FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
With hundreds of recipes for sumptuously mouth-watering candies, chocolates, pralines, crèmes, fudges, toffee and holiday treats, 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes by Jane Sharrock, this candy bible covers everything from the traditional to the exotic. Complete with easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos, it’s a treasure trove of information and inspiring recipes. Most of us are intimidated by the thought of making our own candies, but the author shows us how to master a few basic principles that every candy maker should know.
Jane Sharrock is a third-generation candy-maker who grew up surrounded by good cooks, great food and delicious homemade candies. Her mother and her aunts made cooking look so effortless that it never occurred to Jane that others might struggle in the kitchen. Eventually Jane realized that she had unique training and not everyone had a Home Economics professor, old fashioned country cook, farmer’s wife and second-generation candy maker as a mother and mentor. Armed with a sizeable collection of old fashioned candy recipes and decades of kitchen wisdom passed from generation to generation, Jane wrote a candy cookbook in hopes of inspiring a new generation of candy makers. Jane lives in Oklahoma and works for the Federal contracting industry. In her free time she enjoys cooking with friends and family.
Because I happen to like layered peppermint bark, that’s the recipe we’re sharing, even though it’s more likely to be served at Christmastime. Dare to be different and make it now!
GOURMET LAYERED PEPPERMINT BARK
• 8-ounces chocolate candy coating
• 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
• 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, divided
• 12-ounces white chocolate candy coating
• 3/4 cup crushed candy canes
In the top pan of double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the dark chocolate candy coating and chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract until well blended. Pour the chocolate mixture onto baking sheet lined with waxed paper, spreading into a thin, even layer. Cool 20 minutes or until chocolate is firm. In top of a clean double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the white chocolate coating, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining peppermint extract until well blended. Pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy canes. Cool and break into pieces. Store in airtight container.
Source: www.robertrose.ca, Toronto, ON, May 2014, $24.95/softback.
BUILDING BETTER BROCCOLI
A pair of discoveries, reported in PLOS One, may lead to better broccoli in the produce aisle. University of Illinois researchers, seeking to boost levels of anti-cancer glucosinolate compounds found broccoli and similar vegetables, sprayed the plants shortly before harvest with methyl jasmonate. That natural, non-toxic plant signal chemical tells genes in the broccoli to produce the anti-cancer agents. Unfortunately, testing showed it also accelerated the production of ethylene, which causes plants to decay. Spraying a second chemical recently discovered in plants, 1-methlycyclopropene, was found to block ethylene and prolonged shelf life. The one-two punch, scientists hope, will help protect against cancer while also protecting the broccoli in your fridge.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, May, 2014.
It will be awhile before we have home grown tomatoes but in the meantime, Baked Tomato Casserole, is an excellent side dish to serve with grilled meats and fish year round!
BAKED TOMATO CASSEROLE
• 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
• 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix
• 1/4 cup butter
Sauté chopped onions in 1/4 cup butter. Mix drained tomatoes, sautéed onions, salt, pepper, oregano and brown sugar together. Spoon into 9x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté stuffing mix in 1/4 cup butter and sprinkle evenly over tomato mixture. Bake in 250ºF oven for 1-1/4 hours. Recipe makes 4 to 5 servings.
An excellent relish at barbecues is Dilled Carrot Sticks. I happen to think that regular carrots have a better flavor than mini carrots.
DILLED CARROT STICKS
• 1 pound medium-sized carrots
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon mustard seed
• 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
Peel carrots into 3-inch lengths. Cook in boiling water until almost tender but not overcooked. Drain; cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. In saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seed and dill weed. Simmer mixture 10 minutes. Add carrot sticks and simmer 1 minute longer. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Drain carrots thoroughly before serving. Recipe makes 3 cups.