Marshmallows are one of my favourite foods. That’s going to turn some people off I realize but I don’t care. I love them plain, toasted, made into ice cream, or especially in some bar treat (think rice krispie) form. But even if you are a marshmallow hater you might find yourself changing your tune after trying this boozy variety. And if you think you hate marshmallows but have never had a homemade one before then my money says its not these sweet little confections you hate but the crap that comes in a bag at the store. I make mine from scratch at least once a year and whenever I’m going camping. My boyfriend never liked marshmallows, finding them to be “pointless” and “too sweet.” He went so far as trying to ban me from making them anymore. That is until I put a healthy bit of bourbon into a batch. They are light as air, sweet, and have all of the depth of flavor of whichever alcohol you use. My go to’s are bourbon, whiskey, or rum. The alcohol cuts the sweetness and now these are “the only marshmallows I ever want to see in this house, ever.” You can guess where that quote comes from.
Pumpkin spice (known from here on out at “PS”) is a big deal. Sure the flavor has been grossly exploited and is found in everything from cat litter to chewing gum to Pringles. This disgusting excess does not make the idea behind PS any less delicious. At its most basic it’s a collection of spices (most heavily cinnamon and nutmeg) mixed with sugar and pumpkin. I can’t think of a bigger current American food trend, aside from bacon of course. It might surprise you to learn that cinnamon isn’t nearly as popular in desserts outside of North and Central America as it is right here at home. Cinnamon rolls are quintessential to our cuisine. And good ole’ PS is just the perfect concept of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. The containers of “pumpkin spice” have been around for ages, then people started to add pumpkin and sugar to it and threw the whole shebang into some coffee. If you hate all the PS that’s around these days I don’t blame you. The fact that most of what you find is sickeningly sweet and cloyingly heavy and artificial tasting aren’t PS’s fault. We just need to take a hand in our food’s preparation. Do so and you’ll find out why pumpkin spice is more popular than any of the presidential nominees. Few experiences sum up fall better than a warm drink with heady exotic spices enjoyed on a brisk day. Makes you wanna get all cozy with that special someone.
Now lets be honest, how many of you are going to wake up and make yourself a latte everyday? Yeah, thought so. But you’d probably make yourself some drip or instant coffee. So why not make your own pumpkin spice syrup and have easy rich creamy coffees with aromatic cinnamon and hearty pumpkin to help you face the fact that the days are getting shorter? The syrup serves as my sweetener and part of my milk in regular coffees.
Pumpkin Spice Syrup:
Weight Watchers points: 1 for 2 TBL
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup real cinnamon in chip form or 4 sticks
1/2 tsp ginger powder
2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
2 big glopping TBL of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
- Combing the water and sugar in a medium pot and bring to a hard boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Simmer for another 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Strain into a jar and add the sweetened condensed milk and pumpkin. Stir or shake well to combine. Keep in the refrigerator.
Horchata basic recipe:
1 cup raw long grain brown rice
5 cups warm water
1/2 cup milk (optional)
2 tablespoons simple syrup (optional)
fresh ground cinnamon to serve
- In a blender combine the rice, water, and salt. Blend for about 30-60 seconds depending on the strength of your blender. You want the rice ground up.
- Let this mixture sit at room temp for about 4 hours. Strain, add the milk and simple syrup if using, and chill in the refrigerator.
- Sweeten if desired, serve chilled or over ice sprinkled with cinnamon
Pumpkin Spice Horchata varation:
Add 1-2 tablespoons of PS syrup to taste to each cup of horchata. Stir well and enjoy chilled topped with cinnamon.
Butterscotch is my errything, and you can expect to see it’s delightfully burnt sienna self popping up from time to time as the mercury begins to dip. But what is butterscotch exactly? And what makes it different from caramel and toffee, you ask? According to Sweet Manufacture a British handbook and recipe collection printed back in the 30’s for professional candy companies butterscotch is a caramel with 3-5% of it’s weight being made up of butter. The same chapter also states however that “there is no definite dividing line between toffees and caramels, and in what may be termed borderline cases it is quite impossible to say which class a particular sample belongs.” I love that quote as I always read it in my head as being said by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. It’s the most Britishly formally way of saying “ehh, no one knows for sure.”
Nowadays butterscotch is known mainly as a sauce or in it’s chip form. It’s in the caramel family but it’s made with brown sugar instead of white which makes it sweeter than caramel while giving it greater depth of flavor. For me butterscotch creates memories of childhood and haystacks made with shoestring potatoes and peanuts. The flavor is American as Jell-O watergate salad and I unashamedly love it, even though every part of me knows I shouldn’t. If you don’t know what either of those “classic” recipes are, they’re the kind of things you usually have to grow up with to love, and even then they are as controversial as candy corn or licorice.
But I’m not here to rock the boat. I’ll not proselytize the wonders of licorice (and there are many) or sweet candy coated fried potato strips. I’m here today to give you the best possible introduction to this butter laden member of the caramel family: butterscotch cashew chews. The salted cashews round out the whole thing and provide the yang to the golden chip’s yin.
