Leap of Faith

Kay and Hilly
The month of March has always had its detractors. We, among them. We’d prefer to ignore March altogether but find ourselves here every year, making excuses for March and inviting you in for some late winter food. Last March, however, was next-level difficult: 31 days of accelerating fear and uncertainty for which no excuses could be made. And when it blew around again this year with high winds and bad temper, those feelings returned and deepened the sense of torpor a year in isolation brings.
Fueled by extra time and the tedium of the last 12 months, we indulged our obsessive streak a bit in creating what we hope will be the last set of pandemic recipes. Two of these recipes recommend both silicone baking mats and silica packs, a sign that—in the eyes of some—we have totally jumped the shark. But while a couple of techniques are time-consuming, they are not difficult—and can be modified or eliminated. The recipes themselves are fantastic.
So, listen. We’ve gotten past the sleep deprivation that extra hour of sunlight cost. The bad old days might be waning. In the meantime, why not have a go at these recipes? Then, let’s all take a moment to believe—and leap into Spring!
Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Malted rice waffle flour, fine yellow cornmeal, and your favorite beer whisk up into a batter that coats onion rings so lightly they emerge from the oil tempura-crisp with sweet steamed onion slices inside. Contrasting temperature controls in the run-up to the fry also ensure the onion interiors are crisp, not flabby. The perfect onion rings.
A Good All-Purpose Ranch Dipping Sauce

Ranch dressing was great when we were kids. Now it’s not so great. This recipe is more a courtesy nod to ranch dressing than its reincarnation, anyway. It is certainly less convenient than opening a seasoning sachet and mixing in buttermilk and mayonnaise, but the complex lingering allium notes and cool, creamy finish of this dip make it a tantalizing choice for all things crudité, and, of course, seething-hot onion rings.
Kimchi Fried Rice with Bacon
and Shiitake Mushrooms

Delivery fried rice not cutting it after a year? We feel you. Kimchi, bacon, and Carolina Gold are here to dazzle with contrasting subtle, warm smoke and a bright finish to create an umami sizzle. Remember the first taste of fried rice that hooked you? Welcome back better.  
Butterscotch Pots de Crème

What began as a stout, slightly beaded butterscotch pudding from an online recipe ended in these satiny pots de crème—no cornstarch or arrowroot required. In the interval between first and final desserts, we trifled with pudding formulas in search of a favorable outcome, but the pH of dark brown sugar seemed to pit the yolks slightly when the pudding boiled—which a cornstarch pudding must do. So pudding became custard. These hot-water baked butterscotch pots de crème offer true butterscotch flavor floating seductively in a custard of egg yolks and cream. Careful, you might enter a pleasure trance.
Cigarette Wafers

The quintessential European cookies, typically called tuiles, are ultra-thin crisp wafers that shatter to creamy-fine crumbs on the first bite. Rolled into cigarettes they are brittle and crunchy but the crumb stays creamy-fine—quite a remarkable texture. Both tuiles and cigarettes can be tricked out with finely chopped nuts or any number of embellishments, but we love the delicate scent and flavor of pure vanilla and the smooth uninterrupted surface texture of these—especially with pots de crème.
 Click the pics to see the recipes.
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