Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Testing photo blog post from phone

My contacts seem to be reflecting the flash. This is how I'd look if I were eeeeeeeevil.

I have opinions about chicken soup.

1. Lemon juice is essential.
2. So is milk.
3. Don't argue. The combination gives the soup a kind of Northern European tom kha gai flavor profile that is seriously addictive.
3. Pasta, rice and barley are all nice. However, the first two should be cooked separately and mixed in the bowl to avoid them getting all soft and bloated in the leftovers, but barley can be cooked in the soup. I'm partial to orzo, but have been using barley lately out of laziness.
4. I've had other chicken soups that were fine and I enjoyed, but this is the only one I truly love.

Chicken Soup
2 T butter
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 or 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
8 c. broth
2 whole cloves
4 whole peppercorns
carrots, peeled and chopped
parsnips, peeled and chopped
celery, chopped
other vegetables if you like. snow peas are a nice addition. so are grape tomatoes and mushrooms. turnips?
1/2 c. barley
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. milk

Brown the onion in butter over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the chicken, broth, vegetables, barley and spices. Lower heat and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, then remove chicken to a plate. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it and add back to soup. Make sure barley is tender, then add the lemon juice and stir well. Add the milk. Adjust for salt as needed.

[originally posted on my old food blog 11.11.2009]

In which I make two things I haven't made before and one that I have, with mixed results

New thing the first: dulce de leche
I've wanted to try making dulce de leche for ages since it's awesomely delicious and apparently just a matter of mixing milk and sugar and being patient. Plus, any commercially available dulce de leche that I've been able to find around here has all sorts of preservatives and other crap in it. Like, why would you put corn syrup in something that's made of sugar? I used the guidelines at thekitchn and Chez Pim, the latter of which had me entertaining fantasies of living in a cottage and having a Jersey cow with unimaginably long eyelashes. Her name would be Ruby and she'd wear a ribbon on her tail and a shiny brass bell around her neck. I would lead her to pasture every morning singing folk tunes and rest my forehead on her warm flank when I milked her. Then I realized that I was basically thinking of the plot of Heidi, only not with goats.

I used half a gallon of whole milk, a scant two cups of sugar and I added the baking soda recommended by thekitchn, for (spoiler alert!) all the good it did me.
So, it definitely worked, and I think that if I hadn't just given up after more than four and a half freaking hours of cooking milk on the stove — I actually started at 5:00 — it would have darkened more, but I was kind of over it at that point. It tastes fine, but doesn't have the depth of flavor that I was hoping for. I think my mistake was in using a very wide pan and extremely low heat, so it just didn't heat the way it needed. I'll try it again soon with a smaller amount of milk and slightly higher heat and see how that goes. In the meantime, I have a cereal bowl full of somewhat mediocre sort-of-dulce-de-leche in my fridge. I'm thinking about maybe swirling it into a batch of brownies for a potluck dinner I'm going to this Friday.

New thing the second: kale chips
I thought this was going to be a home run. I love kale, I love salt and vinegar chips — how could salt and vinegar kale chips fail to be awesome? I followed the guidelines here, chopping and spinning and mixing and rubbing and sprinkling and baking like a good little kale-chip maker.
And I think they turned out the way they were supposed to. I think that I just don't like dehydrated kale. In future, as in the past, when I want chips, I will eat real chips. And I will continue to eat kale with pasta or in soup or sauteed or any of the other ways I already enjoy it.

Previously made thing the only: curried lentil soup with vegetables
I followed the same basic guidelines outlined here, with the following tweaks:
1 1/4 c. lentils (slightly less than original, what I had on hand)
half water, half chicken broth for the liquid
more vegetables: three large carrots, three smallish sweet potatoes, a whole head of cauliflower
barley instead of rice, still 1/2 c.
right at the end, I stirred in a can of low-fat coconut milk
Damn, this is some fine, fine soup.

[originally published on my old food blog 10.27.2009]

Curried lentil soup

I made a big pot of soup last night to fuel some girl talk with a friend I hadn't seen in a while and while I didn't take a picture, I wanted to get the recipe up quickly before I forgot what I did. It was really easy, really delicious, really healthful and really cheap. It's a winner. Really.

