Thursday, February 5, 2015

Saigon Salad Mix

Hello fellow foodies!
I love salad. I mean I really LOVE salad. I can (and usually do) eat salad several time per week, and when I am watching my weight, salad is for dinner every day.

Here is my recipe for "Large Batch Saigon Salad". Why this salad mix? Well, because it has lot of nutritious veggies, very flavorful, and it pairs well with the soy-tahini dressing-recipe to follow.

Large Batch Salad:
 2 large bowls

8oz. baby carrots-shredded in the food processor
2 red bell peppers-julianned
1 bunch celery heart-very thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro-chopped
1 English Cucumber-halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
6 roma tomatoes-halved seeds removed, and julianned

1 large head of romain lettuce
1 large head of NAPA cabbage

place the first 6 ingredients into one large bowl and toss. Cut the roamin and the cabbage in half down the length. Very thinly slice 1/2 of the romain and 1/2 of the cabbage, place in the second bowl. Cut the remaining lettuce and cabbage and place it in the third bowl. Toss the greens together. Put 1/2 of the mixed veggies into each bowl of greens. Toss everything togehter, and store in gallon ziptop bags.

To make loading the bags easier open the bags over the lip of an empty gallon pitcher (you can get one from your local dollar store).
Seal the bags and place in your veggie crisper. The mix last 6-10 days.

Soy/Tahini Vinaigrette

1/4 cup soy sauce (or wheat free tamari)
1/4 cup tahini
3 Tbs. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. packed brown sugar
1 clove garlic crushed and minced
1 tsp. grated ginger

Mix everything in a bowl with a wire whisk. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Curried Carrot Soup

Today it is very chilly here in Charleston, and I have been very sick, so I am laying low inside the house. This means that I am getting very bored. When I get board, I usually end up in the kitchen cooking something. Lately,though, I've been trying to eat more healthfully-so cooking is a bit more of a challenge. I decided to get out my blender ( I have a Vitamix Machine), and make a 'creamy' soup.

About 5 miles from where I used to live in California was Grimway Farms. They are a huge producer of organic carrots. I used to love to go down the hill to their little farmstand shack by the road and pick up there carrots now and again. I can still buy them here in Charleston, but I have to go to Whole Foods for them-which is never a hardship! Carrots are one of my most favorite foods: Needless to say-I ALWAYS have a large amount of fresh organic carrots in my fridge. I settled on an idea today for Curried Carrot soup. I didn't have a recipe when I started, but after adding a bit of "this and that" I have a very good recipe to share with everyone! Cook Joyfully!



Curried Carrot Soup

2 Lbs. carrots-peeled and trimmed and cut into 2 inch chunks
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. all purpose Flour
1 cup diced onion
1 Rib celery-diced
1 Tbs. red or yellow curry paste (Powder works too)
1 clove garlic-crushed and minced
1 tsp. each: cumin, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric
1 Qt. chicken(or veggie) stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place the onions, celery, garlic, and all the spices into a stock pot with the olive oil. Saute over medium heat until the onion are softened and translucent.Add the flour and stir the mixture until all the onions are coated and look a little sticky. Add the stock and whisk the mixture until smooth, then add in the carrots. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the soup to a simmer, and allow to cook about 10 minutes-just long enough to soften the carrots, but not cook them through. Remove the soup from the stove and (reserving the liquid) strain the solids into a blender. Add a little cooking liquid and puree the mix on high until very smooth and very creamy. Pour the pureed mix back into the remaining cooking liquid and cook gently until the soup is thickened slightly and very creamy in texture. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.

Serve with a little unflavored yogurt, or sour cream. You can also sprinkle with a few chives, or croutons for crunch.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Empanadas

I first made Empanadas, for a staff meal, while working for Anson in Charleston, SC.  They were such a hit, I ended up making them on a regular basis.

I have filled these lovely little pockets with every combination of ingredients I can think of. From simple taco meat, to duck ragout, to five spice spiked chocolate truffle mix. Any way you eat them they are gorgeous.

Below is a standard filling. But use your imagination. Go wild and try some of your own fillings. You will be rewarded time and time again with amazing yumminess!!!

My favorite thing about them is that they freeze very well. I like to make a large batch and cook a few now and freeze the rest for later. Here is the recipe and corresponding pictures.

