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Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

Hello there. I know, I know, it’s been a long time. Apologies to my loyal followers, all seven of you, including my mom. I’m not sure where the time has gone. I’ve still been cooking. Lots. But other diversions of life have kept me from the writing and photography part…

This month, the Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 was published, featuring my recipe for Corn Salad with Cilantro and Carmelized Onions. What a thrill to hold that book in my hands, and see “Ms.T” in print, right there on page 253. How exciting to see my photo in the back, as part of such a wonderful mosaic of home cooks from all over the world. (Thank you to those who voted for the recipe last summer, and to Sandra and Chris for sharing it with me in the first place!)

And then, before the high had even worn off, I discovered that my recipe for Pine Nut Brittle was featured on Saveur’s web site! Included in their very cool  Cookie Advent Calendar, hiding behind door #19. Professionally tested and photographed and practically glowing in its spotlight. (ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a little bummed they credited the blogger who told them about the recipe rather than the cook who created the recipe. But I know it’s mine. And now all seven of you do too. And I do appreciate Kimberly from The Year in Food turning them onto the recipe–after all, her blog is one of my favorites, and she was quite lovely when I met her at the Food52 potluck last year.)

Anyway, all this “fame” got me thinking. A year and a half ago, when I started this blog, and began entering recipe contests, and devoting an extraordinary amount of time to obsessing about food, I did it because I really needed a diversion. Some bumps in the road, at work and in life, made me question the path I was on. Made me crave another outlet to pour my passion into. Made me need some new hopes and daydreams for future possibilities.

Early morning holiday shadows

Holly branch in sunlight

And it worked. It’s been really rewarding–for me, and hopefully also for the people I cook for–to spend a little more time on this hobby of mine. But a funny thing happened along the way. The other stuff–the bumps–worked themselves out. When I shifted my attention, ever so slightly, away from the frustrations I couldn’t control and stopped banging my head on the wall, it all seemed to get better.

So here I am, at the end of 2012, with a suddenly more balanced contentment spread across career, cooking, and other hopes for the future. And feeling very, very grateful for all three.

Thank you for bearing with me. I’ve been doing a lot of holiday baking lately, which also means eating a lot of sweets at all hours of the night. (QA testing is a crucial part of any production process, right???) So the ramblings above are admittedly fueled by too much sugar and too little sleep.

Wishing you all happy holidays and a very sweet New Year!

Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

Ms. T’s Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary
(winner of “your best holiday confection” on Food52)
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups pine nuts (yes, I know, they are crazy expensive. that’s why this treat is only for the really nice people on your list.)
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely ground sea salt

Place the sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar begins to melt. Lower the heat to medium-high and keep stirring just until the sugar is melted. Stop stirring and watch for it to turn a medium caramel color. About 10 minutes total.

Stir in pine nuts, and then butter. Allow pine nuts to cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in half of the rosemary and half of the sea salt. Note: Don’t panic if your butter separates and looks like an oily unappetizing mess. This probably has something to do with temperatures–if you want to know, ask a more scientific cook than me. My advice is just keep stirring and it will eventually all come back together.

Turn the mixture out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (NOT wax paper–I learned this the hard way), and spread it evenly to the desired thickness with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining rosemary and salt on top, while brittle is still warm.

Allow to cool completely–at least one hour–then break the brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature. If your brittle isn’t brittle enough to break into pieces, pop it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, until it hardens enough to snap easily.

Holiday baked goods

In addition to the pine nut brittle, my goodie bags this year included rugelach (inspired by this lovely post on Sweet Amadine), chocolate gingerbread cookies, and coconut macaroons with lime zest (had to sneak in a hint of limes from our tree.)

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