Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Christmas is over, now all you at home have just to suffer through the rest of winter. Let’s all be quite honest with ourselves, winter is only awesome because of Christmas. Once Christmas is done, winter may as well be on it’s way. So, I thought I’d offer a bit of comfort to get you through those wintery, drab days.
A year ago I was living in an apartment that may as well of had holes in the walls for windows. Our heating bills were outrageous and I don’t know how I paid those school loan bills as well! God is good and He provided, but we still always had a cold house. I went out and purchased a space heater, which didn’t really heat any space beside the area I made underneath a blanket with it while I watched movies on Netflix. Oh Netflix, I miss you! But you are nothing compared to Peruvian Pirated movies. It would have been nice to have known then how to make this little bit of comfort, even though I probably would have been breaking the bank then buying ice cream to drizzle it over!
I’m grateful that my friend Amanda has been saving these pasta sauce jars. I had to make a substitute for molasses and I used one of these for that as well. I was pleasantly surprised when I poured all the caramel contents from the pan into this jar to find that it all fit perfectly.
The handicap in this case was simply not having a caramel sauce like this here. We have a caramel sauce-thing called manjar… that’s pronounced mAHn-kkkkkkhhhhhhar. Yea, you gotta clear your throat on that one. Go spit that out in the sink. Manjar’s name itself means delicacy, and they stuff it in a dough and deep fry it to resemble something like a elephant ear stick with goo inside, this is called a churro. It’s really quite good, but when the sauce is not hot it’s just really thick and goopy.
You’re probably thinking, Trevor, you silly nitwit, why would I, who live in the States, make caramel sauce when I can just buy it? To which my answer would be, cause it’s fun! Also, it could be cheaper.
A pint of heavy cream in the States is about $2.50-$3
Butter in a pack of 4 sticks could be about $3-$4
Sugar is about $2 at Wal-Mart
Salt, you have a pinch in your house right?
Water… yea, you got that too.
Caramel sauce is about $5-$6 a pop! If you were to buy all the supplies at once to make this, yea, it would be more expensive, but with all the supplies you buy you could make this three or four times and be beating the off-shelf version. See? That’s another good reason too, right?
Give it a try, slather it on apples, pie, ice cream, pears, your fingers!
Caramel Comfort Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup (or 8 tbsp) butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch or 2 salt
Dump the one cup sugar in a small sauce pan and then pour evenly over top the water. Put the pan over a low heat and let the sugar dissolve. Don’t let the sugar burn at this point, so make sure you take the pan by the handle and whish and whoosh the sugar-water mixture around occasionally.
Once the sugar is dissolved turn the heat to high and cover. Let that boil for two minutes. Then, take off the lid and watch it boil until you see it starting to turn brown around the edges of the pan. That’s what the directions told me, but I never really saw this happening very clearly, I think it’s best to even in this stage swirl the pan around occasionally to ensure you’re not going to create a sugar fossil.
When it starts to brown start swishing the pan by the handle over the heat until the whole turns a beautiful amber and starts to smoke. Now, it will smoke even too early if you have the pan just sitting on the heat, you want to look for smoke while you are swishing the pan about. That’s your sign.
Pour in the butter, which should be cut up into small blocks, and whisk gently. I was taken off-guard when I put the butter in because it rather explodes into a sizzling anger of oil hitting hot water. Just a kind warning, I didn’t get hurt so I’m not worried you will either. You will find, as I did, that the butter will melt faster than it can mix with the sugar so whisk until you have only one type of liquid in your pan.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that I was on the phone during this last stage, speaking in Spanish, so I think you are very capable of doing this as well! You can see in the third and fourth picture the film the butter is making on the surface of the caramel, that’s what you want to mix in until you have the one, even consistency.
Then mix in your cream.
If the sauce turns lumpy put it back on a low heat and stir consistently until the sauce is one smooth liquid. This happened to me, so do not panic, it smooths out beautifully. Then, remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and salt.
Pour it in a jar of your choice and drizzle drizzle drizzle!!! Bon appetite!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Hey there! I’m glad you could make it back! You know, not many have been coming, you should invite a few people along with you next time. Would you like come coffee? Some apple pie? Well, here’s what I’ve got.
I have no idea what I did here. I don’t even know if it’s something already in existence. I mean, it’s nothing really that extraordinary or genius. Apples, cinnamon, sugar and then a fried pie crust bottom. It’s the handicapped kitchen folks, I had to do what I could to get some kind of apple-ish fall dessert.
