If you live in Atlanta, can I make a request? Would you PLEASE invite me to dinner at your house?
That's because no one ever does. For some very strange and sad reason, people are intimidated to cook for me. C'mon, I'm just human. I'm not a professional chef and I like to eat just as much as you do. Anything you cook for me would be gratefully appreciated. My friend Scott Peacock (who is one of the best chefs ever) once said he didn't care if someone invited him to dinner and served beanie-weenies; he just appreciated the opportunity to sit down at a table with friends and share a meal. I concur.
So thank you Shawn and Michael (along with Finn, Aidan and Tristan). You invited us to dinner and it was awesome. It could have been beenie-weenies and that would have been just fine. Instead, you served up bruschetta with gorgeous tomatoes, succulent grilled pork tenderloin, watermelon salad with feta and Kalamatas, mango salad with corn, cilantro and lime and orzo salad with lovely tomatoes (from your garden) and avocado. I can't think of a better summer supper. And I loved that we ate it at your kitchen table because your dining room table was covered up with a jigsaw puzzle! Oh, and we didn't mind that amazing bottle of Silver Oak cab either...
If you invite me to dinner, I will (of course) bring dessert. Way too much of it, I might add. If one dessert is good, then two are better. Nah, don't stop there, Liz. How about five?
Given the fact that Finn, Aidan and Tristan are growing boys, I figured my peanut butter bars would be a slam dunk. They were. If you missed the recipe, here's the post for it:
I also made oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies, but that's a subject for another post. This one is all about candy. What kid doesn't love it? So in that spirit, I made marshmallows, salty caramels and peanut brittle. Something for everyone!
Have you ever made these? If not, you should because they are SO fun to make. They start with just a little blob of stuff in your mixer and they end up being fluffy and light. Pure magic....make them with your kids.
24 gelatin sheets (this translates into 5 1/4-oz. packets of unflavored gelatin)
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Place gelatin in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and pour the 1 1/2 cups water over to soften.
Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, remaining water and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and continue to cook until mixture reaches 238-degrees (you will need a candy thermometer for this).
Pour hot mixture over the gelatin mixture in the mixing bowl. Turn speed to "high" and beat until mixture turns white and the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take 10 - 15 minutes. (A word to the wise here - drape your mixer with plastic wrap until the mixture gets thick, otherwise the stuff will end up all over your kitchen and result in a big, sticky mess. Not fun).
When ready, cut into squares, using a serrated knife. Dip each square into confectioner's sugar to coat, then dust off. Store as needed for up to 3 days.
Yield: 24 squares
When I worked at Star Provisions, we used these marshmallows to make S'mores. Let me know if you want details. Also, if you want to purchase gelatin sheets (I prefer them to the powdered version), here's where I buy them:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (French sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a deep saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden-brown color. Do not stir - just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully as it can burn quickly at the end.
Pour the hot caramel mixture into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm
Cut parchment paper into 6 x 4 1/2 inch squares. Wrap each caramel in a paper, twisting ends. Store at room temperature.
Yield: 24 pieces
This recipe is ridiculous, as in it's so easy. I'm not a big fan of microwaving anything, but it works for this recipe. Please forgive me for this shortcut but in truth you should thank me because this recipe is so simple yet so good. At least it doesn't involve a cake mix! (there are depths to which I will NOT sink).
2 cups roasted, salted peanuts
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Remove nut mixture from microwave (be careful, it will be hot) and stir in butter and vanilla. Return to microwave and cook on high for another 2 -4 minutes until mixture becomes caramel-colored.
Yield: 16 - 25 pieces
Those sweet boys (picture to follow in another post) LOVED these desserts! Of course, we felt like the bad grandparents in that we provided a complete sugar overload, then left the parents to deal with those sugar-infused kids. Haha, such fun and we didn't have to suffer the consequences! Shawn and Michael, please forgive us!