posts tagged: cooking

salted caramel popcorn

Ages ago, when friends of Jason’s got married, I perused the registry and was elated to see they’d requested an air popper for popcorn. Something about an air popper makes me smile—even though I’ll be the first to admit that popcorn properly popped with oil in a pot is crisper and infinitely better—so I jumped at buying it for them. That year, Jason surprised me with my own air popper for Christmas. I don’t make popcorn all that often, and sometimes I still opt to cook it on the stovetop, but the air popper is always magical.

This weekend I decided to make a batch of salted caramel popcorn for a friend as a pick-me-up after she’d gone through a rough time last week. Out came the air popper and a look at Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for spicy salty caramel popcorn. I modified the recipe enough that I wanted to jot it down here for posterity—I just know the next time I go to make it I’m going to see “3 cups of sugar” and balk again, but I won’t remember if I successfully changed the recipe and just how. Turns out that is far more than is necessary to coat this much popcorn! The recipe below doesn’t have any spiciness; just add some cayenne to taste if desired.

salted caramel popcorn

Salted Caramel Popcorn
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Pam spray oil
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Pop the popcorn in  your air popper! Catch it all in a giant bowl that you sprayed with Pam. [alternatively, pop the popcorn with some oil in a pan.] Spray two large baking sheets and two spatulas with Pam and get them in position on the counter. Combine the sugar, butter, salt, and about 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan over high heat. Leave it to bubble until light golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, and give it a good whirl in the pan to combine (it will bubble up). Pour it over the caramel and start tossing with the spatulas until all the popcorn is covered. Transfer to the baking sheets and spread out and separate into small clumps or individual pieces. When cool, store in an airtight container.


gazing inward

Every year I make resolutions—some concrete, some vague—but I’m not particularly committed to the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Or rather, I don’t beat myself up too much if I forget about them. I think that’s healthy, but I’m also thinking that this year I’d like to hold myself to them a bit more. For instance, every year I think about how I wish I blogged more. And while “more” is quantifiable, there’s no way to be systematic if that’s my resolution, and if there’s anything I am or like to be it’s systematic. So until it warrants a revisit, I’m going to try to blog at least weekly in 2014. Will I have FOs to show every week? Of course not. Which means I’ll hopefully learn to give up my grip on WIPs and start posting them, too, plus some pictures of my life as it unfolds.

With that in mind, I am going to have to recommit to documenting! My camera is heavy but that’s just not a good enough excuse. I’ve joined up with some friends at a daily photoblog, FewandFar, where we will be posting daily photos. I hope this will keep me inspired and dedicated—all the changes to Flickr have definitely not been encouraging me to keep up with it.

I’ve also felt a little lackluster in the cooking department. Despite reworking our kitchen so that it’s incredibly useful (a 6-foot workspace!), I have been so very lazy. With that in mind, I’m thinking of making my way through some of the cookbooks that do nothing but take up real estate in my small Brooklyn apartment. It’s time they earned their keep! Books that will hopefully make many appearances include Essential Pepin, The Essential Madhur Jaffrey, and a new one I bought for us for Christmas: Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. (FYI those are affiliate links.) New recipes will hopefully be added to our regular rotation, and we’ll stop ordering delivery so many nights a week!

So stay tuned as I craft, eat, and photograph my 2014!

roasted butternut squash soup

This year, my new year’s resolution is what I’m calling “Sunday Soups.” The idea is to make a soup on Sunday (or thereabouts) and have it for lunch during the week. The goal is manyfold: Get back to soups, which I’ve neglected (my boyfriend categorically does not like soups. Yeah, I don’t understand it either and I’m through fighting about it); have reliable foods around for lunch during the week, so I don’t spend loads of money buying every day; be a bit healthier/less inclined to overeat by having a portioned amount of a delicious soup I made myself; and to help in my new goal of reducing my wheat intake (for health reasons more than anything). A few weeks ago I showed you my chicken soup—this week I made roasted butternut squash!

This soup could not be easier. I cut up a medium-sized butternut and half a giant onion, tossed them with a handful of baby carrots, and a few cloves of garlic (in their skin), olive oil, ground thyme, a pinch of white pepper, a pinch of salt, one bay leaf, a mere pinch of red pepper flakes, and a teeny bit of brown sugar, and roasted it all at 400 for about 30 minutes, until the onions were fully caramelized and the squash was cooked through. Above you can see the before and after for the veggies.

Dumped all of it in the food processor (wait! I squeezed the roasted garlic out of its skins first, of course, and trashed the bay leaf), and pureed it with a touch of warmed chicken stock until it was a nice smooth puree. That was too thick for a soup, but there wasn’t any room left in the food processor, so I transferred it to a bowl and whisked in additional chicken stock (4 cups total) until it was nice and liquid. Still thick, but also easily poured—not gloopy at all. I know it’ll thicken a bit upon standing, and I don’t want to feel like I’m eating squash pudding. Hopefully this picture captures the consistency.

Honestly I didn’t add any additional salt or pepper, but of course you should season to taste at this point. It’s sweet and squashy and delicious!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
makes about 3 servings (6 cups of soup total)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded (roast those seeds for a snack!)
½ large white onion (or, you know, one small. this onion was the size of a softball to start)
7 baby carrots
3 large cloves garlic, in their skins
1 teaspoon ground thyme
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used chipotle pepper flakes)
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
4 cups stock (chicken or veggie; I bet it’d be tasty with plain water too)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil (to save cleanup time). Cut the squash and onion into pieces just a bit bigger than the baby carrots, and toss all the veggies and spices (through bay leaf) with the olive oil. Transfer to the prepared sheet and spread into a single layer. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Roast in the oven, stirring every now and then, for about 30 minutes, or until caramelized and the squash is cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the stock in a pot and keep warm.

Transfer the roasted veggies to a food processor, squeezing the garlic out of its skin and discarding the skin, plus removing the bay leaf, and process until smooth, adding stock by ¼-cupfuls until the puree is completely smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and slowly whisk in the remaining stock. If serving immediately, transfer to a pot and heat until hot; season to taste if necessary. Otherwise, transfer to your containers for taking to work! You could garnish with yogurt or sour cream, and I bet it would be delicious, but I didn’t think it was necessary when I had a bowlful.

springtime dinner


Even though this dinner requires turning on the oven, it makes enough to serve us for several meals, is great eaten cold, and makes the most of veggies that are at their best in spring and summer. It is great as a “clean out the fridge” meal, but we often buy all the ingredients just in order to make it, it’s that tasty.

let them eat cake!


Sometimes, when you’re charged with bringing a dessert to a party—a frequent request in the holiday season, especially—you just don’t have the energy to bake layers upon layers, frost everything, etc. etc., despite your desire to impress everyone with your baking prowess. Sometimes you want to make a tried and true recipe, but you still want to knock their socks off with the look of the cake.

These cakes are for you! I provide you with recipes for two simple cakes, and homemade pdfs for you to download and cut out. Get ready to wow them all.