Saturday, January 05, 2013

Salted Caramel Sauce

This Christmas I decided to make homemade gifts to give out to family and friends. I wanted to create something different than cookies or jams or baking mixes. So, I made salted caramel sauce instead. I saw the recipe on Food and Wine magazine and I couldn't believe how easy it was. I followed the recipe as it was written, but my only change is that I used gray salt instead of fleur de sel. Don't worry if your salt doesn't completely melt. I think that's what I like most about this sauce because small, salt crystal stay suspended in the sauce and they make love to your mouth once you eat it straight out of the jar or warmed up and drizzled over some vanilla ice cream.

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 cups)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel


Put the sugar in a large saucepan and pour the water all around. Add the vanilla bean and seeds and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any crystals from the side of the pan. Cook without stirring until a deep-amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Gently swirl the pan to color the caramel evenly.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream. When the bubbling subsides, bring the sauce to a boil and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the hardened caramel is dissolved. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the fleur de sel and let cool.

After it cooled, I poured the sauce into clean, sanitized half pint Ball mason jars and closed the lid very tightly. Then I created a custom labels and gave it out as gifts. I'm such a DIY mom!!!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I've had a can of chopped clams in my pantry for about 4 months now and they've just been staring at me, as if saying, "use me...use the clams!" Finally today I couldn't stop glancing at the clams and decided to make linguine with clam sauce. One of my all time favorite clam sauce is from The Old Spaghetti Factory and that's basically the type of sauce I was going for. My creation didn't quite taste like the sauce at OSF, but it was quite yummy. You can use fettuccine, like I did, or spaghetti if you don't have linguine on hand.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 for lunch or 2 for dinner)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • half of an onion, chopped
  • 6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • pinch oregano
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or dry champagne
  • 1/4 cup reserved clam juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (6.5 ounce) can of minced clams, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 package linguine pasta 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, optional


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and red pepper flakes, and cook stirring constantly until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and pinch of oregano and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes, just until fragrant. Pour in the wine and let reduce, about 5 more minutes. Add in the reserved clam juice, and simmer over low heat for another 5 minutes.

Gradually stir the half-and-half cream into the skillet, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, but do not boil, until it's thickened and sauce reduced by about half. If sauce gets too thick, add in about 1/4 cup pasta water to thin it out a little.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add linguine pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente.

Add clams to the sauce, and cook just until clams are heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and serve over linguine pasta  and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if useing.