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the urban baker

the urban baker: May 2010

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lunch at the Beach

Last weekend, Gaby from What's Gaby Cooking, organized a pot luck with fellow food bloggers.  The destination, Will Rogers Beach, life guard station 6.  Everyone brought something delicious.  Carrie ( Organically Delicious) made  oatmeal cream pies and a yummy chicken salad, Brooke ( Food Woolf) made a fabulous cocktail, Marla ( Family Fresh Cooking ) made a salad with everything but the kitchen sink, Gaby made cookies WITHOUT butter, and Esi (dishingupdelights) brought nutella cupcakes - which made my kids happy.  Jamie, Eli's friend, also came to the beach with us and made a moist and delicious carrot cake muffin.

I made Gazpacho which is like eating veggies in a bowl. I love this recipe and so does everyone else who happens to try it. This is great party food! I also made sables; chocolate/orange, hazelnut w/shaved bittersweet chocolate, and almond/lemon.

serves 12


1  purple onion, coarsely chopped
1  red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1  garlic clove
2  large tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1  English cucumber, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped
1  2-oz jar of pimento's drained
3  cups organic tomato juice
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
3/4 cup vegetable stock
dash or two of Tabasco
fresh ground pepper to taste


put the garlic, onion and red bell pepper in the work bowl of a Cuisinart and pulse until diced fine.  add the cucumber and the pimentos and pulse some more.  add the tomatoes and pulse until you get the consistency you like ( I like mine pretty fine however like a little bits of chunks).

throw veggie mixture into a large glass pitcher.  add the tomato juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, veggie stock, Tabasco, and pepper.  give a good stir.  chill for several hours before serving.


chopped egg whites
diced red onion

I like to serve this in small coffee mugs or espresso cups.  This is the perfect dish if you want to serve a large crowd.
fun day!

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Orange Macaroons w/White Chocolate Ganache

I have an over abundance of egg whites at this very moment.  I made a bunch of ice box doughs and the recipes called for yolks, thus left over egg whites.

Earlier this week I used a few to make Eli a Spanish omelet for breakfast.  I had some left over potatoes + onions from the previous nights roasted chicken.  The chicken was infused with a whole lemon, sage leaves, rosemary leaves and garlic.  Plus, the onions/potatoes were covered with the left over fat from the pan.  The smell was intoxicating.  I quickly sauteed the veggies then added  3 egg whites to one whole egg, scrambled it up and poured it over the veggies.  I made this before my 7:30 a.m. yoga class so I didn't taste it.  Yet I knew it would be delicious.

I aged a few of these egg whites to make macaroons.  I wasn't really sure what flavor I was going to make until I realized I had a bunch of citrus zest in the freezer.  I settled on an orange flavored macaroon with a white chocolate ganache.

I used  Helene's original macaroon recipe from our macaroon cooking class ( recipe here).  That was a fun night.  I added about a teaspoon of grated orange zest to the sugar mixture.  I rubbed it together with my fingers and after about 30 seconds the smell of the zest was oh-so fragrant.

I know that orange and bittersweet chocolate is the obvious combo, but I went for the white chocolate ganache.  This is a very delicious filling and I use it quite a bit as a cream filling for cookie sandwiches.  The longer it stays in the fridge, the better it is.

These were delicious and well received.  I am going to prep some more egg whites for some hazelnut/espresso macaroons with espresso butter cream!

White Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Gourmet Magazine 

1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 Tbls. light corn syrup
6 oz good white chocolate
1 Tbls. unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla

• put heavy cream and corn syrup in a small sauce pan.  warm to just before the boiling point
• add white chocolate, stir to blend
• add butter and vanilla, mix completely
• cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least an hour
• remove from fridge and mix with a hand mixer until fluffy and thick.

to assemble: put 1 tsp. of ganache in the center of one macaroon.  place second mac on top and press gently.  let macaroons rest in the fridge over night.

packed a bunch up for teachers and friends...

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

This was the one of the three desserts I made for last weeks fund raiser.  I wanted little finger desserts as the food was going to be heavy appetizers.  This was a good trio; mini chocolate mascrapone cheesecakes, mini lemon bundts, and pecan tea tassies.  I have made these cheesecakes in the past (post here) and they are super delicious.  They keep well in the freezer, they are not too sweet and they are the perfect size.

The recipe doesn't call for a baked crust.  I like my cheesecake with a baked crust.  I had some brownie ends in the freezer.  I had just enough crumbs to make 48 mini cheesecakes.  After filling the 48 tart pans, I still had filling.  i decided to take my 8" spring form pan and make mama "G" a cheesecake.  I didn't have any left over crust, so I crumbled up about a 1/2 cup of graham crackers, added a tablespoon of sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter and made that her crust (pre-baked crust at 350* for about 10 minutes).

