Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn

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Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn

My daughters love caramel corn, but rarely do I buy it, since one of them has a peanut allergy.  It is hard finding delicious, chocolate- covered popcorn that does not contain nuts and yet still has a good crunch.  Here is a nut-free recipe for Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn that will do you proud.  It is addictive from the first bite, and makes an adorable homemade treat for Halloween giving. I bought the cone-shaped boxes you see in the picture from

 Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces white chocolate or dark chocolate (I use Lindt)

Preheat oven to 350.

Put popcorn in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.

Stir in corn syrup, sugar and salt and cook until sugar dissolves.

Give the sugar one more stir and then raise the heat to high.

Boil the sugar without stirring until a candy thermometer registers 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda.

Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir to coat thoroughly.

Transfer to two parchment lined baking sheets and spread the popcorn in a single layer on each tray.

Bake for 30 minutes stirring twice during the baking process.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals stirring at each interval.

When the chocolate is beginning to melt, remove from the microwave and stir until thoroughly smooth.

Drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn and let set for 30 minutes.

Break up the popcorn with your hands and place in airtight container.

Chocolate Truffles


Chocolate Truffles

My daughters absolutely love Chocolate Truffles.  I usually make them at Christmas and cover them in cocoa powder or confectionary sugar.  But today I decided to whip up a batch as a surprise for them and dip them in chocolate so the outside has a hard candy coating while the inside is rich and satiny.  These are perfection!

While delicious to eat, they are somewhat messy to work with, so I strongly suggest wearing a pair of kitchen gloves.  If you want to flavor your truffles, you can add any liquor you would like in place of the coffee. Want to jazz up the outside of the truffle? Try putting a pinch of sea salt on top after you dip them!

Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 40 truffles

  • 1 Pound bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt bittersweet for this)
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons coffee (prepared)
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 Ounces good quality white or dark chocolate (for dipping the truffles in)

In a heatproof bowl, combine the bittersweet chocolate and the heavy cream.

Microwave for 2 minutes and then let stand for one minute before whisking until thoroughly smooth.

Add the coffee and vanilla and stir well.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for three hours.

Using two teaspoons, spoon round balls of the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

In the meantime, heat the 8 ounces of white or dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for thirty second intervals (be sure to stir every 30 seconds).

Stir until completely smooth, and then wearing kitchen gloves, dip the chilled truffles in the chocolate and lay them back on the parchment. Work quickly so the truffles do not lose their chill or they will be very messy to work with.

Once all the truffles are dipped, place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden.

Store the truffles in the refrigerator in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper.

The truffles will keep for one week.

Chicken Fricassee

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Chicken Fricassee

Chicken Fricassee is one of those timeless classics that never goes out of style.  Traditionally made with chicken pieces on the bone, I have changed my recipe to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  It cooks quickly and the meat is always tender.  In addition, a piece of boneless chicken makes a nicer presentation when entertaining.

While you can serve this dish with a mashed potato or even rice, my family loves it with buttered egg noodles.  They absorb the sauce and really enhance the comfort food aspect of the dish.

Chicken Fricassee

Serves 5

  • 10 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Cup flour plus two tablespoons
  • 1 clove garlic, split in half
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut in ¼ inch dice
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (1/4 inch thickness)
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (1/4 inch thickness)
  • 1 Teaspoon  fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 springs Fresh thyme
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • ½ Cup heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Begin by seasoning the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat with the butter and the olive oil.

Working in batches, dredge the chicken in one cup of the flour and shake off the excess.  As you coat the chicken drop it into the butter/oil mixture in a single layer. Do not crowd the pan!

Sauté the chicken until brown on both sides (this takes about 10 minutes).

Once the first batch of chicken is cooked, transfer it to a plate, and repeat the process with remaining chicken.

Remove all the chicken from the pan and reduce the heat to medium low.

Add in the onion, shallot, carrot and celery and stir. Let the vegetables cook until they are softened (about 8 minutes).

Add the mushrooms, turn the heat up to medium high and let them cook, stirring occasionally, for another five to seven minutes. The mushrooms should be caramelized and golden in color.

Stir in the two tablespoons of flour and cook (while continuing to stir) until the flour has evaporated.

Add the wine and scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Let the wine simmer for about 60 seconds.

