Terror for a food editor comes in the form of a phone call or e-mail. Whether it begins timidly, as in “I think there’s a mistake in one of your recipes,” or launches swiftly into an irate tirade, “Don’t you proof these recipes?” your body wastes no time jumping into action. Your stomach grinds your innards like a food processor, while your hands quiver like a barely-set panna cotta.
I went through the agony late last week when, thanks to a reader’s call, I learned of a mistake in the latest Gourmet Holiday Special Edition. And of all the recipes for it to occur in, my luck would have it appear in one of the most popular ones: Caramel Pumpkin Pie.
How did this happen? It’s a story of food styling trumping convenience, the space limitations of print media, my passion for making recipes as user-friendly as possible, and simple human error.
Did you notice how high the fluted crust is on the gorgeous pie above? That’s because it’s baked in a 10-inch metal quiche pan with 2-inch high sides. Do you have one of those in your kitchen? Me neither! The food stylist and art director knew the pan would make a stunner of a pie, but for many of us that pan is the “Oh, sh*!” part of the recipe. If you don’t have it, and there’s no alternative, you’ll turn the page. Continue reading
Salted caramel anything—sauce, ice cream, candy—has been the rage for a while, and I doubt it’s going to melt away. So I was screaming, “Eureka!” this morning, when I suddenly solved a problem with caramel that’s been vexing me for years.
I was making a salted caramel sauce, which means you begin by caramelizing the sugar. There are two ways to do it, one with water, and one without, known in culinary lingo as a wet or dry caramel. Plenty of colleagues prefer the wet method, but it takes longer, and I’m a tad impatient. I prefer a dry caramel because it’s fast, and it only requires sugar and a super-dry pan.
Whether you’ve made a wet or dry caramel, the real action begins when you add the cream, because it immediately bubbles up and the sugar hardens into a stiff mess. To get to a smooth, happy sauce, you have to continue cooking the mixture, stirring all the while, until the caramel dissolves. Continue reading