Wednesday, September 7

Recipes & The Great Marshmallow Disaster

I have a tendency to clip / print / stash recipes that sound appealing, with full intentions of making them in the future. When it's the right season, when I have the ingredients in the house, when I have time for something new and complex, etc.

Some recipes I get around to pretty quickly. Others, for one reason or another keep getting shuffled through my pile but linger unmade. So I decided this past weekend to pick a handful of the long neglected and make time to try them.

The results? Three successes and one apocalyptic disaster.

Marie's Chicken French  was easy, inexpensive and every bit as delicious the versions I remember serving ad infinitum in my catering days.

Mushroom and Potato Gratin with Thyme and Parmesan was a Williams Sonoma recipe that was much easier than it sounds, but every bit as decadent as you'd expect. (Did you know WS makes a huge selection of their fail-proof recipes available for free on their website?)

Carrots Normandy - Essentially glazed carrots with the added zing of vinegar, these were unique and excellent, quick, cheap and easy. Really, what more can you ask for? (No link for this one, so here's the recipe. I tossed some cinnamon in with the sugar for good measure.)
       2 cups carrots (sliced into 2" strips or large diced)
       1/4 tbsp cornstarch
       1/2 cup vinegar
       1/2 cup sugar
       1/4 tsp salt
       2 tbsp butter

Boil carrots 7-10 minutes; drain. In a saucepan, stir starch into vinegar. Add sugar and salt; boil 5 min. Add butter, stir until melted. Reheat carrots in sauce and serve hot.

Speculoos - everything you like about spice cake in a super convenient cookie! Reminiscent of snicker-doodles, I liked these because they had a very quick, very forgiving dough. I used about 1/4 cup less sugar than suggested and was quite happy with the result. (I also cut mine into half- dollar- sized rounds rather than sticks, but they cooked up in the same amount of time.)

My only kitchen disaster was my enthusiastic attempt to make my own marshmallows using the recipe from the awesome cookbook Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. Everything else I've tried from that source was fantastic, so I had high hopes for this as well. After all, who wouldn't be psyched about the idea of making something so inherently commercial looking in your own kitchen? Totally- from-scratch s'mores, anyone? 

It started well, with my sugar boiling on the stove, gelatin softening in a bowl and my greased, sugared pan waiting. At the last minute, about ten degrees before my sugar hit the required temperature it abruptly caramelized. Pulling it off the heat, I tried to finish the steps, hoping I could salvage the project and just have unintentionally gourmet caramel marshmallows. Instead of getting puffy, though, the mixture turned into a clingy, toffee-like mess that crawled up my electric mixer beaters like a sci-fi alien over a space ship and stuck fast to everything it touched. The final result had the consistency of bubble gum and an only vaguely caramelized flavor. Final score: sugar monster: 1, me: 0.  Clearly, there will be no s'mores....

Anywho, we can't win them all and I am pleased with myself for tackling the project even if it was unsuccessful. Much praise is also due to my boys for being patient with my kitchen endeavors...

Incidentally, I highly recommend cooking with a border collie on hand. When my sugar alien left me sticking to my bowl (and my spatula and everything else) and decidedly in need of assistance, Arthas ran and fetched his Daddy to come rescue me. Lol. Note to self: don't try crazy cooking projects without supervision and backup!

What wild kitchen fun have you whipped up lately?

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