Rosemary Grits with Tomato-Feta Chutney and Poached Egg

IMG_20180819_131230In the Marigny, in New Orleans on Frenchman Street, there is a little place called Cafe Rose Nicaud. I’m proud to say that in my most recent four-day stint in that wonderful city, I hit it up twice. Not only is the coffee excellent, but they have some breakfast items there that will kill you dead. I re-made one of them recently, mostly by hunting down a heavenly recipe for proper southern grits then winging it from there.

Grits recipe (doesn’t include rosemary)
Done on the stovetop, not in a slow-cooker.

Prep Time, 5 mins
Cook Time, 1 hr
Total Time, 1 hr 5 mins
Servings8 servings
Calories435 kcal
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups stone ground grits
  • *1 T rosemary, chopped fine (my addition)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. Gradually whisk in grits. (Add them too quickly and they will clump.)
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 50 to 60 minutes.
  4. If grits get too thick add more water or half-and-half.
  5. *Just before grits are done, add chopped rosemary and stir.
***
I’ve never made grits like this, not ones with so much dairy and that took so long. And I’ll tell you what, I’m never going back. This is the only way to go, totally smooth and creamy, and not nearly as heavy as they’d seem.
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* Once the grits were almost finished, I added about 1T finely chopped rosemary and stirred it in.
The tricky part was re-creating the tomato-caper-feta chutney that goes on top of the grits, because I had no capers (truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of them anyway) and no idea how the Cafe created it. So I winged it, as you do. My best guess is below.
While the grits cook, make the:
Tomato Chutney
  • One small (very fresh!) tomato, diced, liquid discarded
  • One half shallot, chopped fine
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t. white wine vinegar (to mimic capers)
  • salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in non-reactive bowl, stir and add salt and pepper. Chutney should be tart but not overly so, if it is, add a little more olive oil. Once mix is balanced, cover with cling wrap and set aside. Liquid will be discarded, it’s ok if there’s more, as long as the flavor is right.

Additional Toppings
1/2 t. rosemary (I also added 1/2 t. of basil but would omit next time)
2 T. feta crumbles
Egg(s), poached. One per serving.

Ready to Serve
Spoon grits into individual bowl, top with chutney (about 2 T.).
Add feta to taste, add pinch of rosemary
Top with a poached egg.

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Lemon Rosemary Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

FLUFFY LEMON ROSEMARY CAKE WITH LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Learn how to make this unique and light and fluffy lemon rosemary cake with lemon cream cheese frosting complete with step-by-step pictures. This is my favorite fluffy yellow cake recipe that always comes out tender and moist! 

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INGREDIENTS:

For the Cake
  • 2 1/2 cups (280 gr) cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 1/4 tsp (5 gr)  baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (2 gr) baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp (3.6 gr) Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1 1/2 tsp if using Diamond kosher)
  • 1 3/4 cups (343 gr) granulated sugar (divided)
  • 10 tablespoons (140 gr) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup (237 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3 TBSP (44 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, minced
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
For the Frosting
  • 8 oz (224 gr) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 112 gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cup (298 gr) confectioners sugar

DIRECTIONS:

FOR THE CAKE
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans. Dust pans with flour and tap out excess any excess.
    2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. In another bowl whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, rosemary and egg yolks.
    3. For the meringue: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy. With machine running, stream in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat at high speed just until stiff peaks form. Gently transfer to a bowl and set aside.
    4. Add flour mixture to the empty stand mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix for about 10 seconds. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape down the bowl. Mix again on medium for 20 more seconds just until combined.
    5. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in 1/2 of the meringue just until incorporated. Fold in the rest of the meringue. Be very gentle to not deflate the air in the meringue. You will have a few white streaks in the batter. Divide batter evenly between your prepared cake pans.
    6. Place pans on a half-sheet pan and bake on the center rack in the oven at 350F for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cake will begin pulling away Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and will no longer jiggle in the center when it is finished.
    7. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the sides of the pans to loosen cakes then invert on a greased wire rack. Allow to cool completely (about 1 more hour) before frosting.
FOR THE FROSTING
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined and creamy. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  2. Reserve just under half to frost middle layer, using the rest for top and sides. (added that one myself for future reference – P)
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Calm before the storm


Remember what I said about being a ridiculous baker? Still true! I prepped my ingredients ahead of time and grouped them, as all smart cooks and bakers do, but when it got to the “melted butter” portion of the program, then it went sideways. And out. And under.

