Thursday, September 16, 2010
Once in a great while my sweet tooth decides to flare up and usually that craving leans towards chocolate, gooey and decadent. My kids love brownies and could easily eat them by the truckload so I decided to kick it up a notch and add a little spice into our lives with some ancho chile. Served with a side of whipped cream dotted with cinnamon, this will satisfy your sweet tooth...and then some.
Ancho Chili Brownies
Adapted and tweaked from Williams-Sonoma.com
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1-1/4 teaspoons ancho chile powder (more or less as desired)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, preferably glass.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Heat, stirring often, until melted, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended. Sprinkle the flour and ancho chile powder over the mixture and stir until just blended. Stir in the chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared dish and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out almost completely clean, about 30 minutes (longer if using a metal pan). Do not overbake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into 2 1/2-inch squares.
Makes 9 large brownies.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Once again, it is raining today. As you know, I am not complaining but it would be nice to go take a walk one of the days. The kids and the needy puppy being stuck inside is not fun for anyone! We had a glimpse of some sun on Saturday but it was too brief to enjoy. On days such as these, I like to sit around and read, talk online with friends and hang out with my husband and kids but I also think about what I want to eat. Yes, it happens often and I agree, I do need a bit of a life but I can't help it. Comfort food comes into play to satisfy that hunger. These pancetta and gruyere muffins definitely will hit the spot. I paired them up with a Tuscan garlic and white bean soup and was warmed for the rest of the day. They turn out incredibly moist with a salty bite from the pancetta. Gruyere is one of my favorite cheeses to use in recipes and it gives the muffins a creamy sharp taste that pairs well with the pancetta. Ok, now I am hungry again...
Pancetta and Gruyere Muffins
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
8 thin slices pancetta (or bacon)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
4 tablespoons unsalted, melted butter
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
3/4 cup finely diced Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease 9 standard muffin cups (2 3/4 to 3 inches wide by 1 3/4 inches deep) with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cups 1/3 full with water to prevent warping.
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon slices until crisp, 6-8 minutes, turning as needed.
Using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain. Let the bacon cool, then crumble.
In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter (see note), milk and sour cream or yogurt until blended.
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
Using a large rubber spatula, fold in bacon and cheese just until evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes.
Do not overmix.
Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim of the cup.
Bake until golden, dry and springy to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes.
A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Unmold the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I am not one to jump on any bandwagons or follow the latest "trends". I lean toward the classics with a twist, or whatever fits my fancy at the moment. I see so many great recipes out there in the blog world, in magazines, and of course on tv but I hesitate to do the popular foods of the moment. Living in California means that you can find produce year around, so the seasonal bias does not always apply to me. I am lucky in that respect. But yes, I caved and did the whole French thing and made a savory baked dish called Potatoes Savoyarde. A cousin to Potatoes Dauphinoise, the Savoyarde (from the Savoy region) is a crusty take where butter and stock enrich the potatoes without the cream. Who can resist that crusty top? That is my absolute favorite part, but then I am partial to any potato dish so it was an all around perfect side. The gruyere gives it a creamy yet forceful flavor that pairs well with the yukon potatoes I used. Just think of all the flavor possibilities should you want to experiment with all those delicious cheeses out there. Serve it as a main dish with a salad or a delicious side and I bet your family or guests will ask for seconds.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma French
3 tbsp Unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp Unsalted butter, melted
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 cups Shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 tsp Freshly ground pepper
4 -6 Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, about 2 1/2 lbs, unpeeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
Aluminum foil to cover
*If you have a mandoline then put it to use for this dish. It will make it go a lot faster in the prep.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the bottom and sides of a 2-qt baking dish with the melted butter.
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, parsley, cheese and pepper. Layer one-third of the potatoes in the prepared dish, sprinkle one-third of the garlic-cheese mixture over the potatoes and dot with 1 tbsp of butter. Repeat with half each of the remaining potatoes and garlic-cheese mixture and butter. Top with remaining potatoes. Pour the stock over the potatoes, sprinkle the rest of the garlic-cheese mixture evenly over the top and dot with remaining 1 tbsp butter. Cover with buttered aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking, uncovered, until the top is browned and crusty and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
One of the reasons I am glad that I got into cooking is that for one, we eat so much better than when my husband and I first were married, and another is the fact that I will now try recipes that involve more than 4 ingredients and 5 steps. A huge step up, right? My family seems to think so even though it came as a huge shock to The Brit at first. He sometimes walked in the house after work and thought he came into the wrong home with all the smells from dinner...it couldn't be his wife doing this! How times change. This recipe is a case in point. Lots of ingredients but none that can't be found in your local grocery store. It then goes in the oven for a while, which means you can open that bottle of wine and sit back while it cooks all by itself.
