Truffle Butter

by Lizzy on 16 April 2014

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Growing up in my household meant Easter was a grandiose religious holiday with an equally impressive dinner to celebrate. The wondrous aroma of yeast rolls filled our house intoxicating anyone who walked through the door from church. They were best served hot from oven to table, despite my handling the steamy gems like a game of hot potato. Aside from the chocolate candy my little brother and I devoured, I treasured those rolls. Another thing I remember vividly and associate exclusively with Easter is my favorite Easter commercial. My little brother and I joke about it often; it still cracks us up. They just don’t make commercials like they used to. 

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I’ve never mastered the art of bread that comes so naturally to Mami. However, I still crave those rolls. In a nostalgic attempt to replicate the memory, I made these challah knots for the holidays but in pinwheel shape for convenience. They were…fine. I didn’t want to take “fine” to my framily’s house, but it was a little too late. I needed a way to pump up the volume on the less than spectacular bread. 

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That’s when I remembered I had splendid truffle salt in my spice collection. And butter. Luscious, creamy, golden butter! You can stop applauding now, and I’ll get up from my bow. It seemed so simple yet brilliant to use these two ingredients as a spread for lame bread. Best of all, it actually worked. I found myself using the bread pieces as a vehicle for the truffle butter. Consider this my velvety Easter gift to you!

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Truffle Butter
IMG 8678 300x150 Truffle Butter
Earthy, truffle salt adds dimension to airy, whipped butter that makes a perfect accompaniment to bread, crackers and vegetables.
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 tablespoon truffle salt
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer, whip butter on high until it lightens in color, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to medium-low and sprinkle in salt until incorporated. Scrape from bowl and place butter in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.
Notes
  1. If you do not have a stand mixer, a handheld mixer or sturdy whisk work equally well.
Kitchen Nomad http://kitchennomad.com/
 

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Garrett Chocolate Covered CaramelCrisp®

by Lizzy on 11 April 2014

IMG 0617 1024x768 Garrett Chocolate Covered CaramelCrisp®I do not like caramel corn. Caramel popcorn to be more precise. I never have, and I thought I never would. Even as a kid I only wanted CRACKER JACK® for the prize. I’d fish that paper packet out and promptly hand over the candy-coated treat box to my little brother. All that changed with Garrett popcorn.

I am a popcorn fiend; it’s one of the few snacks I can eat with abandon until I reach the bottom of the bag. For years after I settled in Chicago, I was a CheeseCorn™ devotee. I could polish off a small bag without regret, not caring in the least if my orange stained fingers left a trace on whatever I happened to touch. One day a remarkable thing happened, some CaramelCrisp® had mistakenly crept into my CheeseCorn™. Because I was rotely consuming my corn I noticed only after it was in my mouth, otherwise I would’ve risk this life-changing moment by tossing the intruder. The buttery caramel delighted my taste buds, and I searched my bag for another kernel. I was hooked.

The next time I went into Garrett I bravely ordered an entire bag of CaramelCrisp®. I couldn’t believe this was caramel popcorn! I wasn’t supposed to like it, I’d conditioned my taste buds from childhood through adulthood not to like it. I’d tried dozens and nothing even approached Garrett popcorn.

After that leap, my regular order became Chicago Mix (which qualifies me as a bonafide Chicagoan by the way). I had no problems popping into a store quickly to get my fix. That was until Oprah let the world in on the secret. Ugh, waiting in line behind eager tourists for something I felt was rightfully mine as a city dweller and devout Garrett popcorn fan irritated me. I wanted an express line for the regulars to bypass that person with a hundred questions asking for a thousand samples and pondering bag sizes and tin designs while I rolled my eyes and resisted the urge to push them. #Firstworldproblems. (The Garrett popcorn people are saints, I tell you!) After four years, it’s died down a bit and more shops opened so I’m back into my popcorn groove.

THEN…just when I had my routine down (the five-year-Chicago-Mix-routine) Garrett popcorn goes and pops my lid yet again with Garrett Chocolate Covered CaramelCrisp®. WHAT?! My mind is officially blown. I received an email announcing April’s special flavor (of course I’m on the email list, duh!). I tweeted about it, thought about whether I would try the dark or milk chocolate, and finally made it to the store within a few days. This stuff is amazing!