Add the chicken back into the pan along with any of the accumulated juices.

Pour in the chicken stock, parsley, thyme and bay leaves and stir.

Cover the pot and simmer gently for thirty minutes.

When the thirty minutes are up, beat the egg yolks and heavy cream together, turn the heat to low, and quickly pour the mixture into the pan while stirring vigorously until it is incorporated.

Bring to a simmer for five minutes.

Spoon the chicken, vegetables and sauce into a bowl and garnish with more fresh thyme sprigs.

Serve with buttered egg noodles.

The Elegant Occasion Note:  This dish can be completely cooked 24 hours in advance and reheated gently the next day.

The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir

Mini Potatoes Anna


Mini Potatoes Anna

Potatoes Anna may be the easiest potato dish you ever make, and the most impressive.  By carefully overlapping the potato slices in a circular pattern, you get a beautiful presentation that is befitting of something served at the finest restaurant.  Be sure to use a waxy potato like Yukon Gold.

Mini Potatoes Anna

Serves 6

  • 1 Stick unsalted butter
  • 12 Thyme sprigs
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes (about baseball size)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.

Add the garlic and garlic salt and sauté for a few moments until the garlic starts to get translucent.

Remove the butter from the heat and add the leaves from six of the thyme sprigs.

Stir to combine.

Using a pastry brush, brush the sides and bottom of six 6-ounce ramekins

Peel the potatoes and then, using a mandolin, slice the potatoes crosswise into very thin rounds.

To prevent the potatoes from turning brown, place the slices in a bowl of cold water as you work.

When all the potatoes are sliced, drain them from the water and pat the slices dry.

Working with one ramekin at a time, place potato slices in the bottom of the ramekin overlapping the slices to create a circular pattern.

When the first layer is done, brush them generously with the butter/thyme/garlic mixture.

Continue in the same manner, alternating potatoes and butter until each ramekin is filled.

Be sure to top off each ramekin with the butter.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The potatoes should easily pierce all the way through with a knife and they should be golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let the potatoes rest for 10 minutes. Keep them warm by covering loosely with foil.

When ready to plate, invert the ramekins on individual dinner plates (rearrange any potato slices that may have come apart from the circular pattern).

Place a sprig of thyme on each potato and serve.

Recipe Emergencies

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Recipe Emergencies

We have all done it. Plunged head first into making a recipe and then realized we did not have an ingredient we needed to complete the dish.  I get asked about “recipe emergencies” a lot, and since I am already starting to think about all the holiday cooking and baking ahead, I thought it might be nice to share some of these common ingredient substitutions.

Recipe Calls For:                                                                Substitute:

Almond Meal (1 Cup)                         1 cup sliced almonds and 1 Tbsp. sugar ground fine in a food processor

Arrowroot (1 Tbsp)                             1 Tbsp. cornstarch or 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

Baking Powder – Dbl. acting (1 Tsp)  ½ Tsp. cream of tartar plus ¼ Tsp. baking soda plus ¼ Tsp. cornstarch

Breadcrumbs (1 Cup)                          1 cup crushed crackers, cornflakes or potato chips

Buttermilk (1 Cup)                              1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup

Cake Flour (1 Cup)                              ¾ cup all purpose flour and 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Chocolate (unsweetened 1 ounce)     3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 Tbsp. cooking oil or melted shortening

Cornstarch (1 Tbsp)                            2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

Corn Syrup (1 Cup)                              ¼ cup water and 1 cup sugar

Crème Fraiche (1 Cup)                       1 cup sour cream

Half and Half (1 Cup)                          1 Tbsp. melted butter plus enough whole milk to make 1 cup

Honey (1 Cup)                                     1 ¼ cups sugar plus ¼ cup water

Lemon Juice (1 Tsp)                            ½ Tsp. white vinegar

Sour Cream (1 Cup)                            1 cup plain yogurt (you can use Greek yogurt as well) or 1 cup Crème Fraiche

Self-Rising Flour (1 Cup)                     1 cup all purpose flour plus 1 Tsp. baking powder, ½ Tsp. salt and ¼ Tsp. baking soda

Molasses (1 Cup)                                1 cup honey

Whole Milk (1 Cup)                             ½ cup evaporated milk, plus ½ cup water