Delivered all the desserts to the fund raiser, then headed over to the "G's" and gave them their goodies.  I left a few of everything behind, because had I not done so, I probably would have been locked out of the house.

Check out my post from last October to get the recipe for these delicious cheesecakes.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I type up my market list each week.  Miguel, generally, does the marketing. One week I forgot to delete the ricotta cheese from my previous list, leaving me with 32 oz. of ricotta I didn't really need.  I am finding ways to "use it up".

Today, I made the most delicious lemon ricotta pancakes.  The recipe called for poppy seeds, yet I knew what kind of reaction I would get if I served those up to my kids.  It wouldn't have been pretty.

Instead, I altered the recipe a tad and the outcome was very positive.  Isaac, who likes most things savory, LOVED them.  Eli commented on how light they were and Miguel said "yummy".  This recipe will be added to the "favorites" binder.

Use a smaller amount of batter on your griddle pan than you normally would with a traditional pancake batter.  The batter is so light and fluffy that it doesn't really firm up.  The first few pancakes had to be tossed.  When I started using less batter and turned down the fire under the griddle, they came out perfect.

I sprinkled the pancakes with powdered sugar and served strawberries and warm syrup on the side.

Tomorrow night I am going to use the rest of the ricotta and make raviolis with my marinara sauce.  My family is convinced I buy it from our favorite restaurant, Giorgio's.  In order to prove it to them, I had them help me make it one evening.  It truly is the best sauce in town.  They want me to bottle it and sell it, that's how good it is.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Joan Nathan's, The New American Cooking
makes 20 pancakes

6 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
zest of 2 lemons
vegetable oil for griddle

• in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat whites until firm & glossy.
• in a large bowl, beat ricotta, butter, egg yolks, & vanilla. in a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.  Mix flour mixture into ricotta mixture.
• fold a large spoonful of egg whites into ricotta mixture.  continue folding in remaining egg whites.
• coat griddle with oil and heat over high heat.  place small spoonful of batter on griddle.  cook until golden  and begins to bubble. gently turn and continue to cook.
• serve warm.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Mini Lemon Bundts

As I have said in the past, I have been collecting Cooks Illustrated Magazines since my U.C. Berkeley days.  I have 17 years worth of magazines to prove it as well as a splattering of miscellaneous issues from 1980 through 1992.  The earlier issues have these really beautiful covers. They are all hand done water colors.  I just can't get rid of them.  They are as much a part of me as they are a part of my cook book library.
a few old cooks covers
the actual covers are so beautiful

I have made this particular pound cake in the past and it never fails.  Rather than making one big cake, I made little mini bundts.  These were one of three desserts (pecan tassies, and mini cheesecakes) I made for last weekends fund raiser.  They came out perfectly.  They were light, moist, tart, and sweet.  Isaac ate 6 of them.  And asked for more.

3 lemons, zest grated + saved, then juiced
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs, room temp.
1 large egg yolk, room temp.
18 Tbls. unsalted butter, room temp.
2 cups sugar

2-3 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tbls. buttermilk

• preheat oven to 350*. spray mini bundt pans with spray.
• mince lemon zest to fine paste.  combine lemon zest + lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften
• whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, + salt in a small bowl.  combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, + buttermilk in medium bowl.  in another bowl whisk the eggs and the egg yolk. in a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  reduce speed and add half the eggs, mixing until combined.  add the other half of the eggs.
• add the 1/3 of the flour mixture and then 1/2 of the buttermilk and then repeat ending with the flour mixture
• scrape the side of the bowl and scoop into the mini bundt pans
• bake until the tops are golden, around 15 - 20 minutes.
• let cool 10 minutes and then invert it onto a plate.

• whisk the ingredients together
• while cake is still warm, pour half the glaze over the cakelettes.  let cool one hour and pour the remaining glaze over the cakelettes.  let sit for 2 hours.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Caught Red Handed

Levi was caught red handed.  And he could care less!  He is so unfazed by the possibility of a consequence that I am almost at a loss.  With Levi, I am learning to just roll with it.

I had baked off a dozen cookies (had frozen dough in the freezer) for mama "G" who endured knees surgery this past week.  I was taking dinner and treats over to their house last night. I walked into the kitchen to package up the cookies and who did I see sitting on the floor, in the middle of the kitchen, with a glass of milk in one hand and a cookie in the other.  Yep, you guessed it.

