Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

White Chocolate Maple Walnut Fudge

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 24, 2018

I have been making this fudge from a recipe on the food blog ” Thibeault’s Table” for years.  This recipe is the real deal, no evaporated milk, condensed milk or marshmallows to get you fudge to gel.  However, I find the instructions a bit confusing and the timings do not work for me.  I have tried to nail the recipe down so making real fudge is not intimidating, although it is time consuming.


1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter cut into pieces

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp table salt

6-8 oz white chocolate (I used 1.5 cups of ghirardelli white chocolate chips)

Or substitute 2 4 oz bars of bitter sweet or semi-sweet chocolate broken into pieces.

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup toasted walnuts crudely chopped (might want to up this to 1.5 cups)



  1.  Mix together the sugars, maple syrup, butter, cream and salt in a sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer.
  2. On a medium flame and with frequent stirring, bring to a boil.  Lower the flame to medium low and allow the mix to come to 234-238˚F (16 min, for me; 7 min in the original recipe). This is called the soft ball stage, in candy-speak.  This means, if you don’t have a thermometer, put a cold cup of water next to your stove and at 7 min,  drop a few drops of the candy mix into the water.  When ready, it should form a soft ball.  See image below.   At this point,  the candy mix will feel like you are stirring crystallizing sugar and air.

3.   Cool for 10-15 min.  At this point, my candy mix was at 180˚F.  I added the white chocolate chips and vanilla to the candy surface without stirring.

4.  Cool further until the mix is 110˚F.  This took about 54 min, but the original recipe says to wait to 10-15 min.

5.  While mix is cooling, prepare a pan for the fudge.  I used a 8″x6″x2″ glass pan lined with foil, but you can use anything that you have.

6.  Once the mix is at 110˚F,  use a hand-held mixer to  beat the mixture for 1-2 min. till the fudge loses its sheen.

7.  Add the walnuts and mix with a wooden spoon.

8.  Spread the fudge in the prepared pan and let it cool a bit before putting it into the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

9.  Then cut into small pieces.  I usually keep this in the fridge, but it should be fine at room temp for several days and also freezes beautifully.

Note: If you don’t have a candy thermometer, just follow the provided times (which is what I used to do).  If you don’t call the soft ball stage right, and stop too early, the fudge will begin the melt at room temp.  But it will be fine to serve it straight out of the fridge where it will stay solid. The taste will be the same.

Don’t go much over the prescribed temperature or you will have hard candy.




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Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls and Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 29, 2017



The cafeteria at work sells Vietnamese Spring rolls for a ransom.  I thought it was time to switch to home-made ones and really, they are so easy to make and so versatile that they should be in your lunch rotation.   You can use whatever you have in the fridge and scale up to any number of people you want to feed.  Plus throw a couple of dipping sauces in.   My favorites are peanut sauce and nuoc cham, the Vietnamese sweet chilli garlic sauce.    For the Spring Roles, I  am providing a list of what I consider to be essential ingredients, plus a list of other ingredients that you can pick from.  I am providing  no quantities, you can scale up and down as you wish. You can buy the peanut sauce and nuoc cham and you can easily find vegetarian versions of each.  I am providing a version of nuoc cham that I obtained from the blog Cafe Sucre Farine and will post a recipe for peanut sauce another time.



Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham): 

2/3 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbs fish sauce

2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp sambal olek (chilli sauce)

1-2 tsp cilantro stems, chopped fine



Spring Rolls (Essential Ingredients):

  • Spring Roll Wraps (any size), available at almost all supermarkets
  • Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • Mint, Finely Chopped
  • Avocados
  • Firm Tofu, or substitute cooked shrimp/ left-over noodles,  or simply add more avocados and bean sprouts.  Anything that provides body will do.
  • Roasted, unsalted peanuts, crushed


Optional ingredients:

  • Lettuce, finely slivered
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Radish, shredded
  • Raw Mango, shredded
  • Scallions, green parts, finely minced
  • Serrano peppers, finely minced
  • lime
  • Teriyaki Sauce, Soy Sauce, Salt




  1. Purchase or prepare dipping sauce(s).  For home-made  Nuoc cham, mix all listed ingredients and you are good to go.
  2. Prepare the Tofu:

Cut the Tofu slab into 5 horizontal sheets.  Heat oil in a frying pan and add the sheets.  Cook on high heat for a few minutes till both sides are browned (see image).  If you like, you can flavor the tofu with some teriyaki sauce as I did, or soy sauce or salt.  Cool and cut into match-sticks (see image).