What I had originally intended for this quick-whip-up, hurry-get-something-sweet-in-my-mouth-before-I-eat-your-fingers, I-love-apples, I-want-American-cable-television recipe was a granola bar sort of base. But lo, in our cupboards I only had the very fine oatmeal of Peru we call avena… It looks very much like flour actually. Here’s a comparison.
Which is which? You win a prize if you can tell! What’s the prize? What’s the prize? A pat on the back! Good job.
My measurements for this recipe are going to be… well… round-about.
Apple Pie Inside Out
2 large apples or 3-4 medium or small apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
at least 5 tablespoons butter
at least 3 tablespoons ice cold water
pinch of salt
oil for pan frying
The big handicap in this recipe, or rather the idea I had to get around for my original idea, was that I didn’t have a oven. I only had the range top available. So, with the pie crust bottom I had to get creative and decided to just fry the darn sucker. Who did a little grease ever hurt… except for Kirstie Alley?
I started out by peeling all the apples and throwing them into a pan with the butter and then sprinkle over top the sugar and cinnamon. I put it on low so it will caramelize and soften up real nice. I like my apple pie filling soft soft soft. While that’s cooking low I started the pie base-thing. I bet I sound real trustworthy, using terms like… pie base-thing.
Mix the flour, oatmeal and salt in a bowl together and start cutting in the butter with a fork or pastry mixer. I put at least 5 tablespoons butter because I don’t know exactly the measurement you should use, just cut in the butter until you have what looks like very course crumbs. Then mix in the ice cold water with your fork. The key is to only use enough water until it forms a firm ball, that should be 3 tablespoons. It isn’t horribly important to get the right water ratio right, because you’re not going to be rolling it out like a pie dough.
Split dough in half and you can form them into patties in your hands. Then just throw them on the liiiiiiightly oiled pan and let them brown nicely on each side. It might take about five minutes on each side. You don’t want to cook them fast… maybe I shouldn’t use the word fry then, huh? Cook them in a pan on low heat until browned on each side. There, is that better? Seesh, you are so exigente (demanding)!
Then, when you’re base is done put it on a plate and serve the apple filling stuff over it. If it’s not as syrupy as you’d like it then throw some more sugar and butter in there. Not enough cinnamon? Flavor to taste and you’re good to go!
I hope you like the handicapped creation!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The cliché you always want what you can’t have stands as a hard truth for me. I’ve heard some of my lady friends say that this is a typical male trait, maybe so, but this is basically what has happened to me since my move to Peru. Peanut Butter was never something I would consider eating as a delicacy, but here I find myself defending my jars of JIF like a drug addict his last hit of cocaine. These things I want so badly are things I just took for granted in the States. I can count on one hand the amount of times I had Peanut Butter in a year, but now it just reminds me of home, AND. THAT’S. WHY. I. NEED. IT!
I was never a huge fan of donuts as a kid. I think the worst are the kind you buy from your locally owned grocery store… you know the ones that feel like you stuck a cotton ball in your mouth and need a gallon of milk to save your tongue from drying up. My two favorite donuts are the boring glazed and the dangerous jelly-filled. I always happen to be wearing a white shirt without a Tide To-Go pen when I eat jelly donuts, it’s risky business, but I like the rush.
Because donuts are in about every grocery store nationwide… in the States, it’s not popularly thought to make your own. Being in a foreign country, on the other hand, where donuts are like a nearly forgotten story, I am faced with making them as my only option for bringing a piece of home to Peru.
I found this donut recipe via Joy the Baker, a woman blogger of wit and heavenly kitchen talent. I envy her in more than simply her creativity with words and flour, but I imagine that her cupboards are full of all the usual kitchen necessities, while I have to make a molasses substitute out of something called Chancaca… honestly would you eat something eagerly with that name?
Joy said on her blog to not schedule anything when you are making these donuts. Stop everything. Take the night off. Tell your friends you’re sick and can’t go out. You really will need the evening to make these… and don’t be a fool like me and decide to start at seven. You will be up until midnight.
via Joy the Baker
makes 12 donuts
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 10 cups vegetable oil for deep frying (this is debatable)
via Alton Brown
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
(how easy is that?!)
Not only does the recipe make just donuts but also donut holes. They also function to make a nice gage as to whether the oil is too hot or not hot enough before you go all gung-ho and burn all your perfectly formed donuts.
