Monthly Archives: December 2014

Chocolate Chunk Pralines, a.k.a Crack Candy

Holiday season is in full swing and Christmas is fast approaching next week. Heres a fast a totally delicious candy that will make make you look like rock star!

While my family and I lived in Dallas I learn how to make pralines, a classic southern candy made with a similar sugar and butter base, then pecans were added.  With this recipe we’re keeping with southern roots but adding toasted hazelnuts, almonds and some sumptuous dark chocolate.

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Beautiful

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Melted butter, white sugar, with brown sugar is a great way to start any recipe.

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Hard crack stage, 275 degrees

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Almonds, hazel nuts and chocolate chunks

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The only thing hard about this is how large to make the peices.

 

Chocolate Chunk Pralines (otherwise known as Crack Candy)

1 cup hazelnuts chopped and toasted
1 cup almonds chopped and toasted
4 tablespoons water
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

In a medium sized frypan toast hazelnuts and almonds until brown. Cool nuts and spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Distribute chopped bittersweet chocolate over nuts.
In a large pot combine butter, water, sugar, brown sugar and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring as little as possible. Bring the mixture to a hard cracked candy stage or 275°. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda as soon as the mixture has reached 275°.  Pour sugar mixture over nuts and chocolate.
Allow the candy to cool on the baking sheet and then break in to serving pieces.
Adapted from VS in the kitchen.

Rabbit Ragu with Mushrooms

 

Castel Roti. Tuscany

Castle Roti. Tuscany

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Castle Chapel

 

 

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While I was in Tuscany Porcini mushrooms were in season. Along the road you would see small trucks with mushrooms for sale. For such small trucks they carried an enormous payload many of the trucks would’ve been worth several thousand dollars in mushrooms alone. The abundance of beautiful dishes with mushrooms that we sampled included Rabbit Ragu with mushrooms and fried mushrooms in corn meal, two of my favorites. Porcini mushrooms are difficult to find fresh here in the states, we are more likely to find them in dried from.

The classic mushroom in Missouri, near where I grew up, is the morel mushroom.  I can remember my grandpa taking me out once mushrooming and bringing back buckets of them.  The fact that my great grandmother fried them with cornmeal and lard made them even more delicious. These are definitely food memories that stick in your mind because I was probably 6 or 7 years old at the time.

No matter where you are on either continent you will find some type of fugue to cook and the woodsy meaty texture is a wonderful why to a heartiness to a dish.

Fried mushrooms

Fried mushrooms are as easy as it gets.  Maximum flavor in a single bite.  Covered in an egg bath and dredged in seasoned cornmeal, fried mushrooms empart a wonderful earthy fragrance and a fantastic meaty taste with the added crunch of the cornmeal.

1 lb. Mushrooms

10 Tablespoons Lard, and 2 Tablespoons bacon fat combo for pan fry

2 eggs, whisked

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon ground sage

1/4 teaspoon pepper

kosher salt for spinkling

Heat lard and bacon fat in 12″ fry pan, medium to medium-high.  Set up two shallow bowls, one for the cornmeal and one for the eggs.  Whisk eggs to break yolks, and with a separate fork combine cornmeal, ground sage, and pepper.

Immerse mushrooms in egg batter, and coat in the cornmeal mixture shaking off excess. Working in batches carefully place in the hot oil and turning once to brown evenly.  Remove and lay on clean paper towel, sprinkle with salt and serve straight away.

 

Rabbit Ragu with Mushrooms

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

4 Tablespoons butter

1 thin slice, Pork fatback ( I keep mine frozen so I can just shave off a little at a time)

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

2 lbs. Rabbit cut into pieces

1 minced Onion

2 gloves garlic, minced

2 minced Carrots

1 cup sliced Mushrooms

1 cup Dry red wine

1 cup vegetable stock

3 Tablespoons Estratto du Pomodoro di Regaleali, or tomato paste

salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan to serve

In a large cast iron dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan with higher sides, heat oil, butter and fatback together.

Pork Fat Back, Olive Oil and Butter

Pork Fat Back, Olive Oil and Butter

Season rabbit and the coat with flour and brown for 4-5 minutes until golden.  Place on clean paper towels to drain and tent in foil to keep warm.

Sautéed Rabbit dredged in seasoned flour

Sautéed Rabbit dredged in seasoned flour

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With a medium heat sauté onion, carrots, once carmelized add mushrooms continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add herbs, tomato paste and deglazed with wine, then add stock. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes to reduce.

Onions, Carrot and Mushrooms

Onions, Carrot, Mushrooms, Thyme and Rosemary

Rabbit Ragu over Pappardelle

Rabbit Ragu over Pappardelle

This ragu is beatiful over pasta, polenta, or a garlic mashed potato.

Estratto du Pomodoro di Regaleali is a enhanced tomato paste from Sicily.  It can be ordered through naturaintasca.it.