Lactose Free Caramel Sauce

Our sad lactose free world has opened up soooo much in the past couple of years. Almost simultaneously I learned that select Cabot cheeses are naturally lactose free, AND an organic dairy company started making lactose free sour cream (and yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese). My husband developed lactose intolerance in his mid-20's, so although I can enjoy all the dairy I want, when I'm cooking for the family, I do not make 2 different dishes. Nowadays, I can go to my local grocery store and even pick up lactose free half and half. The one thing I'm waiting for is butter. Lactose free butter (that still has butter flavor unlike ghee), who's going to make it first?!?

lactose free caramel sauce

A couple of nights ago we had friends coming over for dinner. For dessert, I had apples on hand and I whipped together an easy apple sharlotka. My husband, while admiring my handiwork, said that it looked like it needed a caramel sauce. It certainly did sound like a good idea. I looked at several different recipes and settled on a brown sugar base. With the addition of lactose free half and half and by substituting coconut oil for butter, I had a winner of a sauce. It would be an easy way to dress up lactose free ice cream or olive oil cake.

Apple Sharlotka hot out of the oven. Isn't it just asking for some yummy caramel sauce?

Apple Sharlotka hot out of the oven. Isn't it just asking for some yummy caramel sauce?

Lactose Free Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Pioneer Woman, makes about a cup


1 packed cup brown sugar
1/2 cup lactose free half-and-half
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Mix the brown sugar, lactose free half-and-half, coconut oil and salt in a thick-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk frequently for 5 to 7 minutes, until the caramel begins to thicken. Add vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and pour the sauce into a jar or squeeze bottle. Refrigerate until cold. Caramel keeps refrigerated for about a week.

When you're ready to serve, you can reheat the caramel sauce by placing the container in hot water for a few minutes or microwave until a pour-able consistency.

lactose free caramel sauce

Restaurant Review: Korean House

I don't typically review a restaurant unless I've been there at least twice. Sometimes a server is having a bad day, or 50 orders come in all at once-you know the drill, anything can happen when you're dining out. That wasn't the case at Korean House, both of my experiences have been excellent. The restaurant is right on College Street in downtown Asheville. Situated in the old Fiore's restaurant, it's a nice space with soaring ceilings. They have lunch specials everyday, including a lunchbox for $8.95. 

Chopsticks at Korean House

Chopsticks at Korean House

We started with a pan fried tofu topped with seaweed and a house sauce, Yang Nyum Tofu. The seaweed totally makes this dish. The tofu is soft and subtle while the seaweed brings an intense umami flavor. It played nicely with the dry German Riesling my husband and I ordered. He ordered the pork bul go gi and I wanted to try the kan pung shrimp a fried shrimp with garlic sauce. Both of our lunch boxes came with different side dishes. I was thrilled I got the housemade Korean squash pickles again (see photo below, top right corner). I would buy these pickles by the gallon they're that good. Also included in my lunch box was brown rice, kimchi, fried vegetable dumplings, kimbab (Korean style rice roll), vegetable pancake, and potato in a sweet soy sauce.

My lunch box with shrimp in a garlic sauce, rice and chef selected sides.

My lunch box with shrimp in a garlic sauce, rice and chef selected sides.

When asked, our server told us that all of the pickles and side dishes are made in house. The Korean squash pickles are made daily and are served on the second day. The kimchi, although not quite as good as the housemade stuff at Kim's Oriental Food & Gifts, is delicious and spicy. 

Yang Nyum Tofu

Yang Nyum Tofu

For the care taken in every bite, this Asheville restaurant is a hidden treasure. Two other new places are opening next door to Korean House along College Street; a nightclub, called Room Nine, and a second Twisted Laurel location. I'm hoping this added foot traffic will keep Korean House open for a very long time.  

Restaurant Review: Universal Joint

In an email last week, my brother asked me for a list of my "Must Go to Restaurants and Bars in Asheville". I was happy to oblige the request. In and among the list was one of my favorite/easy/cheap dinner places the Universal Joint in West Asheville.

It's got a lot going for it:

  • located in hip West Asheville
  • lots of outdoor seating
  • you can bring your (well-behaved) dog
  • FAMILY friendly (really and truly)
  • best burger in town 
  • they have tater-tots
Steinbeck Burger sans bun with pimiento cheese, bacon and jalapenos

Steinbeck Burger sans bun with pimiento cheese, bacon and jalapenos

What to order when you get there?

I'd get a local beer, Highland Brewing's Gaelic Ale is almost always on tap. Get the burger or the brisket tacos. They have creative burger toppings, but you can't go wrong with the classic. I usually end up getting the Steinbeck with pimiento cheese, jalapenos and bacon. You can get a side salad with your burger, but since I almost always skip the bun, I often splurge on their perfectly fried tater tots. And, they're not afraid to give you mayo to dip them in!

They're kids menu is good, they do these mini cheeseburgers (sliders) which my son really likes. But, they also have a quesadilla, corn puppies, chicken fingers and a grilled cheese. The food comes quickly for the whole party, but especially for the kids. 

Service, generally, is very good. The servers know the beer list and the menu very well. They're prompt and polite, but informal. 

Bottom line, this is a great restaurant to add to your list of places to eat in Asheville. You won't be disappointed.