So, I go to my handicapped kitchen and fight the impossibilities to make a dozen glazed donuts. Here were my handicaps for this recipe.
- I didn’t have confectioner’s sugar, and it’s expensive here
- I don’t have a rolling pin
- No cookie cutters for cutting out the donuts (it’s not that big of a handicap, but it’s there nonetheless)
- I don’t have a thermometer to gage how hot the oil is
The first thing to do is get your yeast mixture prepared. So, in a cup or small bowl combine the yeast and warm water and let sit until it is foamy (should take at least 5 minutes). If it doesn’t foam your yeast may be bad or you just need to start over.
When your yeast is foamy combine your flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, butter, yolks, milk and yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Now, Joy suggested using a mixer, but the only mixer we have might as well be from and little girl’s Easy Bake toy set (chinsey!). I tried and the dough just was too thick, so I put the toy away and just used my hands. It is a dough after all! It’s half the fun of making bread kneading the dough. So, go ahead. Take off your rings and your brass knuckles and get your hands dirty.
Once you have kneaded it well, I kneaded mine for about 5-6 minutes, sprinkle some flour over top and put aside to let rise for 1 1/2-2 hrs (Joy said you can alternatively put it in the fridge overnight for 8-12 hours so you can cook them for the morning).
A neat trick that I learned from another blogger that I used this time was to throw a small cup of water in the microwave and nuke it for 3-4 minutes. When you pull it out the microwave is warm and humid inside. So, you quickly exchange the glass of water for your bowl of dough and let the dough rise the time you need it to. Commenters… is this a good idea?
Once your dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out! Handicap: I don’t have a rolling pin. So, I used Kristen’s metal water bottle to roll it out. Worked like a charm! Roll the dough out to a 12” round so the dough measures about 1/2” thickness.
Handicap: I don’t have any cookie cutters so, I just used a cup and to make the hole in the center of the donuts I used a pop bottle cap. Cut out your donut shapes and place them in a cookie sheet, cake pan, whatever as long as it’s lightly floured. Cover with a clean towel and set aside in a draft-free area and let rise 30 minutes. They should puff up slightly.
Quick side note: your technically not supposed to reroll the scraps of dough, but you will be left with a ton of waste. To ensure that you don’t botch the amount of dough you’re using take whatever you decide to cut your dough with and lightly press it down around the dough to make slight indents where you plan to cut (see the picture above). If you discover you have a lot of waste and could cut it better take your hand and brush over the dough with slight pressure and start over until you get the most donuts you can out of your dough. I did, however, roll up the rest of the dough and cut small dots to make more donut holes like so:
After your thirty minutes are up you’re ready to fry these babies up! Here is my other Handicap. I thought this was the most challenging part. The recipe calls for the oil to be at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and like I said before, I don’t have a thermometer. So, I looked up some advice as to what to do online. I found some tips:
- Preheat the oil and dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles mildly you’re good to start frying. If it bubbles furiously, the oil is too hot and needs to cool.
- Preheat the oil and drop a small square of bread into the oil. If it browns in 60 seconds the oil is at 365 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the oil is preheating drop a corn kernel in the oil and when it pops the oil has reached from 350 to 360.
Luckily, I had means of testing all three of these, but I chose the third option.
Pour oil into a large heavy-duty pan until you’ve got 2 1/2” (may be about ten cups…). Preheat and when you’re oil is ready, which if you have a thermometer then by all means use it you need to be at 350, cook two or three donuts at a time for about 2 minutes flipping them rather often. Remove them with a metal slotted spoon… it’s probably best not to use anything plastic or silicon, I don’t know that for sure, but it just seems wise. Place your finished donuts on a plate with a paper towel to let them cool.
These look just about done!
Here are your donut holes. Right after taking them out of the oil you can roll them in powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar
Let’s talk about glaze! This is pretty simple. Throw your milk and vanilla in a medium sauce pan over a low heat. Once this is warm start whisking in the powdered sugar little by little. Here is my last Handicap. I didn’t have powdered sugar, so I took white sugar and threw it in a blender and pulsed it for about fifteen minutes. What came out was as close to powdered sugar as I was going to get. I used this and the glaze turned out glazy, but it was slightly gritty. Next time I’m going to use real powdered sugar and add a bit more milk to make the mixture thinner, it was just too thick.
You’re supposed to put the donuts on a rack to drip dry for 5 minutes, but I just didn’t have that so I put them on plates! It just made it harder to peel them off, but they still tasted GREAT!