Empanadas

DOUGH:
3 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher, or sea, salt
9oz. (18Tbs.) very cold butter
11Tbs. cold water
Place the first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse on and off until you have a pebbly sand consistency.


Add the water and pulse the machine on and off a few more time until the mix comes together.

Transfer the dough to a clean surface and gently knead for 20-30 seconds just until you form a ball. DO not overwork the dough or it will be tough and chewy. Flatten the dough into a thick disk and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes to rest and chill.

Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. cut into 2 1/2 inch circles with a cookie cutter or the rim of a rocks glass.

FILLING
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Lb. ground beef, pork, lamb, goat, or chicken-or any combination thereof
1 Tbs. each smoked paprika, cumin, coriander
1tsp cayenne
2 tsp. salt

Over medium high heat, saute the onions and garlic in the oil. once the onions are cooked-about 5 minutes- add your ground meat of choice (I have used smoked tofu as well with some success). saute until the meat is cooked through. Drain off as much oil as you can. Add the spices and saute until fragrant. About 5 minutes more. Let the mix cool, and stuff your empanada dough with filling.

TO ASSEMBLE
Flatten out the dough a little bit more. Place it on a clean surface. Brush the entire disk with egg wash (1 egg and 2Tbs. water whisked together). Place 2 Tbs. of filling in the center of the dough disk.

Fold the dough over to form a pocket and crimp the edges together.

Bake the pocket at 400* for 12-15 minutes. Or you can pan fry them in a little corn oil for
3-4 minutes per side, or deep fry them for 3-5 minutes. Serve with sour cream, salsa and anything else you think would be yummy to dip them in!! Ole!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thai Barbeque Chicken

Happy Humpday!


Last week I tried going vegan for a week. While I found it an interesting challenge to stick with, and a very healthy lifestyle overall, it is just not for me. So to celebrate going back to being a "part-time" vegetarian, I made one of my favorite chicken dishes of all time.


I picked this recipe up while I was living in Tokyo, Japan. It was a dish that my favorite Thia restaurant served, and after a few tries, I managed to replicate the dish with great success. If you cannot find fish sauce or Sambal Oelek on the International Isle of your local grocery store, then you may have to make a pilgramage to your local Asian Grocery. I assure you, though, if you love big flavors, the trip is totally worth it!




Thai BBQ Chicken


This recipe is pretty easy, and you can use the sauce on fish, shellfish, pork, and lamb. I have not tried it on beef or game meat, but if you do try it and are successful, please email and let me know. Also, I often have quite a bit of the sauce leftover. It keeps well in the fridge indefinitely.

Thai Barbequed Chicken
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup chili garlic paste (Sambal Oelek sauce)
1 Tbs. ground ginger

Place everything into a high-walled sauce pan to prevent overflow. Over high heat bring the
mixture to a rapid boil, whisking a few times to prevent the sugar from burning. Turn the heat to medium and allow the sauce to reduce to about half of its original volume.

You'll end up with a maple syrup consistency. Allow the Barbeque sauce to cool to room temperature and lightly brush onto:
2-3 pounds of chicken breasts, thighs, or bone in quarters. (I have even used a whole chicken, that I roasted in the oven,with great success)

Grill, sauté, or roast your chicken as you would normally. There is a lot of sugar in this sauce so don't be alarmed if you see some 'charring'-that's normal and desirable. Once your meat is cooked through, baste it very liberally with the remaining sauce. Or you can cut up your meat into 1 inch cubes and toss in with the remaining sauce in a big bowl. Serve, and be happy!

Chef's variation:
1)Make the sauce and allow it to cool to room temperature. Fry off about 6 pounds of chicken wings-in batches- in 350F oil for 12-15 minutes...or until they are fully cooked. Then in a very large bowl toss your wings and sauce. Serve with ranch/blue cheese dressing and veggies sticks.
2)Use lime juice in place of your vinegar for a more delicate flavor.
3)Add 1/4 cup of SRIRACHA if you want an extra powerful kick
4) You can add apricot jam in place of the brown sugar for a more 'fruity' flavor

Monday, January 26, 2015

Curried Coconut Soup

Happy Monday!

I have been down with an extremely bad cold (it may even be the Flu), for a few days. Today was
the fist day in nearly a week that I have had an appetite. As a matter of fact; I woke up with a craving for Laksa. What is Laksa, you ask?

