In the Kitchen with Liberty Belle Tillemann-Dick

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In the Tillemann-Dicks’ house of many talents (the subject of a July 10 Westword feature), 20-year-old Liberty Belle is known for her stellar cooking. That means she not only scrounges up enough food for all 10 of her siblings, but is also skilled enough to keep them all happy. Here are a few of her favorite recipes. -- Joel Warner

Liberty’s Cran-Apri-Apple-licious Salad

This salad is one of my favorite foods. I especially love it in autumn when apples are in season. Feel free to switch things up; if you don’t have apples, use peaches, pecans and molasses instead of preserves. No chèvre? Use sharp cheddar. The trick is to keep the balance of sweet, salty and tangy.

Take a handful (or two – these are delicious) of sliced almonds. Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Lightly mist with spray olive oil, then sprinkle with sugar and garlic salt. Roast the nuts under the broiler until golden (watch out, because it goes fast and burnt nuts are no fun).

Add two parts each balsamic vinegar and olive oil to one part apricot preserves to a jar with a lid (or a blender). To that add salt, pepper, minced garlic and red-pepper flakes (optional). Shake (or blend) until smooth. At this point, I like to taste it and make sure the flavors are balanced.

You are welcome to use the lettuce of your choice. I like to use baby field greens, but it’s also delicious with romaine, bib-leaf or baby spinach. Whichever your pleasure, take as much as you want, add a good chopped apple, a handful of dried cranberries and crumble some chèvre on top. Right before serving, add the nuts and dressing. Toss. Yum!

Bread Pudding and Caramel Sauce

Simply delicious. (If I do say so.)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease an eight-by-eight-inch pan. Take a loaf of challah or King’s Hawaiian bread and cut it into two-inch cubes, add to the pan. In a bowl whisk together four egg yolks with half a cup of yogurt or sour cream and half a cup of brown sugar, then add four more whole eggs. Gradually whisk in three cups of milk. At this point you can either add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla or, if you have it on hand, some Bailey’s Irish Cream. Pour custard over bread and push bread down with a wooden spoon. Let it sit (or don’t, but the bread gets deliciously saturated if you leave it for a while). Then bake for fifty minutes or until the pudding appears solid throughout.

*Note: Some people advocate using a hot-water bath when baking bread pudding. I have been making this bread pudding for years and never use one. Perhaps this is a sign of laziness, but I choose to call it practicality. The pudding still turns out marvelously.

Super Quick Caramel Sauce (from Betty Crocker)

In a heavy saucepan stir together one cup brown sugar, two tablespoons cornstarch and 1a half cup water. Add two/thirds of a cup half-and-half, a quarter cup corn syrup and two tablespoons butter. Cook over medium heat until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Stir for two more minutes, remove from heat and add two teaspoons vanilla or Bailey’s.

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