Chickpea, Kale, and Sausage Soup

 If this blog were a person -- first name Pancakes, last name Biscotti -- it would probably be, not surprisingly, a bit on the chubby side. After all, it would be made up of things like dulce de leche brownies and pumpkin french toast and spaghetti with guanciales'more pieplum cobbler, and risottochocolate chip cookies and cheese-y zucchini tart and lasagne; it would be a pleasant, happy, and well-fed, of course, but it's probably also carrying Pepto Bismol in its pocket. It could probably do with a bit of protein, another serving or two of vegetables, or some whole grains. 

See, while I do share  the occasional salmon or salad or secondo recipe, this blog features heck of a lot of dessert and a lot a lot of carb-y sort of dishes -- if it's not a sweet then it's usually pasta, or rice, or at the very least is something wrapped up in a pastry crust. These to me are the tastiest dishes and what I like to make best.

That being said, I am trying to make a few small changes to the Pancakes & Biscotti here and there, taking stock after nearly 2 1/2 years of blogging. I'm trying to post recipes with ingredient quantities in both cups and grams to make the dishes more accessible to non-Americans;  I have decided to do more Rome-based posts; the blog is now only available in just English rather than Italian and English; and, going back to the beginning of this post, I'll be trying to diversify the recipes I share here. This means I'll be making more of an effort to alternate the cupcakes, cookies, and bucatini with recipes that rely more on the vegetables, protein, and legumes rather than flour, dairy, and sugar, if only to provide a wider range of dishes and get a bit out of my culinary comfort zone. 

Don't worry, though. The next post after this will probably be a recipe for pumpkin scones. I'm not that strong.

This Chickpea, Kale, and Sausage soup -- which falls into the "diversifying" category -- is one of my favorite new creations, with comfort levels akin to a cup of hot tea on a rainy day, or a Harry Potter book read in front of a fire (just me?) It's filling and warming and arguably nutritious thanks to the chickpeas and kale, hearty and super flavorful thanks to the sausage, and with a hint of herb-y freshness thanks to the rosemary. It's exactly what you want to eat now that it's getting cooler out -- yes, it is, and you know it, summer is now officially over -- and it is very easy and quick to throw together. It also makes excellent leftovers, providing cozy dinners for the following days. 

A couple of notes: This recipe is super flexible. You can substitute lentils, white beans, or any other bean or legume you want for the chickpeas; swap the kale for spinach; substitute pancetta or even leftover cooked chicken or turkey for the sausage; you can add in a peeled cubed potato or 1/2 a cup of ditalini pasta if you want to bulk this dish up a bit; you can use either chicken or vegetable broth. Depending on how you feel about the tomatoes, you can leave them out all together, or up the quantity to 2 cups instead of 1 if you want a more tomato based soup (I've done this before with great results).

Want more soup recipes? I've also got this roasted tomato soup, this pasta e fagioli or this turkey, white bean, and spinach soup.

CHICKPEA, KALE, AND SAUSAGE SOUP

Ingredients:
4 sausages (sweet or spicy, up to you) casings removed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 large sprigs of rosemary
6 cups (from three cans, 400 grams each) of chickpeas, drained
1 cup (125 grams) crushed tomatoes
6 cups (from about three 250ml containers) vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups (about 180 grams more or less) kale, ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Put the sausage into the pan and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sausage is golden brown and cooked through, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Put the sausage on a plate lined with paper towels to remove the extra grease.
 In a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heatAdd the chopped onion (as you can see, I used my food processor -- I hate chopping onions) and the whole garlic cloves and cook until the onion is softened. Add the beans to the pot and stir well to mix the onions with the beans. Add the crushed tomatoes and the broth. Wrap the rosemary in a piece of cheesecloth and secure it with kitchen twine (or, if you don't have cheesecloth, you can add the rosemary as is, you will just have some rosemary leaves floating around in your soup). Add the rosemary to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove 3 or so ladle-fuls of the soup (mostly chickpeas and a little broth) and then mash up with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender. This will give the soup a slightly thicker consistency.
Remove the rosemary and stir the pureed mixture back into the soup. Add the sausage in to the soup, stir, and let the soup simmer for another few minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Add the kale and stir.
 Continue to let the soup bubble until the kale is wilted. Serve the soup topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some bread. Serves 6-8.