I used Heidi's recipe as a starting point, but added a lot of spices and vegetables. Next time, I think I might leave out the zucchini because it softens so much in the liquid, but add a finely chopped apple in with the vegetables.

Curried lentil soup

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
crushed red pepper
1/2 t. ground coriander
2 t. cumin
1 t. turmeric
1 t. garam masala
2 large carrots, halved lengthwise and chopped
2/3 lb. cauliflower florets, chopped into small pieces
8 c. water
1 1/3 c. red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 c. brown rice, picked over and rinsed
1 medium zucchini, quarters lengthwise and chopped

In a big soup pot, over medium heat, combine the olive oil, onion, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Let them brown, and caramelize a bit, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spices and toast 30 seconds or so. Add the carrots and cauliflower and sweat for a couple of minutes.

Add the water, lentils and rice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is very tender, and not at all toothsome. By this time, the lentils will have collapsed into a thick slop of sorts. If you need to add more water/broth at any point do so a splash at a time, until the soup thins out to the point you prefer. Salt to taste.

[originally posted on my old food blog 10.21.2009]

Pasta with kale in four easy steps

This is barely a recipe, just a brief explanation of the process I follow for making an easy, healthful dinner that leaves enough left over for lunch the next day. It's a variation on another dish that I also make a lot, but which requires dirtying two pans because the greens are cooked and seasoned separately.

1. Put a pot of water on to boil.
2. While the water is heating, rinse and chop a big bunch of kale. I was dealing with about a pound of actual leaves, judging by what I paid and considering that I discarded the stems. At some point, the water will boil, at which point I salt it and add about half a box of pasta, in this case, oricchiette. The amount of kale will seem mildly ridiculous.

Bowl of kale, french press for scale:
3. When the pasta is about half done, put the kale directly in the cooking water. I usually add about two handfuls at a time, submerging it and adding more when it wilts enough to make space.

4. Drain the lot of it when the pasta is done and put it back in the pot (saves washing another bowl). Then I drizzle it with a goodly amount of soy sauce, a less goodly amount of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and a tiny bit of sesame oil and red pepper flakes. There's a lot of surface to cover, so don't worry if it seems like you're adding way too much of any of it. You could always make a vinaigrette first with olive oil, which would also mellow the flavor a lot (and what I would do if I were serving this to anyone other than my own gaping maw), but I usually don't bother.
Other optional niceties, especially if you want some protein in the mix: parmesan or feta sprinkled on, a runny-yolked egg thrown on top, a can of beans drained (and rinsed! and for the love of Thor, rinsed!) and mixed into the whole batch.

[originally posted on my old food blog 10.20.2009]

Roasted cauliflower pasta

When I saw this recipe the other day, I knew it would be mine. Oh yes. It would be mine.

I also knew I'd make some changes. For a batch of food that would be an easy weeknight dinner plus some lunches to bring to work, I didn't feel like bothering with the proscuitto. I roasted the vegetables at least twice as long as they suggested. The idea of sage and arugula together didn't please my mental palate, so I left the sage out. And I doubled most of the amounts (including the pasta, which I should have left alone), but I used less than the original amount of cheese and it's still plenty delicious.

As less of a recipe and more of a formula for meals going forward, it's a good one. Roasting a combination of tomatoes and other vegetables and then using the olive oil and released juices as a sauce is kind of brilliant. And I loved the idea of throwing chopped garlic in for the last ten minutes or so instead of bothering to saute it.

When I got home from the gym, I quickly prepped some cauliflower (about half a head, but I'd do a full head in the future) and two pints of grape tomatoes with olive oil to coat and some salt. I threw that in a 425 oven while I showered and stirred it around occasionally while I was cooking the rest. It was probably in for 45 minutes or so, all told.
Hello, gorgeous.

In the meantime, I put a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta and half-assedly julienned a bag of arugula. I think it was julienned — where you grab a handful of leaves and sort of roll them up and slice the roll thinly? That's what I did, only half-assedly.
I chopped up four cloves of garlic — I did a pretty half-assed job of that too, come to think of it — and threw that in the roasting pan when the pasta went into the water. I used a full pound of pasta, but would definitely halve it next time. I like a much higher vegetable:pasta ratio than I got here. FOR HEALTH.* When the pasta was done and drained, reserving some of the water, and back in the pot, I took the vegetables out of the oven, added them and scraped all the oil and browned bits out too. I threw the arugula in by handfuls, stirring around to wilt it before adding more, and then added maybe 2/3 c. of grated parmesan and about a cup of pasta water.