3. Prep all other ingredients and have them available.

4.Place warm water in a large pan large enough to submerge the Spring Roll wraps.  A 9×13 baking pan works    well.

5. Assemble the Spring Rolls:

  1.  Submerge the Spring Roll wraps in the warm water till they soften and lose shape.  This takes seconds
  2. Place the wrap flat on a cutting board.
  3. Place ingredients on the wrap leaving a 1.5″ border on three sides.  Include the essential ingredients and any other ingredients of your choice from the optional list.  Do not overstuff.
  4.  Fold in the top and bottom and then the short  side.
  5. Roll the wrap and gently press the edges.  The edges will seal easily.
  6. Continue, till you are out of ingredients.
  7. Serve with dipping sauces.





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Quick Indian Chili Pepper Pickles (Mirchi ka Achar)

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 26, 2016


My mom made the best Indian pickles in the world.  Before she died,  I transcribed some of her recipes (minimal as they were) onto my iPhone Notes.  Unfortunately, when I bought a new phone,  these files did not survive and now these recipes are nothing but a memory on my tongue.  So I was delighted to come across some recipes on the website called Indian Simmer.  I adapted and annotated the simplest one and used the last of my garden’s serranos to make a pickle you can prepare in just a few minutes and eat within a few hours.


  • 250 gm chili peppers, any combination.  I used a mix of red fresno and serrano peppers, but Thai bird peppers are traditional and much, much hotter.
  • 4 tbs.  brown mustard seeds, coarsely ground in a coffee grinder.
  • Generous pinch of Asafoetida (Hing).  Skip if you cannot find it,  but this is like fish sauce and adds a lot of umami, although it would taste awful if you placed a pinch on your tongue.
  • 5-6 tablespoon oil, preferably mustard oil  (this oil really lends the distinct Indian pickle flavor, but swap with other unflavored oils if you have to). There should be enough oil to fully coat the peppers.  This is the second preservative.
  • Salt to taste  (1 used 3 tsp- this acts as a preservative, so don’t skimp.
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tbs. Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric powder



  • Stem the chillies and pulse them in a food processor to get smallish pieces (this will only take a few pulses) .  You can also cut these by hand which is traditional.
  • Place the chillies in a medium sized bowl and add salt.  Dry brine the chillies for 1/2 hour (or longer).
  • You can drain the water from the chilies if you want to reduce the heat after the brining.
  • Heat the mustard oil until it is smoking, then turn off the stove and allow it to cool completely to room temperature.  This reduces the pungency of the mustard oil.
  • In a small  bowl, combine the ground mustard, asafetida, oil, salt, sugar, lemon juice and turmeric powder.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Toss the spice mix with the chillies.
  • Taste and adjust the salt and lemon to taste.
  • Transfer the pickles to a glass jar.   You should probably sterilize the jar or run it through the dishwasher.
  • Let the pickles sit on the counter for a day and then store in the fridge.  These should keep for a long time.




  • The pickles will taste better after a few days, although they can be used right away if you cannot wait.
  • The pickles will also lose some of their heat over time.
  • These pickles can be used as an accompaniment to any Indian meal, but are also great on buttered toast, on eggs, you name it!


Posted in Asian, condiments, Indian Food, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sausage and Okra Gumbo

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 30, 2016


I recently became allergic to shrimp, so when I saw this gumbo recipe ( that used chicken, it immediately caught my eye.  Its a great recipe, written as is.  I made some modifications, which involved changing the order in which I proceeded, upping the spice level, eliminating the beer,  substituting sausage for chicken and adding bay leaf, fresh tomatoes and cilantro.  Also,  I  reduced the amount of flour in the roux because I found the soup to gummy otherwise.   The result were delicious!




