s jam-packed with flavor. You’ll want to have it with everything — not just over pasta but on crusty bread and scrambled eggs, and paired with soft cheeses.

Ingredients:

1 pound, 6 ounces cherry tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or maybe fresh basil?)

2 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.

Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator up to 5 days; let cool before storing.

 

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Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

crackerjack

Makes 10-12 cups

What You Need

Ingredients
1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels (10-12 cups popped)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Optional extras, see Recipe Variations (below)

Equipment
Large lidded saucepan
Large heatproof mixing bowl
2-quart saucepan
Heatproof spatula
2 baking sheets
Parchment paper or silpats

Method:

Gather ingredients and equipment. Arrange two oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment or silpats. Once you start making the caramel sauce, everything comes together quickly so have all the ingredients and equipment you need handy.

Make the popcorn. Warm 3 corn kernels and the oil in a large lidded saucepan over medium heat. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the corn kernels to the pan, shake to coat with oil, and put the lid on the pan. Pop the corn, shaking the pan occasionally, until the popping slows. Empty the popped corn immediately into a large heat-proof bowl. This makes about 10 cups of popcorn; make the popcorn in two batches if your pan is not large enough.

Make the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar until the sugar is completely moistened. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan continuously. (Boil for a minute less if cooking on an electric stove.)

The exact cooking temperature isn’t critical with this recipe, but ideally you want the sugar mixture to reach between 250°F and 300°F. The longer you cook the syrup, the crunchier it will be. For very crunchy popcorn (my favorite!), stop cooking when you see the first wisps of smoke coming from the sugar mixture.

Add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and any extras. Off the heat, add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and any extras, and stir until combined. The sugar mixture will bubble up violently. Continue stirring until you form a thick, glossy sauce.

Combine the carmel sauce and popcorn. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn while stirring the popcorn (it helps if you have a partner for this step — one person pouring while the other stirs the popcorn). Continue stirring the sauce into the popcorn until all of the kernels are coated.

Bake the caramel popcorn. Divide the popcorn between two baking sheets, spreading the popcorn out into an even layer. It’s ok if the popcorn clumps together. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes and breaking up any clumps.

Let cool completely. Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Recipe Notes:

Recipe Variations:
Salted Caramel Popcorn: Increase the amount of salt to 1 teaspoon and sprinkle the baked popcorn with sea salt while it’s still warm from the oven.
Cracker Jacks: Add 2 tablespoons of molasses to the sugar mixture as it boils and mix in 1 cup peanuts when combining the caramel sauce and popcorn.
Spicy Caramel Popcorn: Add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or 2-3 tablespoons Sriracha or other hot sauce to the caramel sauce along with the vanilla.
Curried Caramel Popcorn: Add 1-2 teaspoons curry powder to the caramel sauce along with the vanilla.

Popcorn Balls or Clusters: To make popcorn balls or clusters, quickly press the popcorn together with buttered hands after the popcorn is finished baking and before it cools. If the popcorn cools too much to stick together, put the trays back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Getting Rid of Unpopped Kernels: To get rid of unpopped kernels before making the caramel popcorn, pour the popcorn into a large bowl and shake it a few times so the kernels fall to the bottom. Then use a measuring cup to scoop the popped popcorn into a second bowl, leaving the kernels behind.

ALTERNATE CARAMEL RECIPE:

BEST SALTED CARAMEL

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar…
1 2/3 cups heavy cream (WARM IT IN THE MICROWAVE FIRST)
2 Tbsp salted butter
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Method:

Method to make the caramel sauce:

Spread the sugar in an even layer in a large metal pot, at least 6 quarts. Set over a moderate heat and cook without stirring, until the sugar near the edge just starts to liquify.

Use a wooden spoon and begin stirring, encouraging the melted sugar around the edges toward the center, delicately stirring up any sugar melting on the bottom as well. The sugar will start to look pebbly as it cooks, but keep going until it is melted completely and an amber color. If you think it is cooking too fast, lower the heat and keep stirring. Be patient.

Continue to cook until the sugar turns deep brown. Once brown, take it off of the heat!!!!

