May 30, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers- Herbed-Baked Eggs

Well this recipe is the first event from the awesome new group "Barefoot Bloggers"- a group dedicated to trying out Ina Garten's (otherwise known as the Barefoot Contessa) fabulous recipes. Barefoot Contessa is the first show I ever watched on the food network and my very favorite. Some of the chefs have grown on me, but I've always loved Ina. The first time I ever watched her (okay, fine, it was last summer, when we finally got cable with the food network) she made homemade Ice cream for Jeffrey and scones since she was going away for the weekend. I think she's adorable and I love watching her show, seeing her perfect house and kitchen, and imaging what the East Hampton's life must be like.

So anyways, when I heard about this new group, I hopped right on the wagon. We'll be trying two of Ina's recipes a month and posting every other Thursdays, so be sure to check it out, and seriously- start watching Barefoot Contessa if you don't already! (PS I heard she's getting a new show... Barefoot Contessa- Back to Basics! Whatever it is, I'll be watching.)

Herbed-Baked Eggs
Recipe from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, 2004

This is a fast and tasty breakfast, especially if you like fried eggs. I'm more of a scrambled person, so next time I think I'll mix mine up a little before baking them, but that's just me. The herbs and parm is so good together, too. I added some herbes de Provence on top since the only herbs in my garden right now are oregano, parsley, and basil. You can see the lavender in the photos.

1/4 t. minced fresh garlic
1/4 t. minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 t. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 T. minced fresh parsley
1 T. freshly grated Parmesan (I forgot to put this on, but I love Parmesan on eggs)
6 extra-large eggs (I just used 2 large eggs per person in mini pie pans)
2 T. heavy cream (I used whole milk)
1 T. unsalted butter (I used half this)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

"I have been changed for good..."

My husband laughs at how much I've gotten into cooking blogging, and while I tease it's just something I do to "feel more like a woman and less like a mommy", I really love cooking and blogging about it.

When I came home with a 4 pound bag of bittersweet chocolate and a mega pack of butter, though, I knew blogging had finally gotten to me. I justified it by saying buying little portions every week for whatever recipe was chosen was less economical. Whatever, that's a TON of chocolate, and I know it's not going to go bad (especially with Dorie's preference for bittersweet!)

There is an article about cooking blogs on WSJ right now and it mentions Tuesdays with Dorie... Here is an excerpt:

...A typical attitude is that of Laurie Woodward, the Pittsburgh mom who runs "Tuesdays With Dorie," devoted to "Baking," the latest cookbook by Dorie Greenspan, one of country's most popular baking writers and a master of American and French classics.

"Dorie is like a god to a lot of bakers," says Ms. Woodward. "And she is so nice about checking in on our blog. Sometimes, she even posts something on it, and everyone goes nuts when she does."

Ms. Greenspan said in an interview that she is, indeed, charmed by the blog and considers such sites to be part of the new Web world in which professional food writers like herself are learning to work.

So my question is... how has blogging changed you- have you been "changed for good for good" like they say in Wicked? Do you eagerly anticipate Tuesdays to see what everyone made for TWD? Do you want your photos to be awesome like Peabody's someday? Have you been bitten by the cooking bug and corrected the clerk at the deli counter about the internal temperature poultry should be cooked to? No... that didn't happen to me... and if you're reading this deli girl, 140 is not acceptable for chicken! :)

May 29, 2008

Ina's Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Last week we had an amazing bout of "cold" weather complete with rain. My baby wore a long sleeved shirt to lunch for Memorial Day and a woman stopped us on the street and said, "You'd better take a picture, He'll never wear long sleeves on Memorial Day in Arizona again!" With the one last respite from the heat before summer sets in, I made some soup and some cornbread.

As usual, I loved Ina's recipe. I only halved the recipe and I made muffins instead. Half a recipe yielded 11 big muffins. They were pretty mild and my mom was surprise to hear there were jalapeños in the muffins. Next time, I'll add more jalapeño and keep some more of the membrane and seeds in for more heat.

These were super tasty and easy to put together- they would taste awesome with a bowl of chili or Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home, 2006
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. yellow cornmeal
1/4 C. sugar
2 T. baking powder
2 t. kosher salt
2 C. milk (I used a bit extra to compensate for the milk)
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten (I just used large since that's what I always buy)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (I used 3/4 of what she recommended)
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 C. chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish (I used about 5 or 6 scallions)
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeño peppers (I would keep some of the membrane and seed since they weren't hot at all)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapeños, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan. (I used muffins and sprayed the pan with Pam with Flour. They baked for 25 minutes.)

