Monday, October 18, 2010

Cough Drops

I love candy. And I hate coughing. I also have a fully stocked herb cupboard. And way too much icing sugar.

There are a ton of different herbs you can use to make your cough drops. These contain Licorice root (chest and throat soother), sage (sore throats), peppermint (decongestant and expectorant), elder flower (soothes irritation, and helps unclog sinuses), and horehound (pain reliever, avoid if pregnant).

These are only a few herbs you can use in your own cough drops. If you know of a commercial tea that helps sooth what ails you, steep a good strong pot of it and use it instead.

Mix the tea with sugar on a 1:1 ratio. A cup of tea, to a cup of sugar. I did two cups of tea, so two cups of sugar. I also threw in 1/4 tsp of Cream of Tarter, which helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing.

I threw this together in a nice deep pot, clipped my candy thermometer on, and set it to Med High heat. Use a candy thermometer! This is vital, as sugar that is too hot will caramalize, and sugar that is too cold won't set into nice hard cough drops. It's amazing how quickly these changes can happen!

Only stir until the sugar dissolves. I've found this happens pretty quickly. After that resist the urge to stir! Stirring encourages crystallization, which isn't at all what you're looking for in a cough drop. If you notice crystals are forming on the side of the pot, just push them down with a brush soaked in hot water.

Your mixture will bubble quite quickly up to around 235 degrees, then will hover there for a little bit. Around 20 min to half an hour. So don't panic, go set up your candy molds. All I did was fill a baking sheet with icing sugar, and use a food colouring bottle to mark a whole bunch of little divits to pour the candy into. It's really easy.

Once your candy hits 300 degrees, not a degree below or above, remove it from the heat. At this point, I stirred in 1/4 tsp of Cinnamon extract. I could have also used vanilla, but my extract isn't prepared yet. Go here to make your own too!  Feel free to play around with flavours here. The candy will bubble a bit when you add the extract, so don't panic. Just stir it around and move over to your molds.

Just pour carefully into your candy molds and you'll be fine. I was a little careless in mine, but it's all ok. I did have a little bit left over, which I poured onto a marble slab. It made a little cough drop window.

Enjoy your cough drops! Play around with flavours and herbal combinations to your hearts desire!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sausage Carbonara

I was very hungry.. and we had some sausage left in the fridge that needed to be cooked before it went off.

4 - 5 Italian Sausage
4 slices pancetta, sliced into pieces
500 g linguine
4 large egg yolks
100ml whipping cream
50g Parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
sprig parsley 

Slice open the sausages, and roll the meat into small meatballs. Gently fry until they're golden brown, and add the pancetta.

While this is frying, start boiling your water for the linguine. Once it's boiling, boil it for about 7 min

While your pasta is boiling, whip together the egg yolks, whipping cream, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and chopped parsley.

Drain the pasta, and quickly toss with the egg mixture while it's still hot. The heat of the drained pasta will gently cook the eggs without scrambling them.

Amazing. With plenty of leftovers.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eggs Florentine with Blender Hollandaise

I was very nervous about trying this recipe, as hollandaise is notorious for being difficult to make. The meal actually came together in under 15 min.

For the Hollandaise:
2 sticks butter
3 egg yolks
juice from one lemon

For Breakfast serving 2 people:
2 english muffins
4 slices smoked bacon
1 bunch spinach
2 eggs

Throw your bacon in the pan while it's cold, and set it to warm up to medium heat. This makes sure that your bacon doesn't curl up and become difficult to work with. This is probably the longest step.

While your bacon is cooking, put 3 egg yolks in the blender, and melt your butter till it's nice and hot. I used the microwave, because I'm a purist like that.

When the bacon looks pretty done, shuffle it to one side of the pan. You have a choice here. You can poach your eggs (traditional), or for the sake of a fussy boyfriend, you can fry them. I chose to fry.

Crack your eggs in, let them fry nicely. I usually break the yolks. When they look done, I put my toasted english muffins on the plate, layer them with bacon, and put the egg on top. This empties my pan, and I can throw the spinach in to wilt for about 3 min. Make sure you use the bunch! It may look like too much, but you'd be surprised how much it wilts.

With my spinach in the pan, I start the blender on low to get the eggs moving. With my butter nice and hot, I very slowly pour a thin stream into the blender while it's still running. It's important to do this slowly! When the butter is all gone, I add the lemon juice.

Just before serving, spoon the sauce over the entire meal. You'll probably have extra, and it'll keep for a couple days in the fridge. Serve it with vegetables, mashed potatoes, it's even good over steak!

Friday, October 1, 2010

English Muffins

I was craving some breakfast sandwiches, but I seriously hate spending good money on those muffins. Luckily, I have time to spend making some.

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
7 gr traditional yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup melted shortening
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the milk till it bubbles, stir in the sugar and let it cool. Pour the yeast into the water, and let it grow for about... 10 min. Once that's done, combine the milk/sugar, yeast/water with the melted shortening, and combine with 3 cups of flour. Add the salt. Keep mixing, slowly adding the remaining flour till it's a nice soft dough. You might not need all the flour!

Cover it up and let it rise for about half an hour. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch, and cut rounds with whatever means you have. I used a Motts Clamato glass.

Set these out, and let them rise for 1/2 an hour.

Heat a frying pan on med heat, and fry the muffins for 10 min on each side.


Tomorrow, the thrilling conclusion of the muffins.