Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To Christmas & Back again.....

Everyone's blogs are viral with pictures of Christmas so I thought I ought to get in the act. My whole family (minus one Krumping brother) came to visit and when I was handed a slew of photos on my hard drive at the end of it all. I had to vow to a) never post another picture taken with my camera & b) get myself a decent camera.

It's a wonder you've looked at any of these photos of food. It's akin to someone making a really really BAAAAD movie trailer and expecting anyone to be interested in watching the movie.

Last night I made 2 turkeys, gravy & stuffing for my friends in Noda....was definitely feeling under the weather & am now wrapped in blankies drinking turkey soup to nurse me back to sanity. (Not likely) are some pics. I'll probably put up a few batches I'm just too fond of the photography & camera. Food pics first, family next!

Stuffing it with......stuff!! Can you see the slab of butter under his skin?
seducing my sisters' taste buds with tomato, micro arugula, EV olive oil, balsamico & flur de sel. They will never be the same!!
The 2nd stage of peppermint meringues.Fruity mess for my Rustic excuse of a gallette!But that buttery crust was a dream, baby!! Aww---ka-POW!!!
molasses spice cookies, peanutbutter cookies, & iced cardamom sugar cookies

That's it for now. Gotta go & be sick now, catch you later!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eggnog Latte.....and that's what it's all about.

The best thing about hosting an eggnog/cookie party for all your friends & their kiddos is.......
Eggnog latte in the morning, when all your kids are coming off of their cookie sugar high. This was premium eggnogg folksies. I'm not trying to brag here but seriously the custard was perfect in it's own right with vanilla beans speckling it with it's stamp of approval. I finally got my hands on nutmeg seeds to grate directly onto each portion. And a certain smart guest showed up and plunked down a tumbler on my kitchen counter when he walked in the door. "Merry Christmas, would you mind if I took some home with me?"

Needless to say, Eggnog was spilled, cookies were munched, prezzies were exchanged & it was a great noisy time!

I finally played around with icing sugar & did some of my cardamom sugar cookies with deco. I quickly found that I have the patience of a squirrel on Red Bull and raced through them uncerimoniously. Maybe I'll have the kids do them next year.
Hunter was trying to use the ice-cream scoop to scoop out my last bit of sanity.
Ah....Bruschetta for my husband who did indeed let me take off to Chiba. What a swell fellow he is. But then he's the one who got a plateful of these babies on his desk. I made these of prosciutto, tomatoes, baby arugula, EV olive oil, balsamico vinegar & grey sea salt.

Hope your Christmas cooking is turning out.......and remember when you're in a jam.......BUTTER WILL FIX IT!!

PS. Since I know this is coming, just wanna say, if you call me on Christmas with a foodie question........pretend like you called me to say Merry Christmas first & I'll be happy to help in whatever way I can.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm Alive.....again.......

Somehow I was under the mistaken impression that celebrating my recovery from the H1N1 meant that I had gotten it......but NO!! It just meant that I was so exhausted from my kids being up all hours of the night for 2 weeks that I thought I had it & consequently got ridiculously sick after drinking 2 delicious hot buttered rum drinks at midday. (which BTW made for a very cheerful sedated day) so..........NOW, I'm better and thanks to my terribly capable & good looking husband I got a day & 1/2 off to go visit w/ my fam & silly sisters in Chiba (aka, home sweet home). Where I completed my Christmas cooking shopping with, molasses, fresh cardamom, poppy seeds, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, and of course a huge bar of white chocolate for cookies.

Thanks to a viewing of "Julia & Julie" I'm trying to inject some inspiration into my Christmas cooking. ("Get the AED out.......CLEAR.......Zaaaaap!! I'm getting nothing.......turn it up to 400w, CLEAR...................ZZZZAAAP!!"). I'm all jacked up on double shots of espresso in my coffee so today I'm gonna tackle Christmas cookies & menus for Christmas dinner & the two turkeys & stuffing I'm putting together for friends who are mourning the loss of their oven.

Here's a few pics from Chiba.

It's tiring being the sister of a actor, those damn paparazzi can find you anywhere.
There they were stalking out the Uchibo line.

Amy getting heavy handed with'm. The price we pay for fame!! Sigh!

