Tag Archives: chocolate

‘Browndies’

Unbelievable how fast the time flies sometimes. I, nor Kat, have had even a moment to write a single word here since the summer, I think…
I chose tonight to break the cycle. We have had so many more culinary triumphs I don’t even know where to begin. Now, when I say ‘triumphs’, I don’t mean three Michelin star grade food coming out of our kitchen. Simply just damn fine home cookin’ with an always unexpected, yet awesome, tweak during the process that makes something good even better.
Case in point, ‘Browndies”!
Kat and I were contemplating a great nosh over some quality TV sitcoms. “Let’s make brownies”, says Kat. “I would prefer blondies”, I say. Well my friends, why not have both!
We made a terrific brownie recipe we know and love, then a blondie recipe of the same credentials, and swirled the two mixes together and in the oven it went.
About a half hour later we got to enjoy the perfect treat, once they were cool enough to eat! I encourage anyone to give a shout if they need a recipe, though search our older posts. They may be on this blog already!
Thanks to all who read and subscribe:)

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Serendipity Cookies

ser·en·dip·i·ty

http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]  Show IPA

–noun 

1. 

an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. 

good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first jobshe applied for.
(Source: dictionary.com)
Today, I wanted to make these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Apparently, I was feeling rebellious and decided to change the amount of flour from 1/2 cup to 2 cups. Oops. So, I knew that wasn’t going to work. I scrambled to fix the cookies, since I didn’t want to start over and I really wanted cookies! My first fix was not so good, but then I got it. And they are delicious, beautiful cookies. I quickly wrote down what I did and  wanted to share. If you make them, please let me know how you like them! I think I will be making these again.
The Accidental Cookie

Serendipity Cookies

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 – 1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 lb butter, melted (1 stick)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1  tsp vanilla

Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar

Add eggs, salt, vanilla and baking powder

Add oats and flour, mix until just combined

Add chocolate chips, drop by spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 8 minutes results in chewy cookies, 10 in crispy. I prefer 9: right in between.

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Big Day in the Kitchen

John’s birthday is May 31st so it falls on Memorial Day frequently, or that ends up being the weekend we can celebrate. This is a good and bad thing. Good, because he sometimes has off on his birthday. Bad, because most people have long standing traditions for  Memorial Day and we can’t often have large gatherings for him. Also, John’s childhood was not filled with over the top fun filled friend laden birthdays, so I do everything I can to make it special each year for him. Since I’m now in my ninth month of pregnancy, though, it had to be small this year, and pretty much just immediately family.

By small, did you think I wasn’t cooking a lot? Hahaha – fooled you! While I did (am) make(ing) quite a bit of food, it really is less than I would normally prepare.

Here’s the menu:

Sausage & Peppers

Hot Dogs

Burgers (Beef & Turkey)

Baked Potato Salad

Black Bean Salad

Zucchini Pie

Dessert:

M&M Cookies

Banana Pudding

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Are you surprised that the dessert menu is almost as long as the dinner menu? You shouldn’t be! It doesn’t matter if John is cooking or not, (and he didn’t for his birthday) we can’t help trying out different recipes.

The sausage and peppers recipe is one my sister and I have cultivated and perfected, and I’m not quite willing to share that. Also, there really isn’t a recipe so much as a feeling, so without you standing next to me, I’m not sure I could explain it!

The Baked Potato Salad was inspired by the recipe from Wegmans, but of course, I made changes. I combined the new recipe with the way that I usually make potato salad. The things I kept from the new recipe: roasting the spuds, bacon and sour cream. What I didn’t use: Cheese. John and I thought cheese would make the salad be full of weird in the end. What I added: Celery, Lovage, and Parsley for color, that classic potato salad flavor and crunch.

The black bean salad is something I threw together one day when I didn’t know what to make as a side dish. I took inspiration from a bunch of different recipes and adapted them to what I had.

Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

2 cans black beans

2 ears of corn (or one larger can if its not in season)

1-2 tomatoes, depending on the size and how much you like tomatoes

1/2 red onion or 3 scallions

Juice of 1 lime

Olive Oil

Avocado

Cilantro (if you like it; we don’t, so I don’t put it in)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Procedure:

If using fresh corn, cut it from the cob and roast it in a hot pan for a few minutes to bring the flavor out.

