Slow-Cooked Whole Carrots with Pine Nut Relish

December 16, 2014

My kids usually prefer their carrots whole and raw, but they tried this recipe and didn’t like either the slow-cooked carrots or the Pine Nut Relish.  As an adult, the carrots were tender and evenly cooked. The relish was delicious, though something tasted slightly off. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. 1-1/2 hours was a long time to dedicate to a side-dish, but it was more clock time than hands-on cooking time. Because of kids reaction and long cooking time, I doubt that I will make this recipe again. 3-1/2 stars.

DSC_0020

Comments:

  1. The preparation of the parchment lid was a bit difficult to understand, but Chris Kimball’s website had a detailed diagram. Also, I included a picture of the end result.
  2. I didn’t do a perfect job peeling the carrots, and small pieces of peel that remained turned dark and unattractive. I don’t think it affected the taste, but the presentation suffered.
  3. The original recipe calls for leaving the carrots whole, but I cut them in half length-wise just before serving.
  4. Chriss Kimball does have a few other relishes to try; Green Olive and Golden Raisin Relish, Onion-Balsamic Relish with Mint, Red Pepper and Almond Relish.

Rating: 3-1/2 star.
Cost: $6.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time: 4:30 PM. End time: 6 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here, and the relish recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

Slow-Cooked Carrots Ingredients:
3 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 carrots (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds)

  1. Prepare you parchment lid by folding 12″-square piece of parchment into quarters creating a 6″-square. Fold the bottom-right corner over to meet the top-left corner; creating a triangle. Fold one more time; right to left; creating a narrower triangle. Cut off 1/4″ of the tip of the triangle (opening a small hole in the center). Measure 5″ from the hole along both edges and cut straight across. (See photo below). Open up paper.
  2. Peel carrots. Put 12″-skillet over high burner; add 3 cups water, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring up to a simmer, then remove skillet from burner. Add carrots in a single layer, placing parchment round on top of carrots. Then put a regular skillet cover on top of everything; allowing to stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid, but leave the parchment, place over high burner until simmering. Reduce burner to medium/low and simmer for 45-minutes until almost all the water has evaporated. The carrots will be very tender.
  4. Throw away the parchment. Increase burner to medium/high and continue cooking carrots for 2 to 4 minutes; shaking pan frequently; until they are lightly glazed and there is no more water.

Pine Nut Relish Ingredients:
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 shallot
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper

  1. Toast the pine nuts in the 12″ skillet before starting the carrots. Pine nuts will burn easily, so shake the pan frequently during toasting process. After toasting, set them aside until the carrots are 5-minutes remaining in Step 3.
  2. Mince shallot, parsley and rosemary. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Serve on top of carrots.

Slow-Roasted Chicken Parts with Shallot-Garlic Pan Sauce

December 14, 2014

This new recipe (January/February 2015) looked promising; I’m always looking for new ways to make this staple of our menu new and interesting. The basic premise of the recipe of to quickly brown in a skillet, then to slow-roast in a low, 250-degree oven. The pan sear not only browns the skin, but the fond forms the basis of the sauce. Going against years of recipes, Chris Kimball instructs me not to pat the chicken dry. In this case, it is supposed to allow more flavor to develop for the pan sauce. Unfortunately, the chicken was lackluster. Completely edible, but just an average 3-stars.

Looks great, but only average

Looks great, but only average

Comments:

  1. I only used leg quarters, which were on sale for $.89/lb. The recipe called for 5-pounds, but by the time I trimmed down the leg quarters I only had 4-pounds. The only real consequence is that I had extra sauce.

