Food Trend: Caramel Slice

caramel-slice

So this trend isn’t a new one – any Aussie should recognize the Caramel Slice. Here in the U.S., this might be labeled a bar cookie – like a brownie or a lemon bar – but in Australia and New Zealand, they’re referred to as slices.

I don’t remember where I first heard of slices, but I was so intrigued by them that I did a bit of research. I found out that the caramel slice became popular in the 70s, and one of the first mentions of it in print was in The Australian Women’s Weekly in 1981. Lots of Australian bakeries have caramel slice on hand, and lots of moms make it at home. It’s one of those sweets that shows up in Junior League-type cookbooks.

There are lots of slice traditional types – vanilla slice (there’s even a vanilla slice baking contest!), hedgehog slice, cherry ripe slice, lemon slice – but the one that grabbed my attention was the caramel slice. So I made it!

I found several recipes, and all called for golden syrup (and specifically Lyle’s). It’s not an ingredient I’ve ever used before (or ever seen in a recipe), but I found it at Central Market and got to baking.

Caramel slice is kind of like Millionaire’s Shortbread – it has layers of a butter shortbread crust, a sweet milky caramel, and dark or milk chocolate. I used this recipe – I didn’t have the right sized pan, so mine came out with pretty thick layers, making it a bit messy to eat. But it’s still delicious – super sweet, but delicious.

I think next I’ll try baking a cherry ripe slice, or maybe a vanilla slice. And truthfully, the most popular slices right now are raw/vegan, which is fascinating to me. At any rate, me + slice = happy. :)

Food Trend: Numa San

numasan

I tend to notice food trends in the instagram/blog world, and they’re always so fascinating to me. I’ve started researching and testing and eating, and I decided to share my findings here.

The first trend I’ve focused on is numa san, a “fat sandwich.” You can find it on instagram and such under the tag #numasan. It’s all the rage in Japan right now.

I learned about numa san from my friend Ai, who does an amazing job of documenting everything she eats (and she has done so for years). She shared a bit about this sandwich on instagram, and I immediately became obsessed.

From what Ai has told me, and what I’ve gathered and translated from around the web, the craze started when a potter named Michiyuki Onuma in Japan made this sandwich for his wife, who then shared it on instagram. He kept making them, and she kept sharing them. I think he was eating a breakfast of bacon, bread, and cabbage, and he realized he could put them all together and avoid dirtying a pan or even having to use chopsticks. I don’t often see sandwiches in Ai’s photos, so it makes it even more interesting.

The basic sandwich has toast filled with bacon (which really looks more like ham in the Japanese photos), cheese, a mound of shredded cabbage and onion dressed simply with mayo and black pepper, and whole grain mustard. There’s a TON of cabbage in there, mounded right in the middle, which makes the sandwich fat and happy. It’s a regular sandwich, but thick and crunchy, as the cabbage doesn’t wilt like lettuce does.

I tried this out today, and made a few notes for future trials. Below are the method and my notes.

  • Use a toaster oven, and toast one slice of bread topped with bacon and cheese, and the other slice plain.
  • Use a mandoline to slice the cabbage really thinly (but be careful, I cut myself today), then dress with a bit of mayo. Next time I might add thinly sliced onion and carrot and some freshly ground black pepper.
  • Spread the plain toast with whole-grain mustard. You can add more toppings here – I added sliced avocado.
  • Mound a ton of the dressed cabbage in the middle. Here’s what the right amount looks like – enough to fill a rice bowl.
  • Top with the other toast and slice in half widthwise.
  • I’d like to try this with a thick-cut white bread, or maybe even Texas toast. The toast in the Japanese photos seems really light and fluffy.
  • There are endless variations – sliced boiled egg, ham, turkey, sliced tomato, pickles, tuna, leftovers (!) – as well as changing the cabbage dressing to a vinegar-based one, or adding shredded carrot, radish, turnip…
  • I have to work on the proportions – mine isn’t as super-packed and mounded in the middle.

Update: My second attempt turned out even better! :)

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.14.42 PM

So that’s where I am with numa san! It’s fascinating – something as simple as a sandwich with cabbage can sweep the web and become a food trend. And now I have a new option for lunch. :)

Corners of my home

corner2

Just another lovely corner. There are the red candles that remind us of church and the Hotel Havana in San Antonio. There’s the window that looks out over the pool, and the stack of first-year editions of Everyday Food that I forget to cook from. There’s the Lone Star bike art that Mia and Josh gave us or Christmas, and the stack of old books that I’ve collected from thrift stores just because they look cool. There’s a stack of Kinfolk and Trouvé and Lapham’s Quarterly and Toast and Gather Journal, just a small part of my giant collection of beautiful publications. The stack is topped with a paperweight, which is an old newspaper letterpress weight that Justin found somewhere. There’s a set of leather letter punches that I got for Justin’s birthday in Portland, and the little porcelain and brass jar that Nick brought back for me from Qatar. There’s the handmade recipe box that Logan’s mom gave to me after I swooned over her recipe box that was filled with tattered and torn recipes from years and years ago. On top of that is a hand-carved textile wood block that we got in Santa Fe. And underneath it all are books – book after book of recipes and food writing and all the things that make my brain happy.

10 years!

Photo on 3-7-15 at 10.53 PM #5

Somehow, this little blog is 10 years old today. Somehow, I’ve been writing and sharing in this space for 10 years. Off and on, food and life, writing and photos, videos and links – just me and this little space, for 10 FREAKIN’ YEARS.

This all makes me realize one thing: I’m old. ;)

Gipsy-obsessed.

Guys. I found this guy on YouTube who makes lovely videos with the simplest, most beautiful recipes. He’s Spanish, so I’ve been translating his recipes so I can use them later, but even if you don’t speak Spanish, the videos are worth watching because they’re so dang gorgeous. Everything is styled as rustic, as if you lived in a tent or an old country house, with handed-down dishes and rough surfaces and of course, amazing light. I know that it’s styled, and not necessarily true-to-life, but why can’t it be? Why can’t we create a life that is beautiful and rustic?

For example, if you were the Gipsy Chef:

You could have this gorgeous old pot for cooking quince paste in the forest.

worn pot for camping

And then you’d use a vintage knife to spread that goodness onto your toast.

awesome spreader for jam 2

Of course you’d keep your whipped cream in an old enamel cup.

whipped cream in an enamel coffee cup

Speaking of enamel cups, you’d also use one to mix softened butter with whole grain mustard, minced cilantro stems, and lemon juice.

mixing butter in an enamel coffee cup

You’d have this simple but beautiful scalloped bowl that you’d casually use to mix pancake batter.

using pretty scalloped bowl as mixing bowl

You’d use an old cookie tin filled with vintage silverware to weigh down fish while you cured it with salt, sugar, and berries.

using cookie tin with spoons as weight

You’d just flip over a pan lid to transfer a perfectly fried egg to your plate.

pan lid for transferring fried egg

You’d have super-juicy citrus that you’d juice by hand with a fork into a glass for breakfast.

juicing grapefruit with a fork

You’d use a giant block of butter to grease your griddle.

giant block of butter for greasing pan

You’d steep spices, lemon peel, and sugar with milk and tea leaves, then pour that over cocoa to make chocolate tea.

choco te - star anise in milk

And you’d do it on an old table outside.

choco-te

Seriously. Go check him out. This video is a good place to start – somehow he makes breakfast sexy.