Citrus Caramel Blondies

This is from Food and Wine’s America’s Greatest Cooks. I liked the idea of it and made the recipe as is for my first try, but then I doubled it and made it in a larger pan and I thought it was much better. The caramel is very simple and easy to make and I think the key is to let it cool down to room temperature before you use it. Note* I doubled the blondie mix for a 9″ square baking dish and just made a single batch of the caramel. You could make a double caramel recipe as well.

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt (see Note)


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Make the caramel In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and bring to a boil. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil the syrup over moderately high heat until a deep amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the cream, butter and Maldon sea salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature.

Make the blondies Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray an 8-inch square metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the pan with parchment paper, allowing 1 inch of overhang on 2 opposite sides; spray the paper. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the kosher salt and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter with the brown sugar until combined, then whisk in the eggs and orange zest. Add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.

Make the blondies Spread the batter in the prepared pan in an even layer. Drizzle the caramel over the top, then swirl it decoratively using a toothpick. Bake the blondie for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool completely. Lift the blondie out by the overhanging parchment and peel off the paper. Cut into bars and serve.

Crisp Toffee Bars

From the NY Times, this is more like a toffee flavored shortbread. It originated with the wonderful baker, Maida Heatter and was adapted to be cooked in a 10″ cast iron skillet. You can add nuts or chocolate or both to the batter. You can also bake the bars in a 9 by 13 inch pan.
Toffee Bars
2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, cold but not frozen, more for buttering the pan
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup/210 grams soft-packed dark brown sugar
2 cups/240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup/100 grams slivered or sliced almonds (or walnut pieces), toasted, or 6 ounces/170 grams chocolate chips or small chunks

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack in the middle and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on it.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on low speed for about a minute, until softened. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
With the mixer running at low speed, add salt and vanilla. Add the brown sugar, then turn the speed up to medium and beat until mixture is the color of peanut butter and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.
With the mixer running at low speed, shake in flour, beating just until dough holds together. Mix in nuts or chocolate just until combined.
Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place a small lump of butter in it. As butter melts, brush it onto the bottom and sides of the pan until evenly coated.
Dump dough into skillet and press it out to evenly fill the skillet. You can use your fingers (being careful to avoid touching the hot pan), a potato masher or the bottom of a measuring cup. Press dough down firmly to make a compact, even layer.
Transfer to oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is walnut brown. You may be tempted to take it out when the edges have begun to darken, but let it continue to cook so the entire surface can take on that color. There may be bubbles visible on top of the dough; that’s a good sign.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. If necessary, run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Square off the circle shape of the pan by cutting the four rounded edges off; you will have an approximately 9-inch square. Cut the square into bars, squares or diamonds. (The rounded edges can be chopped or crumbled and used as an ice cream topping.)
Let the bars cool completely before removing from pan. Use a small spatula or butter knife to transfer them to paper towels to blot the buttery bottoms. Store in airtight container; they keep well for up to 1 week.

Best Chicken Salad

This is a simple basic and delicious chicken salad that tastes like velvet from Julia Moskin of the NY TimesVelvet Chicken Salad. My favorite quote in the article is “Whether eaten with a fork or in a sandwich, when made with care and good ingredients, chicken salad has a delicious dignity.” Definitely make it four hours ahead, it will not disappoint! I used creme fraiche instead of sour cream and loved it’s richness. Obviously, you do not need to make 4# of chicken salad, just adjust the recipe for the amount of chicken salad that you want to make.
Best Chicken Salad

About 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 scallions, cut into thirds
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 lemon, halved
⅔ cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s, Best Foods or homemade
¼ cup sour cream or crème fraîche, more to taste
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard or 1 teaspoon brine from a jar of pickles, optional
2 or 3 pale green celery ribs, cut into medium (1/4-inch) dice
½ cup minced onion or finely sliced scallion, optional
½ cup walnut or pecan halves, broken into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, parsley, or chives, plus extra for garnish
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Choose a heavy pot or Dutch oven with a tightfitting lid. It should be large enough to hold the chicken snugly, but not much bigger. Fill pot about 2/3 full with cold water, but don’t put the chicken in yet. Boil some extra water in a teakettle.
Add scallions and peppercorns to water, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off heat and slip chicken pieces into the hot water. If needed, add boiling water from the kettle to cover chicken with water by 2 inches. Replace the lid and let chicken rest in the hot water for about 2 hours. Do not turn the flame back on: The pot will retain enough heat to cook chicken thoroughly and safely. (To test, cut into 1 piece of chicken and check the meat near the bone. If it is still pink, return the pot to low heat, bring the water to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes more.)
Lift chicken out of the pot. Remove and discard bones, skin and fat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, then cut or shred into small bite-size pieces and transfer to a bowl. (Meanwhile, simmer cooking liquid until tasty, strain and refrigerate or freeze to use as chicken stock.)
In a bowl, whisk together juice of 1/2 lemon, mayonnaise and sour cream. If using, whisk in mustard or brine. Taste and adjust the seasonings and thickness to your liking. Pour over chicken, scraping the bowl clean with a rubber spatula.
Add celery, onion if using, nuts, herbs and salt and pepper. Toss gently but thoroughly. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with herbs before serving.

Blueberry Crumb Cake

This is a simple cake from Williams Sonoma blog that is easy and delicious! I made it in a springform pan rather than a cake pan but the choice is up to you. It is perfect for breakfast or as a snack in the afternoon.
Blueberry Crumb Cake
For the crumb topping:
1 cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, melted

For the cake:
1 3/4 cups (9 oz./280 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups (8 oz./250 g) fresh blueberries

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan.