I had just cleaned the microwave two days prior to its pristine, sparkling self. Then I put the butter in and set the timer for 45 seconds. Whoops, too long. Explosion #1. Remove butter, clean microwave (again), take stock of lost butter. Add at least another ounce. Ugh. Cut more butter, add to existing butter, microwave for a scant

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“stiff peaks”/”almost butter”

seven seconds. Explosion #2. Remove butter, clean microwave (AGAIN), take stock of lost butter. At least another ounce. Ugh. Add more butter, learn lesson, warm Pyrex of already-melted butter on flat top range (this might be the only thing our electric range is good for).

Then it was time to separate the eggs. Oh look, half a white got into my yolks. Offff course they did. At least it wasn’t the other way around, right? Sure. I stored my mixing bowl and whip attachment in the fridge, since I always heard that stuff should be cold for maximum height, and the whites whipped up beautifully. But um, for maybe a little too long, I was probably about 31 seconds from butter. I passed “stiff peaks” and went into “stiff nearly chunk”, but they still folded in and at least the proteins never separated from the fats (small mercy, since I had used almost twice the amount of butter to make up for the microwave snafu.

IMG_20180710_172226

looking good! until…

Mixed all ingredients, folded whites and batter together, poured into pans, shook for air bubbles, waited to level, added to oven. Whoops, I forgot to put them on a sheet pan but I bet it’ll be ok.

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naturally.

It was not. 20 minutes, test. Raw batter in the middle. Five more minutes, test. Still batter. Crap. Google. Notice well-baked top and sides, cover with parchment and insert sheet pan on bottom rack, six minutes. Ding! Perfecto! Tip cakes out of tin. Tin #1: excellent. Tin #2: not excellent. I quickly pulled the stubborn bit away from the bottom of the tin and pressed it onto its mother. This is why the good lord invented crumb coats! No one will know! That bottom will be the middle of the cake, I decide.

Frosting finished without catastrophe, minus almost adding only half the butter. Then it was time to frost. I don’t know if anyone else has this anxiety, but I’m always worried about adding too much frosting to the middle layer and then not having enough for the top and sides. As a result, I regularly wind up with just a thin coating in the middle and a bunch leftover for the rest. That happened here. It presents really nicely once frosted, it tastes so, so good, but it’s lopsided and sad looking.

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hey that doesn’t look so bad!

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doesn’t taste so bad either.

Next time I’ll add half more rosemary and lemon rind to the batter, and I’ll remember how to portion out the frosting but otherwise: Huge success.

Rosemary Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Original recipe found here.

CHEWY BROWN SUGAR AND ROSEMARY SNICKERDOODLES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown)
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 TBSP cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and rosemary until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Mix in the egg and the vanilla until incorporated.
  2. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, cream or tartar, and baking soda.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F.
  6. Mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 TBSP cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll medium sized dough balls (about 11/2 TBSP) in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place dough on parchment (or silpat) lined baking sheets and bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes until puffy and the edges are set. The middle will still look underbaked.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before removing.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES:

1 tsp baking powder may be substituted for cream of tarter and baking soda.


Baking and I are weary adversaries. Well, that’s not true, baking knows exactly what it’s doing, I am the problem there. I don’t have a diagnosed learning disorder, I’ve never tested as dyslexic or have any mental difficulties that should interfere with reading comprehension, but I will screw up a measurement faster than you can say, “no, TABLEspoon”. This experience was no different, naturally.

After all the ingredients were combined and the KitchenAid was whipping the dough around, I casually re-read the recipe and realized I’d added a whole teaspoon of baking soda instead of a half. I furiously Googled “what happens if I add too much baking soda?” and the answers spoke of ruined recipes, how to salvage (before it’s all mixed together), and lessons learned as a result. Great.

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Definitely use dark brown sugar

I sucked it up and figured they’d turn out bitter or tough, and prepared for the worst. I rolled the dough in balls slightly smaller than ping pong, which seemed “medium” to me per the recipe, and then tossed them in the cinnamon sugar mix. Popped the tray into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. Then 11. Then 13. They looked done but still quite puffy. The extra baking soda, I thought.

The second batch went in for 13 minutes firm and came out, well, small. Puffed up and small. They taste, however, amazing. I am growing an herb pot and have more rosemary than I know what to do with, so next up is a Rosemary Lemon Cake, by the same website author as these cookies. Results pending.

Spiced Tea

My favorite clothes love warm weather, my favorite foods love the cold. Go figure.

