May 23, 2013

Dandelion Marmalade

Dandelions and lilacs and apple blossoms. Yes. It's a good time of the year.

Truly, dandelions are an amazing plant. You can roast the roots for coffee, make your own homemade capers by pickling their buds, booze it up with dandelion wine, I mean, what can't you make from the mighty little plant? Lately, I've been eating a ton of dandelion green salads. They're great for the liver and at this time of year, not too bitter and quite tender and lovely. Sprinkle a few wild violets on top and some candied pecans and you have a gourmet wild-harvested salad if I ever saw one.

Last year, I heard about dandelion marmalade and was instantly intrigued. I finally cooked up a batch and was very pleased with the results though I have to say the dandelion taste is quite subtle, a bit of a stretch of the imagination really. But the petals are nicely present and lend a lovely little chew. Next time I try this, I think I will be more hardcore about it, leave out the citrus altogether, and just have straight-up dandelion jam. I'll keep you posted on the results.


1 large organic orange
1 large organic lemon
2 cups of freshly-picked dandelion petals (only the yellow part, no green bits)
2 cups cane sugar
2 cups water
1/2 box Sure-Jell

Pick full dandelion blossoms immediately before making the recipe. Pull out the petals from each blossom, discarding the green parts. Remove the citrus rinds with a peeler (discard the thick white part between the rind and the fruit). Chop the rinds finely. Chop the peeled lemon and orange into small pieces. Place chopped rinds and fruit with water and sugar in a small saucepan and boil for about 10 minutes. Add the sure-jell and dandelion petals and boil until thickened slightly, about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat. Sterilize 4 half-pint / 8 oz canning jars and ladle the hot marmalade into the jars. (My batch only filled 3 jars, probably because I kept tasting and sampling the jam!) Process the jars using boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Make sure the tops have sealed properly. More detailed info on how to process in hot water bath can be found here.


May 01, 2013

Salted Bourbon Caramel and Banana "Pudding Chômeur"... and my May giveaway!

You might want to hang on to your seat for this one. We're going into purely decadent territory today. 

I have barely been able to sit still the past few days in anticipation of announcing my May giveaway: a gift package from Fat Toad Farm, a goat farm in beautiful Vermont that makes the most exquisite caramel you've ever tasted! And wait, this isn't just any caramel. This is CAJETA!!! Cajeta is a traditional Mexican caramel made with goat's milk. And I've had an ongoing love affair with the stuff ever since I lived in Mexico 13 years ago, where you can buy it in any grocery store, by the tube or bottle, in candies, wafers, and even (a personal favourite), in your coffee. Here in Canada (and I imagine in the US as well), it's quite hard to find. So I was thrilled when I heard about Fat Toad Farm which is one of the very first producers of artisanal cajeta in the United States.

That photo right there perfectly describes what I wanted to do with my jars of caramel the day they arrived in the mail. We didn't actually drink it out of the jar with a straw but my sister and I did hover over it, eating it straight up with spoons and groaning with disbelief at how delicious it is. 

Fat Toad Farm is located on a winding dirt road in the hills of Central Vermont. Seven years ago, the family started off in their garage milking a French Alpine doe named Jupiter, and today, seven years later, they are milking Jupiter's great great great granddaughter Artemis, and 50 of her closest caprine friends in a modern milking parlour. From grazing the goats to milking, stirring the cajeta, bottling, labelling, marketing and shipping, everything is done on the family farm. I wish these lovely people were my neighbours!! 

Fat Toad caramel is made with just a few top-quality ingredients (primarily goat's milk and organic cane sugar) and what I love about it is that it isn't overly sweet the way some caramels are. 

The caramels come in 4 extra delicious flavours including: original, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salted bourbon (my favourite!)

If you're a fan of goats like I am, you'll definitely want to check out Fat Toad Farm's Facebook page and see all their adorable goat photos. Along with some fabulous caramel recipes.

And if I may make a suggestion to you all, Mother's Day is coming up and here's what you might want to do. Go to Fat Toad Farm's website and order your mama some goats milk caramel. She deserves it. And so do you. So while you're at it, why not order yourself a couple jars and make my cajeta pudding chomeur? Because believe me, your mouth is going to explode in happiness.