To make the crumb topping, in a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and lemon zest. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and beat until well blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture. Beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Cover evenly with the blueberries. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the berries.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8.

Vietnamese Caramelized Grilled Pork with Rice Noodle Salad

This recipe is from Gourmet Easy Dinners and it is stellar!! I was a little intimidated by caramelizing the sugar but as long as you have a super clean pan, there should be no problem. I marinated the pork in the morning and grilled it for dinner, although it is so fast that you could do it all at once. The caramelized shallot glaze is phenomenal!
Vietnamese Pork
6 1/4″ thick boneless pork loin chops (you could also use pork tenderloin)
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. finely chopped shallots
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. Asian fish sauce
1/2 t. salt
Pound the pork until less 1/8″ thick. Make several slits around the edge to prevent from curling. Cook the sugar in a dry 1 quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, undisturbed until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a dry wooden spoon, until it is melted into a golden caramel. Add shallots and cook over medium low heat, stirring 30 seconds. Add lime juice, fish sauce and 1/2 t. salt and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly for a minute. Pour over pork in a bowl and toss until well coated. Lightly oil a grill rack, grill pork 1-2 minutes each side. Serve on top of rice noodle salad.
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad
4 oz. thin dried rice noodles
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1 T. sugar
1 T. Asian fish sauce
1/4 t. salt
1 carrot, coarsely shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 c. mixed cilantro, mint, and/or basil leaves
1/4. chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts
Cook noodles according to package directions for salad-be sure to taste as I seem to cook my rice noodles for at least 2-4 minutes longer than the package suggests. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pat dry. Whisk together vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and 1/4 t. salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add noodles, carrots, scallions, herbs, and peanuts, tossing to combine.

Pulled Pork with a great rub

I think the key to pulled pork is the rub! Massaging it into the pork and letting it sit for an hour or two or overnight is key. I bought a pork butt that had the bone in and it is so flavorful. This recipe is from Melissa Clark at the NY Times and is perfect for pulled pork sandwiches with barbecue sauce and coleslaw!

1 ½ teaspoons whole coriander seed
1 ½ teaspoons whole cumin seed
1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns
2 ¼ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 ½ teaspoons chile powder
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder
Hamburger or brioche buns, for serving
1 ½ cups ketchup
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sweet or hot paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Pinch of cayenne
Dash of hot sauce, more to taste
1 small head green cabbage, outer leaves removed, shredded (about 1 1/2 pounds)
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large jalapeño, seeded if desired, thinly sliced
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Black pepper
Pulled Pork fourth of july
Assemble the spice rub for the pork: In a dry, small skillet over medium-low heat, toast coriander, cumin and peppercorns until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind toasted spices into a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl and mix with salt, mustard powder, chile powder and sugar.
If your roast is tied up, untie it. Massage meat generously with spice rub. If you have time, let meat rest for an hour or two at room temperature, or refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place pork in a baking pan and roast for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is pull-apart tender and internal temperature reads 200 degrees on a meat thermometer. Let meat cool for at least 30 minutes before pulling it apart and shredding with your hands or two forks. (This works best when the meat is warm but not hot.)
Prepare the barbecue sauce: Combine ingredients in a medium pot. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has deepened in color. Season with more hot sauce if you like. Add two-thirds of the sauce to meat and toss to coat, adding more sauce as needed. (Any leftover sauce will keep for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)
Make the slaw: Combine cabbage, onion and jalapeño in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add dressing to cabbage and toss well.
Serve pulled pork with slaw, buns and hot sauce on the side, letting people assemble their own sandwiches.

Orange Jalapeno Shrimp with Broccoli and Brown Rice

It is wonderful how available recipes are! A friend had this recipe torn out of the newspaper and it was missing amounts of honey and soy but I googled the title and found it! Simple and delicious!
Orange jalapeno shrimp
Orange Jalapeno Shrimp with Broccoli and Brown Rice
1 pound raw deveined shrimp, tails on (The man of steel likes tails off, so I removed them)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 3 navel oranges (3/4 cup juice)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or another light vegetable oil like canola)
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
2 cups cooked brown rice

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Over high heat, boil the orange juice, honey and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Boil until it’s reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, Toss in the shrimp and cook until it starts to turn opaque (not totally pink) and toss the shrimp with tongs to cook them evenly. Add the orange juice reduction and cook for 3–4 minutes. Lift shrimp out of the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid in the pan, and put shrimp on a plate.

Add the broccoli florets and orange sections to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, until broccoli is just tender. (Be sure to not cook too long or the orange sections will fall apart. Don’t ask how I know this.) Add the shrimp back into pan. Stir to combine. Serve hot over brown rice.

Cole Slaw

From Food 52-this is such a simple recipe and it has a wonderful flavor. I like my cabbage shredded rather than sliced but it is up to you, whichever you prefer! You can dress this cole slaw up with any other vegetables and/or herbs but it is delicious as is. I love how the buttermilk and sour cream mix together. Feel free to add more cider vinegar if you prefer it more tart.
Slaw from Food 52
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 T.+ apple cider vinegar
1 T. sugar
1 T. salt
small head of cabbage
1 small red onion
Combine sour cream through salt for the dressing. Shred or slice the cabbage and finely slice the red onion. Combine!