Time to add the cream but here is my trick….only add a DROP at a time and stir, stir, stir. This will eliminate the seizing of your caramel and you will love me for this trick. Keep adding a drop at a time and stirring until all of the cream is mixed in. Be patient…you have a lot of cream so this will take a few minutes. Once smooth, add butter and salt. Let cool. Will store in fridge up to one month.  Makes 2 cups

Serve vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and some of the popcorn.  Add sea salt.  Or try the 2nd Street Creamery Copper Kettle Caramel ice cream.

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Homemade Mustard

1106-mustard-powder 

Ingredients

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup vinegar

1 cup dry mustard (3  1 1/3 oz. cans)

Method:

Mix vinegar and mustard and refrigerate overnight.

The next day beat eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, add to vinegar and mustard mixture.  Cook in a double boiler or over low heat until thick.  Let cool and refrigerate.

 

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Amazing Salad Dressing

 

Ingredients:

2-3 garlic cloves, grated.

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1 tsp. sea salt

Whisk in:

1/2 lemon, squeezed.

2 tablespoons tarragon wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Garnish salad with tons of

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Mash the first four ingredients together.  Whisk in the next five ingredients.

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How to Caramelize Onions

caramelized-onions

Quantities depend on how much caramelized onions you wish to make. In this example, 5 large raw onions yielded about 2 cups caramelized onions.

Ingredients:

Several medium or large onions, yellow, white, or red

Olive oil

Butter (optional)

Salt

Sugar (optional)

 

Method:

Slice off the root and top ends of the onions, peel the onions. Cut the onions in half. Lay them cut side down and slice the onions lengthwise to desired thickness. If you want, you can cut a little wedge in the tough rootball end of the onions and discard that part, but we haven’t found this to be necessary, as this part of the onion softens and cooks with the rest over the long cooking time.

Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. Depending on how strong your stovetop burner is you may need to reduce the heat to medium or medium low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. (I add only about a teaspoon of sugar for 5 onions, you can add more.) One trick, by the way, to keeping the onions from drying out as they cook is to add a little water to the pan.

Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to let them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won’t brown), but not so long so that they burn. After the first 20 to 30 minutes you may want to lower the stove temperature a little, and add a little more oil, if you find the onions are verging on burning. A metal spatula will help you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the caramelization proceeds. As the onions cook down, you may find you need to scrape the pan every minute, instead of every few minutes. Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich, browned color. At the end of the cooking process you might want to add a little balsamic vinegar or wine to help deglaze the pan and bring some additional flavor to the onions.

Store refrigerated for several days in an air-tight container.

 

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Grilled Grouper with Watermelon Salsa

grouper-watermelon-salsa-sl-l

Ingredients:

4 (4-oz.) grouper fillets

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups chopped seedless watermelon

1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives

1/2 English cucumber, chopped

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Method:

Preheat grill to 350º to 400º (medium-high) heat. Sprinkle grouper with pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

Grill fish, covered with grill lid, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or just until fish begins to flake when poked with the tip of a sharp knife and is opaque in center.

Combine chopped watermelon, next 5 ingredients, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Serve with grilled fish.

 

 

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Crab & Asparagus Benedict

Eggsbenedict

Ingredients:

1 Quart water

1 Tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

8 large eggs fresh

4 Tablespoons butter, unsalted 1/2 stick, softened

1 1/2 Cups Alaskan king crab legs meat cooked, fresh (not crab substitute)

8 to 12 asparagus spears, cooked, white or green

4 whole wheat English muffins, split

paprika, optional

4 slices orange cut in half, optional

Orange Hollandaise Sauce:

1/2 pound butter, unsalted cut into pieces

4 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon orange zest, grated

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Method:

Prepare the Hollandaise sauce, and keep it warm.

Mix the water with the vinegar (which will help the egg whites set quickly) and put it with the salt in a wide, shallow saucepan.

Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to gentle simmer.

One at a time, break each egg into a separate small dish or bowl; then, holding the bowl very near the surface of the water, gently slip in the egg.

Add more eggs to the pan, taking care not to crowd them.

Continue simmering until whites are firmly set and yolks are covered with slightly opaque film, about 3 minutes.