This tea mix was a staple in my home growing up from the first cool night of autumn to the last one of spring. It’s tangy, sweet, orangey, and spiced perfectly. Tea purists take heed: this uses freeze-dried tea and is in no way, to be mistaken for anything resembling actual tea. I’m not even totally sure how to make it legitimately, with actual tea or tea leaves. I’m open to thoughts, though.

The recipe produces quite a lot of powder mix and it makes a great hostess gift, so double it if you’re feeling generous.

Spiced Tea

  • 1 lb. orange Tang (when I was younger, this came in a large glass jar, now it’s the squaty plastic containers with measuring cup on the inside of the lid. Handy!)
  • 1 c. instant tea
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground cloves
  • 2 pkg. lemonade mix (Kool Aid-type packages, doesn’t matter the brand, just so the packages are 0.15 oz)

Mix together, store in an airtight container.
Use 2T mix to 8 oz. of hot water, stir until dissolved (but it’s never totally dissolved). Add bourbon if you like. I haven’t tried that yet, but I should…

tea.jpg

Spiced Tea mix, ready to go.

 

Breakfast Bombs

If you’re anticipating a participation brunch, company in your home, or a fast breakfast for any reason, look no further. These biscuit bites are easy, filling, and if you’re hard up for prep time, can be prepped the night before then assembled and tossed into the oven (or toaster oven, if you’re like me who likes efficiency and not bending down) the next day. Apologies for the egregious use of corporate shilling in the original recipe site. I’ve omitted all of that in the copy/paste version shown here because ads suck.

Her recipe is written somewhat inaccurately and requires a few more tips and tricks than she lists, so I’ve marked mine with a *.

While we made these for a BYO brunch, we also winged it and made Sausage Gravy-Stuffed Biscuits which were gobbled up faster than the Breakfast Bombs.

Breakfast Bombs

Makes 8 but you can easily double the batch

  • 4 breakfast sausage patties*
  • 3 eggs, scrambled*
  • 1/4 cup of shredded fancy cheese*
  • 1 8-count package of standard crescent rolls

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
  2. Take a non-stick muffin pan and space out 8 crescent dough triangles gently inserted into the muffin tin spaces*
  3. Fill each dough triangle with a tablespoon of eggs
  4. Then place a cooked, halved sausage patty on top of the eggs
  5. Finish each with a sprinkle of cheese**
  6. Wrap your dough corners over the top to cover most of the filling
  7. Bake for 12 mins at 375
  8. Eat while hot

*****

* In the original recipe, she recommends using pre-pattied sausages. Instead, I bought a tube of good old Jimmy Deans (and the second time we used sausage we made), formed them into patties like your normally would, and cooked them up. I cut them into halves but since the sausages we cut tend to be thicker than pre-cut, wound up using third pieces instead of half.

Season your eggs! The first time I made this, I was laid up after having gallbladder surgery and wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing. They were bland, not even the sausage and cheese saved them.

* She mentions that she doesn’t use non-stick muffin tins or spray because the grease from the biscuits and sausage is enough. This is accurate to a point, but if you don’t pop the biscuits out of the tins immediately after cooking, the dough will stick to the bottom just a bit. Nothing catastrophic, but it’s not a perfect system.

** I don’t think a 1/4 cup of cheese is enough. I put a teaspoon or so of shredded cheddar in each tin. It takes a little practice, the egg and sausage should look like the same visual amount, but the cheese is a wild card in that respect. When in doubt, err on the side of more cheese since the biscuits can be a bit dry if the ingredient proportions aren’t quite right. Do I have to actually say to use more cheese though? Doubtful.

sausage-egg-cheese-bombs

Recipe author’s photo, shown for how to layer (your cheese should look like the top right biscuit, not the center).

Sloppy Joe, Slop Sloppy Joe

All credit for that title goes here.

A few weeks ago, my friend asked me for some dishes that would feed a family, made ahead of time and frozen, as the mom was facing surgery and friends were pitching in to prep meals. I sent her a few ideas, but for my money and time, it’s hard to beat a giant vat of Sloppy Joe’s for volume, satisfaction, and tastiness. It freezes well, reheats well, and can be eaten plain, on a bun, with slaw or chips, etc.

I almost always double this recipe.

Mom’s Sloppy Joe

Ingredients

2.5 lb. ground beef (90%/10% if you can swing it, 80% will produce a lot of fat but you can still go with it)
1 med. yellow onion, chopped fine
1 c. ketchup (this is the only time ketchup is in our home, we are mustard people)
1 T. vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. dry mustard (you want the kick of the dry you don’t get with prepared)
3T. Worcestershire Sauce
water as needed

Brown beef and onions together until onions are translucent and fat renders out, drain fat.