As he was carrying out his naught-i-ness, he just kept on dunking and eating, dunking and eating.  I didn't get angry. I merely marveled at the sight of him just sitting there, totally indifferent and unconcerned that what he may be doing is wrong.  The only thing I could think of saying to him, at that very moment, was "don't go anywhere, let me grab my camera".

Just another day in the life....

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mexican Tea Tassies

Growing up my mom made these little pastries, called Mexican Tea Tassies.  I thought they were the most amazing little morsels of goodness one could ever eat.  They were usually made for special occasions or her "Pan Group".

When I started cooking on my own and discovered cooking magazines like Cooks Illustrated, Food and Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetite, and Saveur, I was introduced to a world of options.  However, about 20 years ago, I found a similar recipe in Cooking Light Magaizne and I had to try it.  It wasn't nearly as good as my mom's original(dry, dull pastry and not sweet), so I stuck with hers.  Then, years later, I bought my first copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Christmas Cookie Book.  In that book, she had something similar.  Over the years I have combined my mom's and Rose's and have come up with my own.

This past weekend, I made desserts for 40 for a fund raising event. Along with these pecan tassies, I also made mini chocolate cheesecakes and mini lemon bundt cakes (posts to follow).  I had some pate brisee in the freezer and rather than making a fresh batch of dough, I used what I had on hand.  Usually, I make a cream cheese crust for these, which I have to say are somewhat hard to roll out.

After I delivered the goodies, I came home to three very curious boys.  They asked if the left over sweets, sitting on top of the kitchen counter, were for them.  How could I bake all morning and leave nothing behind?  Isaac rated these 999 out of a 1,000.  I will take that as a pretty good rating!

pastry dough 
use your favorite

pecan filling
1 egg
1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 Tbls. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

• spray muffin tins or mini tart pans with cooking spray.
• roll out pastry to 1/8" thick.  then use a round cookie cutter, slightly bigger than your muffin cup and cut out the shapes
• shape pastry in small muffin cups or small tart pans. I like to freeze these for an hour or so prior to baking.  Blind bake these for 8 minutes in a 350* oven.  Let cool.

pecan filling
• combine all ingredients, except for the nuts.
• divide nuts, evenly in each partially baked tart shell.
• fill each cup up 3/4 full.
• bake in a preheated 350* oven for 20 minutes.

let cool, then pop them out of the tart pans.  don't eat them all in one sitting

yield: 40 tartlettes

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coffee - Chocolate Milk Shakes

I was in Cost Plus today and found these fun, cute straws.  I had to buy them.  My kids like to use their straws.  Yet, these are just too fun to waste.  They deserved a special after school snack.

Both Eli and Isaac had friends over after school today.  I put the straws to the test.  I made coffee - chocolate chip malts.  Growing up, my dad loved making malts for me and my friends.  He never measured anything and just threw stuff into the blender.  My personal favorite was his coffee malt.  I loved malt powder.  I remember eating it with a spoon right out of the glass jar.  Couldn't imagine doing that today, however when you are 12, why the check not?  What I also remember are Horlicks Tablets.  They were similiar to a malted milk ball, but without the chocolate coating, they were flat and they were much more dense.  I can still feel the way they felt when I bit into them.  They were so addicting.  I ate them like candy.  I just read on Wikipedia that they promoted sleep.  Wish I had a jar of those today for little Levi!

For our shake today, I chopped some good bittersweet chocolate (callebaut) and threw it into the blender after everything was combined and smooth.  Blended until just combined.  Then poured into glasses topped off with this festive straw.  Too bad we are all not on lounge chairs on  a beach in Kona.

Everyone was joyful!

Coffee Malts
• coffee ice cream
• organic whole milk
• 1-2 Tbls. malted milk powder
• a little splash of chocolate syrup
• 2-3 oz. of good bittersweet chocolate chopped

• put desired amount of ice cream in the blender.  add milk (about 1/4- 1/3 the amount of ice cream).  blend to smooth - you may have to add a dash more milk.
• when smooth add your malt powder + chocolate syrup
• add chopped chocolate, blend
• pour into desired glasses
Levi needed 2 straws

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Ding Dongs - My Way

Isaac has a new found love, Ding Dongs.  He went to a party a few weeks ago and was introduced to the little round cakester.  He is hooked.  I am a tad embarrassed to admit this, but I grew up on Ding Dongs, Ho-Ho's, and Scooter Pies.  Those were my snack of choice. With that said, I would NEVER think of buying them for my kids.  Although I remember them being quite delicious, I just couldn't bring them into my house.

