Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cherry Creek Farmer's Market with Natalie + Candied Peanut Recipe

It was a lovely morning at the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market with Natalie. It has been 20+ years that we have lived in different cities. I am so thankful for the chance to have a casual outing with a loving friend; the perfect weather and the abundant beauty at the ready.

Here's a little treat that Ellie whipped up this afternoon.

Caramelized Peanuts
via: davidlebovits blog

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

You can easily cut the recipe in half, although I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finishing off a whole batch. I’ve made this many times using raw almonds and peanuts, but if you want to experiment with other nuts, I’d be interested in hearing how they turn out. I think round nuts work best so the sugar can tumble around and coat them, rather than get stuck in any pecan-like nooks and crannies.

2 cups (275g) raw peanuts (or almonds)
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup (75ml) water
a sprinkle of coarse sea salt (or smoked salt)
optional: ground cinnamon or chili powder

In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take a few minutes.
At this point, the peanuts will get crusty and the sugar will crystallize.
The peanuts will become dry and sandy, which is perfectly normal. Don’t worry; you didn’t mess up. Lower the heat and keep going, scraping up any syrup collecting in the bottom of the pan and stir the peanuts in it, coating them as much as possible.
As you go, tilt the pan, removing it from the heat from time-to-time to regulate the heat and the syrup, so you can coat the nuts with the liquid as it darkens without burning the peanuts or the syrup. This is the only tricky part—I like to get the peanuts as deeply-bronzed as possible. if the mixture starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and stir.

Right before they’re done, sprinkle the peanuts with a sizable pinch of flaky salt (and pinch of cinnamon or chili powder, if you want), stir them a couple of times, then tilt the peanuts out onto a baking sheet or a marble countertop.
Let the peanuts cool completely, then break up any clumps. Store in an airtight container, where they’ll keep up to a week.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Celebrating Kohlton's 17th Birthday + Denver Cheesecake Recipe

Kohlton turned 17 last Sunday. If you follow my blog you already got to see the extra special and amazing present Ellie made for him. Here's what they did to actually celebrate his birthday:

They went to the Zoppw' Italian Family Circus and LOVED IT!

Grandma Gay hosted a picnic style dinner at her house. Ellie made cheesecake from scratch for the first time. It was excellent. (I have included the recipe below. It is best made at least one day ahead of time so that the flavors can blend.)

And when you are at Grandma gay's house, you have to check out the costumes. It is always a fun time!
Then we went down to the city park for a fireworks display. The band that was playing was excellent!
Then back home for a little more cheesecake and the trick candles that keep relighting themselves.
Now, I think we would think that was a bang-up birthday, but we are not done, yet.

The next day his mom hosted a family party where he received some pretty funny presents.
Mark, Kohlton's dad, gave him some nice presents and then he gifted him a box of bacon and cheddar flavored crickets. Kohlton was having no part of it. They were going to become a curio on his shelf until Mark and Ellie decided to try them. They declared that they taste like popcorn, but you end up with legs caught inbetween your teeth. Yucky and haha.
Ellie made tiny one-bite cheesecakes with phillo cups. Some were topped with dark chocolate, almonds and pearl colored dragees. Others sported homemade salted caramel, or blueberries. Some were left plain, simple and delicious!

Now, how will she ever top that!? Surely Kohlton feels very loved.
Denver Cheesecake
via: Creme de la Colorado Cookbook by the Junior League of Denver
(an old, trusted and loved volume of reliable, awesome recipes.)

12 oz. box Vanilla Wafers, crushed (place them in a large ziplock baggie and use a rolling pin to crush them)
6 TBL Butter, melted

40 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups Sugar
3 TBL Flour
1 tea. Lemon Peel, freshly grated
1 tea. Vanilla Extract
6 Eggs
3/4 cup Heavy Cream

In a small bowl, mix together the crushed wafers and the butter. Press into the bowl bottom and partially up the sides of a 10" springform pan. Chill while preparing the filing.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese. Add all the rest of the ingredients except eggs and cream. Mix until it is well blended and creamy. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each. Blend in the cream. Pour in crust. Use a 10" springfoam pan. Bake at 500 for 10 minutes. Then turn down temperature bake 225 for 70 -80 minutes. (You are looking for the filing to be almost set) Cool at room temperature. It is best to refrigerate it for at least 8 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend and meld.