Oooooh, steamy....

*On a recent flight, one of the flight attendants had a sort of annoying verbal tic of saying FOR SAFETY after everything she said: "Sir, you need to buckle your seat belt. FOR SAFETY." "I need you to put your pants back on. FOR SAFETY." And so on. I wouldn't say I've adopted it, but it bubbles up once in a while.

[originally posted on my old food blog 5.8.2009]

Milk chocolate passion fruit truffles

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. I love chocolate paired with tart fruit, I particularly love passion fruit and I was going to be visiting a friend who prefers milk chocolate to dark. At the end of the day, the recipe landed in both the win and the not-really-a-win-but-good-try columns; it was one of the most delicious things I've tasted but it ended up not actually making truffles.

Confused? I'll explain.
First, you chop up some milk chocolate.
Then you heat up some passion fruit puree with heavy cream and honey.
Poach some minced dried apricots to moisten them and drain on a paper towel. (Note how closely I was following the recipe, having been instructed to cut the butter into four pieces.)
Add the hot, fruity cream to the chocolate.
Stir until melted.
Add your preciously poached apricot dice.
Then I chilled it overnight, as instructed, and the next morning I started scooping it out into truffle blobs that would get rolled in the palms of my hands, tossed in powdered sugar and bestowed upon the deserving with all appropriate ceremony.
However, the mixture was just too soft to hold its shape. I didn't even try rolling the blobs in my hands because I knew they'd just melt down to nothing.
So I packed it all into a container and handed it out by the spoonful rather than as freestanding candy entities and all was well. There was some talk of using it to frost something, since it was really the ideal frosting consistency, but we never got around to making that happen. I'd like to know where I went wrong so that I could get it right in the future, but who knows? Next time, I'll use a little less cream and see if that does the trick. I also wouldn't bother poaching the apricots; I had some particularly fresh ones that didn't need perking up and the poaching just made them sticky. A word of warning: the passion fruit flavor was less sharp and intense after a couple of days, so eat it all up right away!

Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit Truffles
From Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme
Written by Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 50 truffles

14 3/4 ounces milk chocolate, preferably Valrhona Jivara, finely chopped
8 moist, plump dried apricots, cut into tiny dice
2 tablespoons water
Scant 2/3 cup passion fruit puree
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that is large enough to hold all of the recipe's ingredients; set aside.

2. Stir the apricots and water together in a small saucepan and place the pan over gentle heat for a few minutes, until the apricots are moist. Pull the pan from the heat, drain the apricots, if necessary, and pat them dry between a double thickness of paper towels.

3. Bring the passion fruit puree, cream and honey to a full boil in a saucepan or microwave oven, then pour it into the center of the chocolate. Working with a spatula, gently stir the cream into the chocolate in ever-widening concentric circles until the ganache is homogeneous and smooth.

4. Allow the ganache to rest on the counter about 3 minutes before adding the butter. When all the butter is blended into the mixture, fold in the apricot pieces and pour the ganache into a baking pan or bowl. Put the pan in the refrigerator and, when the ganache is cool, cover it with plastic wrap. The ganache should chill for at least 4 hours, although it can stay in the refrigerator overnight, if that's more convenient for you.

5. When you are ready to shape the truffles, have a parchment-lined baking sheet close at hand. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator and scoop up a scant tablespoonful of ganache for each truffle; put the dollops of ganache on the paper-lined pan then, one by one, roll the dollops between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Don't worry about making them even--they're supposed to be lumpy. As you shape each truffle, drop it into the bowl of confectioner's sugar. Toss each truffle in the sugar so that it is well coated, then very gingerly toss the truffles between your hands to shake off the excess. Alternatively, you can roll the truffles around in a sieve to encourage them to shake off their extra sugar. As each truffle is finished, return it to the parchment-lined pan.

