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Archive for October 29, 2014

RECIPE: Honey Caramel Corn

Most caramel corn is not drizzled with caramel sauce, as the name may suggest, but made by caramelizing sugar into a syrup that coats the popcorn and dries to a lovely crunch.

Caramel and corn based on sugar or molasses dates back at least to the 1890s; an early version of Cracker Jack, made with molasses, was sold at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Kettle corn, seasoned with salt and un-caramelized sugar, dates to Colonial times.

This recipe is courtesy Bee Raw Honey. For Halloween, toss in some candy corn and your choice of candied nuts.

RECIPE: HONEY CARAMEL CORN

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • Fleur de sel or other fine sea salt
  • Optional mix in: nuts, candy corn, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces
  •  

    caramel-corn-zulka-recipe-230

    Homemade caramel corn. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 250°F. Melt the butter in large saucepan; stir in sugar, honey and salt. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Place a candy thermometer into the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium; boil without stirring about three minutes, to 265°F.

    2. REMOVE the honey mixture from heat and stir in the baking soda. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. While stirring, slowly pour the honey mixture over the popcorn.

    3. TURN the popcorn onto greased baking pan. Bake at 250°F for 45 minutes; stir every 15 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and break the popcorn into bite-sized pieces.
     
    ABOUT CARAMEL CORN

    Caramel corn is an American invention: popcorn coated with a sugar- or molasses-based candy shell. A white sugar-based candy coating provides a lighter (if more cloying) flavor than traditional caramelized brown sugar or molasses.

    Typically, a sugar solution is heated until it becomes a thick and brown caramelized candy syrup. Before the syrup cools, it can be mixed with an endless number of flavorings, from chocolate and coconut to blueberry and watermelon. The hot syrup is then mixed with popped popcorn, and allowed to cool.

    Nuts are a popular addition. While peanuts are the most popular (think Cracker Jack), almonds, cashews and pecans offer a more sophisticated flavor.
     

    The history of candy corn and a recipe for candy corn fudge.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Vadouvan

    vadouvan-spice-blend-ingredientfinder-230

    This simple blend, from IngredientFinder.com,
    contains only four ingredients: cumin, garlic,
    fenugreek and onion.

     

    We must admit, this was a new one for us. We received a recipe for deviled eggs for our consideration. One of the ingredients: vadouvan.

    Vadou-what? We had to look it up.

    Vadouvan, also called French curry, is a French interpretation of an Indian masala that mixes cardamom, coriander, cumin, curry, curry leaves, fenugreek, garlic, marash chiles, mustard seeds and roasted onion, among other ingredients. Its flavor is more familiar to Western palates than many Indian spice mixtures.

    A key difference is in dried onions or shallots. The spice is thought to have originated due to French colonial influence in the Puducherry region of India. [Source: Wikipedia]

    Use it in place of curry powder on fish, lamb, chicken, pork, sauces, stews, soups and vegetables. It’s a delicious pairing with dairy, potatoes, starchy grains and anything grilled.

    Give a tin or jar as a holiday gift to your favorite cooks. There’s an attractive tin for $8.32 on Amazon, with free shipping on orders over $35. (Tins are preferable to jars, since light is one of the factors that reduces the potency of the spice, along with proximity to heat and moisture.)

     

    MASALA VS. GARAM MASALA: THE DIFFERENCE

    Masala or massala is a South Asian term for a spice mix or a seasoning of any sort. It is used extensively in the cuisines of Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    The word is of Arabic origin (maslahah), originally meaning “a thing which is good and right.”

    • Masala refers to any fragrant spice blend. It can be wet (a paste) or dry (a blend of dried—and usually dry-roasted—often toasted and ground spices). The pastes frequently include fresh ingredients like chiles, cilantro, garlic, ginger, mint, onion and tomato, along with dried spices and oil. Dishes made with such pastes sometimes have “masala” in their names, such as Chicken Tikka Masala and Vindaloo Masala.
    • Garam masala refers to dry spice blends. There are many variations, from region to region and cook to cook (examples: Tandoori masala, chatt masala and even panch phoron, the Bengali five-spice blend). Popular ingredients include bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nigella and nutmeg/mace and pepper.
     

    masala-cauliflower-paperchef-230

    Masala cauliflower. Photo courtesy The Paper Chef.

     
    It’s time to spice things up!

      

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