Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Caramel Sauce From The Verrine Book

I thought it would be nice to offer one of the recipes from Verrines:  Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy.

Years ago I would never have dreamed of making caramel.  I could imagine how difficult it could be.  Did I even have the right tools?

As I came to learn, caramel is one of the easiest (and hottest, please be careful, I always wind up getting a hot spot on me) things you can make.  You don't even need a candy thermometer.  Caramel can be used on ice cream, on cake, on pie, in milk--there are so many ways I can only say you'll figure it out.  A jar of caramel will last for weeks in the refrigerator.  It's a sure thing.  Give it a try.


This could hardly be easier to make from scratch.  Caramel is simply sugar heated until golden in color.
There are two ways you can do this—the dry method or the wet.  With the dry you heat the sugar in a sauce pan until it’s dark gold.  With the wet, you add some water and heat until dark gold; because of the water, which has to evaporate, it will just take a bit longer.
Here’s a little bit of chemistry.  Sugar by itself can crystallize even when you are careful.  It’s the chemistry of sugar, it’s not your fault.
There are two remedies.  You invert the sucrose (white sugar) by adding an acid like lemon juice or cream of tartar and you will often see this in recipes.  Another way is to add a non-sucrose sugar to the mix.  That would be light corn syrup or perhaps honey.  I often use Lyle’s Golden Syrup if I only need a spoonful.  This will prevent crystals forming and no one wants grainy caramel sauce.
One small warning.  Melted sugar is hot.  Take care that you don’t get any on you.  It’ll be uncomfortable.

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water (optional)
3/4 cup cream
Dash salt (optional but there’s a reason why salted caramel is so popular)

Heat the sugar and syrup and water if you’re using it in a heavy pan over medium heat.  When dissolved bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until dark golden brown.  Don’t let it get away from you.  Once sugar is burned, it’s not retrievable. 
Remove pan from heat and slowly and carefully add cream.  It will foam up.  That’s why you use a bigger pot than you think is necessary for that little bit of sugar.  Stir well.  Return to heat if necessary to remelt the sugar.  Add the salt if you’re using it.
It’ll be thin.  You’ll think you did it wrong.  You didn’t.  Pour into a heatproof container.  I love canning jars or French workman’s glasses for this purpose.  Let cool.  Refrigerate.  When cool, it will be thicker!  Caramel will keep longer than you can keep it around.  You may have to reheat in microwave to use it later.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Cover for Nothing Serious

I must be doing Spring Housecleaning 4 months late!  I was busy in the spring.  I forget what I was doing but I'm sure I was writing something that was taking all my attention.

Nothing Serious began life as Disconnected and I still favor that title but it doesn't work as a thumbnail.  Too long and unwieldy.  So I changed it and redid the cover art using what I thought was a very nice vintage postcard.
Maybe that doesn't work as a thumbnail either.

I say these things and yet Summer Horse is a busy cover with lots of elements and it sells very well.  Maybe that's because the word *horse* is in the title.

So I changed the cover for Nothing Serious to something bright and simple and easy to understand.  I hope this version finds favor with the readers.  Otherwise in another couple months I'll be tinkering again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Cover for Fling

Having been quite ambivalent about Fling's cover, when I found an image that would work, I decided a change would be good.

I'm done swapping covers for a bit since I have a new YA to finish--no, it's not in the Bad Apple series, it's something different--and that will require a cover.

I don't know why books sell and why they don't sell.  I know the the children's horse books sell better at Barnes & Noble than at Amazon.  Not Low Maintenance sold very well at Amazon, but never caught on at BN.  However, this week that's changing and readers at BN have found NLM which makes me very happy.

So thank you to all of you at BN for acquainting yourselves with Viva and Bel.  Thank you to all the readers at Amazon who have supported Viva so enthusiastically over the past few months.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Cover for Verrines


I love digital publishing.  You can change anything any time you wish.  Except that of course I can't get into the section for the Verrine book yet at Amazon because it takes them a little longer to get things published than it does over at Barnes & Noble.

But here's the cover.  I love it.  I might change it again.  I'm fickled.

It already sold a copy over at BN so whoever you are, thank you.

Why did I change the cover?  Because the one with the cute cup and raspberries was an image I shot early on.
It was a mock-up cover, a place-holder and by the time I finished the photography for the book, I had a lot of images to choose from.  Which is why I may change the cover again--there are a lot of great images to use and it's fun.  It's like buying a new hat.  Oh wait.  People don't buy hats anymore.  Shoes then.  But I don't like shoes particularly.  So..it's like getting a new thumb drive in red YAY!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Verrines: Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy

Sorry I haven't been around but I've been writing.

Tadadadadada!  Here's my new book

Here's the blurb:

Have you ever wanted just a little something to eat that was delicious and probably sinfully fattening? Don't we all? Some years ago the French invented verrines. A verrine is a sweet or savory delectable. Like the familiar parfait, it's served in a glass but a small one making it the ultimate in portion control. While most of us want to eat well, most of us aren't trained chefs and we rarely have access to exotic ingredients readily available elsewhere. VERRINES: Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy makes it possible for everyone to create luscious treats quickly and with a budget in mind. You don't need a kitchen full of special tools, and you don't need expensive ingredients. You need some small glasses, a sharp knife and a trip to the grocery store. Whether you need intriguing appetizers for a party, a light lunch or dessert, you will find something in this book to help you achieve your goal.

Yes, it's a little bit of a departure since it's nonfiction but in paper publishing I did do 2 cookbooks and one semi-cookbook, so it's not out of the realm of my experience.  I became fascinated by these small treats in glasses they make in France and when I tried to find a book in English, there wasn't one.  I decided I should write it and take the photos.  There are 38 photos in beautiful color which of course is a bit problematic for Kindle owners at the moment.  It's fine for everyone who has a Nook Color (me) or a tablet, but Kindle fans will have to wait until the release of the Kindle tab in the autumn.  Still you can get the idea of how the verrines are layered and are comprised of contrasting colors whenever possible.  That would be grey and darker grey for e-ink people.

It's live at Barnes and Noble already but Amazon takes a bit longer.

Verrines: Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy

I'm sure you'll find something to tempt you in the book.  I know each recipe is delicious because I sampled everything.  Sometimes, I admit, I had no willpower and didn't stop at a sample but had to each the whole thing.  But heck, a verrine is small, so it's not a huge sin.  ;-)