Suddenly I was one of those irritating tourists at Garrett popcorn for the first time. I asked for samples of both the milk and dark chocolate; I pondered which size to buy; I let several people go ahead of me because I couldn’t make up my mind and finally opted for the dark chocolate. It was well worth the dirty looks Chicago natives shot at me. The contrast of the thick, dark chocolate coating was perfect against the light and crunchy, caramel butterflies. However, it’s a good thing Garrett Chocolate Covered CaramelCrisp® is only around for April because I’d likely push people out of the way to get it, and while I’ve never been I’m guessing they don’t serve Garrett popcorn in prison. 

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Glazed Carrots

by Lizzy on 9 April 2014

IMG 9532 768x1024 Glazed Carrots

Sweet food should be relegated to dessert in my humble opinion. I don’t mind salt in my dessert, but don’t pair fruit in any form with my savory dish. The same goes for vegetables; I’m apt to choose fennel or spinach over corn or carrots any day. There’s just something candy-like and cloying I find unappealing about pineapple on pizza, mandarin oranges in salad and yams under a sheet of marshmallows. Don’t judge me for loving salt, it just means I’m well-preserved. 

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On the other hand, I love Michael Ruhlman. He’s done what I wish I could have and continues to inspire me in the kitchen as a home cook. He’s the only person who could convince me to reattempt a sweet vegetable recipe. When I read his article on the technique for glazed vegetables, I knew I would have to try the carrots. Liberally using butter, detailing the importance of pan size and referring to “the crackle” was poetry to me. Swoon! 

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I tried Michael’s recipe first at home because Papi is a close relative to bunnies so I knew there would be no issue finishing off the carrots if I didn’t like them. I found gorgeous rainbow carrots at the farmers market and did them up. To my utter surprise, they weren’t saccharine sweet. I tried a second and third round for the holidays, and they were a hit all around. Michael had uprooted my preconceived notions of glazed carrots.

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Now that Easter is around the corner, I’ve realized this is a simple and easy side dish plus colorful to boot (or should I say root!) so it’s likely to make an appearance at my Easter celebration. Because I tend to keep parsley on hand more than fresh tarragon, I substituted it in the recipe easily. 

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Glazed Carrots
IMG 9532 300x150 Glazed Carrots
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds (about 2-1/2 cups)
  2. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1-1/2 teaspoons organic pure cane evaporated sugar or granulated sugar
  4. Kosher salt, to taste
  5. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or tarragon
Instructions
  1. Arrange the sliced carrots in an 8-inch wide, 3-to 4-quart saucepan. Add the butter, sugar, a sprinkle of salt and enough water to barely cover the carrots (about 2 cups). Bring the carrots to a boil over high heat.
  2. Cook over high heat, occasionally shaking the pan until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. The carrots should be tender, but if the glaze is done before the carrots, add about 1/4 cup water and continue to cook. If the carrots are done first, remove them and boil the liquid until syrupy.
  3. Lower the heat to medium low adding the parsley and tossing to combine. Season to taste with salt and serve.
Notes
  1. After a few times you will know exactly how much water you need, but I start with 1-3/4 cups and slowly add more as needed depending on the texture of the carrot midway through cooking.
  2. I found these cooked best in a high sided sauté pan than a more open skillet or fry pan.
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman, Fine Cooking
Kitchen Nomad http://kitchennomad.com/

 

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Friday Find | Crio Brü

by Lizzy on 14 March 2014

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My love of chocolate rivals only my obsession with Adam Levine…and bacon. (Yes, of course I now he’s Jewish. Insert joke here.)  

Chocolate has formed a part of my morning routine since I was a child. As a kid, I drank Quik chocolate milk every morning, and I wouldn’t go to bed without a glass of it beforehand. If I was at my Abuela’s house in Puerto Rico it was Ovaltine because she claimed it was healthier. Growing up, I switched to hot chocolate graduating from the instant childhood stuff to Ghirardelli and Godiva, which I drank for many years along with a myriad gourmet varieties I picked up on travels. That was all before I was diagnosed with severe migraines.

