Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Incredibly Rich Chocolate Brownies


Typically, I am not a brownie person. It is not something that is made often in our home nor is it something that I think about when I think of desserts. Cakes, pies, puddings (did someone say bread pudding?), tiramisu - yes. Not brownies. I am also not very good at making them which is probably why I'm not a  brownie person in the first place.  Most times, they turn out way too dry and almost brittle. Don't ask me how someone can mess up brownies. It just came naturally to me.

Not any more.

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies and comes at a rare time when I do crave a brownie. A rich, dark, moist, intense chocolate brownie. The instructions are quite simple to follow - even I had great luck on my first attempt. They turned out perfectly. Be advised, however, these are rich! Lots of butter, lots of sugar and lots of chocolate. Enjoy!

Incredibly Rich Chocolate Brownies
Makes about 12

8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (plus 3 oz)
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 oz butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sat

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8" x 12" baking sheet.
2. In a double boiler, melt 8 oz of the semi-sweet chocolate, the unsweetnened chocolate and the butter. Once melted, allow to cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar until combined. Do not whisk.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Stir the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Next, stir in the flour mixture.
6. Toss the remaining 3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips with a little flour and stir into the brownie mixture.
7. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and bake at 350 degree F for about 30 minutes until the tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8. Cool to room temperate and them refrigerate for another hour before cutting into squares. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


I would chose sweet potato fries over regular fries any day. Sweet potatoes are so much more delicious and definitely more wholesome than regular potatoes, with significant amounts of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and fiber.

To makes these fries, all you need are a some sweet potatoes (of course), some vegetable oil and some seasonings. I like to use a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme - the thyme and garlic powder are a good contrast to the sweetness of the potatoes. 

Enjoy! You might find that these are addictive. 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

3 to 4 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Pat them dry. Cut into wedges or 1/4 inch strips for thinner fries.
3. Arrange in an even layer onto a baking sheet, and toss with the vegetable oil, salt, pepper, thyme and garlic.
4. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the fries are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally the prevent the edges from burning on one side.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fresh Tomato Pizza


If you are what you eat, I might soon turn into a giant tomato. Exactly what kind of tomato is a good question. This summer, we experimented with growing tomatoes in pots, on the deck (up high and safe from our resident critters.) Four varieties: roma, beefsteak, cherry, and heirloom. Truth be told, we half-expected that they would not thrive very well given that, firstly, we were growing them in pots and, secondly, that tomato plants are, in general, susceptible to disease. We never expected that we would be reaping vine-ripened tomatoes all summer long.  And by extension, that we would be eating tomatoes all summer long. In cous cous, on bruschetta, in salads, in pasta - these past couple months have been a mini tomato festival at our house. 

As the nights here in Minnesota are getting cooler, the plants are beginning to show signs of the end. They are "thinning", and the leaves are drooping and turning a sort of blue-purple color. But, surprisingly, the cherry tomato plant is still bearing. I managed to pick quite a bit a few days ago, most of which ended up on this pizza. Instead of baking the tomatoes with the other toppings, I decided to put them on after the pizza had baked, in order to savor all of its freshness. For the crust, I used store-bought dough - this can be so convenient on weeknights. And I also added a bit of sun-dried tomato paste to the sauce, which, to me, makes a more flavorful sauce but is by no means necessary. 

Here's to the last few days of summer! 

Fresh Tomato Pizza
Makes one 10" pizza

pizza dough (enough to make one 10" pizza)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pizza sauce 
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste (optional)
8-10 oz mozzarella, sliced
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Set the oven to 450 degrees F. 
2. On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough to about 10" in diameter. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. 
3. Drizzle the olive oil over the pizza dough and, using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread evenly. Next, spread on the pizza sauce. (If using sun-dried tomato paste, stir this into the pizza sauce before spreading it on the pizza dough.) Arrange the mozzarella slices evenly on top. 
4. Bake until the crust is crisp and brown and the mozzarella is bubbly, about 15 minutes. 
5. Right before serving, top the pizza with the fresh cherry tomatoes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Watermelon Peppermint Iced Tea - Take Two



Watermelon peppermint iced tea anyone? I made this a few years ago and it was a hit; even ended up on Saveur magazine's website! This time instead of peppermint tea bags, I used fresh mint, which is growing like wild in our garden. About 40 fresh mint leaves should be ample. Find the original recipe here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sweet Corn Salsa



If you were to ask a cross-section of farmers market patrons, you would likely get two general responses on how they shop the market. Some go with lists which they seldom deviate from, while others peruse the stalls and buy whatever looks goods. I am a combination of both, usually going with  a list but not afraid to try something new.

Last Saturday, I was there with my friend who shops the market completely differently from the way I do. Her approach has nothing to do with shopping at all. Instead, the first thing she does is get in line at the burrito stand - for a breakfast burrito topped with her favorite fresh, corn salsa. Such has been her ritual for a number of years she also knew that you can purchase containers of this delicious salsa, and if it is not out on the counter, you just have to ask.

It is corn season in the midwest and you can get some of the sweetest corn at the moment at farmers markets throughout the twin cities And I am certain this is what makes the salsa so good at that burrito stand. Fresh, local, sweet corn. This, of course, inspired my recipe here. And don't forget to try it with some scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Sweet Corn Salsa

2 tbsp vegetable oil
juice of 1 small lime
1 tsp agave
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
4 ears of cooked, sweet corn
1 cup of diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
2 jalepenos, seeded and diced
2 tbsp minced cilantro

1. Whisk together the first five ingredients.
2. Remove the kernels of corn from the cobs and add, along with the remaining ingredients to the dressing. Combine well. Top with extra cilantro, if desired, before serving.