Holiday Treats! Pecan Caramels

Posted in Manna on December 13th, 2013 by Annabelle – 7 Comments

Pecan Caramels

It’s time for our holiday edition of Let’s Lunch!  This month’s theme is things that are both edible and decorative, and, wow, doesn’t that cover a lot of ground at this time of year?  Maybe I’m biased by my gigantic sweet tooth, but I feel like there’s nothing more decorative than a lovely plate of Christmas cookies and treats.  Or at least, it’s decorative for the ten seconds between the time that it comes out of the kitchen and the moment when all that’s left is that weird thing your crazy neighbor brought by yesterday and the painfully overbaked M&M cookies from that batch that was in the oven when your mom called.

In recent years, I’ve taken to doing caramels as a festive way to greet friends and family at this time of year.  I know that may sound intimidating for those who haven’t made candy before, but it is crazy easy if you a) do not ever walk away from the pan, and b) have an accurate candy thermometer.  I admit, this last item can be a challenge – I bought two thermometers and found that they sometimes gave me readings as much as 30 degrees apart – but assuming you get a good digital thermometer and pass that hurdle, you’re golden.

Because I continue to be obsessed with pecans around the holidays, I put together the little gems above.  Recipe after the jump!

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Let’s Lunch: The Perfect Breakfast

Posted in Manna on October 11th, 2013 by Annabelle – 5 Comments

Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Welcome to the October round of Let’s Lunch!  This month’s theme is guilty pleasures.  Since around here are in the painfully, painfully brief season when fresh figs are available, I thought I’d share one of my favorite indulgences: starting the day with an opulent breakfast of fresh figs and ricotta.

I love a fancy breakfast.  Let’s be honest: despite the fact that nutritionists are constantly telling us that it’s important to eat breakfast, it’s hard to make time to actually have a real meal at that hour.  Life gets in the way.  So there’s something especially indulgent-feeling about sitting down with a real treat instead of a bowl of cereal or a breakfast bar.

I do try to eat something for breakfast.  I also try not to start my day with a big bowl of full-fat cheese.  But hey, fresh figs are worth it, don’t you think?

Figs and Ricotta with Honey

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
A pinch of salt
2-3 fresh figs
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey (I used orange blossom)
Fresh mint or rosemary, finely chopped

Stir a pinch of salt into the ricotta and place in a bowl.  Quarter the figs and arrange them on top of the ricotta.  Give a few grinds of pepper on top, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with your herb of choice.  If you use rosemary, as I did, be sparing and make sure to give the leaves a light chopping first.  Mint you can use more freely.

Still hungry?  Check out the other offerings on Twitter, hashtag #LetsLunch, or below:

The Breakfast Club at Sandwich Surprise.
Shoulder Pork and Ham deconstructed at Insatiable Munchies.
Nutella Cookies at The Little Good Ride.
Halayang Ube at Asian in America.
Mars Bar Slice at Monday Morning Cooking Club.
Japanese Crisp Choco Bites at A Tiger in the Kitchen.
Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy at Dreaming of Pots and Pans.
Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Raspberries and Lemon-Scented Cream at Spicebox Travels.

Let’s Lunch: Chocolate Pie

Posted in Manna on September 13th, 2013 by Annabelle – 16 Comments

Chocolate Pie

It’s time for this month’s Let’s Lunch round!  This month’s theme is pie.  You might say that this is the perfect time of year for an apple pie recipe, headed as we are here in the Northeast straight into apple-picking season.  I have to admit, though, I never think of fruit pies when someone says “pie”; my mind immediately goes to pecan, buttermilk, fudge, and all the other delicious, nutritionally irredeemable confections of my youth.  That being so, I thought I’d bring you a straightforward favorite my grandmother used to make: chocolate pie.  This is a simple recipe — so simple it might well have come off a can label sixty years ago — but I promise, it’s 100% delicious.  There’s a reason my family keeps coming back to it decade after decade.

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Let’s Lunch: Farmer’s Market Gazpacho

Posted in Manna on August 9th, 2013 by Annabelle – 6 Comments


Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch!  This month’s theme is vegetables, in honor of Let’s Lunch-er Joe Yonan‘s brand new cookbook, Eat Your Vegetables.  This is the perfect time of year for a cookbook celebrating produce, as farmer’s markets in this part of the country really hit their stride.  Joe’s cookbook focuses on recipes for those of us who frequently cook for one, and includes handy recommendations for reusing leftover ingredients.  Anyone who’s interested in making the most of their veggies as we head into fall should definitely check it out.

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Let’s Lunch: Scallion Pancakes

Posted in Manna on July 12th, 2013 by Annabelle – 15 Comments
If loving salty fried foods is wrong, I don't want to be right.

If loving salty fried foods is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

It’s time for this month’s blog round with Let’s Lunch!  I’m happy to be back after a couple of months of kitchen catastrophes and life crises, and just in time to celebrate the release of The Marijuana Chronicles, the brand new anthology including a short story by Let’s Lunch’s own Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan!

Despite the fact that I went to plenty of parties during college, I managed to never lay eyes or nose on marijuana at any of them, so my experience with munchies is limited entirely to the eternal non-chemical allure of a good French fry.  (I would say that the lack of non-alcoholic recreation was because we were all so law-abiding but I suspect it was largely because we also took ourselves way too seriously.)

I do, however, feel totally confident in recommending scallion pancakes for anyone feeling the urge for a little snack.  Hot out of the pan, they’re crisp, salty, and entirely delicious.  I use Martin Yan’s recipe because a) Martin Yan’s good cheer and enthusiasm for cooking never fail to delight me, and b) it’s a damn good recipe.  I have made these many times for parties, and they always get eaten down to the last crispy triangle.  Always.

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