Although this recipe took a bit of time to assemble with all the slicing, grating and rolling, it was definitely worth it. I absolutely loved the flavor combination of the carrot and prosciutto up against the steak, with the paprika giving it that special edge. The sauce put it over the top, so don't skip that step. So when you have a little extra time to spend making dinner, give this one a go.
Argentine-Style Stuffed Flank Steak
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
1 (1 1/2 lb) flank steaks, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 bunch spinach, carefully washed and stemmed
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, roasted (peeled and sliced)
1 cup fresh basil leaf
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup marsala
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1. Butterfly the meat by slicing horizontally, stopping about 3/4 inch from the other side. Open up the meat and pound with a meat mallet to an even thickness of 1/2 inch.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F
3. Mix together the vinegar, paprika, 1 Tb of the tomato paste, garlic, and 1 Tb of the olive oil. Stir to form a thick paste. Smear the paste on the open side of the steak, reserving 1 Tb.
4. Layer the prosciutto, spinach, carrot, onion, bell pepper, and basil on top.
5. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, 1 tsp of the thyme, and salt and pepper to taste; sprinkle the mixture on top.
6. Roll the meat from the long end into a tight cylinder and tie with kitchen string. Turn it seam side down and rub with 1 Tb of the olive oil.
7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the remaining 1 tsp thyme.
8. In a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 Tb olive oil. Add the meat and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
9. Transfer to a flameproof roasting pan, seam side down, and roast for about 45 minutes.
10. Lift the meat and pour the white wine into the pan underneath to keep the meat from sticking. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 130F, 30 minutes to one hour.
11. Transfer to a board and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
12. Add the marsala to the roasting pan and place over high heat. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the stock, worcestershire sauce, and the remaining 1 Tb tomato paste, and cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve.
13. To serve, remove the string from the meat and slice it thickly into rounds. Transfer to individual plates and ladle the sauce over.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I have to admit, this is probably my only successful "pie" out of the millions (ok, maybe half a million) I have attempted to make. My pies are legendary for their soupy innards and hard as a rock crusts. Hey, it takes talent to bake such masterpieces! My husband LOVES pie so I try hard to get it right each time and we both end up holding our breath as he tastes them, which we both know will turn out horribly wrong. But I think I may have kicked the string of failures mainly because these little pocket pies are not your normal pie shape. They don't require that evil pie pan that ruins my crusts (I'm fully blaming the pan) and they are made on a much smaller scale. Faulty as it probably is, this is my reasoning and I am sticking to it. I recently purchased this adorable pocket pie mold at Williams-Sonoma so that I could give this recipe a try and it made life so much easier, and of course, a little sweeter in the end.
The butter golden crust is unbelievably mouth-wateringly flaky and the sweet cherry filling puts it right over the edge with a perfect balance of sweet and slightly tart. As my husband said: "Perfection".
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt, plus a pinch
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 to 8 Tbs. ice water
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
2 cups fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries, thawed and drained if frozen
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water
Coarse sugar for sprinkling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the flour, the 1 tsp. salt and the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar on low speed for 10 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 1 1/2 minutes more. Add the 6 Tbs. ice water, reduce the speed to low and beat for 20 seconds. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time, and beat for 5 seconds after each addition. Divide the dough in half, wrap with plastic wrap and shape each into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
In a saucepan, whisk together the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch and pinch of salt, then add the cherries and vanilla. Set over medium-high heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Let the filling cool.
Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out 1 dough disk into a round 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Brush off the excess flour. Using a pocket pie mold, cut out 8 of each shape (4 solid and 4 with the decorative cutout). Reroll the dough scraps, if necessary, and cut out more shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough disk.
Place a solid dough shape in the bottom half of the cutter and gently press the dough into the mold. Fill the center with 1 to 2 Tbs. cherry filling and brush the edges of the dough with some of the egg wash. Top with a shape with a decorative cutout. Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie. Remove the pie from the mold and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Freeze the pies for 30 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Brush the top of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is gently bubbling, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes about 8 pocket pies.