Candy and Not Candy

It being winter in a foggy clime, all of Frida’s little buddies are sick. We usually meet up with some other kids at least a few times per week; this week and last, all of our playdates have been cancelled due to viruses. This leaves me a little more time than usual in the kitchen, which has put an astonishing dent in my white chocolate supply. I’ve been making some easy holiday candies, I have six kinds of cookie dough stashed in the freezer, and I’ve been getting a little crazy with the complexity of Frida’s lunches. We have a great little Beaba-brand food cooker that is a combination baby-sized steamer/processor, so it’s easy to make purees out of whatever’s on hand. This means that Sunday’s roast vegetables get easily turned into Monday’s lunch with the addition of a little cheese and rice, but sometimes things get a little… busier:

The scene: a haggard-looking woman scowls into a refrigerator crammed with Korean dinner party leftovers while a baby toddles into the room.

Betsy: Frida! You’re up!

Frida: (waves with both hands)

Betsy: Are you hungry? Do you want some food? (exaggeratedly points to her mouth over and over)

Frida: (pushes the kitchen stools around, opens the under-oven drawer, pulls out hot pads, bangs on the dishwasher, picks up a pair of shoes from the hall…)

Betsy: OK, I’ll make you some food.

Muttering to herself, the woman takes various bowls from the fridge and empties them into the steamer.

Frida: (walks over to her high chair and puts her arms up for a pick up)

Betsy: Smells good, right? (gagging slightly) It’s roast lamb with apple! And steamed broccoli and pineapple on the side! And I added a half a persimmon to the lamb mixture, too! And some crunchy old rice! And a little bit of kale from that big bag in the freezer! And some sweet potato and spicy tofu from yesterday’s banchan! And about two bites of dry-looking brown avocado from God knows when! The lamb is special because it was marinated. Can you say mar-in-a-ted? No? Can you say mama? You know what? Don’t say mama right now; I don’t think I want credit for this meal. Nutritious, yes, but it smells like a freaking barnyard.

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The lesson learned here? Don’t add persimmon to lamb, especially if you’re going to blend that beautiful sesame-and-soy-marinated, roasted, thinly-sliced, pink-in-the-center, succulent lamb into steamed mush. It will turn it into slightly sweet, slightly lamb-y mush. Ick.

Also, keep track of your avocados.

I have given myself license to stop labeling the kid-food leftovers as I stash them in the freezer. Beaba makes a smart little silicone mold for freezing individual portions. Once the leftovers are frozen, they’re easy to pop out of the mold into a larger storage bag for defrosting as needed. I used to painstakingly label each bag with the full list of ingredients, but now I just tumble them all together. We tend to defrost a meal’s worth by just grabbing a couple of portions from different places on the color wheel: green and orange, or beet-red and lentil-yellow. The persimmon-lamb mess is freezing into an unappetizing grayish-pink-ish taupe, although I think it will look very chic matched with something in a blueberry…

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Good work slogging through that mess. Here’s your reward! A couple of quick, three-ingredient candy recipes! I’m on my second batch of each already, and I have yet to share: they’re both delicious.

Peppermint Bark

Melt 1 pound white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water.

Mix in 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil and

4-7 crushed candy canes*

Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When hardened (this takes about an hour in a warm room,) break into pieces and eat!

*I think that the easiest way to do this is to bash them repeatedly with the back of a heavy knife while they’re still in their wrappers.

 

Spanish Turron de Yema (Almond Nougat)

  • 300 grams (3 cups) ground almonds or hazelnuts
  • 375 grams (1 and 7/8 cups) sugar plus some for topping
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) water
The process:
Cook the sugar and water together over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it reaches 250 degrees F/120 degrees C.
Have egg yolks ready in another pan. Add the boiling sugar syrup to the yolks very gradually, stirring constantly.
Stir the ground nuts into the egg yolk mixture, and return to medium heat for two minutes, stirring, until it begins to smell good.
Turn into a parchment-lined pan, press into the corners and smooth the top.
Refrigerate until firm.
Turn out onto foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkle heavily with sugar.
Toast sugar until mostly burned, under a 400 F/220 C degree broiler or using a flamethrower.
Slice and eat!
I ripped this recipe off from this YouTube video. I have done you the favor of translating it from Spanish and testing, then documenting, the temperature at which the sugar syrup is the appropriate consistency. As the women in the video uses her fingers to test the boiling sugar syrup, I think it’s fair to say you owe me one.

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