Then use a slotted spoon carefully to remove each egg to a folded kitchen towel to drain.

With small kitchen knife, carefully trim any ragged edges from whites.

While the eggs are poaching, melt half the butter in large skillet over moderate to low heat, and sautee the crab meat until heated through.

Split and toast the English muffins and spread their cut sides with remaining butter.

Place two muffin halves on each serving plate.

Top each half with some crab meat and two to three asparagus spears, then a poached egg.

Spoon or pour enough Hollandaise over each egg to cover it and spread down the side of the muffin onto the plate.

If you wish, garnish with a dusting of paprika and half an orange slice.

Orange Hollandaise Sauce

In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat until it’s all liquid.

Place remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smoothly blended.

With the machine running, pour in the melted butter in a slow, steady stream until it is completely mixed in and the sauce is thick.

Transfer sauce to small metal or glass bowl, and set it inside a larger bowl or can of hot water to keep it warm.

Notes:

Substitute lobster tail or claw meat.

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Eggs Benedict

eggs-benedict

Ingredients

1 cup white-wine vinegar (optional)

8 large eggs

8 slices Canadian bacon (1/4 inch each)

4 English muffins, split and toasted

Hollandaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for serving

Roasted Potatoes, for serving

Directions

Poach eggs, and set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook Canadian bacon for one minute on each side; remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Return eggs to simmering water until heated through, about 1 minute. Place each English muffin face up on a plate. Top each muffin half with a slice of Canadian bacon and a poached egg. Top eggs with Hollandaise sauce and garnish with chives. Serve immediately with roasted potatoes.

Options:

Try it with sliced turkey, turkey bacon, brie, and cranberry spread.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette

00_vinaigrette_rect540

Ingredients:

balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper
sugar (brown or granulated)

Tools:
medium-sized bowl
whisk
measuring spoons

Method:

Pour about two tablespoons of vinegar into the bottom of the bowl. (These measurements will make enough vinaigrette for two large, main-dish salads, or four to six side salads.) We like to use the bowl we’ll later use to toss the salad. Add a few pinches of salt (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon), a few grinds of fresh pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.

Begin whisking vigorously, and then drizzle in the olive oil (our whisk isn’t moving because we were photographing at the same time…).

Make sure the olive oil is in a slow, thin stream, and whisk rapidly where it hits the vinegar (again, if we had an assistant, you’d see olive oil trickling in while we whisked).

A general rule of thumb is to use a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. We prefer our vinaigrette more vinegary, so we use more like a 2:1 ratio. Which means about 1/4 cup olive oil.

As your vinaigrette thickens and becomes a paler shade of brown, stop and taste. You can add more olive oil if it’s too acidic. If it separates while you’re preparing the rest of dinner, don’t worry. Just whisk it again to smooth it out.

Throw in your lettuce and use tongs to toss and coat the leaves.

Options:

Substitute lemon juice for half of the vinegar (keeping the same overall amount of acid). We like lemon with lighter vinegars, like champagne or red wine.

Add minced garlic to the vinegar before whisking in the olive oil.

Add fresh herbs like thyme or dill.

Add dijon mustard (whisk into the vinegar before adding the olive oil), which will also act as an emulsifier to help your vinaigrette come together and be less likely to separate.

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How To Make a Balsamic Reduction

balsamic vinegar

Ingredients:

Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

Method:

In a sauce pan over high heat, add your Balsamic Vinegar and sugar.

Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Reduce heat to medium high.

Allow the liquid to reduce by 3/4 so you have a 1/4 cup of balsamic glaze (the mixture looks glossy and glaze-like).

Remove the reduction from the pan to either a bowl or squeeze bottle, then allow it to come to room temperature.

Hints:

Use a saucepan with a wide opening like a skillet to give more surface area to the vinegar so it will reduce faster.

Use about 3-4 times more balsamic vinegar than you will require.

Do not cook the vinegar until it’s as thick as syrup. A good test is to dip a spoon in and poor it out; the color will be dark and the liquid will stick slightly to the spoon.

When finished, the reduction can be used as is or is delicious when mixed with honey, rum, or spices.

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