Rating: 3 star.
Cost: $9.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 3:45 PM. End time: 6 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

5 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (4 split breasts plus 4 leg quarters)
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil

  1. Set a rack to the lowest position in your oven, and a second rack that measure 8″ from the broiler element. Pre-heat oven to 250-degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack in the sheet pan. Trim any excess skin and fat from the bone-in chicken pieces, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and pepper (but do not pat the chicken dry).
  3. Set a 12″ skillet over medium/high burner, add 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil and pre-heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Put leg quarters with the skin-side-down and cook for a total of 5 to 7 minutes per batch; turning once. The chicken should be golden brown.
  4. Move chicken to prepared sheet pan and arrange so that the legs are all pointing to one side of the sheet.
  5. Pour off any fat from the skillet and add breasts with the skin-side-down and cook for a total of 4 to 6 minutes per batch; turning once. The chicken should be golden brown.
  6. Move chicken to prepared sheet pan and arrange so that the legs are all pointing to one side of the sheet.
  7. Pour off any fat from the skillet, but do not clean. Set chicken on lower rack so that the legs point to the back of the oven. Bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours until the breasts register 155-degrees and the legs register 170-degrees. (While the chicken roasts, begin making the sauce below). Remove from oven and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes, and pre-heat broiler.
  8. After resting, move sheet pan to upper rack and broil chicken for 3 to 6 minutes until the skin is well browned and crispy. Serve, passing the sauce separately.

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2-1/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 shallots, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. While the chicken roasts, add broth to a bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin. Allow the gelatin to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. In a separate small bowl, which together the water and corn starch and set aside.
  3. In the skillet that you used to sear the chicken, melt the butter over medium/low burner. Add shallots and garlic, and cook for 6 to 9 minutes until the become brown and crispy.
  4. Add coriander and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the gelatin mixture. Use the moisture to deglaze the pan, then bring up to a simmer over high burner and reduce for 5 to 7 minutes until you have 1-1/2 cups.
  5. Recombine corn starch mixture with a whisk, then whisk into sauce and simmer for 1 minute until it thickens.
  6. Remove from burner and mix in parsley and lemon juice. Adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste, and cover to keep warm.

Coffee Latin Flan

December 6, 2014

Flan is baked custard, usually served with caramel sauce. The first time I had ever heard of it was in 1995, when my neighbor asked a woman who I was dating at the time if she knew how to make Flan.  “Of course”, she said, “Flan Royal”. Wow, not mere flan for commoners, but Royal Flan. I thought she was a “keeper”. But it turned out that Royal was just a brand of Jell-O; most Latin Americans do not make flan from scratch, much in the way we (as a country) no longer make chocolate pudding. (Note to self: make chocolate pudding.)

Wow, easily impress your friends

Wow, easily impress your friends

The Flan was truly impressive, but I was a little nervous that it would release properly and the caramel would be thick and fluid. I could not have asked for anything more. I liked the addition of espresso powder as it made the flan more interesting. The flan is very potent and this yields enough to serve a large crowd. 4-1/2 stars.

Comments:

  1. For me the caramel cooking times were all considerably longer than specified in the recipe. The most critical thing was that I continued until I saw the reddish-amber hues specified in Step 3.
  2. Because my cooking times were noticeably longer when making the caramel, I used 3 tablespoons of water instead of 2 tablespoons specified in the recipe. My fear was that more of the water had an opportunity to evaporate and that the caramel might completely seize up in my loaf pan. The final consistency was perfect.
  3. I would recommend making your caramel in a stainless steel clad pot. I made mine in a Calphalon (anodized aluminum) pan, and it was difficult to see the color of the caramel to judge its readiness. The good news is that the reddish-amber color was easily spotted.
  4. Chris Kimball also has a variation using almonds (which uses 1 teaspoon almond extract in lieu of espresso powder). Or for a regular flan just omit the espresso powder.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $3.50.
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time: 1 PM. End time: 4 PM. (for serving the following day)

