October 11, 2009

Cheese rinds and beets

The Whole Foods down the street sells these little plastic-wrapped bundles of Parmesan rinds for super cheap and I just can't resist. So I've accumulated this small stockpile of cheese rinds and finally decided to do something with them: make cheese stock. Rinds + pot of water + a few hours of simmering = smells amazing, and awesome stock for risotto making.

I had a butternut squash from the farmer's market so I cut that open and roasted it, and added it to the risotto to give it more body. The starchy squash partially disintegrated into the rice, which was nice.

Also: roasted beets for the first time. I paired them with herbed goat cheese, salad greens, and pine nuts. Interesting.

Oh yeah, and I folded sauteed beet greens into the risotto because the internet said they were also edible.

October 4, 2009

Dulce de leche, buerre noisette, sea salt.

Putting this here to remind myself to do it again:

Was making cinnamon rolls and decided to do a caramel topping. I found some leftover homemade dulce de leche in the fridge so that was the base. (Aside: I make dulce de leche by simmering an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water for an hour, then putting it back in the pantry, forgetting about it for a year and then opening it by accident when I actually need sweetened condensed milk.)

I browned 3/4 stick of butter, stirred in 3/4 can of dulce de leche, and added 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to make a saucelike goo. Dan says it is "alternate universe caramel with a goatee because it's evil" and he wants to know if I can replicate this in a solid caramel form.

If you've ever had salted caramel, it's like that, but in sauce form, and with more toasty flavor. And if you haven't had salted caramel, try some, because salt brings out the flavors in sweets.

October 1, 2009

Ham candy

Fallout from the Ham Cake/Cake Ham/Ham-shaped-like-a-cake:

Candied ham.

I had a chunk of ham left over from trimming all the rectangles to go on Reverse Ham Cake, so I diced the lean portion of it and decided to candy it, because that seemed more exciting than just eating cold leftover ham.

In the pot, in no particular order: grade B maple syrup, brown sugar, salt (to balance the sugar and bring back the "ham" ness), fennel seed, garlic powder, cinnamon, coriander, clove, dijon mustard, orange juice.

I couldn't find my candy thermometer and the volume of the solution was too low besides, so I used the original drop-in-cold-water trick to determine the stages of the sugar solution. By the time it reached soft ball bordering on hard crack, the ham was starting to get a little toasty, so I stopped it at that point and used chopsticks to pick out the individual pieces and cool them on parchment paper.

End result is tasty! And somewhat confusing. It reminds me of the sweet-spicy moist Chinese beef jerky I grew up with.

Of note: this is the second time I've attempted to combine pork products and candymaking technique, the first being bacon toffee.