Fat Toad Farm is kindly giving away a lovely gift package to a Kitchen Vignettes reader, including two 8oz jars of their heavenly Salted Bourbon Caramel in adorable hand-stamped burlap gift bags with tiny wooden spoons. This caramel is infused with Kentucky Straight Bourbon which lends its signature flavours of honey, butter, and a hint of dark fruit to Fat Toad Farm's original caramel palate. A hint of organic sea salt brings it all together and will make you swoon.

To enter the draw, simply leave a comment below sharing your favourite way to eat caramel or go to my Facebook page and share the Fat Toad Farm caramel photo. If you do both, you'll get 2 ballots in the draw. Please note that this month's giveaway is only available to residents of the United States. 

I will be drawing a name at random at the end of the month and announcing the winner on this blog and on Facebook. 

My recipe today is a goat-ey twist on a Québec classic that my mom used to make. Pudding Chômeur literally translates as "pudding of the unemployed", or as it is more often referred to in English, Poor Man's Pudding. It was a creation of Québecoise factory workers during the Great Depression and it has become one of my birth province's signature desserts. It consists of a white cake / dumpling batter over which a caramel or maple syrup sauce is poured before it is baked. The cake then rises through the syrup which sinks to the bottom and creates purely wicked deliciousness. Best thing is, it is dead-easy to make, and even easier to eat!

My plan was to make a plain cajeta pudding chômeur, and then I had the revelation that banana and Salted Bourbon Cajeta might shoot me straight to a very very nice place. Did it ever. 

Because I couldn't find my mom's recipe, I first experimented with several different versions of the recipe in search of the best dough texture. (Because this recipe is all about a good batter). I finally found what I was dreaming of over at my fellow Saveur award recipient, Tim's gorgeous blog Lottie and Doof. His version is adapted from the Au Pied de Cochon Cookbook and uses eggs instead of the full cup of milk many other recipes call for... and a lot more butter, which is generally a good thing! The consistency was exactly what I remembered as a kid. I reduced the sugar in my version since I find this dessert can be overly sweet at times. (Although I'm sure many people would say there is no such thing, in which case, please go ahead and use a full cup of sugar in the batter :-)

Makes 8 small ramekins or 1 large 9 x 12 inch baking dish

6 oz butter (12 tbsp)
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp milk

2 bananas, thinly sliced
1 jar (8oz /almost 1 cup) of Fat Toad Farm's Salted Bourbon Cajeta (can be purchased online and at Whole Foods and other specialty shops in the US) or make your own!
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp. butter

Preheat your oven to 325 F.
Cream the sugar and butter together and then incorporate the eggs, either using an electric mixer or a whisk. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together well. Add the sugar mixture to the flour and gently mix, adding 4 tbsp of milk until the dough takes shape. Do not overmix this dough. As soon as it holding together, chill it for 30 minutes to an hour. (Tim's recipe call for refrigerating for 24 hours but I'm rarely organized enough to start my recipes the day before, so I just threw the bowl in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes and it turned out perfectly).

In a small saucepan, heat the cajeta, 1/2 cup water, and 3 tbsp. butter on medium heat. As soon as it begins to bubbles, remove from heat and stir well. 

Now butter up 8 small ramekins (you can also use a 9 x 12 baking dish if you prefer). In each ramekin, place 1 large tablespoonful of caramel sauce. Then add a large tablespoonful of batter on top, squish it down a wee bit and lay 4 thin slices of banana on top. Cover with  another heaping tablespoonful of caramel sauce followed by one more spoonful of dough. Arrange 4 more slices of banana on top and pour 2 more tablespoonfuls of caramel sauce on top. The ramekins should be about 3/4 full. The key to this recipe is using a lot caramel sauce! Even if it feels like you're putting too much sauce and your poor little lumps of dough are drowning in it, don't worry, this is what's going to give you the delicious gooey caramel covered dough that this pudding is famous for.

Place the 8 ramekins on a baking sheet (because the caramel is likely going to bubble up and spill over) and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes in a 325F oven or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm. Bon appétit mes amis!