Torta della Vendemmia

 
Little known fact about food blogging: it can be fulfilling, fun, and creative, but also a bit lonely. Oh, I don't mean that it's eating-lunch by-yourself-in-the-high school-cafeteria-lonely, I just mean it can be sort of a solitary activity. Often, you find yourself dedicating a whole lot of time and energy to something that you're not 100% sure people are reading or enjoying (you hope they are, but who knows!) You're struggling to understand what makes some posts more popular than others, and if your recipes are doable for the typical busy home cook, all the while wondering if you're posting recipes people will get excited about and want to make. You're researching recipes, reading up on how to take better photos, trying to run all your social media, and hunting for ingredients like sour cream and marshmallows in Rome (just me?) among many other things. Indeed, having a food blog can mean doing a whole lot of work by yourself, which means it's extra nice when you connect with other bloggers who are probably doing the very same. 

I became friendly with Rosemarie Scavo (behind the excellent blog Turin Mamma and creator of this superb Sicilian Caponata) sometime last year. I felt a kinship with her instantly; like me, Rosemarie was relatively new to blogging, plus she has Italian roots (Calabrian and Sicilian), was raised in an English speaking country (Australia) and now lives in Italy (Turin). Not long ago, Rosemarie approached me with the idea of creating a group along with other bloggers who cook Italian food and have a connection to Italy. Super excited about the idea, I jumped on board along with 6 other ladies, and thus Cucina Conversations -- a sort of blogging round table where the 7 of us will come together each month to share an Italian recipe linked to a set theme -- was born. This monthly theme will always be connected to Italy and will reflect its seasonal, religious or secular calendars -- so expect Italian recipes for Christmas and Carnevale, meatless recipes for La Quaresima (Lent) and recipes and posts on the Italian aperitivo, to name just a few. The theme for our first round is la vendemmia, or rather the grape harvest in Italy, which usually occurs in late September. This isn't just any grape harvest, though -- these are the grapes that are used to make wine (VIP grapes, basically).

I am joined by the following bloggers (just click on their names to get to their blogs):

Rosemarie
 - a Sicilian and Calabrian descendant, author of the blog Turin Mamma, and writer for Italy Magazine, Rosemarie is sharing Sicilian grape must pudding for our first round of Cucina Conversations;

Marialuisa
 - the author of the blog Marmellata di Cipolle and residing in Calabria,  Marialuisa has made marmellata di zibbibo, a grape jam made with grapes from the Muscat family; 

Daniela
 - a blogger who shares her culinary experiences and recipes via La Dani Gourmet, born and raised in Milan and now residing in Tuscany, Daniela has shared a recipe for schiacciata con l'uva, a sweet focaccia like bread made with grapes;

Flavia
 - born in Washington, DC and now living in Texas, shares her passion for Italian recipes on her blog Flavia's Flavors, and will be sharing a recipe for ciambelline al vino (cookies made with wine);

Lisa
 - a New Zealander married to an Italian and living in France, Lisa writes about Italian cuisine and travel on her blog Italian Kiwi. Lisa
 will be sharing a recipe for sorbetto all'uva (grape sorbet); 

Carmen
 - an Italo/Australian (born in Piedmont, moved to Melbourne, Australia at the age of five) Carmen shares simple recipes, travels and anecdotes from her Italian family heritage, mainly from the regions of Basilicata & Sicily, via her blog The Heirloom Chronicles. Carmen has made salsa agresto (a sauce made with the juice of unripe grapes) for the first round of Cucina Conversations.

So, not only am I part of this cool little Italian food projectI also have six new bloggers to collaborate and dialogue with, bounce ideas off of, and learn from, plus six new guaranteed delicious recipes every month. AND they're all really nice. Not bad, right?!


My contribution for this month is torta della vendemmia, a fairly simple cake made with grapes. This recipe was quite a revelation for me, proving that grapes -- usually eaten plain as they are, occasionally roasted and used in savory dishes -- are actually delicious in desserts, as good as any berry or plum or peach. Indeed the grapes are the stars here; they become extra sweet and juicy in the oven, baked into a light and fluffy cake with hints of vanilla and orange that manages to both complement the grapes and let still let them shine. The olive oil here gives the cake a more subtle flavor than your usual simple butter cake, the yogurt keeps the cake moist, and oh, don't underestimate the last step, that spoonful of sugar over the top -- it might not seem like much, but it adds a pleasant sugary crust to the top of the cake that contrasts nicely with the tender interior, and also makes it look almost sparkly. Magical!