Chala needs some Christmas cheer.
Midnight Cowboy hamburger at Village Vanguard in Parco.........I'm making a plug for them. Best darn burgers in Chiba!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hot Buttered Rum!!

Yes, it's true!! I tried it & I did like it. And as you can see I didn't even have the decency to wait till happy hour. And why? Because when all your kids are over the dreaded flu of flus, & finished their 1st month of school....EVERY hour is happy hour!!

Here's a recap of the recipe:

Heat glass with hot water
3 heaping tsp of light brown sugar
Dash of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
2 oz (a shot) of golden rum
top with hot water
1 pat (tbsp) butter

Stir &........Enjoy!!

For pre-made "sugar & spice butter" for 10-12 drinks worth
1 stick (1 c) butter
2 c light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
Dash of salt

mix till butter is softened & ingr. combined chill in freezer till needed to top drinks. Also great for topping toast/french toast etc....

Please be kind & if you please rate/subscribe/comment on my YouTube channel. And if you have a Christmas recipe request I'll do my best to buy yet MORE butter and demonstrate how to turn every recipe into a sucess. Nya ha ha!!!

Though next up will be some mulled wine or glogg, soon as I can get some good cheap wine!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

FINALLY.....An EGGNOG recipe!!!

I finally wanted to get around to posting a eggnog recipe for you. Mind you when I make this I really sort of "wing-ding" it because I feel that I can do no wrong when I put a ton of whip cream & rum into something & all mistakes will be forgiven when friends are walking around with nog-stashes & cookie crumbs on their sweaters.

But seriously.....I covered a few of the basic highlights & concepts of eggnog that I like to stick to, in a noggie post 2 years back.

But for anyone who wants an actual recipe this is as close as we'll get. I wanted to make some & take some pics but I fear that'll have to wait till later on as if I break out the cookies & nog now there'll be no stopping me.

So here we go:

4 cups of milk
1/4 c of cornstarch
1/2 c sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract or (if you can 1/2 a vanilla pod's seeds scraped out)

1 cup of light rum (of course if you'd like more.......)
4 egg whites
2 cups whipped cream
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp (more or less) of nutmeg

Now listen up & remember the cardinal rule about eggnog is this:

As long as you put enough rum in no one will remember your eggnog sucked. Honestly, have you ever heard someone complain about eggnog being bad?

If you're acquainted with custard at all you'll get how to put together the first 5 ingr. with no trouble. There are a few standard custard methods (the traditional method of course, doens't use any cornstarch at all) I can't stand a curdled eggish mess so I usually stick with the cornstarch method.

First put aside the egg yolks in a medium size bowl & mix'm together. Next mix the sugar & cornstarch in a saucepan & mix in the milk. Stir on med/low heat till it start to bubble & simmer. Mix for about 1 minute & then swiftly (to avoid, again, egg curdled horrific mess) pour in about 1/2 or more of the mixture into the egg yolks whisking till blended then pour it back into the saucepan & bring back to a boil & simmer for another minute till thickened. If you want your nog NOW, place your saucepan into a bath of icewater & mix it till cooled then throw it into the freezer to cool quick (don't forget about it) while you're doing the rest. Or just cover with clear wrap (flush against the custard to stop a icky skin from forming, ewww) & put it in the fridge till you need it. It'll keep for at least 24 hrs.

Now for the fluff....remember if you're parinoid of raw eggs or you're wanting to make this the night before you probably don't want to have whipped egg whites sitting in your eggnog but if you're wanting a real creamy eggnog then I stand by this method. Beat the egg whites till stiff & whip the cream up adding sugar accordingly. Now pull out your custard & add the rum to it. Mixing thoroughly (it'll tend to settle to the bottom if you're not careful to mix as you pour. Fold in your egg whites then your cream. (the egg whites will deflate a bit but will lighten up the nog enough to take in the whipped cream without deflated completely)

Top with nutmeg & serve with cookies galore. I'd be going for something with extra spice like, 4 spice cookies or cardamom sugar cookies.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Birthday Ban!