Keeping: The truffles can be served as soon as they are coated or they can be stored in the refrigerator, shielded from foods with strong odors.

[originally posted on my old food blog 3.3.2009]

Ink Calendar

Amazing. I wish this would move beyond the prototype stage. I'd buy one in a heartbeat.
spotted here, from here, which explains that,
"Ink Calendar" make use the timed pace of the ink spreading on the paper to indicate time.

The ink is absorbed slowly, and the numbers in the calendar are "printed" daily. One a day, they are filled with ink until the end of the month. A calendar self-updated, which enhances the perception of time passing and not only signaling it.

The ink colors are based on a spectrum, which relate to a “color temperature scale”, each month having a color related to our perception of the whether on that month. The colors range from dark blue in December to three shades of green in spring or oranges, red in the summer.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Be better.

This is usually my favorite time of the year. Thanksgiving, Christmas and the attendant flurry of activity and forced merriment and family-related stresses and difficulty are over (for nearly 12 months! woooooo!) and it's nearly New Year's Day, which is my favorite holiday.

There are a lot of reasons I'm so attached to this oddly underloved day: it's a day off work for no real reason, the few traditions and expectations associated with it are about food and luck, and it's a good opportunity for navel gazing and reflection and Serious, Important Thinking Ahead. I love the idea of starting the year as you want it to progress, of using the day's activities as a way to clarify and declare my intentions for the year ahead. I love the brave, hopeful act of making resolutions. I adore setting pen to scrap paper, dividing resolutions and goals and ideas into categories (make, read, cook, write, do, go, try, see/watch...) and seeing what directions I want to take myself.

This year though, it's not happening. Instead of lists of books I want to read and places to go and habits to cultivate and things to try and projects to plan for and execute, food to eat and cook and track down in the far reaches of Queens and Brooklyn, and small, measurable ways to act each day to work toward the goals I set, all I can come up with when I'm facing that blank page is 'be better.'

Just ... be better. These three syllables are a faint, constant drumbeat in the back of my brain and while I'm still toying with the best way to approach the directive, the fact that my subconscious is basically waving its arms in my face and yelling YOU, AS IS, REQUIRE IMPROVEMENT is indisputable.

So that's the plan for 2010. Being better, somehow or other.

Homemade gin

People tend to get the wrong idea when I say that, to me, gin smells like childhood. My backyard growing up was lousy with juniper bushes and I loved the smell of the berries. I used to fill my pockets with them and crush them between my fingers, anointing myself like some woodland fairy queen.

Then I grew up and learned that you can drink juniper. Even though I knew that my beloved gin was essentially just clear alcohol steeped with juniper berries and I really love trying to make things that are cheap and easy to buy (marshmallows, soap, paper...), it had never occurred to me to try making my own at home until I saw this. And the idea of homemade gin kind of cracked me up. It makes me think of Carol Channing in Thoroughly Modern Millie, shaking her head sadly and saying, "The ring of the bathtub was still on that gin."

An aside: far too few people have seen this movie, which is almost impossibly zany. Check it out:

Anyway, I live in the sort of neighborhood where it's very easy to find extremely cheap vodka, the kind that is basically just grain alcohol. For my first time out, I didn't want to bother with a full bottle in case it turned out badly, so I used this 200 ml bottle of Leed's vodka. I already had all of the spices, thanks to Sahadi's, so the full cost of the experiment was $2.25, including tax. And maybe the little tiny bit of my pride that I had to relinquish when I asked for "a smallish bottle of really cheap vodka" at one of my many neighborhood liquor stores.
Leed's vodka, the pride of Edison, NJ, and juniper berries. And the weirdly yellow light that is my kitchen at night.

The first night, I added a tablespoon of juniper berries to the vodka.

The second night, I added, from the bottom, a bay leaf, rosemary (pinch), cardamom (1), coriander (4 or 5), allspice (3), cloves (2), peppercorns (2 pink ones). I was looking for a winter gin, with some warmer flavors under the juniper.
Then I let it sit for a couple days, turning the bottle occasionally to mix things up, idly wondering why one clove sank and the other floated.
(Aren't my nails just the prettiest shade of Hypothermia Victim?)