A couple of notes: If you want you can substitute lemon zest for the orange zest, or leave the zest out all together and use a dash of cinnamon instead. This cake was finished baking in 30 minutes, but I suspect that in a normal oven -- i.e, not a tiny electric oven like mine -- it would take closer to 40 or 45 minutes, so keep an eye on this torta as it cooks and use my cooking time as a mere suggestion. The grapes, stirred into the batter as are, become soft and juicy but also hold their shape a bit -- if you want to make them grapes extra sweet and give them a softer consistency, feel free to roast them (with about 1 teaspoon olive oil) for an hour in a 325 degree oven. Let them cool and then stir them into the cake batter. Finally, this is one of those simple, versatile "every day" cakes, which can be thrown together quickly and served for breakfast, snack, or dessert -- which I guess means you have an excuse to eat this cake 3 times in one day, right?

TORTA DELLA VENDEMMIA

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (about 195 grams) flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (75 grams) plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/3 cup (about 100 grams) plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup (56 grams) olive oil
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (about 260 grams) seedless red grapes

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, use electric beaters (or a standing mixer, if you have one) to beat the eggs with 2/3 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy, about one minute. If you don't have beaters or a standing mixer, you can use a whisk, but you'll need to use some elbow grease. Add the milk, olive oil, melted butter, lemon zest, orange zest and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture and beat (or whisk) until well combined. 
 
 
 
  
 
 
Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl, then add to the sugar and egg mixture and mix on low speed with your beaters (or whisk in) until just combined (be careful not to overmix). Stir in 1-1/2 cups of the grapes. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Scatter the remaining grapes evenly over the top of the batter and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top. 
 
 
 

Bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes (or more -- see my note above) until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for about 15 minutes and then unmold from the springform pan. Serve the cake warm or room temperature. Serves about 10. 
 

Recipe adapted www.onceuponachef.com with additional inspiration from Serious Eats and Giallo Zafferano


Pasta alla Gricia

Is there anything more delicious than a bowl of Roman pasta? That is to say: spaghetti alla carbonara, with its silky, eggy sauce, pecorino cheese and thick pieces of guanciale; cacio e pepe, slightly spicy and addictively cheesy, especially delicious made with fresh tonnarelli; bucatini all'amatriciana, with its sumptuous, tomato sauce, meaty guanciale, and generous grating of pecorino cheese; and oh, yes, pasta alla gricia.

What's that? Gricia who? Thought so. Unless you're actually living in Rome I'm willing to bet you haven't heard much about that last one, pasta alla gricia, which much like a youngest child with lots of loud and outgoing older siblings, often gets overshadowed (I myself admit that I am an amatriciana girl). It doesn't have the decadence of carbonara, the intense cheesiness of cacio e pepe, or the tomatoey goodness of amatriciana, but gricia -- made with just three main ingredients -- really shows you that less can be more.

So let's talk about these ingredients! Aside from the pasta, the main players here are the guancial (cured pork cheek) and Pecorino Romano (a hard, tangy grating cheese made from sheep's milk). The Pecorino has a salty, sharp flavor that is wonderful paired with the juicy, fatty guanciale. Now, if you're worried about the short ingredient list, don't be! Guanciale and Pecorino have flavor in spades and are more than enough to make this dish great -- therefore do NOT be tempted to add things like parsley, garlic, onion, butter, chili, wine, or any other such thing, as they are not necessary here (not to mention they are won't make an authentic gricia). The flavorful, sheep-y cheese, the rendered fat from the guanciale, and a bit of starchy pasta water are all you need to make a simple but addictive-ly good sauce and a filling, comforting, and downright delicious finished dish. This is straightforward, rustic Roman cooking at its finest, and I must admit, I do regret being such an amatriciana fantatic all these years -- our friend gricia deserves just as much love and attention as its more famous siblings. 

A lot of notes on this one: Regarding substitutes, pancetta or bacon and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese -- while perhaps easier to find if you're not in Italy -- will not produce the same dish, so if you want to make actual pasta alla gricia, try for the guanciale and Pecorino (well-stocked supermarkets and specialty food stores should have them). You'll notice that there is no salt in this recipe.  Between the salty guanciale and the Pecorino, you will not need any. I used a larger grate on my cheese grater when grating the cheese this time, but think in hindsight I prefer using the smaller one, to make the cheese a bit finer and the sauce smoother. You can use any pasta you want here -- rigatoni would also be nice -- but I happen to like spaghetti. If you want you can use this recipe as a base to make any of the other three Roman pastas; add egg to make carbonara, tomato to make amatriciana, or leave out the guanciale and up the pepper and cheese to make cacio e pepe. I make this for me and my sister, which is why the quantities below are for 2 very generous portions, so feel free to up the ingredients accordingly if you're feeding a bigger group.

