Monday, October 1, 2012

Bourbon Salt


I read about bourbon salt here and went to buy a bottle of bourbon from the upstairs alcohol room at the grocery store the same day. Bourbon salt is a winner of a brownie topping, though the bourbon is hard to taste if you don’t already know it’s there. But trust me, you will know it’s there when I set a plate in front of you and say, “Oh these? These are just brownies with BOURBON SALT.” The flavor would be more apparent in something with less chocolate and more…caramel. Caramel sprinkled with bourbon salt. And crushed pretzels? Bourbon salt ON pretzels. On ice cream!

I made this caramel banana cake for J’s birthday and see no reason a sprinkle of bourbon salt on the caramel topping would be unwelcome. It would elevate it to a nice restaurant style dessert, the kind where there’s a simple title like “Banana Cake” followed by the high-end ingredients in italics:

Banana Cake     14
House-made caramel. Caramel buttercream. Fresh banana. Bourbon salt.

I followed Jolie Kerr’s recipe almost exactly, but increased the bourbon to two cups: 

Bourbon Salt

 2 c bourbon
1 c salt*
¾ c sugar

Simmer bourbon over medium heat until it’s reduced by half, then lower the heat and let it reduce until your two cups of bourbon are a mere two tablespoons (you can watch the money you spent on that bottle evaporate before your eyes!).

Let the reduced bourbon cool.

Put salt into your food processor and pour the bourbon over it. Pulse a few times, then add the sugar and pulse some more. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and let dry. This took at least a full day. (At one point, I got impatient and thought I would try and dry the salt out in a low heat oven. I make mistakes so you don’t have to: the sugar started to melt and I had to let it all dry for another day.) Store in jars and share with friends.

*Definitely do not use table salt or kosher salt, but don’t waste your fleur de sel either. I had a bottle of very coarse sea salt that I pulsed a few times in my food processor to make finer. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

CSA Week 21: Tomatoes, Asian Greens, Sweet Peppers, Mesclun Mix, Eggplant, Lettuce, Basil

No week 20 because I was in Minnesota, but here’s week 21! Summer vegetables are still going strong. I’ve been marinating the eggplants (peeled and sliced) in red wine vinegar, garlic, basil, and olive oil. After a few days, they make a delicious topping for baguettes. 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

CSA Week 19: Tomatoes, Lacinato Kale, Sweet Peppers, Eggplant, Lettuce, Celery Leaf, Torpedo Onions, Serrano Peppers

It just occurred to me why we call them EGGplants.


Cinnamon rolls, pre-frosting.


The Minnesota State Fair makes everyone Freak Out about cheesecurds.



My sister went back to college in California and bragged about having In-n-Out, so I made my own cheeseburgers and fries at home. (The key is to grind your own meat and keep the patties thin. The key is American cheese! Iceberg lettuce! The sauce!)


A different view of Chicago on the way to a produce market where peppers were TEN CENTS EACH. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

CSA Week 18: Tomatoes! Tomatoes!, Red Russian Kale, Peppers, Eggplant, Kohlrabi, Chives, Italian Parsley

I preserved the eggplant in olive oil with red wine vinegar, garlic, and basil for a few days and now it’s something I’ll gladly eat (don’t forget to refrigerate garlic in olive oil).


Fresh peach pie with cornmeal crust + the return of the pony cut outs! 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CSA Week 17: Tomatoes, Red Russian Kale, Green Peppers, Eggplant, Garlic, Onions, Basil, Chives, Serrano Peppers

Those Serrano peppers went into a fresh salsa. I wore gloves to cut them because the internet scared me into thinking I’d burn my eyes if I ever touched them again--was that overboard?


Surf’s up.


Pink caterpillar-y plants in the conservatory.


Orange sweet rolls right before they went into the oven.


I mean, this caption is pretty obvious. Birds! Lots of ‘em.


And the most appetizing picture of all!  


Friday, August 10, 2012

CSA Week 16: Purslane, Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Onions, Carrots, Green Peppers, Basil


An apricot danish from a new French bakery.


An afternoon of reading near a lily pond in Chicago.


Homemade paneer makhani. Maybe next time there will be homemade naan too! 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

CSA Week 15: Tomatoes, Lettuce, Carrots, More Tomatoes, Garlic, Onion, Basil, Purslane


Last week’s ricotta came in a tin! There are tiny holes in the side so I repurposed it as a planter.  I bet the purslane would look cute growing in one of those. 


CSA Week 14: Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Eggplant, Chives, Broccoli, More Tomatoes, Basil, Cabbage, Mesclun Mix

In Minnesota for week 13, but back for 14!


I’m consistently the worst at bowling, but will often feign confidence and say, “You wanna see a strike? Here’s a strike!” And then I bowl and it is! Is sports success all about confidence? J says it also has to do with not swinging your arm across your body as you let go…


If you can never finish your tortillas on taco night, make homemade chips (brush the tortillas with oil, sprinkle with salt, cut into pieces, and bake in a hot oven until crisp). Use a cookie cutter (or scissors) to make shapes. Find someone who will still appreciate your heart chips even if you spill an entire bottle of bright red Jarritos soda all over the counter and kitchen floor right before you were going to eat. Cold taco night!


Baked herbed ricotta (it puffs!) and roasted carrots in the oven.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

CSA Week 12: Lettuce, Rainbow Chard, Zucchini, Sugar Snap Peas, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Onions

A few days after getting back from Canada, we drove to Minnesota. In keeping with the name of this blog, I salted and roasted everything I could, made salad from the snap peas and lettuce, and pickled the chard stems. No pies!


In Minnesota, I only took pictures of my cat. Soon he’ll be standing(?)!: 


Saturday, July 7, 2012

CSA Week 10: Lettuce, Vitamin Green, Rainbow Chard, Garlic Scapes, Strawberries

Look at those scapes! I turned them all into pesto.


There were tiny blueberries at the market, so I made a tiny pie and used a dala horse cookie cutter on the crust (pony pie?).



On the way to Syracuse for a wedding, we stopped outside of Cleveland and ate dinner at an empty Indian restaurant and dessert at a Dairy King.


The bride’s parents have a beautiful garden with huge cabbages.


Niagara Falls is quite a sight, but the surrounding town is a nightmare of $20 parking spots and chain restaurants.


We also stopped in Toronto. Here is a bow-tie quilt on the wall of our hotel.


On the way back to Chicago, we went to Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor. Thanks to the recommendations of a lovely Michigan Alum, we had an excellent lunch and knew to order both new and old pickles. 


Fireworks over Navy Pier on the 4th. Even this late at night, it was almost 100 degrees.


Why not take some blueberries and strawberries and roast them for a few minutes in the oven with balsamic vinegar and vanilla sugar? You could put them on ice cream or toast or pancakes (I can vouch for all three).


We had to cancel Week 11 because we were in Canada.  We missed some new additions to the CSA: beets and carrots. I just got Week 12’s box, and there are five (!) new vegetables. Even better--they are not leafy, so they will be much easier to photograph (my patience with artfully arranging leaves on my bedroom floor is inversely correlated with the heat (THIS HEAT!!!)).