Sunday, August 25, 2013


I've always wanted to be a TV personality on the Food Network. It seems that having a variety of shows on the Food Network hasn't really been there. They are overrun with country-type cooking. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that and I love me some fried chicken, but something new and not overdone would be nice.

If I were able to have my own show, it would be similar to cooking channel's "Kelsey's Essentials". The concept of her show is something I've always wanted to do because it allows the host to delve into a variety of cuisines while giving tips along the way. There are many important steps in recipes that I find current hosts somewhat glaze over as non-important. However, for people beginning in the kitchen or for people that are making a dish for the first time, sometimes those tips are what saves the whole process. Ever had a grainy cheese sauce? Flat cookie? These are some of the things I would tackle because there are important steps to prevent them.

So, if I want a Food Network show based on giving fool-proof tips on this recipe what would I say? It all has to do with making the Salted Caramel Sauce, or any caramel sauce for that matter. I find that when recipes say to boil the sugar until it reaches a deep amber, DON'T! I've made caramel sauce many times and threw it all down the drain before figuring this out.

When the sugar reaches the deep amber color, it becomes extremely bitter and burnt tasting. If you like that, well, be my guest. Instead, boil the sugar until it just reaches a light amber color. You want it to have some color but not too much. When you've reached the light golden yellow color, you're almost there. Just give it another 30 sec or so and you'll be perfect. As you add in the cream, you will see as you whisk, your caramel will darken to the perfect color and flavor.

Recipe by Kelsey Nixon

2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups Salted Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
2 1/2 tablespoons flour

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon gray sea salt, crushed or kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch pan. Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and softened butter in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on low until crumbly. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions.

Press half the crumb mixture in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips, and chopped pecans over the cooled crust. Mix the salted caramel sauce, and flour together, and drizzle over the chocolate chips, and nuts. Top with the remaining crumb mixture.

Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. Allow the pan to cool, and refrigerate it until the caramel filling is set. Cut into bars and serve.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

*Cook's Note: This recipe will last in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.

-Aaron John

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sago Coolers

Well, I'm back. After two long months of waiting, I finally have a new post for you all. Where was I you ask? Was I traveling the world and crossing the pond to some far off land? Well, I did cross Lake Washington if that counts? So you can say I crossed a "puddle"?

But no, I wasn't on an adventure, I didn't travel to some far off land, and I didn't go over the Atlantic. Where was I? At Bellevue College taking a class that took up all of my time. Who knew one simple class would have quizzes on some 50 pages of dense Biology Textbook material, EVERY SINGLE DAY! UW isn't even like that!

Everyday we were asked the same question, "Can you guys do a quiz tomorrow?" For whatever reason, the opposite side of the room always said "Sure! Why not?". Everyone on my side of the room would turn to each other wondering what is wrong with these people! We're given the opportunity to not take a quiz but nooooo, let's just take a quiz on all of this material we just learned the day before. Sounds like so much fun! Yeah right! I've never met so many people that want to take quizzes. To each is their own I guess....

So, because I'm finally on summer break, and it's freakin' hot, what's a good way to cool down? With a Filipino Drink! A Sago Cooler, or what I like to call, sugar water with tapioca pearls. It flat out is a watered down simple syrup that Filipinos drink. Hey, don't look at me, I didn't event the stuff. I'm just here to spread the diabetes. ha.

Sago Coolers
Recipe by Me

Sago (Tapioca Pearls)
1 cup dry tapioca pearls
6 cups water
1/2 cup brown sugar

Arnibal (Brown Sugar Syrup)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1-2 tsp Banana extract

Cooked Tapioca Pearls
Arnibal Syrup
Cold Water

Sago (Tapioca Pearls)
Place 6 cups of water in a pot with the brown sugar and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Slowly add in the dry tapioca pearls and mix to prevent from sticking. Cook for 5 min. The tapioca pearls are not done whatsoever.

Transfer the sugar water and the tapioca pearls to a pressure cooker. Seal the pressure cooker and cook for about an hour once the pressure cooker starts to release steam from it's little hole. Once finished, you're looking for the tapioca pearls to be almost completely clear. A tiny dot of white in the center is fine. Rinse the tapioca in a strainer with cold water and set aside.

Arnibal (Brown Sugar Syrup)
In a pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil with the brown sugar and cook for 5 min. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the Banana extract.

Final Assembly
In a glass, add about 3 spoonfuls of the tapioca pearls. Pour in some cold water and drizzle in some Arnibal syrup until the drink is at your desired sweetness. Finish off with ice.

-Aaron John.


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