Have you ever had Tom Ka Gai (Thai Coconut and Chicken Soup)? Well...if you have and you like it, you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe. It is called by a few different names, but as far as I can tell "Laksa" is the original name for this amazing, spicy, and satisfying noodle dish. I used chicken in this version, but feel free to add seafood, pork, or tofu! Shrimp is particularly yummy in this soup. Just remember to omit from the recipe until the very end as it only needs a few moments to cook through!


This dish does require you to make a pilgrimage to the local Asian grocery, or put in an online order for a couple of items, but I assure you, dearest reader, that the effort will be worth it in the end!

I use Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste for this recipe:


But whatever brand of red curry you prefer, will work just fine. Here is the recipe!!!

Laksa

2 cans Coconut milk (do NOT NOT NOT use low fat coconut milk-you will be very sorry!)
2-4 Tbs. red curry paste (depending on your personal spice tolerance)
2 Tbs. turmeric
1 Lb. chicken meat (white or dark or a mixture)-chopped into 1 inch cubes)
8 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup (about 4 lime's worth) freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tbs. Fish sauce
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/3 cup light brown (or palm) sugar

In a very wide bottomed pot bring one can of cocnut milk to a roaring boil.

Allow the coconut milk to evaporate until it starts to break up and separate.

Add the curry and turmeric and whisk to forma loose paste.

Add the chicken and stir to completely coat. Cook over high heat stirring often for about five minutes or so-until the chicken appears to be browning. Add remaining ingredients and turn the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime-Cook about 6 ounces of Chinese chowmein (or other wheat based noodle) as per the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Form the noodles into 4-6 "nests. On high heat add about 2 Tbs. of sesame or vegetable oil in a 14-16" sautée pan.  Once the oil is shimmering hot, add the noodle nests. Cook 3-4 minutes per side. Keep warm until you are ready to use them.

Place one noodle nest per bowl and ladle the soup over the nests. Serve with you favorite toppings. Mine are:


Thinly sliced Thai chilies (red or green)
Chopped peanuts or cashews
Green onion slices
Bean sprouts
Cilantro Leaves
Chopped Cilantro
Fried garlic slices

Allow everyone to choose their toppings and amounts....EAT and REPEAT!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Blue "Cheese"

This week I am trying to eat a vegan diet. If you know me, or have followed my blog for a while, then you know that I eat 80% vegetarian, and enjoy seafood or poultry every now and then. I love a good steak too, but that is usually a once-every-few-months treat.

Now as a "Mostly Vegetarian", I have felt justified in leaving the dairy in my diet. After all, dairy products are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and yadda yadda yadda...Thus making the leap to veganism is not as easy as one might think. I love cheese. No, seriously, I really LOVE and ADORE cheese. I have been known to tell people that cheese is proof the Universe wants us to be happy! So, going Vegan was not even on my radar until I stumbled across a recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese and Vegan Cheddar spread. Naturally I altered both recipes a bit, and with very good results. They are both actually pretty delicious, and I'll be darned if they don't actually come frighteningly close to the real deal!

Here is my new recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese. Don't let the ingredients list frighten you. Everything you need can be gotten at your local Whole Foods.

Vega Blue "Cheese"
1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-3 hours in warm water
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. white miso
1 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. nutritional yeast *(see note below)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. kelp granuals

1/8 tsp. spirulina powder

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a food processor. Purée until very smooth. Scrape into a plastic container

-reserving 2 Tbs. in a different bowl-and smooth out the mixture so that it lays flat. Add the spirulina to the smaller bowl of cheese mix and stir until homogenized and you have a dark green color throughout. 

Spread the green cheese mix over the top of the rest of the cheese mix. swirl a knife around a few times just to get a marbled effect.

DO NOT COVER, and chill open 12-24 hours to let the cheese dry out and harden a bit. This will still not be a "crumbly" blue cheese, but more of a creamy style. Scoop out in small spoonfuls to use as a topping for burgers, fruit, or crackers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fried Rice-The Lighter Version

Fried Rice-The Lighter Version

I love fried rice. This is one of those dishes that I have a long memory of eating. I have loved every version that I have ever eaten-pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, etc... It can be the Standard Chinese Fried rice, or Japanese Cha-han, or Spicy Thai style basic fried rice, or any of a dozen other cultural ways to do it...I just love fried rice. You get the jist!

