expletive laced crunchy caramel sauce
The last restaurant I worked at, I had this tradition with the chef. When it got hectic, tear-out-your-hair, cross-your-eyes, so-slammed-you-don’t- know-up-from-down hectic, the first free second I had I would run into the kitchen and sing the Lil Wayne classic “I’m Me.” The only verse I knew amounted to me saying “F**k ‘em, f**k ‘em, f**k ‘em” over and over again until we both cracked up. Max would double over laughing at the grill until it was time for me to race into the dining room with armfuls of mushroom pastries and gruyere macaroni and cheese. Eventually the night would be over, and Max would turn the kitchen scraps into burritos that, at the end of 10 hours on your feet, were the best burritos in the world. No matter how crazy things got, three things were certain: we would laugh, we would eat burritos, and the shift would end. Those were certainties I really enjoyed.
Sometimes now, when someone disappoints me, I remember those nights. The myriad of terrible things that customers said or did, how it always stung, the sharp desire to replay those scenes over and over in my head, and how the only thing that solved any of it was racing into that kitchen. The song plays in my head and I start to crave black beans and gruyere wrapped in a giant flour tortilla. F**k ‘em, f**k ‘em, f**k ‘em. Lets all laugh and eat incongruous burritos.
But, lacking in tortillas and Max’s impressive ability to turn absolutely anything into burrito stuffing, tonight I came home disappointed and made crunchy caramel sauce. It was supposed to just be caramel sauce, but like most failed caramel sauces, turned into something equally delicious. Warm, sugary sauce dotted with crunchy caramel candy.
Crunchy Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Splash of half and half
Heat sugar over medium heat until half melted. Turn off heat and stir in butter. Continue to stir vigorously for about a minute. Add half and half. More stirring (this is very exact, dears). It should resemble lumpy caramel sauce. You should put it at the bottom of a bowl and top it with some good vanilla ice cream. Eat too much of it. Remember that when caramel sauce disappoints you, it can then turn into something wonderful. Maybe some people are like that too? And if not, fuck ‘em. Enjoy your ice cream.
March 31, 2014
friendly and forgiving strawberry cobbler
Here is a pie that wants to be a cobbler. It has no interest in being a pie.
I learned that the hard way, after slicing into it and watching it erupt into a puddle of strawberry juice, the kind that would’ve been welcomed if it were a cobbler and I had the foresight to buy vanilla ice cream. When a cobbler is sloppy, it’s perfect. When a pie is sloppy, it has this sad soggy crust that sits at the bottom of the pan and reminds you that your pie has failed. There is a lesson there that my allergy bleary mind can’t piece together. Maybe the lesson is simply that cobblers are friendlier, more forgiving creatures than their crusty pie cousins.
So skip the crust, and enjoy warm berries under a crunchy buttery topping. And get some good vanilla ice cream, no matter what your food plans are—-you never know when your pie is going to rebel, or when you’ll be in an emergency ice cream situation. Good vanilla in the freezer and good chocolate hidden in your baking drawer—-these are wise choices for life.
Strawberry Ginger Cobbler*
- 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup smashed corn flakes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine filling ingredients and line the bottom of a deep pan with the filling. Combine dry topping ingredients and top the filling. Pour melted butter over the top until dry ingredients are moist. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
*Based on a mashup of Joy the Baker’s Gluten Free Strawberry Ginger Pie and A Cozy Kitchen’s Caramel Pear Pie with Oat Crumble
March 29, 2014
"Too Many Blueberries" Blondies
I like to add a quarter cup of good chocolate chips to almost any kind of bar or cookie, if only as a reminder that chocolate handled with a light hand still makes a splash. The chips disappear into the golden batter, hardly any chocolate really, yet the first bite and nearly every bite after it announces it’s presence. I’m here, I’m chocolate, get used to it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is my love of too many berries. I am a berry glutton when I bake. I want them to ooze and expand, I want relentless berry juice to bleed through cracks in the dough and pool on top, to become sticky jewel toned syrup. Because there is something lovely and primal about berries bursting in dough. They are little bites of violent joy.
I like Blondies because everyone else forgets that they love them. Whenever I make them, the audience has a little sigh. Why not cookies? What about brownies? Blondies (or this recipe anyway) are magical. They come together in no time. You can dress them to the nines. They will accomodate any whim——toasted coconut, fresh cranberries, thyme—-and wrap it in warm buttery goodness. And the forgetting makes the first bite better. Every time Dan says “I always forget how much I like these.” Every single time.
Too Many Blueberries Blondies (based on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- Butter an 8×8 pan
- Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg.
- Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in blueberries and chocolate chips.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 35 minutes, or until set in the middle.