I need a birthday cake for an upcoming celebration and after searching some books as well as my own personal library, I was not inspired.  I turned to Tastespotting and did a search for "ding dong".  I found a few but the one that caught my eye was Smitten Kitten's blog post dated February 26, 2008.  I went back and fourth as to whether I should do hers or do the recipe I used for Eli's birthday cupcakes.  Because I had just made the cupcakes, I went for something new.  Plus, hers were cake specific and I didn't have a lot of time to test and re-test.

I made her cake in a large sheet pan.  I went back and forth as to whether I should cut out circles, thus what to do with the scraps or to just cut in 2 1/2" squares.  You all know me, I can't waste.  So, I went for the squares.  When the cake was removed from the pan, I loved the thickness.  It was almost the perfect "ding-dong" height.  However, when I cut them up, sliced them in half and filled them, they were uber-thick.  Almost too thick.  Regardless, continued on with the mission.  While the cake was cooling, I made the butter cream.  I love this butter cream.  It is, if I must say, perfect.  I also used the Lacquer Glaze from Rose's Heavenly Cakes.  I love Rose and love this book.

Next time, provided there is a next time, I will make them round.  I will also, try to pipe the butter cream into the center rather than cut them in half.  Don't get me wrong, they were delicious, I was just hoping for them to better replicate the "original" !  I made them too big.  Big, small, whatever, everyone LOVED them...the were a huge hit.  

Chocolate Devils Food Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

2 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 tsp. vanilla

• preheat oven to 300*, grease pans or cookie sheet (I used a large 10" x 15" cake pan ).  line bottom with parchment and grease again
• chop chocolate + combine with hot coffee, let mixture stand, stir after 2 minutes and keep stirring until the mixture is smooth.
• sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, & salt.  in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until thickened.  slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, + melted chocolate/coffee mixture.  add sugar/flour mixture and mix until just combined.
• pour batter into prepared pan.  bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes).
• cool completely to room temperature.  invert cake and peel off parchment.
• at this point, I cut the cake into 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares.  then i cut them through the center, creating two equal halves.  cut out a hole in the middle with a melon baller and then piped in some cream filling. put the top back on and then froze them on parchment lined cookie sheets.  

Basic Butter Cream
4 oz. softened butter 
4 cups sifted confection sugar 
1 Tbls. vanilla
3 or more Tbl. milk (depending upon how thick you like it)
•mix to your desired thickness

Chocolate Glaze
Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp. powdered gelatin
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbls. plus 1 tsp. corn syrup
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup heavy cream

• in a small bowl, place 1/4 cup cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.  stir to moisten and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation.
• in small sauce pot, over medium heat, whisk sugar and 1/4 cup of water.  stir constantly until sugar dissolves.
• remove the pan from the heat and gently whisk in the corn syrup & cocoa until smooth.  the mixture should be glossy.  stir in the heavy cream with a silicone spatula.
• return the pan to medium heat and stirring constantly, bring the mixture to the boiling point (190*).  small bubbles will start to form.
• remove the pan from the heat and strain into a medium bowl.  cool to 122*-140*.  stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.
• strain into a heatproof glass measuring cup.  cool, stirring gently.  the glaze coats best at 80*.  this glaze is best used right away.  this glaze is yummy.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Sables - 2 flavors, 1 dough

These are my new faves.  Sables are as abundant in France as the chocolate chip cookie is in the good 'ole US of A.  Sables are a glamorous shortbread.  And boy do I love a good shortbread.

This dough is so versatile.  The main dough can be altered to create many different flavors and tastes.  Today I made a simple hazelnut dough and a lemon - almond dough.  These cookies are so light, but don't break when you bite into them.  They hold their shape and bake easily.  And...the dough can be shaped, rolled and frozen.  My kind of dough.

Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all purpose flour
sanding sugar for rolling

• working with a standing mixer and a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed.  add the sugars, & salt and beat until blended, this mixture should be smooth and velvety.
• reduce mixer speed to low and add the egg yolks until well blended
• add flour and pulse a few times until you don't see any flour left in the bowl.  if it feels like play-doh it is done.
• scrape dough out on to a slightly floured work surface and shape into a ball.  divide the ball in half.
• shape each ball into a 9" log.  wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
to bake
• preheat oven to 350*.  line baking sheet with silpat mats.
• unwrap one of the logs (keep the others in the fridge). brush the log with one egg yolk that has been whisked.  immediately roll the log in sugar.
• slice the log into 1/3" thick cookies, place on prepared cookie sheet, leaving some space between each cookie.
• bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the pans, front to back and top to bottom at the half way point.  they should be golden around the edges and pale on top.
• let cookies cool on racks.

• replace 1/2 cup of your flour with a nut of your choice.
• add the zest of a lemon to your sugar mixture before adding to the creamed butter.

the G's got a box of both the lemon and the 
hazelnut along with a bag of "crack" cookies!