While chocolate doesn’t trigger my migraines, as a preventive measure I had to find a new morning drink because the copious amounts I consumed daily weren’t helping my five-to-six-days-a-week migraine episodes. My neurologist gave me a list of things to avoid, placed me on epilepsy medication and instructed me to change my lifestyle. Easy for him to say! He hadn’t been drinking the stuff from the bottle.

For a few years, I floundered experimenting with chai and different teas. The migraines were under control after years of suffering, and eventually my taste buds missed chocolate. Also, I never felt satiated with other drinks; I needed something stealthier. However, I knew better than to go back to my chocolate habit, or I would risk literally going blind, albeit temporary (a nice side effect of my migraines).

Enter Crio Brü. I don’t remember where I first saw it, but I do recall reading about it on a great blog. Crio Brü is a brewed cocoa made from ground cacao beans in their purest form. There are no chemical additives and no sugar. When I read the write up, I had to try it.

I ordered a sample variety pack so I could taste a few different flavors and get a sense of what I liked. If I haven’t said it before, I like bold flavors and when it comes to chocolate I like the one that’s typically too intense for most people. The darker and richer, the better in my book. Crio Brü’s site had all this health information about antioxidants and theobromine I found encouraging after years of drinking so much sugar.

From the sample variety pack, the Cavalla was a good starting point, but I personally found the other flavors too weak for my palate. I returned to the site in search of another deep, dark chocolate variety and discovered Cavalla French Roast. On its own, the Cavalla French Roast was too bitter for me but when combined with Cavalla, it made the perfect blend for my morning ritual. I know, I sound like Goldilocks. Miraculously, drinking this daily hasn’t triggered migraines nor even increased their frequency.

How can I drink roasted cacao beans and not suffer migraines? I don’t know, but maybe it’s magic. I’m just happy to drink it every day.

Have you tried Crio Brü? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Parsnip Sticks

by Lizzy 12 March 2014 Food

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, food cravings trigger creativity. Generally, once a month I get an urgent and insistent hankering for some particular food that is, of course, nowhere to be found in my kitchen. Sometimes it’s something odd I rarely eat, and it’s as though the craving […]

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Graze Snack Box

by Lizzy 28 February 2014 Friday Find

Subscription boxes have been around for a bit, but it seemed to me that last year snack boxes popped up everywhere. Because it’s food, I was eager to try one of these services. However, I needed an invitation and couldn’t score one for the life of me. The universe must’ve heard my call because when […]

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Friday Find | Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

by Lizzy 27 December 2013 Friday Find

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Christina Tosi is a freaking genius! If you don’t know who she is, allow me to make the introduction. She’s a superstar pastry chef who rose through the ranks at David Chang’s Momofuku, after leaving the illustrious wd~50. At Momofuku she created distinctive and tasty desserts that […]

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Cornflake Cookies

by Lizzy 25 December 2013 Food

On this holiday, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you’re spending the day like I am…sharing food with good company! Today’s post is short and sweet, like the sweet recipe for Cornflake Cookies that follows. I cheated a little linking directly to the source because it’s perfection. There’s nothing I can […]

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Friday Find | Chicago Food Bloggers 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

by Lizzy 20 December 2013 Friday Find

Have you checked your calendar? At the risk of sounding hysterical or giving you anxiety, it’s December-freaking-20th! In case you’ve been hiding under reindeer hooves, Christmas is approaching quicker than you can say Blitzen. I bet you have that one impossible person on your list that you still haven’t crossed off because you’re “selective” (ahem, […]

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Teaching Papi | 5 Tips on How to Read a Recipe: Domino Potatoes

by Lizzy 18 December 2013 Food

My Esposito has come a long way in his cooking, and as I mentioned previously he can now cook a lot of dishes on his own. Because we are both the eldest children in our families we’re used to being the boss and that leads to ignoring my instructions in the kitchen sometimes. While I […]

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