I used it a couple of weekends ago to make a round of gin and tonics for some friends and it was good, though not entirely gin-like. I think the juniper was overwhelmed by the other spices (especially those cloves!), even though I had tried to avoid that. I suspect that using a full bottle of vodka, triple the juniper, a few slivers of citrus peel and roughly the same amount of other spices that I did here would produce a gin that is pretty much ideal. We shall see...

[originally posted on my old food blog 2.24.2009]

Biscuits and gravy

These were the best, flakiest biscuits I've ever made. I'm pretty sure that can be chalked up, at least partially, to the fact that I finally got a handle on how thick to roll out the dough (much thicker than I usually do).

I love cutting butter into flour with my fingers.

Guess which one I made from the scraps without rerolling? Go on, take a guess!That might have been enough to delight for me for the evening — slap a little butter and honey on a fresh buttermilk biscuit and I am one happy girl — except that while the biscuits were in the oven, I was goin' to town on this here bag of greens:
I didn't think it was possible to love Trader Joe's more than I did already, until I found this product, which combines four of my favorite leafy vegetables. I sauteed them with garlic, red pepper, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. That alone, also, could have made my night...

...except for the fact that Liz was busy at the stove with a pound of sausage meat, a little flour, some milk and spices, making this:
And there were split biscuits waiting on plates...

Sausage gravy to be ladled over. Greens to be piled alongside. Also some tomatoes.
And beer:

And a little hot sauce to top it off.No recipes this time around, I'm afraid. This dinner is from a few weeks ago and, lazy creature that I am, I'm just getting around to posting it. Really, though, any basic cookbook or website should have a recipe that would work. Nothing fancy, but awfully good...

[originally posted on my old food blog 2.23.2009]

Ridiculously easy vegetable-barley soup

I've made several variations on this soup so far this winter, but have been feeling shy about posting, since there's something sort of semi-homemade about it that the food snob in me rebels against. But then I remember that I'm not actually a food snob, just a food enjoyer with capital-O Opinions, one of which is that there's nothing wrong with the concept of semi-homemade, just the frequently execrable horrors our Attorney General's girlfriend pulls out of her ass.
[eta: Yes, it's true. NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is totally sittin' in a tree with Sandra Lee.]

It's a fairly basic vegetable soup, but for ease of preparation I use frozen vegetables instead of chopping fresh ones, canned tomatoes, purchased stock and then some cheese for added calcium, protein and deliciousness. And in fairness to me, frozen vegetables, particularly out of season, are often better, both taste and nutrient-content-wise, especially spinach, since it's often frozen at peak freshness. Here's the cast of characters, minus the onion and garlic, which I think were already in the pan by this point:
I wouldn't normally have used reduced-fat cheese, but I was shopping at the ghetto-tastic C-Town in my neighborhood and there just weren't a lot of options for shredded cheese. (Sure there were plenty of non-shredded cheeses, but the whole point of this recipe is that it requires almost no effort) It was either reduced-fat from a reputable dairy (Cabot, in this case), or some really dicey, bright orange generic stuff that scared me a little. I wouldn't recommend the reduced-fat stuff though; it tasted fine but seemed oddly sticky when it melted and I had a bitch of a time washing any bowls or utensils I used. Still, I stand by my choice, even though it turned out to be a false economy and shredding some cheese would have taken far less time than all of the scrubbing I ended up doing.

First step, chop an onion and brown it. Then I've been adding the barley to the pot with the garlic to toast a bit before adding any liquid, but I'm not sure it actually does anything.
After the garlic is softened, I add the tomatoes and juice, then fill the can about half full with water and add that too. I prefer a lot of broth, so like to add a lot of liquid up front for the barley to soak up, plus you get to use every last drop of tomato juice. Then I add the vegetables, which is usually one bag of mixed stuff and one bag of something else, in this case, lima beans. I add about half of the box of broth and simmer until it comes to a boil, then add the rest of it , along with half a bag of frozen spinach.
Sure, you could stop here. Make sure the barley is cooked through and have at it. But what fun would that be?
That's better.