I jokingly call my boyfriend “the everything bagel bandit” because he leaves a trail of everything bagel toppings wherever he goes. Small piles of dried garlic and poppy seeds form in the rubber lining of the fridge door. They settle into the driver’s seat of his car and somehow find their way onto our couch’s throw pillows. I can’t blame him for his fondness. If I had the kind of metabolism that could support eating a half a loaf of bread’s worth of carbohydrates a day I would be all over that shit. Garlic, onion, salt, sesame and poppy seeds? Yes please. Never one to miss out I keep a jar of “everything bagel spice” on hand at all times. It’s a simple mix that takes a mere minute to throw together. It is amazing on popcorn (blend it up in a spice grinder first lest the pieces fall off), or on light toast with cream cheese, or as a topping on today’s project: bagel pretzels/pretzel bagels.
I avoid making really serious breads because my KitchenAid is jacked at the moment. The metal on the mixing bowl is dented which means the bowl doesn’t lock in. I have to hold onto the bowl with both arms and my chest in a full body hug that makes it look as if the mixer and I are about to tandem base jump. In fact the only reason I attempted this was because my refrigerator was being threatened with a hostile takeover from the sourdough starter I grew this week. Since my man likes to have his “daily bagel” this is one of the best ways for me to use up the portions of starter dough that would normally meet their end in the trash. I HATE to waste anything, if you haven’t gathered that by now.
This recipe is heavier than a pretzel but lighter than a bagel. It’s full of wonderful flavors and has a healthy amount of chew. They’re also thankfully smaller than a deli bagel.
Did I mention I hate to let anything go to waste? Hate hate HATE it? So when I found out I could steep fresh peach pits in cream and make lightly peach scented ice cream I knew I had to do it. While my own homemade almond extract is not going to be ready until Christmas at the earliest I still have some store bought left over. There is nothing like the menage a trois of peaches, cream, and almond. It’s divine. Assuming you have an ice cream maker making ice cream at home is stupid easy. Its easier than making frozen custard, which is often mistaken for ice cream. Whats the difference you ask? Egg yolks, baby. Sweet, fatty, golden yellow, emulsifying egg yolks.
Ice cream can technically be made in one day, but I always give frozen custard overnight to chill. I do the same with any infused ice creams, like this one, so plan to make it the day before you want to eat it. It’s really really ridiculously easy to just steep some peach pits from your pie making at the same time you are making said pie. Let it sit overnight with your pie dough and then “spin” (the term used in professional kitchens for churning ice cream) your ice cream while you form your pie. You could spin your ice cream at the same time as your pie is baking but even with as awesome as the Cuisinart and KitchenAid ice cream makers are if the high heat of the oven makes your kitchen warm your ice cream will suffer. Avoid this issue by spinning your ice cream (a lovely hands off 20-30 minutes) while you are rolling pie dough, which also benefits from a cold kitchen.
Limes were on sale last week so naturally I bought twenty of them. At ten for a dollar how could I not? Immediately my boyfriend got suspicious. “Great. Well those are going to go bad,” he dismissed. “Au contraire!” I protested. “Yeah, whats the plan then?” he countered. I proudly whipped out a sixer of Corona Lights (also on sale.) With an incredulous eyebrow raised and a slight shake of his head he dropped the subject but I knew I would have to find something to do with all of these limes.
After eyeballing numerous recipes for coconut lime cake, lime shortbread, and some sexy looking end of summer margaritas I decided to go with lime curd. I still had nearly a dozen yolks left over from the angel food cake, and I couldn’t think of a brighter topping to go with the cake and remaining blueberries. But I couldn’t stop there. Lime curd takes only a tablespoon of zest and half a cup of juice and I had mountains of limes spilling out of bowls and rolling off of my table that needed to be wrangled and put to use. Oh, and if you find yourself in a similar situation with say lemons, oranges, mineolas, buddha’s hands, etc instead of limes, go for it! Any citrus is interchangeable in these recipes.
Summer continues to hold on. The upcoming week holds highs in the 90’s until Friday arrives to free us all from the heat and work week responsibilities. Growing up in Southwest Florida summer was always my least favorite season, made only worse by the un-ignorable climate change. There is no such thing as eating with the seasons in The Sunshine State. Having spent the last five and a half years living in New York City however my views are beginning to change. Summer is now a scoch above winter. By no means my favourite season (that honor goes to Fall, who is hiding somewhere, ready to appear next week I hope) summer in the city has been pretty great to me. As a teacher I did not have to work so I took a huge two month long trip to Europe and Israel that I will post about at another time.
Still despite the fact that I feel ready for words like “crisp,” “cozy,” “spiced,” and “ooey gooey,” the world around me is not on the same page. But I wanna start fall baking right meow! The solution? Angel food cake. It’s light, airy, and pairs with the end of summer fruits and berries that can still be snapped up at the farmers market. If the berries are gone from your market fret not! This cake goes incredibly well with any citrus curd, canned fruit, or jam. Heck, you could even throw some frozen peaches or strawberries in a small pot with a sprinkling of sugar and some lemon zest and cook it until the juices release and the fruit softens. Just spoon that over a nice slice of this pillowy wonder cake. Whatever you do don’t forget the whipped cream, unsweetened of course (unless you have a couple pinches of vanilla sugar sitting around.)