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    Entries in nutty (7)

    Friday
    Mar152013

    Intoxicatingly Indulgent Fudge

    Pistachios are one of my favorite things, so when it comes time to think of something green to make for St. Patrick’s Day, they are always at the top of my list of ingredients.  This year, I decided to put them in fudge, but not just any fudge.  Bailey’s Irish Cream fudge.  What other kind of fudge would you make for St. Patrick’s Day, after all? 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup (or corn syrup)
    • โ…“ cup cream
    • โ…“ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
    • 2 Tablespoons water
    • 4 Tablespoons butter
    • Pistachios

    Before you start cooking, butter a pan and set it atop a kitchen towel, then drop in 4 Tablespoons butter.

    In a 3 quart or larger saucepan, place your sugar and syrup. 

    Measure out the cream, Bailey’s, and water, then pour that over the sugar. 

    Stir everything together over low heat. 

    When the sugar is mostly dissolved, increase the heat to medium and continue to stir constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil.  Pop on a lid for 2 minutes. 

    During that time, get a clean spoon or thoroughly wash the one you’ve been using, and get a small dish of ice cold water.  When you remove the lid, scoop a small amount into the spoon and allow it to drip into the cold water. 

    When you’ve reached the right temperature, the mixture will easily come together into a ball that will just hold its shape, but is very pliable still.  If it’s not there yet, allow it to continue boiling, checking it again every minute or so. 

    Turn off the heat and pour the hot mixture over the butter in the prepared pan.  This mixture is extremely hot so be very careful.  

    While that’s cooling, line a smaller pan with parchment and set it aside. 

    After that, it’s time to work on your nuts.  Break the pistachios out of their shells and remove any loose skin.  It just covers the pretty green color. 

    When your mixture has cooled to the point that you can comfortably hold your hand on the bottom of the pan, it’s time to start stirring.  A wooden spatula is the perfect tool for this job.  Start on one side and begin scraping the edges into the middle. 

    It’ll look like a broken mess at first, but eventually all the butter will be incorporated. 

    Continue scraping and stirring.  As you do, the mixture will begin to become opaque.  But at this point, it’s still running in ribbons like a thick syrup. 

    Keep stirring.  See it becoming more opaque?

    Just a bit more, and when you see the texture start to change it will become less sticky and blob like and will start to hold its shape somewhat. 

    It’s time for your nuts.  Sprinkle on about โ…” of them. 

    Stir them in and spread the mixture into the parchment lined pan. 

    Sprinkle on the rest of your nuts and press on them lightly with your palm. 

    My reason for making this fudge was really just because I thought it would be cute for St. Patrick’s Day.  I was surprised by how amazingly delicious it is.  It’s one of the best flavors of fudge I’ve ever tasted.  Definitely worth the trip to the liquor store, especially if you can get your hubby to go for you. 

    What’s your favorite green food?

     

    Friday
    Jul062012

    A Berry Summery Salad

    After last week’s Ricotta Filled Strawberries, I had a bunch of berries left over, which was good, because with the temperatures still in triple digits, I’m not turning on anything in the house that might generate heat, and berries are a great way to make a salad more interesting.  I can hear Seeley grumbling now.  She doesn’t think berries belong in a green salad.  Well, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.  This salad is fabulous, and berries bring the perfect sweet tart juicy goodness to the mix. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Lettuce
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Crumbled feta
    • Nut clusters
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Olive oil
    • Salt & pepper

    Personally, I can’t stand prewashed and processed lettuce in a bag.  If you like it, go for it, but I think it’s worth chopping your own.  That being said, lettuce really has to be washed well.  See all the dirt in there? 

    The best way to wash lettuce is to chop it into manageable pieces and then put it into a lot of water so it has plenty of room to be swished about.  I happen to have a salad spinner, which, if you make salad more than about once a year, is a must have, I think. 

    I’m pretty sure I hear Seeley grumbling again… something about “Where the hell am I going to put a salad spinner?”  Well, if it helps any, it doubles as a salad bowl when you take the strainer part out, and you could use it as a storage bowl for just about anything.  Anyway, I rinsed my lettuce 3 times to make sure all the sand was gone.  You can do that in a large bowl or even in a sink full of water.  This next part, however, you can’t do with a regular bowl.  Pop the lid on.

    And let ‘er rip! 

    Look at all the water that came off.  It must have been at least ½ cup.  I’ve heard of people putting the wet lettuce into a pillow case and spinning that by hand, but in my hands, that would just be dangerous. 

    Next up is the dressing.  For this salad, we’re making a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.  Drop 4 large-ish strawberries into your blender or food processor.  It won’t be enough substance to make a puree just yet, but small chunks are fine at this point. 

    Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

    Now you should be able to get a pretty good puree.  Then, with the blender still running on a low speed, slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil. 

    Ok, dressing’s done.  How easy was that?  Now onto the berries.  How many you need, depends on the size of your salad.  For 1 whole head of lettuce, you’ll probably want about a cup of each.  Just rinse the blueberries, and then chop the strawberries into blueberry sized pieces. 

    Next are the nuts.  I absolutely love these cashew clusters from Costco.  They make a fabulous snack, so why not use them in a salad?

    The only problem is, they’re a little big, so you’ll want to chop them up a bit.  You can, of course, substitute any kind of nuts you’d like. 

    Personally, I like my salad tossed.  It just isn’t that much work, and it’s so much better that way.  Just drizzle on a little of your dressing, and toss until everything is coated. 

    Throw in the berries, nuts, and a sprinkling of feta. 

    Toss again and voilá!  A beautiful and delicious salad perfect for any hot summer day. 

    The combination of sweet berries, tangy balsamic, and cool, crisp lettuce, is definitely a treat. 

    What is your favorite summer salad?