photographs by Matt Hulsman

Caramel Apples with Salted Peanuts
Yield: 10 apples.

10 medium tart apples, washed and dried
10 Popsicle or craft sticks (found at craft stores)
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt (optional)
Special tools: Candy thermometer

Remove stems from apples. Insert sticks into apples. Place apples in freezer while the caramel is being made.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter; add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248°. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.

Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Dip bottom of apples into peanuts. Sprinkle apples with coarse salt (optional). Place on parchment paper until set. Keep caramel apples in refrigerator until ready to serve.


Funnel Cakes
Yield: 12 cakes.

½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
¼ cup white granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Special tools: Funnel, candy thermometer

In a bowl, combine salt, baking powder, and flour. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together eggs, sugar, and milk in a large bowl. Gradually add flour mixture and beat on low speed until smooth. Batter should be thin enough to flow through a funnel.

Heat the oil to 375° in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven.

Put your finger over the bottom opening of the funnel and use a ladle or measuring cup to fill the funnel with ½ cup of batter. Hold the funnel close to the surface of the oil, and release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Fry until golden brown. Use tongs to carefully turn the cake. Fry the second side for approximately 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all cakes have been fried.

Mix together confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon. Using a fine mesh strainer or sifter, sprinkle cakes with cinnamon sugar.


Grilled Corn with Chili-Cumin Butter
Yield: 6 servings.

6 ears of corn
2 tablespoons Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, cut into wedges

To prep the corn, remove husks and cut off about ½ inch from each end. Rinse corn under cold water and remove silks.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, butter, vinegar, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Set aside.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. If using charcoal, coals should be white. Place grill rack 6 inches above heat source. Place corn on clean grill rack and cook until kernels begin to char, about 5 minutes, then turn. Continue cooking and turning every 30 seconds until all sides are charred. Do not overcook, or the corn will get chewy. Remove corn from grill and place on a serving platter.

Spread corn with butter mixture. Sprinkle each ear with freshly ground black pepper and serve with a wedge of lime.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.