Belated & I can't promise (or don't want to) that I'll put up all pictures of birthday cakes (since some had fantastically "sell out" & "doomed for failure" themes like "Star Wars" etc...) but this one was too cute. Hunter's 2nd Birthday cake. A Kiki & Lala themed florescent cake of love!

My ultra-techincially profound way of decorating cake. AKA, slap it on baby!!

Busy mom's favorite cop out, wash charaters & smoosh them into icing.

Equals......Super duper happy little birthday boy!! TADA!!!!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Experimental video! --- FEEEDBACK please! :)

Hey there friends. Been a little while. I'm still recovering from a cold, computer adapter fail moment, H1N1 sick kids & other such excuse making. Soooo, to make for it though really I'm still cringing from viewing's a little video I made a while ago. I hope you'll forgive my humble stumble bumble attempt. I know I'm talking non-sense & looking at it now it's not as clear as I wanted (maybe I'll give it a thought before I start) . Plus I have no video editing program so that's something I wanna figure out too. Any suggestions? It's something I wanted to do & hope it'll at least make you smirk. Want to make another one soon. Any advice, tips & love coming my way is great.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preempting your Thanksgiving L.O. problem

Yummola-gamola!! Hope you all are having a good winter day & if you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I'm sure a gratitude attitude will certainly make you feel more toasty than thinking about your ofuro drain hair clogging problem. Grossanization!

So, as I've said before I never really "did" Thanksgiving mainly because it seemed like another feast so close to Christmas -- which inevitably turns out to be the one that gets the biggest turn out. But this year I had the opportunity to wing one in style Simple friendly & kind for the friendly "man friends" of ours who brought forth a 13 lb (6 kg) turkey. And for anyone who's interested (.....or not) Here's what I did for our simple standard Thanksgiving dinner:

- Brined Turkey in apple/brown sugar/clove brine
- Baked the stuffed turkey (not my fav but don't have enough room in the oven for seperate stuffing)
- Cranberry sauce (by a miracle, tx Mark, and ONE'S MALL, for anyone who lives in Chiba)
- Gravy
- Mega cream potatoes (1 c of cream & 1 of butter, ewww but delish)
- Salad with nuts galore
- Whiskey caramelized carrots
- cornbread (last minute in the oven while the turkey set for 20 min)
- For desert Big Bill's Carrot cake and blueberry ice-cream (the biggest cheat of the day, mixing mashed frozen blueberries with storebought ice-cream. (I'm lazy --- sue me!)

Now as for left overs. I of course made a good gallon or so of turkey stock. And if you don't make even the simplest of stock with your left over turkey or chicken you deserve a spanking of spankings & for me to then confiscate your bones....that is to say -- the bones of your bird! MAKE YE STOCK!!

Anyway, I turned 1/2 of that stock into a simple turkey & kidney bean soup for the next night. The other 1/2 is stashed away in my freezer for later.

But I decided to try to make something yummy with the left over mashed potatoes. I don't know about you but I grow pretty fickle of mashed potatoes roughly 1 hr after they're mashed. (I know, I'm cold) So to make it short I found this recipe for Potato Biscuits on All recipes and slapped them together easily for lunch. (even spared 2 rashers of bacon for good measure)

Too lazy to shape them I just spooned them on the tray & baked. They were light, fluffy & crisp on the outside. Should've added some cheese but didn't think to. Next time. I do recommend these if you're stuck on what to do with the L.O. potatoes.

Next you'll think I'm coo-coo but I took what was left off the bone of the turkey giblet & neck bone (what is that called?) and shredded it up.

Then I threw together a fritatta of :

- 6 eggs, whipped with 1/2 c of milk
- 1 cup or so of stuffing & left over cornbread broken up
- a handful or so of cheese.
- sprigs of parsley

Fried up the stuffing & turkey, poured the egg & sprinkled the cheese & parsley along with salt & pepper. Covered & cooked for about 15 min or till pretty firm looking then flipped it over onto a plate. And this is it! Wasn't bad at all. Though the occasional dried cranberry was a little disconcertingly sweet. More on fritattas & Tortas another time. But as it so happens I gotta go to beddy bye! Lemmie know what you made for Thanksgiving!

Contemplating cookies & getting out Bruce the manly mixer for possible cookie giveaways!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boys will be.....