There isn't a plate of fried rice out there that I haven't scarfed down with reckless abandon.

My favorite version is what the Japanese call Cha-Han, and it is a very simple affair of rice, sesame oil, sesame seeds, a few diced onions, and scrambled egg tossed in at the last minute.

Lately, though, I have been trying to avoid white rice, because it is a bit starchy and heavy on calories. ENTER...BROWN RICE! What's the difference? Brown rice is loaded with fiber and protein, both of which white rice is lacking in. Here is an quick article from http://www.fitday.com/ that explains the difference in plain English:

When it comes to rice, looks are deceiving. Chefs and food stylists like the attractive, photogenic qualities of fluffy white rice. Brown rice, however, when compared to white rice, wins as the superior choice for a number of other reasons. Much research concludes that color is not the only factor that separates these two types of rice. Brown rice and white rice are different in some very important ways that can affect your health.


Here is a recipe for what I think is a really good version of fried rice that is way healthier and lower in calories than the standard Chinese/Japanese restaurant version. I will warn you though, you have to be very careful not to add too much liquid to the leftover brown rice, or it will become very gummy and unpalatable! You need:
1 tsp. sesame oil
Pam (or other brand) cooking spray
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cups leftover, cold brown rice
1 tsp. black or plain sesame seeds
3 eggs lightly beaten
1-2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 nonstick skillet heat over a medium high flame

Spray a large skillet with Pam. then add the sesame oil-"But Julie Dear, why the Pam if you are using cooking oil?" I am glad you asked.

The Pam contains something called lecithin. It is an emusifyer, and acts as an agent to help the sesame oil spread out thinly instead of just beading up in one little pool. Swirl the oil around and add the onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are browned and translucent. Add the rice and toss. place a lid on your skillet and let the rice cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is browned and fragrant.


Stir the rice once or twice, if you need to, in order to prevent burning. Toss in the sesame seeds, and remove the rice to a plate and keep warm. scramble the eggs in the pan. Once the eggs are cooked add the rice back to the pan, toss everything together and sprinkle in the soy sauce. give the mix one final toss and serve hot.

This and a bowl of Miso soup are my favorite Meatless Monday Meal!

White Rice: Diabetic Risks

Diabetics are often warned about the link between eating white rice and bringing on a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. The message is that if you are a diabetic or are at risk, stay away from white rice. Medical experts advocate replacing white rice with brown rice if you have diabetes. A study team at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that eating five servings per week of white rice increased the risk of diabetes. They also found that replacing white rice with brown rice lowered the risk.

Brown Rice: Fiber Advantages

Brown rice has more fiber than white rice, and the difference is due to the way both types are processed. White rice is brown rice that has gone through some changes in the milling process. With brown rice, only the husk is removed. White rice is polished and pre-cooked or parboiled. The bran is also removed. The bran is kept intact in brown rice, and that bran gives you a healthy dose of fiber.
Brown rice contains nutrients like magnesium, manganese and zinc. White rice has less amounts of these nutrients, but is fortified with iron and some B vitamins. Brown rice is the only form of the grain that contains vitamin E.

Global Call for Brown Rice

The difference between brown rice and white rice is taking on global importance, because aid agencies have become more aware of nutrition deficiencies in poorer nations where rice is often a diet staple. Research groups and aid agencies are saying that, in these countries, the consumption of brown, or as they call it, whole-grain rice instead of white rice should be encouraged. Even with all this evidence mounting in favor of brown rice, Americans apparently do not eat more of the brown variety. Most of the rice eaten by Americans is white rice that has gone through the refining process.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My New Gig


 Hello Fellow Foodies!

Lately I have been keeping a secret. I found a new career (or at the very least a paid hobby) as a food writer. In late November, I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply for a writer's position with a wonderful local periodical- Mount Pleasant Magazine. They liked me and my writing samples, and the rest is history! Last month, my editor ( I love being able to say that!) sent me out to do two business profiles on local restaurants. I got to sit down and interview the chefs, eat some amazing complimentary food, and then write about it!

You can see what I wrote on pages 60 and 62. If you want to check out my Bio; it is in page 21. Happy reading!!!