1 1/2 pounds italian sausage  (you can substitute this with  skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces or use a combination of sausage and chicken)

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

3 large stalks celery, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

3 medium sized tomatoes, coarsely pureed in the food processor

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2-3 tablespoon cajun seasoning

4-6 cups  chicken broth  (I use Better than Bullion and water)

8 ounces fresh okra, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 bay leafs

1/2 cup cilantro or parsley, mined

4 green onions, chopped

For the roux:

1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Optional: 4 to 6 cups cooked rice to serve on the side hot sauce




1. Add 1 tsp of oil to a dutch oven or other large pan with a tight fitting lid.  When hot,  add the sausage and cook through.  Remove the sausage from the dutch oven and set aside.  If you are using chicken, add a little more oil and brown the chicken on both sides and remove from the dutch oven.

2.  While the sausage is cooking, chop the onions, peppers, and celery and garlic  and puree the tomatoes in food processor.  The original recipe suggests you chop it together, but I do this separately for each vegetable.

3. Add the remaining oil to the Dutch oven and heat until shimmering. Add chopped onions, season with salt, and sauté until translucent.

4.  Add the celery and garlic, cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, then add the peppers and sauté until vegetables have softened and are beginning to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

5. While the vegetables are cooking, make the roux: First, melt the butter in the microwave (about 30-60 seconds.  Mix the flour into the butter till it is completely dissolved.  Place flour and butter in microwave-safe dish. Continue to microwave, stirring every minute, until roux is a peanut butter brown.  This takes anywhere between 4 -10 min, so check continuously so that it does not burn.  The roux and the dish will be very hot, so be careful.

6. When vegetables have cooked, add the tomatoes and okra to the dutch oven, stir in tomato paste, better than bullion (if using), bay leaf and cajun seasoning black pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

7. Stir in roux  (the roux can sputter, so keep the flame low).

8. Slowly stir in water (if using Better than bullion) or chicken broth  until mixture has thickened. Cover and simmer until okra is very soft and chicken(if using)  is tender, about 20 minutes.

9.  Season to taste, and add the scallions and cilantro (or parsley).

10. Serve with rice, season with hot sauce if desired.


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Shortbread Cookies

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 6, 2016


Shortbread cookies

I loved shortbread cookies and this recipe caught my eye because it had rice flour in it.  In Indian cooking, rice flour is often used in deep frying for providing a crisper texture that all purpose flour cannot provide.  I guess that rice flour is doing the same here.  The cookies have a lovely texture and take about 5 minutes to put together although rolling the dough out is not quite as easy as I thought it would be.  The recipe was taken from the following website, with only a couple of minor changes: adding salt and the demerrara sugar:




1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup rice flour

½ c pwd sugar

2 sticks salted butter room temp.   If unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.



  1. Mix the flours together. Set aside.
  2. Using the paddle attachment and a stand mixer or a hand held mixer, cream butter and sugar till fluffy- this takes a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the flour mixture to form a soft dough. Cut dough into 2 equal portions. Saran wrap and refrigerate 15 min.
  4. Roll out first disc between sheets of plastic wrap so that it is about ¼ inch high.
  5. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Cut out cookies using a 3” stamp or a biscuit cutter and place on the prepared sheets.
  7. Bake at 350deg F for 20 min until the edges of the cookies are light brown.
  8. Cool completely on a mesh rack and store in an airtight container.



1. I had trouble rolling the dough and stamping out the cookies (dough was too soft).  I rolled out the second half between sheets of saran wrap,  placed the rolled out disc in the freezer for 10 min and then stamped out the cookies.  This worked pretty well, But maybe I will roll the dough into logs, cool and cut into rounds the next time.

2. I got 18 cookies, although the recipe said 12, so I must have rolled the dough out too thin. Still the baking time of 20 min for first batch and 19 min for subsequent batches was perfect.

3. I sprinkled some demerrara sugar onto onto the rolled out disc and rolled the sugar right into the disc. This added a nice texture.


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