Apparently swings are just not interesting enough if you were to merely swing on them. A more manly approach....

pretending to fall off swing
Crashing into the other guy till he falls off swing
Pretending to surf/skateboard/snowboard/be a jedi on swing
Have as little body contact with swing as possible
Join the circus because of cultivated swing styles

Boys will be....and that's why I love them

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alas alas......

Hi there friendly friends!

I desperately wish I had something yummy & funky to post but as you can see I'm feeling a little under the weather as far as cooking goes. Now I know I shouldn't be getting all dramatic but I'm just feeling a little bit like Napoleon, looking at the little bit of culinary world that I have conquered & now I'm sitting on my heels drinking cheap box wine weeping bitter tears that there are NO new worlds & alas I must despair and die with my cooking laurel hanging off my left foot.

I dislike people saying I cook well, or that they are intimidated by my cooking. If I cook for you will you watch me doing it the wrong way & not say anything? Will you show me a faster way or yummier way?

There are so many things I don't know how to do I feel like I'm doing a mediocre job of imitating a cook. I made a thanksgiving dinner on the request of some hungry dude friends who supplied the turkey & with all it's good fun at the end of the long day of cooking, I found that it was all too smooth & without incident. There wasn't the least bit of thrill to be had in putting together all the components & as spoiled as it sounds I really did wish that each year's Holiday dinner called for a different theme or country's cuisine.

Am I being a doofus? Probably. I've been listening to podcasts about French cooking basics, which as all good things go, it seems the French set the standard for excelence. Through all the good things I'm learning I'm also getting an itch to try so many things I can't for lack of ingrdiants and kitchen ware.

I foresee the winter foodies coming upon me and all the usual goodies & goodness & the thing that I realized I'm not looking forward to is the fact that everyone wants to be rocked in the gentle arms of nastogia eating their favorites! And I end up making the same thing I've made every year. People don't want something new on their holidays, they want MEMORIES!!

Sigh, Oh that there was a whole goose, duck, pheasant (hint hint!!), or side of ham to stress about & discover.

Anyone have any good ideas for holiday goodness? I know how silly it is to insist I've done it all. Maybe I should solicit recipes and vow to try as many as I can. I'm esp. interested in soups, Christmas drinks, cookies, main meat courses, etc...

More cheerful days ahead. With 6 ltrs of chicken & turkey stock in my freezer, how can I go wrong?

PS. If it gets too cold drop by & we'll hunkerdown on the couch with some good chicken soup or mulled wine! Doors always open a crack!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

I promise to not do any more caramel after this but I had to give you this recipe in time for you Thanksgiving cooks.

This pie has a great way of making caramel that I think you "classroom scientific" type cooks will find fun. It involves smoking sugar in a pan & other such questionable behavior. But all in all quite interesting. Remember when they'd tell you that white sugar was brown sugar burnt? Well, caramel, apparently is white sugar burnt....and, gosh darn it.....somehow it's brown again. So, we're all good!

And the result is of course fantastic. The caramel will give your pie a really rich dark color (if you make your caramel right). And served at room temp with ice-cream. It was fantissimo! I'd say it's probably for a more grown up audience, esp if you let the caramel darken enough. I served it to my grandparents & was slightly embarrassed when Miss 2# announced, "Is that Rum? I knew I recognized the taste". heh!!

I've left the recipe in it's entirety as it's something you want to read through before you start.

You can also find my pie crust recipe here. Have fun!! And lemmie know what you're making for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to my unique Thanksgiving & contemplating what to make that won't involve baking anything other than the turkey in the last 4 hours before dinner. Any ideas?

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

1 9 inch single pie crust Partially baked & cooled

1 c sugar
3/4 c heavy cream
2 tbsp dark rum or cognac
2 tbsp unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
1 c pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg and allspice
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Getting ready:
Center rack in oven & preheat the oven to 350 f (175 c)

Sprinkley 1/2 c sugar evenly over the bottom of a large nonstick skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat & staying close cook until the sugar melts & starts to color. Once you see a little color gently swirl till it turns deep amber -- almost mahogany. The sugar will bubble up & foam & start to smoke. It's very dramatic & might make you think you've gone too far, but you want a dark (though not burned black) color; the darker the sugar the fuller the flavor. When the bubble s have gone from foamy to big & fat, you will probably have reached the right color. To check, drop a bit of the caramelized sugar on a white plate.