I have found that 2 cups is the ideal amount of cheese and, happily, the size that most shredded cheese packages come in. For one batch, I was using some Trader Joe's cheese and because he's the best grocery store boyfriend a girl could ask for, the cheese came in three-cup packages but I wasn't paying attention and added it all in. And it was too much. Yes, really. So just pay attention and you'll be fine.

After all of the cheese is in and melted, the soup will look something like this:

It makes a lot, it's really tasty, and there's cheese. That's what you call win-win-win.

Easy Vegetable-Barley Soup

1 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. barley
28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
4-c. box of chicken broth
bag of mixed frozen vegetables
package of lima beans
1/2 package of frozen spinach
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Over medium heat, brown the onion in butter, then add garlic and barley. Cook until garlic softens. Add tomatoes and juice, then fill can 1/2 full of water and add. Add approximately half of the broth, the vegetables and the lima beans. When soup reaches a boil, add the rest of the broth and the spinach and reduce heat. When barley is cooked through, add the cheese by the handful, stirring until it melts before adding more. Done!

[originally posted on my old food blog 1.20.2009]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade marshmallows: why not?

I haven't done much cooking lately since, as anyone following my Twitter feed knows, I've been dealing with a bit of a mouse problem. It seems to be under control -- no new droppings accumulated while I was gone over Christmas and nothing has RUN OVER MY FOOT WHILE I WAS DOING THE DISHES since I've been back either. (That sucked, although when it happened I made a sound that I don't believe I had ever made previously — kind of an undulating yelp of shock and horror — which was interesting in a gaining-self-knowledge kind of way.)

Which is to say that I haven't had much to blog about for the last few weeks. I'm pretty sure that no one wants to read about me making another almond butter and jam sandwich to bring to work. So, when I was visiting my mom, I figured I'd take advantage of the fact that she has both a stand mixer and a vermin-free kitchen and make some marshmallows.

You start off by soaking gelatin in some cold water.
Then you boil sugar, water and corn syrup.
It needs to be beaten for twelve minutes, during which time it goes from looking like this:
to looking like this:
to looking like this. At this point, you add vanilla. I was tempted to color them pink, but decided not to for no reason that I can remember now, because seriously, how adorable would that have been?
Mom didn't have the called-for 9x9" pan, so I used an 11x17" to no ill effect, though I would have preferred one that didn't have rounded sides, purely for aesthetic reasons, as you'll see in the finished photos. I oiled the plastic wrap that lined the pan.
And then sealed the top with waxed paper. And I am here to tell you that making marshmallows is actually super easy, but for the love of God, make sure you oil both layers. I had thought about it but then was all, why bother? waxed paper doesn't stick to anything. It took me about half an hour to scrape the wax paper off with a knife once the batter(?) had set.
Here I am after I started scraping, demonstrating that I could hold the whole thing up by one corner of the waxed paper. The plastic wrap peeled off with no problem, thanks to the three seconds or so I invested in oiling it.
And here it is post-scraping, with the corner of the scraping knife visible on the right.
This part was pretty fun: using a chef's knife and a mixture of confectioner's sugar and cornstarch, coat all sticky surfaces and cut into pieces. Grapes make a nice snack if you're feeling peckish.
Then pile them up on a plate and force everyone to admire them.
They tasted exactly like marshmallows, I have to say. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did a little. They had a slightly softer texture than their commercial counterparts, but in a really nice way. I gave a bunch to my brother and his wife and left some with my mom and I still have a huge bag full. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with them (truth be told, I'm not all that crazy about marshmallows), but I'm definitely set for hot chocolate for the foreseeable future.

I used this recipe from Slashfood and followed it exactly, except for the oiling the top layer part. I think it could be interesting to experiment with flavors other than vanilla, or maybe also liquids other than water in both the gelatin and the syrup. Some kind of tart juice might be nice. Raspberry marshmallows? Lemon? Or maybe coconut? I wonder what would happen if you used brown sugar instead of white...

Homemade Marshmallows

.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Line 9 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, to high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, add in the vanilla extract beat to incorporate.

Scrape marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly (Lightly greasing your hands and the spatula helps a lot here). Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.

In a shallow dish, combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners' sugar. Remove marshmallow from pan and cut into equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar mixture.

Store in an airtight container.

[originally posted on my old food blog 12.29.2008]