SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE . . . a decadent holiday food gift

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Sometimes when one is bombarded daily with food recipes one forgets the one that transcends all others.    This  splendid sauce is the perfect food gift.  It is  decadently deliciously down-right lip-smacking, please can I have some more.  Portion it into small jars(it is very very rich).  It makes a memorable hotess gift.

It is the attention to detail.  The little extra that pushes something over the top.  That take it from very good to extraordinary.    And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold.

During our restaurant years every evening I made a gorgeous caramel sauce.   We would pour it liberally  over our house-made ice cream.  The recipe was time consuming and demanding.  So I started  the hunt for a caramel sauce that one could whip up quickly and without too much stress.

Making caramel sauce is rather like the fairy tale Brothers Grim Rumpelstiltskin.  You turn water and sugar into a deep burnished rich golden colour.  And you do not have to give up your first-born child to do it.

This caramel recipe has just the right balance of caramelized sugar to butter and cream.  The recipe is easy.  You put water and sugar into a pan.  Watch it turn a deep golden brown.  Whisk in butter.  The aroma smells like McIntosh Toffee.    Add a little cream.  Cool.  Taste.  Sprinkle in  flakes of  fleur de sel  and faster than you can say Rumpelstiltskin you have the most decadent salted caramel sauce.

Pour it over ice cream or a slice of cake.  Add a generous dollop of whipped cream and you have a dessert worthy of a four star restaurant.  The very best part of this recipe for caramel sauce.  It refrigerates beautifully.  I must admit I occasionally remove the chilled sauce, dip a spoon into its silky goodness and swoon over this stealthy treat.  The sauce will keep two weeks refrigerated.  Unbelievable but this has kept more than the specified two weeks when I hid it behind the mustard  and totally forgot about it.  It was still good almost a month later.

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE  – is pure gold!

FINES HERBS

 

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It is the liberal use of fresh herbs that makes a cook worth her fleur de sel!   The garden is lush and rich with mint and parsley, basil and dill, tarragon, rosemary and thyme.

I can’t resist plucking a few mint leaves and rubbing them between my fingers as I walk to the garden.  It’s early morning and the sun hasn’t vanquished the dew from the lawns.  It glitters on tiny exquisite spider webs in the grass and creates a fairy world.

The air is still and quiet.  No tractors working the fields.  The seeding is finished.  Beans and peas planted.  Corn already climbing to the sky.

I harvest a perfect head of butter lettuce for supper.  At the very last moment I’ll wash and tear the leaves.  Add  a tangle of tarragon.  A drift of thyme.  Lots of fresh chopped chives and fleur de sel and then quietly toss it with a few tablespoons of thick, rich cream.  That’s it.   Simple perfection.

I bring the perfume of the herb garden into my home.  Fill an old fashioned white cream jug with parsley and mint.  Simplicity!  I could have plundered the flower garden and create an enormous bouquet worthy of any hotel lobby.   But, it is this simple fragrant collection of leaves that brings such joy to my heart.

 

 

FLEUR DE SEL CARAMELS

 

It is time, my darlings, for you to indulge yourself and all those you love.   Serve these caramels with coffee after dinner or pack them in glassine bags with ribbons for hostess gifts.  Or.. you could always just stash them away for a rainy day.  You know the kind of day – when YOU need a treat. The recipe is on my food blog MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

 

 

 

FLAT BEANS WITH PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO … a Jack in the beanstalk recipe

If you see flat beans at your Farmer’s Market snap them up.  They are delicious.   If you have a garden or a balcony with lots of sun grow them.  They grow almost as fast as Jack’s fabled beans.

I grew my close to the kitchen, in two five-gallon nursery pots.  This step-ladder, past its prime, became my beanstalk  support.

Pick your flat beans and cook them right away for the  simplest and down-right most decadent way to eat beans.

flat beans with parmigiano- reggiano  SERVES 6

1 1/2 pounds fresh romano or flat beans, trimmed

1 tbs kosher salt

1 1/2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp sea salt or fleur de sel

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4-5 ounces shaved parmigiano- reggiano  (I shave the cheese with a vegetable peeler.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of kosher salt and the flat beans, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the beans are just tender.  Drain immediately and place the beans on a platter.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt and pepper.  Toss with the cheese and serve hot or warm