Monday, August 1, 2016

Buffalo Caramel Corn

Buffalo Caramel Corn

Back in February of this year, we were invited to a Super Bowl party with some friends, and their invite said to bring some drinks and a snack to share.  I was tired of the usual chips and dips that I knew everyone else would bring, so I started searching for something else.  That's when a search for the term "buffalo" brought me to this recipe.  I decided to give it a try.

Turns out it's one of the most delicious and addicting snacks I've ever made in my life.  Everyone at the party was raving about it and couldn't stop eating it.  They all kept asking for the recipe.  It was a hit!

We made another batch last weekend because we were craving a sweet, spicy, salty snack, and it did not disappoint.  We ate the whole batch that weekend, just the two of us!

Buffalo Caramel Corn
adapted from Bon Appetit

Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
3 tbs butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Pop the fresh popcorn on the stove using your preferred stovetop popping method.  If you've never tried popping your own kernels, start here.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment and a large bowl with nonstick spray; add popcorn to bowl. Set baking sheet aside.

Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10–12 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in buffalo sauce and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to a boil and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, baking soda, and cayenne. Working quickly (and carefully—caramel will be very hot), pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat.

Spread out popcorn on prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until dry, 15–20 minutes. Let cool.

Best if eaten same-day, but can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.  As if it could last that long!

Buffalo Caramel Corn

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Silky Lemon Orzo

Sometimes the simplest recipes can blow you away.  This orzo recipe is just that - it's so perfect given how uncomplicated it is.  And moreover, I knew I had to put it on the blog ASAP since so many orzo recipes are cooked very, very differently.

For a little background, the other night we were cooking steak and I was combing my cupboard to figure out side dishes.  I noticed we had some orzo, which I probably haven't cooked with in a year or more, but I decided to use it since I was getting tired of our usual sides.  I googled the orzo to water ratio, and to my surprise, the vast majority of the recipes call for you to cook orzo in a large pot of boiling water, then strain it, then use the cooked orzo in whatever preparation you're looking for.

But in my mind, I really felt like I wanted to cook it more like rice than like pasta.  I wanted the orzo to soak up all the water and keep all the starch that is often lost when tossing out pasta water.

I found a lone recipe that finally gave me what I wanted (1 cup orzo to 2.5 cups water, but we'll get to that in a bit) - but the recipe itself was incredibly basic.  It was just orzo, water, butter.  Since we were having steaks, I decided I wanted more acid in a side dish to compliment the fat of the steak.  And so using only the orzo:water ratio as a guide, I made the dish using the flavors I was looking for.

My husband and I both took a bite and realized it was something truly special.

By cooking the orzo with a specific ratio of water to pasta, all the starch that usually transfers into the pasta water is retained and creates this incredibly silky, almost creamy, texture on the dish.  The lemon was just enough, but not too much, to bring some brightness to the pasta, and the chicken stock I used brought just enough salt and depth of flavor.  And finally, using fresh herbs to finish really brought the whole dish together.

Needless to say, we absolutely could not get enough.  The pasta was al dente, the mouthfeel of the starchy "sauce" that remained after cooking was incredible, and the flavor was a perfect balance.  This is going to be a mainstay in our household going forward for sure.

Silky Lemon Orzo

Silky Lemon Orzo

1 tbs olive oil
1 cup orzo
2.5 cups chicken broth
Pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Heat the olive oil in a small stockpot on medium-high heat.  Add the orzo and stir continuously, toasting the orzo until about 50% of the "grains" have browned.

Remove from heat and carefully add the chicken broth.  Return to heat and bring to a boil.  Boil on medium heat for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Stir in pepper and lemon juice.  Cover and remove from heat and let sit undisturbed for 7 minutes.

Uncover and add the fresh herbs and stir until all the herbs are incorporated and they begin to brighten/wilt a little from the heat.

Serve immediately and enjoy!