 Mount Pleasant January/February 2015 Magazine Online Green Edition
http://mountpleasantmagazine.com/green/

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Creamy Collards

Happy New year's Eve! Today in Charleston, people are cooking up a storm of Hoppin' John, collard greens, and usually something deep fried (I'm making buttermilk brined fried chicken so look for that recipe another day).

I am originally from Boston, where collard greens are not something that most people eat. Thus I did not grow up eating them. I have been blessed with years of restaurant experience here in the Holy City, and every restaurant I have worked in has had their own version. My favorite, BY FAR, is the recipe that Jimmy Snede made at Tristan. I never got the actual recipe, but I have-through trial and error-managed to replicate his collard greens with excellent results. The BEST part of this recipe is that you won't stink up your house with collard smell.

Creamy Collards

1-2 bunches of collard greens-stems removed and the leaves torn into pieces (totaling 1.5Lbs of leaves)

1 Lb. smoked bacon-diced
1 Medium onion-diced
1/4 cup flour
2 Tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbs. Ham bouillon
3 1/2 cups milk
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91saXg9g9oL._SX425_.jpg
 Fill a sink with cool water and wash the collards, as they tend to be very gritty with sand. In an large pot of salted water, blanch the collards for 4-5 minutes.

Drain, and shock the leaves in ice water to retain their color. Once the collards are cooled, drain, squeeze dry, and set aside.

In a large pot, cook the diced bacon over medium-low heat until all the fat has been rendered out,  and the bacon is super-crispy. Spoon out the bacon, and measure the fat to be sure that you have 1/4 cup in the pot. Add a little butter if you need it. Keeping the heat to medium-low add the diced onions.

Simmer the onions for 8-10 minutes until they caramelize slightly. Add the flour, paprika, and cayenne. Whisk until the flour absorbs all the fat.

Add the ham bouillon, milk, and cream. Turn the heat to high, and while gently stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, bring the mix to a boil. Add the collards, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Pour into a serving bowl, garnish with reserved bacon bits and serve hot.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hoppin John for New Year's Eve

Here in the Low Country tradition is everything. One of the most time-honored traditions is to eat Hoppin John and collard greens on New Year's Eve to ensure good fortune in the year to come.

This recipe is a new and modern riff on the old standard. It may not be the traditional way of making Hoppin John, but I promise you; it is one of the most delicious versions out there.

Happy New Year!!!!!

City-Girl Hoppin John
2Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. chicken base (bouillon)
2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
8 oz. smoked ham-diced


Melt the butter and stir in the raw rice. Toss in the diced ham and bouillon, and cook according to the package directions.While the rice is cooking assemble:
2 Tbs. butter
2 cups diced oinions
1 large green bell pepper-dicced
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 Tsp. dried thyme
2 cans of black eyed peas-drained and rinsed very well 


Melt the butter in a 14 inch sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the diced veggies and cook tossing occasionally to prevent burning until the onions are translucent and slightly browned: About ten minutes.Turn off the heat, and toss in the thyme.
Once the rice is cooked, in a very large bowl, gently fold everything together.

 Serve hot with collard greens on New Year's Eve, for Health and good fortune the whole year through!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake


Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake

People everywhere, but especially Charlestonians love their chocolate cake. Here is a recipe I did once or twice in my old restaurant. It always sold wildly well! Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you: It is way easier to make than you think. Give it a go!!!

Cake 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups mayo (not low or no fat!)
1 Tbs. Vanilla
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water

Frosting
24 ounces dark or bitter sweet chocolate chopped into small bits
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp. salt
3 cups (6 sticks-24 oz.) unsalted butter-at room temperature

1, 12oz. bag of Heath Bar Toffee Bits


Cake Assembly
Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly coat 2 nine inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper; spray again.

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a big bowl. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add mayo and vanilla and whip on high two minutes more. Turn the mixer off and add 1/3 of the dry mix. Turn the mixer onto low speed and slowly add 1/2 of the water. Mix until the batter is smooth. Add 1/3 more dry mix and the remainder of the water. Mix again on low speed until the batter is smooth. Add the last 1/3 of the dry mix and continue to run the mixer on low until you have a smooth creamy batter. Pour into your waiting cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing the cake layers from the pans (about 45 minutes).