PASTA ALLA GRICIA

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces (112 grams) guanciale
5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
8 ounces (224 grams) pasta of your choice
Black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. While the water is heating, slice up the guanciale (you can cut it into narrow strips, wide ribbons, or dice it)

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with the olive oil. Turn on the heat to medium.  Once your water is boiling, drop in the pasta. Begin to sauté the guanciale. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot. Lower the heat, and keep drizzling in spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist (the starchy water will combine with the fat to form the "sauce" for the pasta).
When the pasta is al dente (follow package directions) scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Quickly drain your pasta and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and wait until the pan begins to sizzle. Toss the pasta in the pan to coat it with the guanciale and rendered fat. Add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.
 

Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but try not to add too much more (there should be just enough cheese to help bind the guanciale to pasta). Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately. Serves 2-3.
Recipe slightly adapted from one of my culinary idols, Gina DePalma, via Serious Eats (www.seriouseats.com). 

 



Chocolate Fudge Souffle Cake

The year I spent as a student in Bologna, Italy was -- and I'm not exaggerating here -- absolutely spectacular. I was 20 years old and was experiencing life in a city for the first time (granted, not a very big one, but I am after all from Rhode Island). This city was old and beautiful and covered in portici, and was the home of not one but two medieval towers, Le Torri Asinelli. My academic responsibilities as a student at the University of Bologna were minimal compared to what they had been in the U.S -- just two courses and two oral exams per semester (!!!) I traveled extensively, found myself not having to think when I spoke in Italian, and met wonderful people from all over the world through the university and my language school. While I generally had always been reserved, shy, and easily made to feel self-conscious in the U.S, I found that in Bologna, something changed for me. I'm not sure if it was the the foreign country and city, or the tons of new people I met, or even the relaxed academics, but I became more out-going and self confident -- I was outside my comfort zone, and flourished there. I was figuring out how to navigate the city on my own, making friends in a foreign language, and experiencing the world outside my home country for the first time, seeing everywhere from Barcelona to London to Milan to Stockholm. As much as I enjoy Rome, Bologna was and always will be my first love; it changed me in a significant way, and I'll always be grateful to it for that.

Personal development aside, some of my best memories in Bologna are also linked to food (it is me we are talking about here, after all). The cooking class where I learned to make fresh pasta, for example, or my first cornetto (called a brioche in Bologna,) incredible pizza al taglio from Pizzeria Le Due Torri after a 4 hour Italian class, and, most importantly of all, the Chocolate Cake to-end-all-other-chocolate-cakes.

If you ever find yourself in Bologna, do yourself a favor and go to Il Banco del Pane, in Via Zamboni. Gloria (my former co-blogger and first Italian friend, who I met on the first day of classes at university) brought my sister and me there one day after lunch, insisting we order the chocolate cake. I was skeptical. Upon first glance, it was simple, no frosting or filling or glaze, and it was rather flat, not at all like the tall, fluffy American layer cakes. But appearances can be deceiving. This cake was deeply chocolate-y and intensely fudge-y, with a crisp brownie like exterior and a slightly under-baked soft interior, decorated with just a dusting of powdered sugar. It was elegant, rich, and incredibly delicious. Going to Il Banco del Pane after class became a ritual for the three of us -- no better way to unwind then with a piece of cake, right? -- and when I visit Bologna even now, I make sure I stop by. 

This recipe is the closest I've ever come to recreating that magical Chocolate Cake at home. Today's Chocolate Fudge Souffle Cake  cake is made with little flour, allowing the chocolate flavor to really shine, and in a big way -- this cake is purely, and intensely, chocolate-y. While this cake is a bit more souffle-like than the cake in Bologna -- this will collapse shortly after coming out of the oven -- the flavor and and soft, fudgey texture are just the same. It is one of my favorite things I've ever made, a tried and true recipe that I know I can rely on. Bottom line: every baker needs a simple, elegant, and unbelievably delicious chocolate cake in their repertoire. This should be yours.

A couple of notes: This cake can be made a day before serving, it is equally delicious the next day. This cake is good served room temperature but I also like it cold as it is even fudgier that way (swoon). You can serve this with raspberries and whipped cream if you want to dress it up a bit, but it's also excellent with the aforementioned powdered sugar and nothing more. My apologies for the lack of step-by-step photos and overall fancy photos here, but I made this cake last minute for a dinner party and was able to photograph the cake only just before serving. But hey, it's called "Chocolate Fudge Souffle Cake" -- I don't think you need nice photos to convince you to make this one, do I?

