Who Knew You Can Make Black Licorice?


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A very adventurous woman I occasionally worked for wrote to me with an unusual request. She lives part of the time on her boat sailing the world, and wanted to send a friend who has everything a birthday gift of homemade black licorice, which is his favorite. She is a wonderful cook herself, but living on a ship makes it difficult to find ingredients like black food coloring and anise extract. She saw the recipe in the January 2013 issue of Saveur.

I took on the challenge and searched out the ingredients. I was able to find them all at Whole Foods, Publix and a local baking store, but they are also available through several sources on the internet (which saves gas and lots of time driving around).

I haven’t made alot of candy, not because I don’t like it, probably because I do! This challenge inspired me to try some other ideas I’ve had, and I will share my experiments on future posts.

Homemade Black Licorice Twists

8 tbs. unsalted butter, plus more
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tbs. anise extract/oil
1 tbs. black food coloring (for candy)

I highly recommend gathering all your incredients, portioning out the flour and preparing the baking sheet before beginning to make the candy on the stove. A candy thermometer is also needed for this recipe.

liquorice prep

Line a glass 8″ square baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease it with butter. Place butter, sugar, corn syrup, milk, molasses and salt in a heavy 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the temperature on the candy thermometer is 265 degrees. Remove the pan from the stove and gradually stir food coloring and extract. Add more coloring if you want a darker color. Slowly incorporate the flour, stirring it around to be certain it is all mixed in, otherwise it will stand out against the black color of the licorice.

licorice flour

Chill until firm and cool, at least 30-45 minutes. I chilled this about an hour.

Invert the pan onto a cutting board and remove the paper. It is easiest to use a pastry cutter to cut the ropes. I made them about 1/4 inch thick, twist them from each end for an authentic look. Place them on baking sheets and chill until set. This will keep longer if refrigerated.

liquorice paper

liquorice cut

The mixture is pretty sticky and thick, I initially tried to cut this with a knife, but the pastry cutter made it much easier. These can also be shaped into squares like carmels if you prefer over the skinny twists.

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Wrap it up in a beautiful box with a high quality black satin ribbon and your gift is ready!

liquorice box

Tomato Soup, what could be better….


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The holidays are in full swing, and although I sometimes miss Michigan in the wintertime, there is really nothing more beautiful than all of the Chritsmas decorations and holiday lights on palm trees, enjoyed while wearing your shorts and tank tops! Since landscaping our backyard and adding outdoor electrical outlets, we were finally able to put up some lights and they are really fun to come home to.

This recipe is a on spin one I cook at work so I have to give credit to whoever invented it, it wasn’t me. However, I did modify it for home use and made a few changes. The best part, besides the wonderful flavor is that it is easy to prepare and everyone will love it.

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Tomato Soup

Canola or olive oil 1-2 tbs.
1/2 cup chopped garlic
3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
15-20 basil leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cans whole tomatoes (for this I prefer centro)
2-3 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper

1. Heat enough oil in your soup pot to coat the bottom. Add the garlic, onions and celery and sweat until translucent. Season the vegetables well with salt and pepper.
2. Add the tomatoes, (I suggest placing them in a bowl and squeezing them apart with my hands before I add them to the pot) 1 can of water and herbs. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and slowly incorporate the heavy cream. More or less cream can be added depending upon your preference. More cream makes the soup more bisque like, but of course also adds calories. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the soup is thick and creamy. Stir occasionally and season to taste. It should cook at least an hour.
3. Remove thyme stems and bay leaves and allow soup to cool some before blending it in a blender in batches.

Garnish with grated parmeson, chiffonade basil or other herbs.

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New Arrival and June in Chicago


I am thrilled to write about my trip to Chicago and my new grandson, Leo. He is adorable and so good natured. I have spent the past week in Chicago with my daughter Abbie, her husband Punky and baby Leo. It is so easy to forget how tiny a new baby is but the memories come back quickly.

baby leo

Chicago, is a beautiful, vibrant city the Buhr family lives just north of Lincoln Park in East Lakeview by Wrigley Field. Unofficially, the neighborhood is called Boystown, home to many gay couples, and was the first officially recognized gay village in the United States.

boystown

Chicago also has the best pizza ever. Bricks, in Lincoln Park is a favorite. The sauce is incredible, which makes all the difference between good pizza and great pizza.

The kids apartment in Chicago is in a Greystone from the 1890’s. Chicago’s Greystones define historic Chicago neighborhoods in a manner similar to way Brownstones define neighborhoods in Brooklyn, N.Y. Abbie and I added a little garden color to their front porch.

greystones

My son-in-law, Punky is a virtual baby whisperer. He has an uncanny ability to calm a fussy Leo!

punky leo

It was difficult to leave everyone behind and go home, but I am grateful to have had these wonderful days in Chicago and am looking forward to seeing Leo and his family again very soon!

Quick and Easy Angel Food Cake


I love to cook and don’t mind spending hours in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s fun just to make something quick and tasty for a family treat or an afternoon barbecue on the fly. I made about 60 of these working in the banquet kitchen at work the other day and while doing and I thought what a great idea to pass along.

I used a purchased angel food cake from Publix, if you can’t find one, an angel food cake mix is also easy to make.

To start, cut a piece of parchment paper about a foot long and then cut it into 3 equal size pieces. Place them around the edges of a plate, I used a favorite dinner plate. Gently remove the cake from the package and place on top of the parchment strips.

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The topping can be homemade whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping of your choice. Cool Whip comes in every combination now, fat-free, low-fat, regular. I used whipped cream which is also a good choice, but it doesn’t hold as long. Chill your mixing bowl in the fridge until its very cold. Mix the whipped cream, 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract and a few tbs. of sugar in a blender using a blender and the whisk attachment until stiff peaks are formed.
frosting

It’s best to frost the cake in two coats. Using a spatula, coat the cake with the whip cream lightly, this is called a crumb coat. Wipe any crumbs off the spatula, and coat the cake again, much more generously. Carefully remove the parchment paper strips and the plate will be clean. The cake can be decorated with berries for a more formal look, or sprinkles, chocolate, m & m’s, use your imagination!

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Happy Spring!
-Jeanne