Saturday, April 25, 2015

Butterscotch Sauce

I am always looking for a way to make dessert easier. The fact is, I am not a fan of baking, so if I can top a scoop of ice cream with something decadent, that suits me just fine. When I spotted this recipe on the Food52 website I was leery. I've made caramel sauce before and it was much more involved than this appeared to be. One treads a slippery slope when making caramel sauce because while waiting for the boiling sugar to turn a caramel color (something that is subjective) the caramel can turn bitter, and both time and ingredients are wasted. So I didn't have very high hopes for this recipe.

Much to my extreme and very pleasant surprise this butterscotch sauce (that tastes more like caramel to me) is both easy and delicious. I was a bit uncomfortable with the rather sketchy directions, far preferring a finite cooking time as well as a goal temperature on a candy thermometer, but threw caution to the wind and just let things be. My butter, sugar, and corn syrup did notfroth and bubble and go bonkers. It simply melted and came to a low boil. When I added the heavy cream it did noterupt and rise up until I turned up the heat to allow for a 30-second vigorous boil. Despite these things, it still turned out beautifully. It did firm up in the fridge, but it did not get at all grainy. It was still smooth and very delicious.

 This recipe is a keeper, folks. Quick, easy, and absolutely decadent. Who could ask for more?
Butterscotch Sauce
From Phyllis Grant at Food52

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1 1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar (I used dark)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped out
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup. Boil until sugar dissolves. This takes a few minutes. It will froth and bubble and go bonkers. Don't panic.
Add heavy cream. Stand back. The mixture will erupt and rise up. Stir in vanilla bean, vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Whisk. Bring back up to a vigorous boil for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.
Serve right away over ice cream or yogurt. Inside crepes. In between layers of cake. Or store it in the fridge for a few weeks.  Makes a little over 1 1/2 cups.

Author Notes: This recipe is from one of my mother's best friends, via her mother, via the San Francisco restaurant Trader Vic's. You can make it with either dark or light brown sugar or a combination of the two. It's great drizzled over crepes and cakes. One thing to know is that it firms up as it hits ice cream, but it softens back up in your mouth. It gets quite hard and grainy in the fridge, but low heat brings the sauce right back to life. This recipe fits perfectly into a Bonne Maman jar. It keeps for months in the fridge, but it will not last that long. – Phyllis Grant

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Under the Sea Tablescape

Sometimes a pretty table is all about the centerpiece. That is certainly the case with this colorful, sea-inspired table that is really strong on the Wow factor.
It came about thanks to a much deserved bit of retail therapy that I took at Pier One. It was one expensive trip I can tell you,, but I reasoned that it was cheaper than a therapist, and much cheaper than a criminal defense attorney.
Not a turquoise fan in the past, these days I find I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I have found it to be very versatile in that it pairs nicely with a lot of colors.
I spotted the fish from across the store and had to have it.
I had no idea at the time where I would put it, and really no concept (in that big, well-stocked store) of just how big it was, so was a bit shocked when I got it home.
It works though, and I love it. I expect that this guy is going to look great with a Luminara® candle inside.
I also loved the turquoise and green versions of my favorite placemats that I probably use more than any others (you can see them here and here).
Naturally, I had to get matching napkins (these were on sale, thank goodness).
When I spotted the stemware, well, I had to have that, too, but demonstrated extreme restraint, I thought, when I didn't buy the matching pitcher.

The rest of the table came about from what I already had in stock (from previous trips to Pier One!). These starfish candle holders I bought last year and used them here and here.

I wanted to kick off the spring and summer seasons with a bang, and think I managed to pull that off here. Hope you enjoy it.

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