Add all ingredients to large pot and add beef and onions, stir until well mixed.

Simmer two hours, stir occasionally. Add water to thin as needed.

****

And that’s it. If I’m making some for later, I wait until it’s cooled, cold is even better, remove whatever fat has come to the top, and pack it in storage containers to stick in the freezer. It microwaves or stovetops back to life perfectly.

I know a lot of people put celery, cumin, or tomatoes in their Sloppy Joes but this is what I was raised on: simple, straightforward, no frills. It’s tangy and sweet, savory, and perfect for cool weather. Enjoy!

(I tried to find a good photo to add here but every image I found had visible carrots, tomatoes, or celery in the meat and rather than mislead you, this is a plain post.)

Sausage Gravy-Stuffed Biscuits

We made this up as we went along in prep for a BYO brunch. They were a huge hit and had I known that, I’d have taken photos as the process was happening. Alas.

Everyone makes sausage gravy differently and as your southern friends will tell you, there are usually no measurements involved for any of it. So I am going to list for you here the ingredients, the basic technique, and leave you to make the gravy as you like best (or find a recipe online somewhere to guide you, but having not tried any of them I can’t vouch for their quality). It’s worth the trial and error and when in doubt, use more gravy!

Ingredients

  • 1 package Pillsbury Grands! buttermilk biscuits (you could use a store brand too, I am sure. We used Pillsbury so if you use a store brand to success, let me know)
  • 1 egg white, beaten – add 1T of water if you double the recipe
  • They come five biscuits to a roll, we used two packages to make 10 biscuits
  • White flour
  • Breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled with a few larger chunks (dice-sized) in there
  • Milk (2% or 1% with half & half added, you want the fat)
  • LOTS of black pepper, preferably fresh cracked
  • Salt
  • And if you’re feeling weird and adventurous, liquid smoke and/or cayenne

Instructions

  1. Make your sausage gravy using all of the above ingredients but the biscuits and egg whites. It should be thick and not runny, thinner than cookie dough but thicker than spaghetti sauce.
  2. Cower in fear as you whack the biscuit can on the side of your counter to open, breathe sigh of relief when it doesn’t explode your kitchen.
  3. Separate the biscuits and press them flat on a parchment-lined baking tray, about 1/4″ thick and 6″ across or so, using a rolling pin if you have to.
  4. Spoon a good amount of the gravy in the middle, about 1T or so, and gather the sides of the biscuits up until they meet. Pinch them closed so there is no gravy visible. Flip them over so the smooth side faces up.
  5. Brush tops of biscuits with beaten egg whites, sprinkle a bit of black pepper on top if you like
  6. Bake according to biscuit package instructions, serve while still very warm.
  7. Reap accolades and high fives (and maybe take some pictures)

 

Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli

Between the ages of 17-19, I worked at The Olive Garden next to Spring Hill Mall, in Suburban Chicago, Illinois. I was there for the introduction of The Gateway to Hell, aka, The Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, and I worked there before they renovated the place into the Tuscan-inspired stucco style it is today (it’s better now). I often told people that I’d eat off the floors, the place was so clean. It was the best and most professional restaurant service training I’ve ever received, before or since, and I stand by the quality of their ingredients. It’s a guilty pleasure going there, minus the guilt. It’s not real Italian, the way fast food burgers aren’t really burgers, but it’s its own thing and has its place.

They had only three soups back then, with the spicy potato sausage soup being the new addition (it was a long time ago), and their minestrone which I would make if I could figure out how to keep the veggies from becoming mush.

This chili-style soup though, was always a go-to. It’s satisfying and can be customized in lots of ways for your taste requirements.

Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef or mild Italian sausage
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil , divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans low sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water, then more as desired
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I add a lot of pepper, it’s great peppery. Definitely test often for salt, it’s very bland without a lot)
  • 1 scant cup dry ditalini pasta (I used a full cup, I’m a rebel who likes pasta)
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium high heat, crumble in ground beef or sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Drain fat from beef then transfer beef to a plate, set aside.

    Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in same large saucepan, onions, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat until tender about 6 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to a low, add tomato sauce, beef broth, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and cooked beef then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile prepare ditalini pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente.