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

Resulted in less caramel than I thought

Resulted in less caramel than I thought

2/3 cup sugar (4-2/3 ounces)
2 large eggs plus 5 large yolks
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup whole milk
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, add 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Mix until sugar is completely wet.
  2. Put pan over medium-high burner and bring up to a boil (4 to 5 minutes). Cook without stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until it becomes golden brown. Gently swirl pan and continue to cook for another 2 minutes until it becomes the color of peanut butter.
  3. Remove for burner and swirl the pan until the mixture turns red-amber, about 15 to 20 seconds. Carefully add 2 tablespoons warm tap water, which will bubble a steam, and swirl until it becomes incorporated.
  4. Empty caramel into an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan (mine was 9″x5″). Do not scrape out saucepan, only allow the liquid to pour by itself. Set loaf pan aside.
  5. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 300-degrees. Fold a dish towel so that it will evenly fit in a 13″x9″ Pyrex baking dish, and set aside. Bring two quarts of water to a boil.
  6. Meanwhile in a large bowl, whisk together eggs and yolks. Add  sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, vanilla extract, espresso powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  7. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the loaf pan containing the caramel. Use aluminum foil to tightly cover loaf pan and set in baking dish ontop of dish towel. Put in oven and carefully add the two quarts of boiling water into Pyrex baking dish.
  8. Bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours until the custard reaches 180-degrees. The center of the custard will still jiggle slightly. Remove foil and allow to completely cool in the water bath; about 1 hour.
  9. Once cool, remove from water bath and tightly cover using plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight of from up to 4 days.
  10. When you are ready to unmold the flan, use a paring knife to slide around and loosed the edges. Invert serving plate ontop of loaf pan, flip over. After it releases, you can use a rubber spatula to scrape and remaining caramel onto the flan.
  11. Slice and serve, and any leftovers can be loosely covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

No-Knead Artisan Dinner Rolls

December 4, 2014

I wanted to make delicious dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, but wanted a recipe that would work within the tight oven schedule of Thanksgiving day. So for this special dinner I combined recipes and techniques from a few different breads that I have made in the past (see here, here and here). I included a biga for great depth of flavor; which I started on Monday night. On Tuesday night, I made a wet dough so that I wouldn’t have to knead it by hand, since my KitchenAid mixer broke a few years ago (see “Autolyse”). After a few hours rising, I refrigerated the dough to stop the yeast from rising. When dealing with a wet doughs they are much easier to handle when chilled. Because dinner rolls take a bit of handling, the 36-hours in the refrigerator made the shaping process easy. Overall, the rolls were delicious. However, the subtitles added by the biga are largely overpowered by the small amount of rye and wheat flour. 4-stars.

Delicious dinner rolls without kneading

Delicious dinner rolls without kneading

Because I was pulling this recipe from a lot of different places, I tested out the recipe a week prior to Thanksgiving. But the rolls were too small; perhaps because of beer, which I have noticed tends to retard rising. I abandon that recipe, and came up the this recipe to solve the problems that I had encountered.

Comment:

  1. Yay! I finally ordered a new KitchenAid standing mixer. It had gone on sale for $225 at Target.com. The difference between their Professional and Artisan series is the steel gears of the professional series are more durable when making a lot of dough.
  2. My test batch of dinner rolls from last week also reminded me how quickly they became hard; within just a few hours. Unless you are going to eat them right away, you must keep them wrapped in plastic.
  3. If using a separate container for rising, do not attempt to do the mixing and rising directly in the same container. It is impossible to properly mix the dough anyplace other than a regular bowl.
  4. The recipe yielded too much dough, so next time I will cut down on the recipe by about 15%.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $1.25 for 16 rolls.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 10:30AM pm Ready:  12:00.

The recipes from which I developed today’s bread are here, here and here. The final descriptions of how I prepared the bread are given below:

Biga Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 cup water (4 ounces)

  1. Make the biga the night before baking the bread; combine flour, yeast, and water in medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir for 1 minute until the mix appears uniform.
  2. Use plastic wrap to cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature. If you kitchen is much below 70-degrees, then you can use a slightly warmed oven (but turned off) which will ensure there is sufficient warmth.

