Thursday, December 27, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

This tart is so good, so rich, so salty sweet -- it might make you sweat. A tiny sliver will do, my friends. There are 3 components: the chocolate dough, the caramel filling, and the chocolate glaze. And I admit I took a full Saturday afternoon to do it. (While piddling with smaller, non-essential tasks during the waiting periods.) But a grand prize awaits for you. Since it's rich it will last a while (with 2 people, like here), and on that last slice, a week or so later -- everything will seem worth it. We kept ours in the refrigerator when we weren't indulging ourselves.

As a bit of history, Ms. Hesser explains that this tart made its creator (Claudia Fleming) famous and sparked the salt-in-desserts craze that we all know and love.

Recipe on page 847

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Barley Risotto

I'd been curious about barley risotto ever since Nigella Lawson presented it as her no-stir, lazy version of the classic dish. The version in Big Red is as simple as Nigella claims hers to be. It having barley as an alternative as rice obviously gives it a firmer texture, but it's all the more interesting this way. We had ours with pork chops and a cabbage slaw. 

Recipe on page 327

Thursday, December 13, 2012

English Gingersnaps

Confession: I have 9 posts in my queue to publish for this blog. All have photos, titles, and recipe page numbers. But they're waiting for words. I clearly can cook faster than I can (or have time to) write. So, what's a girl to do? Since the purpose of this space is to share enthusiasm for the breadth of recipes in The Big Red Book -- I'm going to do it in a way that works for me.

Going forward, I will just be posting recipe names, page numbers, photos, and at most a single paragraph about each recipe. It will be brief, but it'll give me more breathing room to showcase the fantastic selection in The Book and hopefully inspire you to reach for one of your own cookbooks, even if it isn't Big Red.

Now, regarding the English Gingersnaps. Although they pack a nice ginger punch, they were more cakey than I'd like. I'll leave them in the oven longer next time. I also couldn't stop thinking about my grandmother's peanut butter cookies that she crosshatched with a fork like this recipe suggests to do (see above photo). Next time, I'll leave these cookies un-hatched -- but that's just personal.

That said, they give your house the perfect aroma to put up the Christmas tree and holiday lights. And that's exactly what I did.

Recipe on page 693

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crispy Chickpeas with Ground Meat

If there's one recipe in this book that I've made more than any others, this is it. I deviate a bit from the recipe as I don't add very much liquid (always afraid it won't cook off, despite Ms. Hesser's assuring note in the header). 

My husband especially loves this. It has a masculine quality without being too heavy. We have red meat a few nights a week, and this is the most common way we get it. It's become a staple one-pot pantry dish, without feeling like one. We're always excited to have it again. You can vary the intensity of the spices depending on what you serve it with, and you could even take it to the stew-level per the recipe instructions. 

Plus, it's really easy. You just heat a large skillet, brown your ground meat, and add canned chickpeas and stir until they start browning (and popping!). Then add your spices (cumin, chile) and aforementioned liquid. Let it simmer until the liquid is cooked off. The recipe calls for 1 cup of the reserved liquid from the can of chickpeas but I usually add just 1/2 cup. 

Either way, have fun with it -- make it and eat it often! Neither is hard. 

Recipe on page 558 in The Book