Lower the heat to medium, stand back & pour the cream into the skillet. The sugar will bubble & hiss &, if the cream was cold may even clump. Just continue to cook, stirring, and it will even out. Add the rum & butter & cook just until the caramel is smooth. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl or pitcher & cool for about 15 min.

Working with a whisk in a large bowl, beat the pumpkin to break it up & smooth it. Add the remaining 1/2 c of sugar & beat to blend. Whisk in the spices, salt, vanilla & eggs. beating until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the caramel. Rap the bowl against the counter a few times to de-bubble the filling then pour into the crust.

Bake for 45-50 min, or until the filling is puffed and set -- tap the pan gently and the filling won't giggle. A think knife inserted into the center of the pie will come out clean. It will also leave a gash in the filling but you'll be covering it with whipped cream.

Trasfer the pie to a rack & cool to room temp, or cool & refrigereate. When you are ready to serve. Spread the lightly whipped cream over the top of the pie.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

GG & Papa's Visit

Sorry it's been so long. I did not indeed drown in a vat of my own caramel sauce as you may have suspected. Instead I've been busy with Birthday & visiting season. My Grandparents came from Arizona & somehow survived flying in during Typhoon 20 whereupon 3 passengers on their plane were hospitalized due to injuries sustained on the way into Narita. We watched it on the news not realizing it was their flight.

We had the pleasure of having them visit us and the kids just loved having their GG (Great-Grandma) and Papa (Great-Grandpa) come & stay.

Highlights for me would be:

- My Grandma complimenting me on my gravy. You have NO idea how good of a compliment. I am audacious enough to tell other people (like a preening idiot) "My grandma said I make good gravy", I can't help it! She also saw me slip in some of my very own home made "consume". I swear it's the secret ingr.

- Watching my kids play games and hang out with my very easy going & fantastic G'parents

- The hilarity of my Grandma telling my dad when it was time to go, "Let's blow this joint!" Classic!

Here are a few pics I pulled. Enjoy

GG & Ashley with her birthday present. She was dying to show off her unicycle skills.

The blue eyes of the family

Sorry Chala, this was classic. Ready to eat. Dinner was: cream of celery & cauliflower soup, rosemary roast chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, salad with creamy Gorgonzola/pesto dressing & caramel pumpkin pie with ice cream. (recipe forthcoming)
Boys working on their psychedelic masterpiece. Can you guess what 70's influenced Grandpa helped them conceive of this art form?

GG playing with the little guys. Hunter loved her dearly!

Here are the 4 generations. Ban would not be persuaded to take off my sunglasses.

That's it for now, more ACTUAL cooking soon. But with the prospect of my oldest 3 soon starting school next week things are busier than normal. (Is it possible? YES!!)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Try this for your carrots.....

I looooove to peel potatoes & carrots. It's odd but true I would probably be content to be the guy on KP peeling a bag of spuds.

Mind you I like to use a Japanese veggie peeler cuz' those US ones are very bizarre & should be banished forever from kitchens.

So, basically what I sometimes do is just peel the entire carrots down to the nib & have a whole bowlful of shavings to add to the salad. Of course I think it'll initially freak some people out into thinking you're making a compost salad but personally I think it's purty & easier to eat than grated carrots. So there ya go!

PS. My kids love help peeling carrots this way since they end up doing it anyway.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Back from the ONSEN!! If you get it, you get it, if you don't --- go put your clothes back on & take a shower!!

The simplicity of the rituals of water......visibly drawing out the roughness from the edges of my taunt nerves & replacing it with a hidden smile just waiting to explode if given the slightest provocation.

Who would think loosing myself could be so hard. From the moment I came here my mind keeps dragging me back to thoughts, speculation, the steady plodding hammer of chiding necessities.

But it all seems inconsequential when I'm breathing in white cypress & submerging myself in a tinder-dry wave of heat. My body is a canvas of shining droplets, the intensity of the heat drives me into the floor -- for when you're lying flat you can't fall any further but sink into a world of dizzying pulses pushing you deeper & deeper into yourself.