Dough Ingredients:
2-cups water, preferably non-chlorinated spring water.
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1-ounce rye flour
1-ounce whole wheat flour
3-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat 2-cups water to 100-degrees; about 45 seconds in the microwave. Add yeast and kosher salt to warm water, allowing it to hydrate while measuring out the flours.
  2. Add biga to a large bowl. Place bowl on a kitchen scale and zero out; you want to add a total of 22-3/4 ounces of flour. Add rye and whole wheat flour. Add all-purpose for a total of 22-3/4 ounces. Mix until combined, but without kneading. Empty the dough into a 4-quart container and let sit at room temperature until it has almost doubled in size; between 2 to 4 hours. Put container in refrigerator until ready to use. The dough is very wet, so allowing it to cool completely will make it easier to work with.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle evenly with a very thin coat of flour.
  4. Carefully remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half with a bench scrape or chef’s knife and carefully stretch each piece into a 24”-long cylinder. Cut each cylinder into quarters; then cut each piece into two (yielding a total of 16 evenly-sized pieces).
  5. If you slightly squished the cylinder as you made each cut, restore its roundness. Put 8 pieces of dough in each cake pan with the cut-side up; placing one piece of dough in the center and the other seven pieces like the spokes of a wheel.
  6. Set an oven rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 500-degrees. Cover pans with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes until they have double in size. You can also test it because the dough will spring back if you gently press with your finger.
  7. Discard plastic wrap and lightly spray the rolls with water. Bake for 10 minutes until the rolls are brown. Turn the oven down to 400-degrees. Remove rolls and turn them out onto a rimmed baking sheet. After 5 or 10 minutes the rolls will have cool enough to handle, pull them apart and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400-degrees for 10 to 15 minutes; rotating the pan half-way through baking. They should have a deeply golden crust, and sound hollow if you tap their bottoms.
  8. Allow to cook on a wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey

November 29, 2014

When cooking chicken lately, I have been cooking and enjoying dark meat for its deeper flavor and more forgiving texture. Yet, one weakness of my usual turkey recipes is getting the breast to correctly cook (to 160-degrees) without sacrificing the dark meat. I rarely time the flip correctly. So when I saw this episode on America’s Test Kitchen last month, I was amazed and happy to see how it showcased the dark meat. By separating the turkey into three major pieces, some of the most fundamental Thanksgiving issues are solved. (1) Getting the dark meat cooked properly without overcooking the white meat. (2) getting real turkey drippings into the stuffing. As a bonus, this method cooks the turkey in about half the time, freeing up my oven to cook rolls, pies, and gravy the rest of the day. There are a few issues (discussed below), but overall this technique provides a delicious turkey. It was the best dark meat I’ve ever eaten. Chris Kimball agrees, saying “this is now my new, absolute favorite.” 4-1/2 stars. I hope you all had a delicious Thanksgiving.

Most beautiful dark meat ever

Most beautiful dark meat ever

Start the day/evening before, taking care of most of the prep work. Cut the turkey into three major parts, (1) breast/wings, then (2) cut off each leg/thigh quarter. I misread the instructions and started to cut off just the leg; not the entire leg quarter (i.e. including the thigh), but realized my mistake before I did any damage beyond the skin. The recipe only brines the breast/wings. It salts/seasons the leg quarters separately.

What makes this recipe truly unique is removing the thighbones, then trussing the thighs up using skewers and string. This step makes the dark meat the absolute best part of the entire evening. I was hesitant to break the tradition of roasting a whole turkey, but with my guests arriving just before dinner this year, it was a great opportunity to give this recipe a try. Mostly because Chris Kimball says it is based upon Julia Child’s recipe.

Issues / Comments:

  1. Cutting off leg quarters, not just legs. As I mentioned above, I almost cut off just the legs in step 2. The recipe calls for me to remove the “leg quarter”.
  2. Because the wings overhanged my 12″ skillet, the juices dripped down to the oven floor and filled the house with smoke. My solution is that I recommend putting a foil-lined baking sheet below the skillet to catch the juices. If it starts to smoke you can just swap it out for new foil. Fortunately, my guests had not yet arrived.
  3. I was surprised that it took me a full hour to deconstruct and prepare the turkey, most of the time was separating the leg quarters. The back was pretty easy to remove using kitchen shears.
  4. The recipe calls for a 12-to-15-pound turkey. I bought a 19-pounder because of the number of guests, but my turkey took double the time to cook than stated in the recipe. In the end, we ate an hour late, but only because I cut the resting time down (more than I should have).
  5. While Chris Kimball tries to have the white and dark meat ready at the same time, it was not the case. The dark meat took longer, but that gave the breast an extra 10-to-15 minutes to rest. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that I was able to remove the white meat while the dark meat came up to temperature.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $19.  ($10 of which was by 19-lb turkey)
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 1 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it for this Thanksgiving is as follows:

The Eventing Before Thanksgiving:
12-to-15-pound turkey
1 teaspoon plus
Salt and pepper
Wooden skewers
1-1/2 pounds hearty white sandwich bread (e.g. Arnold’s or Pepperidge Farms)

  1. Remove the neck and giblets and set aside in a large Dutch oven, which will be used along with back and thigh bones to make the gravy.
  2. Put turkey breast-side-up on a cutting board. Tuck the wing back just to get it out-of-the-way. Remove the thighs/legs by cutting through the skin around the quarters where it attaches to breast. Cut away the top of the meat until your knife reaches the hip bone. Bend the entire leg quarter back so that the bone pops out of the hip socket, then you can continue to cut the meat away and remove entire quarter.
  3. To take out the thigh bone, use the tip of your knife to cut along the length of the thigh. Cut around the tip of the bone and work your knife underneath the bone to expose the joint between thigh and leg. Cut through the cartilage and remove thighbone; adding bones to your pot for the gravy. Repeat to remove the second leg quarter.
  4. Rub interior of each thigh with ½ teaspoon sage, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Poke 2 or 3 skewers through skin/meat to close up the thigh where your removed the thigh bone. Wrap some kitchen twine around the wooden skewers to tightly close the thigh into a nice, round piece of boneless meat. Set on a large plate, cover, and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours until ready to cook.
  6. Trim away and discard any excess skin from around the neck.
  7. To remove the back bone from the breast, flip the turkey over breast-side-down. Use kitchen shears to cut through ribs (following vertical line of fat where breast meets back) until you can’t cut anymore. You’ve reach the bone near the wing joint. Repeat on other side of backbone.
  8. Use a little force to bend the back-section away from the breast, and the shoulder joint should pop out of the socket. Cut between the bonds to separate the back from the breast, and add the back to the pot for making gravy.
  9. Dissolve 3/4-cup salt into 6 quarts of cold water in a large container (I used a large stock pot). Submerge in brine, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours until ready to cook.
  10. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes (including the crust). Spread on-top 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake at 300-degrees from 25 to 30 minutes until it becomes dry and lightly browned. Stir a few times during baking and empty into the largest bowl you own.

Thanksgiving Day:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3 onions, chopped fine
6 celery ribs, minced
1 cup dried cranberries
4 large eggs, beaten

  1. An hour before you are ready to start cooking turkey, begin baking the bones reserved gravy.
  2. Pre-heat oven temperature to 425-degrees, and set two over racks to the lowest and second lowest positions.
  3. Remove the breast from brine and pat dry using paper towels (leaving the leg quarters in refrigerator for now). Tuck the wings behind back.
  4. Finely chop 3 onions.
  5. Melt down butter in 12″ non-stick oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and are just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, mince 2 tablespoons of fresh sage and 6 celery ribs.
  6. Add minced celery and sage to skillet, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes until celery is slightly softened. Empty vegetables into your large bowl with the bread cubes.
  7. Use paper towels to wipe out skillet. Brush surface of breast with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and set turkey breast with the skin-side-down into skillet. Roast at 425-degrees for 30 minutes. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below turkey to catch any drippings.
  8. Meanwhile, add cranberries and beaten eggs to bread mixture and toss to combine (mixture will be dry). Empty stuffing to 16″x13″ roasting pan, then use a rubber spatula to form an even 12″x10″ rectangle. The turkey will be set on-top of stuffing to protect it and prevent it from burning.
  9. Remove the breast from the oven and use paper towels to pat up the hot juices from the top of the breast. Use wads to paper towels to flip over and set over two-thirds of stuffing.
  10. Brush leg quarters with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and arrange over the remaining stuffing. Lightly season lets and breasts with salt.
  11. Use your rubber spatula to tuck and exposed stuffing under the turkey, so that it is almost entire covered.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes at 425-degrees.
  13. Reduce oven to 350-degrees and continue cooking for between 40 minutes and 2 hours; until breast registers 160 to 165 degrees and  thighs registers 175 to 180 degrees.
  14. Empty onto a cutting board as each individual piece attains the proper temperature. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving. While turkey rests, use a spatula to stir stuffing and scrape up any browned bits. Evenly rearrange stuffing over the entire roasting pan and keep warm in the tured-off-oven.
  15. Before serving, adjust seasoning of the stuffing with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the stuffing in center of large serving platter.
  16. Remove skewers and twine from leg quarters. Carve and serve.
The breast also roasted up wonderfully moist.

