Friday, 14 December 2012

A tempest in the kitchen!

For years I've been meaning to make Christmas food gifts, but always seem to run out of time, get distracted with having holiday fun and end up buying some mass made, corporation ruled gift. This year I have my 'buy local, eat local' hat well and truly on. It's time to get those old jars off the top shelf of the (very crowded) pantry, get my funky new apron on and cook up some delights. 
I've decided on salted caramel sauce, hot chocolate fudge sauce and lemon curd. I have my labels ready to go, it's raining outside so there's not much gardening to be done. I just went for a wander around the green lush backyard - that until yesterday was looking decidedly dry - and propped up the corianders, now going to seed, standing tall but on a lean. I wrapped them in string and just watch them flower, seed and then move on to the next phase. Sometimes I collect the seeds but generally I am lazy and just let them do their thing where they are. Organic gardening at it's best. Coriander seem to like growing in the same spot. As my mum says - "I am the coriander Queen" - she can't grow it at all. 
Anyway, I digress. Salted caramel sauce is on the agenda. I follow a simple recipe from Recipe Girl, converting tablespoons of butter to grams. It seemed too little butter but I went with it anyway. Caramel has always scared me, its tricky and a bit tempestuous - it looks like a tempest when it's bubbling and gurgling away. I measure everything out before I start (I'm learning, slowly) and I watch it like a hawk. The mixture bubbles peacefully, I add the cream and all hell breaks loose. It spits at me like a hissing feline. Then it starts to solidify, as in lumpy, gooey and not smooth caramelly at all! I add the butter and vanilla, then the salt and whisky away. The lumps stay but the rest of it goes nice and smooth. I take out those little sticky mounds of badness and am left with a delicious caramel sauce. Phew! This is quite stressful.
I'm wondering if there's another version I can try, just because I want to get this right. I go to old mate, Google and find Nigella's recipe. I love her cooking style, it's usually uncomplicated and this one has golden syrup which I love!It's very easy - the measurements are metric which I like as I can use my favourite digital kitchen scales. No satan's uprising here, all is calm on the caramel front and I have another lovely jar of sauce, ready for labelling and wrapping. They both taste fabulous - the 2nd recipe is richer because of the golden syrup and easier - for someone like me who is still scared of hot gurgling sauces that just do their own thing. Conquered part of my fear at least. 

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