And when your lungs are bursting with dry burning air and drops of sweat trace paths down your arms & legs creating pools and trickles, you stumble out & drop into water so cold your breath catches in a way that grabs you around the throat.

Breathing deeper & deeper till you think it's not possible for your lungs to expand any further -- but they do and do and do. Then it's there...the impossible instant where exhaling ends & the instinct of taking another breath escapes you altogether.

My only connection to reality is the beating of my heart that strangely I can only feel in the tips of my fingers & toes. And in that moment I can't help but be terribly impressed with my ability to have mentally flatlined 100%. There evolves nothing in the way of traceable thoughts and words but I am instead full of ridiculous notions and senses.

I desperately want to be a tiny bubble of air trapped along my submerged skin. Growing, expanding & waiting for inevitable journey from the cold surface & contact the blasting heat of the world. I'm overloaded with a deranged & overcoming sense of beauty that I can only imagine is infantile -- finding amusement & a curious acceptance of beauty in every sphere of movement, sound & color.

Outside naked people milling should, by all means, remain naked, calm & undisturbed by the heaviness that comes with an existance in eternal textile bondage. Gangly naked legs & plump jello hips all at peace, beautifully released for their daily constraints. Tiny toddlers grasping rocks & drunkenly smiling as their wobbly legs step into the, not too distant memory & familiarity of water. White haired matriarchs sighing, whispering & easing their burdens into an enveloping steamy weightlessness.

I'm suspecting I'm not the only one who feels like we have all just come home?

Out here I'm embarrassingly giddy with the simplicity & extent of my composure. No reason to move, no appointment or attendance. No beginning & no end. Past present & future just floated off in the section of sky allotted me right here. MY section of autumn sky.

But before I can abandon all inhibitions & float downstream thinking mermaid thoughts, composing my epitaph & vowing an aquatic existence, I drag myself out -- Back to time, space & matter.

......Until I'm at the onsen again

Monday, October 26, 2009

Speaking of Caramel.......Try this! -- Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake (by Dorie Greenspan)

I know this is going a bit far, but if you have a special occasion for a yummy little treat you've gotta try THIS one. It's chewy, it's goey & it's PERFECT for a caramel/chocolate lover. The recipe is long but result is well worth it. Lemmie know how it goes for you.

PS. I did cut out the white sugar in the cake but don't try cutting any sugar in the caramel sauce or you'll have a mess. Good Luck!

Pic & write up of recipe borrowed from wee treats by tammy's blog because mine looks like this....

Yeah, looks like someone overindulged in whip cream.

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 stick(8 TBSP) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 TBSP light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:

2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ TBSP light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup salted peanuts

Butter and flour a 8 inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

To make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Melt chocolate and butter together using a double boiler.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. Pour the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.

Bake the cake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool he cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan. During baking the cake probably will have puffed to the top of the pan don’t be concerned if tit sinks a little or it if develops a crater in the center. Cool the cake to room temperature.

When the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper. Wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right side up. Refasten the sides around the cake.

To make the topping:

Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring , until the caramel turns deep amber., 5-10 minutes. Lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan add the cream and butter. When the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps. Stir in the peanuts, and pour the caramel and peanuts into a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or heat proof bowl.

Spoon the peanuts on top of the cake. Then spoon the caramel on top of those. You’ll have a layer about ¼ inch high. Allow the topping to set to room temperature-about 20 minutes before serving.

To serve, run a blunt knife between the caramel and the pan and simply remove the sides of the springform. If this isn’t the case, hit the sides with some hot air from a hairdryer or wrap the sides in a towel moistened with hot water.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Take the Apple......bite the Apple......

A SIMPLE STORY ABOUT AN APPLE Hunter: Mommy...Noook, NOOK! MOOOOMMY! Appos, nots & NOTS of APPOS! Daddy (mumble mumble) APPOS!

Mommy: (delinquently trying to get some me time on the computer, at the end of the day) Really Hunter, cool!

Hunter: NOTS & NOTS!!!

Mommy: Yes, maybe we can have some later....(continued delinquency on the computer)

Hunter: (long suspicious pause of silence)


Hunter: (running over & talking with a stuffed mouthful) num num nummy...