Frosting Assembly
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium medal bowl. Find a pot that the bowl will fit on top of without falling into. Pour about 1 inch of water into the pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off, but leave the pot on the burner and place the chocolate over the hot water, being very sure that the bowl does not come into direct contact with the water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in your tallest pot, pour in the sugar, water, and corn syrup. bring this mixture to a boil, trying not to stir it more than once or twice. Allow the sugar mix to boil until it reaches a nice golden brown hue (about 315F on a candy thermometer). This take somewhere between 9-13 minutes, but please don't leave it unattended or you could have a mess of smoking burnt sugar on your hands-and no one wants that!

Once the mix has reached a golden brown hue, turn the heat down to medium low, and add a little cream-THIS WILL ERUPT AND BUBBLE VIOLENTLY-which is why you need your tallest pot. once the bubbles subside stir with a wire whisk and continue to add the cream a little at time until you have a smooth creamy caramel sauce. Add the salt and cook stirring for about two minutes to ensure all the sugar has dissolved. Pour the caramel over your now mostly melted chocolate, and gently whisk together. Place the mix on the counter and allow to cool to room temperature.

Using your electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place, whip the butter for about 5 minutes until it is fluffy. Add the chocolate caramel mix and whip on high for about 3 minutes more. Place the frosting in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes to chill it to a spreadable temperature.

Cut your cake layers on half horizontally, making four thin cake layers. Place on onto a round cake board or serving platter. And evenly cover with a thin layer (about 1/4 inch) of frosting. Repeat with your remaining layers. Evenly ice the cake's sides and top with remaining frosting. Hold your cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Right before serving, pour the Heath Toffee Bits into a bowl, and scoop some into the palm of your hand. moving from bottom to top, smooth the bits into the side of the cake. This is a bit messy and you'll have toffee bits falling here and there. Just wipe them up with your hand and put back in the bowl as you  work. You should use the entire bag of bits on your cake.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sticky Buns for Christmas!

I'm pretty sure that if you polled the Charlestonian population; they would tell you that some of the finest Sticky Buns on Earth come from here!

This is one of my favorite holiday foods. It take some time and effort, but it's Christmas and my family is totally worth it. 

Have 3 stick of butter on the counter over night to 24 hours, before beginning.

First you need to make a sweet, Sally Lund, style dough. You need:

2/3 cup whole milk (I used skim without a problem)
5 Tbs. sugar
1 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz. packet)
2 large eggs at room temp
2 3/4 cups All Purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 stick butter  (that you have left on the counter overnight) cut into 8 pieces
pan spray

Heat the milk in the microwave to 110-115F. Stir in 1 Tbs of the sugar and the yeast. Whisk gently to dissolve the yeast. Allow the milk mix to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy. Whisk in the eggs.

Combine the rest of the sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, or in the food processor with the blade attached. turn on the machine and add the liquid. Once you have a soft, sticky dough (you may need to add a little more milk), add the butter one piece at a time allowing the butter to fully disappear before adding the then next piece. This will take about 10 minutes (5 in the food processor).

Spray a large bowl with Pam. Scrape the dough into the bowl, and spray a little Pam over the dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the fridge 2-24 hours.

Topping

1 stick of the butter you left on the counter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup honey (or 100% pure maple syrup-DON'T USE THE FAKE STUFF!!!!!)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1 3/4 cups chopped toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc...

Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan. stir in the brown sugar, cream, salt, and honey. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 4 minutes until you have a thick syrupy caramel. Spray a 9inch cake pan with Pam. Pour one cup of the caramel into the oiled cake pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the nuts into the caramel in the pan. set aside.

Filling
1 stick of the butter that you left out overnight
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup nutmeg
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
Beat in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in your food processor, until you have a smooth, even, fluffy mixture.

On a lightly floured surface-roll out your sweet dough to a 12x16 rectangle. Evenly spread the filling onto the dough leaving about a one inch boarder on the long sides of the dough clean. Sprinkle the dough with  the remaining 1/2 of nuts. Roll up your dough sheet starting from one long edge. Once that is done, cut the dough into 9 round pieces. Place them in the caramel prepped pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, turn the pan 180 degrees, and bake at 350F for 25 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Pout the remaining caramel/nut mix over the buns, spread out a little to coat them evenly.

Allow to cool 10-30 minutes more and serve fresh from the pan!

Yes this one takes a good bit of time to prepare, but if you do make these, I guarentee you, you will be the most popular person in the house!