The breast also roasted up wonderfully moist.


Thanksgiving Menu

November 22, 2014

Of all the holidays on our busy calendars, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite. I love the simplicity of the celebrations. There are no presents to buy or expectations to fulfill (other than a bountiful meal). It is simply a day to share and appreciate the important people in our lives; wonderful friends, our family, and the people we love. As a bonus, since I love to cook, it usually means that I have a crowd to cook for. Especially on Thanksgiving: the more the merrier.

Appetizers:

  • Ceviche.
  • Meat and Cheese plate: Salami, Ham. Boursin, Manchego, Jarlsberg.

Dinner Menu:

Beverages Menu:

  • Beer.
  • White Wine.
  • Red Wine; Malbec, from my time living in Argentina.
  • Sangria.

Dessert Menu:


Homemade Chocolate Syrup

November 21, 2014

I’m in the middle of my Thanksgiving preparations and don’t really have time to figure out how to make homemade chocolate syrup. But I have a few good reasons why I made time. First, my squeeze bottle of Hershey’s “Genuine Chocolate Flavored” syrup has been empty for a couple of weeks, and I feel bad because my son has been eating ice cream that clearly needed chocolate syrup. Second and more important, I had examined the ingredient list (in an effort to answer the question: what does “Genuine Chocolate Flavor” really mean?), and was very disappointed with Hershey’s choice of ingredients. It’s as if they had purposefully tried to use the worst possible ingredients. The first two ingredients are: (1) high fructose corn syrup, and (2) corn syrup. Really, using just regular corn syrup was too difficult. This homemade recipe uses regular sugar, and I omitted the other chemicals and artificial flavors. Finally, instead of using real vanilla Hersey’s uses “Vanillin”, so they are obviously using imitation vanilla made from a wood pulp waste product.

Delicious Ice Cream definitely needs chocolate syrup

Delicious Ice Cream definitely needs chocolate syrup

Comments:

  1. Hershey’s isn’t tricking us by calling it “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”, as I had assumed. Chocolate includes both Cocoa powder and Cocoa butter, whereas chocolate syrup includes only cocoa powder. It is a non-fact product (a good thing) and thus by excluding the Cocoa butter, Hershey’s cannot call it Chocolate. Hence the phrase “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”.
  2. Many people suggest using Dutch-processed cocoa, but I just used whatever I had in my kitchen, which was Hersey’s. Hershey’s is natural cocoa powder; not Dutch processed.
  3. This recipe yields 18-ounces of chocolate syrup. I re-used the same Hershey’s syrup squeeze bottle, but eventually I imagine that I will just use a regular squeeze bottle. Also you can use regular mason jars.
  4. The recipe continues to be non-fat, which means that there is no cocoa butter in any of the ingredients. That could change depending up what type of cocoa powder you use.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $1.15 for 18-ounces of syrup.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 5:10 PM.

While Chris Kimball does have a recipe to make chocolate syrup, I wanted a replacement for Hershey’s that has a stable shelf life. Chris Kimball uses dairy (heavy cream and butter) which means that it must be used within a short period of time. Today’s recipe is based upon Alton Brown’s cocoa syrup recipe.

1 cups water
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cups cocoa powder (2-5/8 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, and kosher salt in medium-sized pot and bring up to a boil. Whisk in cocoa powder and continue mixing until it is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute, and remove from burner.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can either strain into squeeze bottles: in case you have a lot of solids that could plug up your bottle.
  3. Store in refrigerator. While the recipe will appear to be too runny, it will thicken when it cools to refrigerator temperature.

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