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Friday, April 17, 2009


Thanks to Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness, I received Gale Gand's newest cookbook to review for a Cookbook Spotlight. Brunch! features 100 recipes for beverages, eggs, sweets, baked goods, and savory dishes and sides as well as menu suggestions and condiments. Just quickly flipping through the pages, I knew I'd have a difficult time deciding what to make; the pictures are so appetizing! After much perusing, I finally settled on three recipes to try, which we had for dinner instead of brunch. It was still fantastic. In fact, the author mentions that she does the same thing with her family, too. She also encourages playing with the recipes and trying "your own variations." So, here we go.

I started with the Raspberry Lemonade recipe (p. 29). However, I had strawberries on hand, so I made Strawberry Lemonade instead. Delicious! Not too sweet, not too sour. I didn't have fresh lemons, but I thawed some I had in the freezer and they worked perfectly. And, if there's any left, the lemonade is even better the next day. :)

Next was a brunch basic - the Fritatta (p. 48). I've always finished fritattas in the oven, but this one was all stove-top. She provides 5 variations for fillings in the book, but you can always just do what you like! I thawed some frozen spinach and red pepper strips and added them into the eggs and cheese. It turned out so tender and delicious! The only change I'd make is to add more cheese, because one can never have too much cheese, right? We managed to devour the whole thing, so I don't know if her serving suggestion of "4 to 6" is accurate. Maybe we were just hungry!

Last was the sweet side of brunch: Hand-Formed Pear and Almond Tartlets (p. 120). Oh. My. Goodness. These were really good and so SIMPLE to make! I used D'Anjou pears, which were quite flavorful. I didn't have any almond paste or filling, so I ground some whole almonds and used that instead. I really liked the crunch they added to the bottom of the tartlets. Next time, I think I'll use sliced or slivered almonds for even more texture. The almond flavor was really mild, and I only used half of the cinnamon-sugar indicated in the recipe; any more cinnamon would have totally overwhelmed the dish. I had to spritz some water on top of the tartlets to get all the cinnamon-sugar to melt too, so less is more in this case. I really liked the addition of the sour cream because it gave just enough contrast for my tastebuds. Yum.

Overall, the book is great, and I plan to make many more recipes from it, even if it's not specifically for brunch. :) Thanks Gale Gand (and Stephanie)! Be sure to look for the round-up of everyone who tried out recipes from the book on the 20th!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sticky Popcorn

I can't believe I've waited to long to post this recipe. I make this popcorn frequently, and it's so addictive, it's always a hit and disappears quickly. It's really easy to make, but you HAVE to use a cast iron skillet (or another really heavy-bottomed pan). The recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law, but it is my husband's uncle's recipe originally. I made a slight change in the amount of popcorn I use. Well, you probably don't care about that anyway. Just make the popcorn. So easy. So good.

So, here it is:

Sticky Popcorn

Pop enough popcorn to make ~4 quarts of popcorn (about 1 cup of kernels). (This works best with air-popped popcorn, but any non-salted and non-buttered popcorn will work.)

Dump into heavy cast iron skillet:

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar


Cook over MEDIUM heat until an amber color appears in the middle of the skillet. This will take several minutes, but don't wander too far. Keep an eye on it.


When the amber color becomes the size of your fist, pour over popcorn and stir thoroughly to combine. Make sure you have a really big bowl for this as you don't want to touch the popcorn and get hot sugar on your hands. (Trust me on that one, ok?)
I spread mine out on rimmed sheet pans to cool and break into smaller pieces. After it cools completely, store in airtight container. If desired, melt some chocolate chips and drizzle over cooled popcorn and let cool completely before storing.