CHOCOLATE FUDGE SOUFFLE CAKE

Ingredients:
12 ounces (336 grams) good quality bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons, or 168 grams) butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) sugar
5 large eggs, separated and left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1/4 cup (35 grams) flour
Whipped cream, powdered sugar, berries for serving (optional) 

Directions: 
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper, then butter paper.

Melt chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring frequently, then cool completely. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 6 tablespoons sugar. Add yolks 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in flour. 

Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks, then add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until whites hold stiff glossy peaks. 

Whisk about one fourth of whites into chocolate mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour batter into springform pan, spreading evenly. 

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, 35 to 40 minutes. 

Let the cool cake completely before removing the sides of the springform pan and eating. Serves 12.

Recipe from Gourmet magazine, February 2004.




Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Living as an expat in Rome and working at an international organization like FAO means that my day-to-day interactions are usually not with other Americans. My friends and colleagues, if you put them together, are a delightfully diverse group of people, from not only Italy but also Germany, France, England, Gibraltar, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, Iran, India, Colombia, Bolivia, Russia, Spain, Canada, China, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, and Greece, to name just a few. For someone like me who likes to bake and cook, this presents an excellent opportunity to expose them to beloved American specialties like Thanksgiving dinner, New York-style cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cake, or cupcakes – but I do admit that this willingness to share my cuisine stretches only to a certain extent. You see, there are other dishes that are so very particularly American that I'm hesitant to share them. How does one explain, for example, that chicken and waffles -- yes, fried chicken, served on top of a large waffle -- is a beloved and widely enjoyed dish in the south of the U.S? Or that s'mores -- consisting of marshmallows and milk chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers -- are actually really delicious and a popular summertime treat? Not to mention such delicacies as peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Seven-Layer Bars, Rocky Road ice cream, Sloppy Joes, Chicago deep-dish pizza, barbecue chicken pizza, macaroni and cheese, or Beer Can chicken, all of which might be just a touch too unrefined for non-American taste buds. I admit that American cuisine can be unapologetically rich, over the top, and even slightly irreverent-- but that's what I like about it. For better or worse, there are no rules.

Since (gleefully) locating marshmallows at my local specialty food store, I couldn't wait to make Rice Krispy Treats, those crunchy, chewy, buttery squares of goodness invented in 1939 by Mildred Day at the Kellogg's Company, a woman clearly ahead of her time. There was just one problem -- I wasn't sure what my friends and colleagues would think of them. Oh, I knew that the few Americans and Canadians I know would be cool with them, but what about the French, the Spaniards, and  -- gulp -- the Italians, with their strong food culture, rules and standards?! How was I to explain that a Rice Krispy Treat was nothing more than a good amount of breakfast cereal stirred into a pool of butter and copious amounts of melted marshmallows until well combined, then spread into a pan to set? Would they think the dessert excessive? Overly sweet? Would they find the texture unappealing? Would they ever truly accept my beloved Rice Krispy Treats?

The answer was, yes. They didn't find them too heavy, or cloying, or strange. They loved them. In fact, they came back for seconds (and even thirds) and pronounced them "delicious," even the Italians (phew). And with good reason -- these are no ordinary Rice Krispy Treats. The butter here is not just melted, it's melted and then cooked, giving it a nutty, toasty flavor that gives the usually straight-forward Treat a bit of complexity. The addition of a generous pinch of salt not only counters the sweetness of the marshmallows, it also plays off the brown butter nicely and, as salt never fails to do, renders these addictive-ly delicious, elevating them from childhood bake-sale treat to truly special dessertSo, moral of the story? I think from now on I'll give the non-American palate more credit -- perhaps it's more indulgent and open-minded than I thought. So...sweet potato marshmallow casserole, anyone?!

A couple of notes:  I apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos here, but I made these during one of the many thunderstorms we've been having in Rome these days, meaning my kitchen was quite dark and not at all suited for taking photos -- but trust me, these are beyond simple, and I think you'll manage just fine. I used Rice Krispies, but this will of course work with any brand of puffed rice cereal. You could also make this with cornflakes, plain Cheerios, or Cocoa Pebbles (chocolate Rice Krispies, basically) with good results. 

SALTED BROWN BUTTER RICE KRISPY TREATS

Ingredients:
10 ounces (about 285 grams) marshmallows
6 cups (160 grams) Rice Krispy Cereal
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (112 grams) unsalted butter

Directions:
Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides. 

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. Use a lightly buttered spatula to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners, of the pan. Cut into squares and serve. Makes 16 2-inch squares or 32 1- x 2-inch small bars

Recipe from the one and only Deb Perelman (www.smittenkitchen.com).