Chop tomatoes and avocado into bite sized pieces.

Combine all ingredients except the lime, avocado and oil.

If serving right away, add the avocado. If making ahead, reserve the avocado until just before serving.

Toss with about 1/4 cup olive oil and the lime juice. Serve right away if avocado is involved. Can be made a day ahead without it.

A note on the M&M cookies – we didn’t make them XXL size. We made them regular, and they were awesome. We like chewy cookies and this recipe achieved it perfectly, when the cookies are just hardly brown on the bottom. As for the banana pudding, if you like banana pudding, just make this recipe and your life will change. That’s all there is to it.

And the piece de resistance – Salted Caramel Buttercream

It’s as easy as – Start with your favorite buttercream recipe, cutting back on the sugar. Add about 1/2 cup caramel sauce and 1 tsp salt. When you frost your cupcakes, top with a little fleur de sel. And it might change your life again.

Due to all the excitement of the day, I forgot to take photos of some of the food, but I will share with you what I’ve got:

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Ravioli Night

John likes to experiment, and I like to be corny. So, for our first “finer dining” experience, John knew what he wanted to do for dessert and it involved ravioli-like items. Naturally, I wanted to make ravioli for dinner, too. Since this is finer dining, I planned to make the pasta, and I did. I used the recipe that came with our machine, as I have used it before and never been disappointed. I halved the recipe, though. Are you ready for the recipe? It’s really complicated:

Pasta Dough:

1 egg

1 cup of flour

Procedure:

Make a well in the flour

Beat the egg in the middle of the well until a ball begins to form

Knead until the texture is consistent, adding water if the dough is too dry

Follow pasta machine’s directions

For the filling, I just mixed ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.

I also made a short rib ragout. That was even easier (for a vegetarian option, just omit the meat):

Ragout:

Brown 1 – 1 1/2 lbs  meat (can be any sort of meat, ground or cubed)

Saute 1-2 onions in oil until translucent

Add onions and meat to a slow cooker, top with 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes

Add a whole clove of garlic, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Cook on low 8-10 hours

Add a dash of red pepper flakes, and your favorite sauce seasoning

That’s it!

And now for dessert. John made flourless chocolate, a cocoa nib tuile, and banana-passionfruit ravioli via a process called reverse spherification. He’ll post the recipe for it soon, as I barely have an idea how he did it. What I can tell you is what they are like. Think of a rich sauce with banana and passionfruit, perfectly balanced. Then, take away the runny nature of the sauce; see the photos below for a better idea. The crisp bitterness of the tuile with the rich creaminess of cake and bright citrus sauce.

I (John) recently had the privilege of spending the day in the kitchen at Le Bernardin in NYC. Working with pastry chef Michael Laiskonis and his staff was an eye opening experience. The desserts were fantastic, and I was able to sample just about every one!

The following recipe was one bestowed upon me by Chef Michael.

At the restaurant, it was the pear dessert that inspired me to do this.

All of you adventurous cooks out there who want to take a crack at this, here it is!

Procedure for Reverse Spherification

Passion Banana Base:

  • Banana puree    100 g
  • Passion puree    100 g
  • Simple syrup        50 g
  • Calcium lactate      5 g
  • Xanthan gum          1/2 tsp

Blend together with an immersion blender for about 2 minutes.

Using a piping bag, pipe into small portion silicone molds, and freeze.

(I used Wilton ‘Brownie Bites’ silicone molds. They are about the only thing close I could find.)

Procedure for Setting Bath:

  • Water                      1000 g
  • Sodium alginate  5 g
  • Sodium citrate     2 g

Combine all ingredients and shear with immersion blender for about 2 minutes. Reserve cold overnight.

Before making the ravioli:

Pull sodium alginate bath and let come to room temp.

Remove frozen fruit puree ‘bites’ from silicone mold.

Using a slotted spoon, drop bites into alginate bath.

Let set 2 minutes.

Pull from bath with slotted spoon into cold water to stop the process.

Reserve finished ravioli in cold water or simple syrup until ready to use.

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