Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels

IMG_2352 IMG_2348 IMG_2350It seems that these caramels make it officially fall. They are so good, but good in a way where you can just have one and feel satisfied. They are sweet and savory and deeply apple-y. The color is darker amber because I used coconut palm sugar. The pairing of rich and caramel flavored coconut sugar with the apple and sea salt just brought a better flavor and complexity, and somehow made these treats taste a bit more grown up.

Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt flakes
8 tbsp/1 stick unsalted butter-I use Straus, chopped into pieces
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used raw heavy cream)
Avocado oil

Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
Pour the apple cider into a saucepan over high heat and boil for about 45 minutes, or until the apple cider is greatly reduced in volume to about 1/2 cup of thick, syrupy liquid. Stir occasionally as it heats.

Once the cider has reduced, remove from the heat and add the butter, sugars, and cream. Stir to combine, then place back on medium-high heat. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the temperature up to 252*, if not (and I didn’t have mine where I made these) you’ll do the cold water trick. So as you heat the caramel, the texture becomes more bubbly, every so often you drop a bit of caramel into a very cold glass of water. The caramel is done when the drops become firm and chewy. This step happens pretty fast, and the caramel is ready in about 5-8 minutes. Keep and eye on the caramel, but more importantly your nose, make sure you don’t smell any burning.

Remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the cinnamon and sea salt, then pour the mix onto parchment paper in the pan. Try for about 1 inch thick, but you can also choose what size/shape you want, so this is up to you.

Allow the caramels to cool for about 1-2 hours in the fridge. To cut them into shape, coat a sharp knife with avocado oil and recoat after each cut. Store the caramels in wax paper of on layers of parchment paper in a tupperware in the fridge or on the countertop.

Bacon + Green Bean + Pesto Pizza with Fresh Cilantro

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It’s been a wintery fall and during this season I tend to make the same kinds of foods. Pizzas, soups, Tikka Masala in the crock pot, and ginger snap cookies. I made the pizza dough on a Sunday night and let it rise in the fridge overnight. I broke it into balls and made pizza a few times during the week. This last pizza I made was a few days after I made the dough. I was nearly out of all of my pizza toppings and it was by far the tastiest pizza. It had better flavor, and the dough was chewy and formed bubbles. If you give your dough a little longer to rise and don’t use it immediately, it will be better. Also, if you don’t have a pizza stone, go get one. They are cheap, and make all the difference.

Pizza Dough
 (adapted from Alice Waters “The Art of Simple Food”)

2 tsp dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
3 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
¾ cup cold water
¼ cup olive oil

Stir the yeast, warm water, and ½ cup of flour together and let sit until bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Mix the remaining 3 ¼ cups of flour with the salt, stir this into the yeast mixture and add the cold water and olive oil. Knead on a floured board for five minutes. I follow Waters expert advice here and let my dough rise overnight in the fridge, covered. You can also let it rise for two hours on your counter top. If you do let it rise overnight, be sure to take it out two hours before you want to start working with it so it’s pliable.

Toppings (for 1 pizza)

1 tbsp pesto
½ white onion chopped
2 slices of bacon, chopped. (Niman Ranch Bacon)
1 small handful green beans, ends cut off, chopped
4 anchovies pulled apart
Fresh mozzarella
Parmesan
Sea salt
Butter
Cilantro
Olive oil
Cornmeal

Oven 500*. Place your pizza stone in the oven and allow it to get nice and hot. Roll out a fist sized ball of dough as thin as you can on a floured surface. Set the dough aside. Heat a skillet to medium-high, add a tbsp of butter, and saute the onions and green beans for a few minutes, or until softened. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook for a few more minutes. Do not crisp the bacon.
Take your pizza stone out of the oven, sprinkle it with cornmeal, and place your dough on it. Spoon a thin layer of pesto on the dough, followed by the onion-green bean-bacon mix, add a few globs of fresh mozzarella and some shavings of Parmesan. Put apart the anchovies and add to the pizza. Add a sprinkle of sea salt to the pizza and place in the oven. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, and then broil until crisp for the last minute or two.
Pull the pizza out, drizzle with good olive oil (I love Bariani) and add a handful of fresh cilantro. The pizza can also be served with a farm fresh fried egg on top. Enjoy mixing up the toppings and eat it right off of the pizza stone!
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Samosas with Arugula Raita and Apricot Chutney

IMG_1406IMG_1412These samosas are simple to make and many of the ingredients can be substituted depending on what you have on hand. They are great the next day, heated up in the oven, and served with a fried egg and roasted vegetables for breakfast or lunch. They also taste great cold for a work lunch. Make your own chutney, or use an apricot preserve, both taste excellent.

Arugula Raita
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
Heaping handful of arugula, chopped
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne

 Mix everything together and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Filling
6 fingerling potatoes, chopped
2 medium sized carrots, diced
½ large white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ inch piece of ginger, minced
½ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
Lemon juice
Heaping handful of arugula, chopped
2 tbsp butter
Olive oil

 Oven 425. Place the potatoes and carrots together in a medium sized skillet or use a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and bake until the potato is easily mashed with a fork, about 25 minutes or so (if you do not use fingerling potatoes, this will take slightly longer).Meanwhile, add the butter to a skillet and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until the onions are translucent. Add the coriander and curry powder and salt. Pull the potatoes and carrots out of the oven and use a fork to roughly mash the potato/carrot mix. Combine the onion mix with the potato/carrot mix, add the lemon juice, and mix well. Remove from the heat and stir in the arugula. Adjust the amount of salt, curry powder and cayenne to your liking.

Mix all of the ingredients together and knead for several minutes until the dough is elastic. Flour a surface and roll out the dough until it is quite thin, and cut into small circles. Continue to roll and cut circles until you’ve used all of the dough. In the middle of each circle add a heaping spoonful of the filling. Brush the edges of the circle with some water, fold over the dough and use a fork to press it in place.

Method
Add about ¼ cup or so of coconut oil to a skillet and allow it to heat to about 365 degrees. Place 4-5 samosas in the skillet at a time, and fry until golden. Serve with the arugula raita and whatever chutney you have on hand, a good apricot preserve works well also.