Salted Caramel Sauce

How’s everyone doing? Staying sane? I keep forgetting to brush my teeth so I’m working on that. The good news is I finally read the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking and it drastically improved my cooking. I still have a lot to digest but the chapter on salt made the biggest impact.

According to Samin (author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking) the type of salt used determines the amount needed in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and it turns out that I need about double the amount usually called for to properly season even the simplest of muffins. Check out this chart on how much salt is needed per 1 cup of flour for batters and doughs: Fine Sea Salt – 3/4 teaspoon, Table Salt – 2/3 teaspoon, Morton’s Kosher Salt – 3/4 teaspoon, Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt – 1 1/8 teaspoon. Is your mind blown?? I was shocked at the differences. Yet my math skills are paying off because I do think my food has never tasted better.

After reading the book (this is how I refer to it now: The Book and Mike knows what book I’m talking about), I knew I had to try one of the recipes. I decided on the salted caramel sauce for multiple reasons. 1. I actually had the ingredients in my house. 2. I’ve dabbled in caramel over the years but never found a recipe that was so perfect it needed to be made more than once. I’ve made caramel for apples that was too runny and took too long. I’ve made caramel candy so soft that I used it as a sauce. These problems most likely stem from not being to accurately read my ancient candy thermometer. 3. Recipe didn’t require a candy thermometer.

Needless to say, I’m completely smitten. I’ve made it four times in the last couple weeks. The dark amber sauce coats the back of a spoon and adds a layer of decadence to any dessert. I pour it over brownies, drizzle it on top of ice cream or dip apples for a wholesome quarantine snack. Take a spoonful and let it melt on your tongue and enjoy the indulgence that comes from such simple ingredients as butter, sugar and cream.

I can’t recommend this cookbook enough. Or the caramel sauce for that matter. I hope you are all finding inspiration and joy in the midst of all that is going on in the world. Stay healthy everyone!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 8 ounces

Slightly adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Who knew caramel was so simple! No candy thermometer or special ingredients. It moves fast so don’t walk away from the stove. If the sauce separates during cooking just whisk in a splash of hot water to bring it all back together.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (half if using table salt)

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium and then whisk in sugar and increase heat to medium-high. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil and then stop stirring. Brown spots will be visible in the pan. Give it one gentle swish so the caramel browns evenly. Continue cooking until deep amber in color and starts to smoke, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in heavy cream. Cool the caramel for 30 minutes and then add the vanilla and salt. Depending on the type of salt you use, you may need less so taste and adjust. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

To serve: Let caramel cool to room temperature and pour over ice cream or use as a dip for apples. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a month. Warm leftovers in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and stir before serving.

Simple Granola

I’m not great with change and these last couple weeks brought enough new and different to last the whole year. In an effort to cope, I turn to familiar recipes. Foods that drown out the smell of disinfectant and fill the house with the comforting aromas of cinnamon and coconut. Recipes eaten all week long. At the top of the list is this simple homemade granola. It uses pantry ingredients and takes only the slightest effort.

While working at the Greenbean (God rest its soul) I made granola weekly. Having a soft spot for the rustic breakfast, I always looked forward to the task. The first time I made it, I was surprised to see dried quinoa as an ingredient. I’ve been hooked ever since. The quinoa adds such a nice little nutty crunch and a good bit of nutrition as well. I’ve made all sorts of granola recipes over the years, but have landed on this simple one. My family took to it once I started leaving out the dried fruit, which is fine with me.

We each have our own preferred method for eating granola. Mike adds milk, JP eats it plain or with vanilla yogurt, Kai likes it with plain yogurt and honey swirled together for a snack. I usually add sliced fresh berries or sliced bananas, along with plain yogurt for breakfast.

Ready to add it to your repertoire? I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Simple Granola

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped, raw nuts (prefer walnuts, pecans or almonds)
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons oil (grapeseed or olive oil)

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, nuts, seeds, quinoa, salt and cinnamon. Combine maple syrup and oil in a glass measuring cup and pour over oat mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix well.

Dump on to a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Roast for 30 minutes. Take out of oven and stir gently, moving the golden edges to the center and the center to the edges. Rotate pan and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Check granola and remove from the oven when the pan is uniformly golden brown and dry to the touch. Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container. Store on the shelf for a couple weeks.

Simple Mini Frittatas

I grew up liking eggs in all its forms: fried, scrambled or hard boiled. I like quiches, omelets, egg salads and deviled eggs. Doesn’t everyone? Apparently not. Neither my husband nor children liked eggs enough to actually eat them. Yet, recently eggs have become a regular feature of our weekend breakfast routine. How did this miracle occur? I wish I could take the credit (ok, I’ll take a little credit) but mostly it’s thanks to the kind people at Hilton.

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A couple times a year we pack our bags and leave our little enclave in PNW. More often than not, we stay at a hotel. For some reason the “no eggs” policy went by the wayside as we hustled down to the hotel breakfast buffet. Maybe it was the close proximity to the bacon and pancakes, but whatever the reason, eggs became one of those dependable foods that could be counted on no matter which city we were in. We ate breakfast egg and cheese sandwiches in NYC, mini omelets in LA and we shoveled down softly scrambled eggs in Paris. It seems that they can’t get enough home or away. Eggs are requested all.the.time.

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Now back home when the breakfast buffet isn’t an option. What to do? My solution? These mini frittatas. I honestly don’t quite remember where I found the beginnings of this recipe on the World Wide Web but I think the original version had more veggies and perhaps bacon. Through pure laziness, empty produce drawers and a need for these to resemble the simple egg dishes we’ve eaten over the years, I simplified.

I’ve also found that these mini frittatas freeze incredibly well. Just cool completely before placing in the freezer. Microwave for 30-45 seconds to rewarm. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Quick Cheesy Mini Frittatas

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions:

Liberally spray a regular sized muffin pan with cooking spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, cheese, and green onions until well combined.

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Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until the eggs are puffed and firm on the top. Let cool slightly (the frittatas will deflate) and take a small spatula to remove them from the muffin tin.

Serve or let cool completely and store in an air tight container for up to 3 days. Reheat for 20 seconds in a microwave.

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