Mommy: (Dashing over to the apples & observing) BAAAAANTANMommy: (grabbing camera & trying to look disapproving) Baaan, what do you have to say for yourself???

Hunter: (obviously not sorry in the slightest bit) Sooorryyyyyyy! (Snicker Snicker)


Friday, October 23, 2009

..........the name the Caramel Jar is calling!

With the use of my ultra-scientific method of throw the names into the mortor.....
The winner has been chosen

And the winner is.....

So there you have it. Congrat's Aich. And I wholeheartedly agree with your "Ojichan/Obachan" memories. New Years Rocks!

Thanks everyone for your super interesting smells. One part of me wishes I had a few lbs of butter sugar & cream to make a vat for everyone who participated. And if it wasn't for the fact that the caramel hardened in the fridge and would surely betray any stealthy snitches I'd be in there right now.

Note: I've been listening to a great podcast called the "free culinary school" and am learning heaps on the basics that I didn't ever know. Beware of possibly banal cooking details type posts coming your way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Making of the Caramel Sauce

Heya heya! I'm having a blasty-blast looking at everyone's "childhood nasal memories" and I gotta tell you, I think I can answer that question "What's wrong with Japan?"

It's the mothballs & kero, for sure!

Well, here's the part where I show you what I put into the "giveaway" winner's Jar of goodness.

It's all so straightforward but being the lunatic that I am my DH came to see me taking pictures of a saucepan like a mad scientist:

"Caramel great, what's it for?"
"I'm giving it away
"Remind me why you do this again??"

" makes me happy!

......yeah.....I'm a deeeeep thinker, I know, but it's the truth. And since we're speaking of the truth, lets just be clear that this whole thing starts out with a whole cup of white sugar completely dissolved over a low flame with 1/4 a c of water. I know.....we all try to be in denial about what this sauce is all about but let's just gaze upon it for a moment,
Ok....good. Is everyone in touch with reality now? Great! Let's just shake it off & forget we ever saw that.

Oh.....but wait, more goodness you say? 1/2 a cup of butter? How could that be wrong
My, that looks so healthy & fine in a nice little square. But let's just take a look at it in it's pure unadulterated melted FAT CONTENT........
Gee......that's a lotta fat. What can you say, it takes pain to be beautiful.....& it takes butter to have caramel, so loadm' up!

Now the trick here is to melt the butter & give it a couple of good stirs with the spoon to incorporate it & then NOT MIXING IT keep your flame of medium/low leave it to bubble, splat & sputter till it slowly changes from this
to this
to this and so forth
If you stir it you'll find that the sugar will crystallize & gunk up your spoon & you'll possibly have some bits of gunky stuff at the end

Now when you're almost at your desired caramel color you'll have to lightly stir it to keep an eye on the color & of course burn your tongue FOR LIFE tasting it to see that it be good indeed.

There are still grown ups who wander the world with brown sugar caramel stuck to their roof of their mouths from pre-adolecent greed driven evenings of impatient caramel popcorn making fiascos. Not to mention the catastrophe that ensued when Almonzo tried to feed it to his poor pet pig. (Note: Farmer Boy= Best foodie lover book evaaaah!)
Now I personally like a more dark & burnt caramel flavor but I wasn't sure about you so I went ahead & kept it at a pretty reasonable golden brown medium.

Last but not least we do the fun part of adding........WHY LOOKIE THERE............yet more fat in the form of 1/4 a c real cream. Now don't go sticking your nose in there when you do this as it'll bubble up quite a bit
Give it a good mix-a-roo & there you go.

Glistening & calling the name of YOU!
Now a word on storage & usage. You wanna keep it in the fridge (good luck w/ keeping snitchers at bay) & you'll have to heat it up a little to loosen it. You can either put the whole jar in a saucepan of cool water & bring it to a simmer shut off the heat & leave it to heat up, or you could scoop out a bit & microwave it for a few secs.

PS. I hate to admit it but Kero is also on my list of childhood smells. Along with Obachan's oden, kotastu, sunscrean & the smell of the beach, stank & all, esp the "sex wax" the surfers would leave all over the place. And my dad's musk cologne that every man in the 80's must've also been wearing.