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nostalgic Winner

As much as I hate parting with these Vintage spoons, I do  have a winner.  I loved reading about your memories an although, I am attached to these spoons, I am passing them along to comment number "6".

Jodi-O, I believe that is you!  Contact me as soon as possible so I can send you a little piece of my childhood!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A little nostalgia + a Giveaway!

Several weeks ago I posted about a favorite spoon and some ice cream (here).  I talked a little bit about one of my favorite childhood possessions; my Yogi Bear Spoon.

Last week, my friend Lisa and I, were having lunch at one of our new neighborhood haunts; SIX restaurant.  We ordered their artichoke pizza and their seasonal Cobb, dressing on the side.  The food arrived and I guess I put my head down for some reason or another and when I lifted my head up, there, in the side of balsamic vinaigrette, was a Huckleberry Hound spoon!  Just sitting there, waiting for me.  I was flabbergasted, confused, speechless, excited.  I looked at Lisa and she had this huge grin on her face.  I was so touched.  I said to her, "you had these spoons, too?"  And she responded by saying, "no, dummy...ebay!"  She read my blog post and was touched.  Now, I am touched.

Ebay, it never would have occurred to me to search ebay for a mate for Yogi Bear.  Since then, I have become quite the ebay addict.  I am looking for grain seed bags.  Other than the local flea markets, ebay is a great resource for stuff like that.

In honor of Lisa, ebay and a little piece of my childhood, I am giving away both a Vintage Huckleberry Hound and Vintage Yogi Bear spoon to one lucky winner.  This giveaway is for U.S. addresses, only.

To enter this special giveaway, simply leave a comment below (one entry per person) and write something nostalgic about your childhood.  I will pick the winner from Random.  The deadline for this contest is, Friday, May 14, 2010 at midnight PDT.  If you comment isn't linked to a blog where I can find you, please leave your email address.

Looking so forward to reading your stories!

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Popcorn - Sweet + Savory

I didn't want to give the "guy" teachers Cake in a Jar. I thought they should get something a little less frilly.  Thus, this popcorn!  Eli was already mortified that he had to hand deliver goodies to his "middle school" teachers so why torture him anymore than I had to.  He said to me, as he was leaving the house that morning, "mom, I am not in elementary school anymore".  Yeah, so, what is that supposed to mean?  Am I hovering?

Anyway, I was reading one of my new favorite blog gals, Food Woolf (found her when I participated in the bake sale last month) and she posted about another one of my favorite gals; Nancy Silverton's spiced caramel popcorn.  The light bulb went off and I realized that this could be the perfect token of our "appreciation" for those few "guy" teachers.

The original recipe is from Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book (Brooke a.k.a. Food Woolf - created this recipe, inspired by Nancy's original )and since I love most things Nancy Silverton, I wanted to give it a try.  My friend, Vic (we go way back to middle school) and I spent a long overdue day together last Sunday and it was her desire to hang in the kitchen with me.  As much as I wanted to bake and create, I didn't want our day together to be just about cooking and dishes.  The popcorn gave us the best of both worlds.

Eli popped the corn while she and I made the caramel sauce.  It was so great having another pair of capable hands by my side.  While I was doing the finishing touches on the caramel sauce, Vic started our lunch.  She is one heck of a chopper!  I was impressed.  After we tossed the popcorn and spread it out on silpat pads, she and I sat down to a nice, quiet lunch, chatting, reminiscing, and laughing.

Spiced Caramel Corn

1 cup of almonds, toasted and loosely chopped
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/3 cup un-popped popcorn
1/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 Tbls. brown rice syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cardamon, ground
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
13 tsp. Chinese allspice
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

to pop the corn:
• in a medium sized pot, heat the oil over high heat with one kernel.  when the pops, add the un-popped corn and cover with a lid ( I took a short cut here. I popped in the air popper.  big mistake.  I think it changed the texture of the final product.  I wouldn't suggest the air popper).  Once the corn begins to pop, shake consistently until you don't hear any more popping.  remove from heat.
to make the caramel
• off heat, combine water, sugar, spices, salt, vanilla extract and rice syrup in a large, deep pot, stir together.  Once blended, put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil without stirring it.  Using a pastry brush dipped in water, remove any un-dissolved sugar from the side of the pan.
• continue cooking over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Tilt pan and swirl to prevent burning.  Wait for this turn a caramel color and starts to smoke.  Add the popcorn and the nuts, stir until completely coated, moving the skillet on and off heat.  Cook to a deep brown.
• pour onto your prepared cookie sheet (lined with silpat) and spread out evenly.  let cool completely before tasting!

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