For the holidays, I gave my fiance a cookbook. Two cookbooks, actually: Flour by Joanne Chang, which I knew he wanted, and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman (author of the blog of the same name). The latter gift was somewhat disingenuous; I bought because I thought he would like it, but also because I wanted it. And, to my surprise, we’ve actually made several recipes from it already, in less than a month.
First, we made the Wild Rice Gratin with Kale and Caramelized Onions. It was delicious, filling, and well worth the effort, though the next time we make it, we plan to cut down on the rice a tiny bit and add more kale.
We’ve made the butternut squash and caramelized onion galette not once but twice: the first time a halved recipe, the second time a whole recipe (two small galettes), with spinach in addition to the squash and onion. If you’re putting in the work to make it, you may as well make a full batch; we still polished off both galettes from the full recipe in two days.
On the sweet side, we made the brownie roll-out cookies, which we liked but didn’t love. They’re definitely chocolatey, but more crisp and crunchy than we were anticipating; they might have the brownie taste, but not the brownie texture. Then again, most cookies where the dough is rolled out thin and cut with a cookie cutter tend to be crisp/crunchy, rather than chewy.
For New Year’s Eve we made two recipes: French Onion Toasts (like portable, finger-food-friendly French Onion Soup), and apple cider caramels, which my cousin made (rather more successfully) for Thanksgiving. The toasts take about an hour altogether, but they are delicious, and if you have any left over, just heat them up in the toaster oven the next day and they are good as new.
The apple cider caramels were less of a success story. Though we cooked the cider down for almost 50 minutes (instead of the 35-40 recommended), the consistency never quite turned what I would call “syrupy.” Then, when we boiled all the ingredients together, that too took longer to thicken – certainly more than the five minutes in the instructions. (We did this without a candy thermometer, using the cold water test she explains.) I became anxious and turned to Twitter:
But the caramel did eventually thicken. We poured it into the prepared 8×8 pan (Pyrex, not metal as she suggests) and let it cool on the counter for two hours. It still seemed a bit too soft in places, so we put it in the fridge overnight. Then, however, the caramel bonded to the wax paper. Really, they were quite inseparable; I had to cut the paper away with a knife. (If you have to do this too, for the love of all that is good, use proper knife skills and do not cut toward your other hand. Ouch.)
Happy New Year from us and from Sudo (who is annoyed that we didn’t share any of the butternut squash with her).