  2. Add cooked and drained pasta to soup* along with kidney beans and great northern beans. Thin with a little more water if desired. Allow to cook 2 minutes longer. Serve warm with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

    * If you don’t plan on eating all of the soup right away I recommend adding the pasta to individual servings. Then whatever is left over you can add the pasta to that the next day. Otherwise the pasta get’s really soggy and soup doesn’t have enough liquid.*

    ****

    * This is extremely true. I made the pasta and kept it in a separate container once it cooled, then microwaved it and added it to the soup as needed. It WILL get soggy and gross, so definitely do this if you don’t plan to eat the whole batch at once.

    You want this thick like chili, with some liquid throughout.

    pasta_e_fagoli-2

    Recipe author’s photo, highly accurate. More cheese = more better!

It’s Cranberry Season: Let’s Make Relish!

I grew up with cranberries in the can. You know the one, you cut open both ends and sllllllide it out onto the plate with a floop. I love that stuff, and I’m not afraid to say it. My grandma sent me cans in care packages when I was in college all year long.

Last year, hubs and I had our own little Thanksgiving so I decided to thwart tradition and make cranberry sauce from scratch for the first time. This stuff was, without hyperbole, the best. We wound up putting it on ice cream and eating it by the spoonful at random moments. Cranberry season is fleeting so this year, I plan to buy a few bags to keep in the freezer so I can make this glorious relish whenever the mood strikes.

Cranberry Relish

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice (NOT CRANBERRY JUICE COCKTAIL – the plain juice may be hard to find, but you’ll need it so don’t settle)
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp fresh grated ginger*
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon*
  • 16 ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • Zest of 1 orange – just the orange part
Instructions
  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, add sugar, juice and spices.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, syrup is clear and comes to a rolling boil, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a colander, rinse and pick over the cranberries to remove any mushy ones.
  4. Add cranberries to boiling syrup and continue cooking, uncovered, just until they begin to pop, about 2-5 minutes (set the timer). Be careful not to cook them too long or they will get mushy.
  5. Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in orange zest and cool to room temperature, uncovered.
  7. Place in container, cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Notes
If you prefer to have it smoother, once you add in the orange zest either use an Immersion blender on it or run it through a food mill/sieve to remove any pieces.
*****
** Don’t leave these out, even if you don’t like ginger or cinnamon, they are crucial to the overall flavor. It winds up having an edible holiday spice profile, if that makes sense.

The berries do break down the more you stir and boil them, but if you want to have a smoother sauce that has some chunks, you’ll want to mash them. Either a potato masher or an immersion blender work well. You will likely never get it very smooth unless you strain several times, so embrace the chunk.

Cranberries will freeze well and keep their integrity, which I didn’t realize last year when I made this. This time however: Cranberries in spring and summer! I can’t wait.

Spicy Nuts!

We turned the heat on last night, it dipped to 28 degrees and the fireplace just didn’t cut it. I woke up under three blankets, I was not prepared for the cold quite yet. BUT with cold comes warm drinks, fireplace crackles, and spicy cooking smells. Add these spiced nuts to your cool weather arsenal! They make fantastic snacks, gifts, and pot luck contributions. My notes are in red.

Addictive Spiced Nuts
1 pound raw mixed nuts (I used equal portions of almonds, pecans, and walnuts) make sure they’re unsalted but if they are, omit the salt in the recipe)
1 egg white, room temperature (Doesn’t have to be, not sure why it matters)
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup white sugar*
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond brand; reduce to 1 teaspoon if using Morton)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine salt, spices, and sugar in small bowl.
Whisk egg white and water together in mixing bowl.

Add nuts; stir to coat. Sprinkle spice mixture over nuts and stir to coat evenly.*

Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven. When cool, break the nuts apart and store in a tightly sealed container.

****

And that’s it. Honestly, I probably cut some corners. I mix together the spices in one bowl, then throw the nuts in, then pour the water and egg white mix over top, and stir. It works out just fine. There are a few things to note, and here they are:

Occasionally, the first round of baking doesn’t always get the nuts crispy, which is what you want. So when the oven dings, take a sample and cool it, (try a softer nut like a walnut or pecan) and check for softness. If there is and it’s closer to raw than roasted and crispy, put them back in for another 5-10 minutes.

* The original recipe isn’t very sweet or very spicy so as a result, it can wind up just a bit one-note. I always increase the white sugar by a tablespoon and 1.5 times the cayenne. They turn out a bit more dynamic and spicy that way, if you’re into that sort of thing.

People love these, if you’re on the hook for a gift or to bring something to the office to share, bring these. If you live near a Costco, you can find large quantities of the nuts required for pretty cheap (just make sure to check if they’re salted or not). Leaving them around the house is dangerous: You have been warned.

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Recipe author’s photo: Accurate