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

May 28, 2008

Blogger 411 Meme

I've been tagged by Rainbow Brown from Brown Interior and I'm kind of excited, so here goes... some random info about me. Thanks girl!

1. Why did you start your blog?
This is kind of silly, but I used to work at a technical public relations firm and did a lot of research for our clients. I kept finding live journal and blogger sites and finally looked up on Wikipedia what a blog was. I know, lame, and lamer since it was only two years ago and I'm usually pretty in the know... So once we had our baby, we hopped on the blog wagon... and once I got more into that, I found all these awesome recipe blogs and events and figured this was a good way to learn more about cooking and my camera (a Nikon D50) at the same time.

2. How did you come up with your blog name?
When I was a little girl my Uncle used to call me Annie Banannie and I hated it. It made me so mad that I threw a fit and he asked what I liked, I told him I liked strawberries, and my nickname Annie Strawberry was born. I figured since they've been my favorite food my entire life, my foodie endeavours should reflect that. So after much thought, Anne Strawberry the blog was born. And it's a fun hobby.

Here's a pic of my about when I decided I'd no longer be called Annie Banannie! :)

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog, and what do they think?
I have a link on the bar of my browser so my husband comes over every now and then to see what I've posted. I'm flattered he likes to read what I write since he was an English major and is a really good writer. I have a link from my personal blog here and when my family tries some of recipes I tell them they can get the recipe here. So they know, and while I think the men think it's silly, I love that I can hop onto my site and see how hot or how long something should bake for instead of diving into my plethora of cookbooks, and I can share recipes with my friends without having to copy them down onto the back of a reciept or whatever's handy.

I think the things my family likes best about my cooking blog is tasting all of my Dorie treats. They all love that. :)

4. How do you write posts?
I usually write a post after a clean off my card on my camera and see what cooking photos have piled up. Most of the time I write while my little guy is asleep, or while my husband is watching Basketball (since I'm in the same room, I count that as watching, but he doesn't!)

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?
Nope, but I keep my personal family blog private just in case. As for this, it's just something fun to do, hopefully people will say just hello and keep it positive.

6. Do you check your stats or care how many people read your blog? If you care, how do you increase traffic?
I have site meter installed but I just peek at it ever so often. Mostly, I love making friends and seeing what others are up to- that's the point of the blog for me. Actual numbers aren't a big deal... but if my little blog became so famous they wanted to put me on the food network, I wouldn't object!

So that's that about me. I love cooking and I love photography- that's about all there is to know! Now I'll tag:

MaryAnn from Meet Me in the Kitchen
AnneMarie from Taste Buds
and anyone else who thinks it sounds like fun. Thanks for playing along!

May 27, 2008

TWD- Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Brioche was the first recipe I made when I joined TWD so I was really excited to get to make it again with this recipe! Since I've made it a few times since, I knew the drill of holding the KitchenAid while it was kneading the bread. And, I'm not sure if this helps but I put an ice pack on the top where it started to get hot. Fine, I'll admit it, I LOVE my KitchenAid. I almost named this blog "KitchenAiding and Abetting".

With all the fabulous buttery dough, I made one batch of Sticky Buns and one batch of Brioche Snails with Chocolate and Heath Toffee Bits. They both tasted good and my husband ate three of the snails right out of the oven before I even wrapped them up. They are that good.

I used Dental floss to cut the rolls and it was super easy and quick. The pecans were amazing, too (and you can ask anyone I know... I don't even really like nuts). I thought these sticky buns were even tastier than cinnamon rolls with only a little more effort. I took them to a BBQ and they got the "Make it again" review from everyone. Another winner from Dorie! Thanks for choosing them Madam Chow! Be sure to check out everyone's take on the Sticky Buns. Yum! Thanks again to Dorie for the amazing recipes. If you haven't bought her book yet, head to Amazon right now! It's only $12.99 and worth it's weight, all four something pounds, in gold!

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
From Baking by Dorie Greenspan
For the Glaze:
1 C. (packed) light brown sugar (I always use dark)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 C. honey
1 1/2 C. pecans (whole or pieces)

For the Filling:
1/4 C. sugar
3 T. (packed) light brown sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
3 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)

Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.

The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
Golden Brioche Loaves
2 packets active dry yeast (or about 2 1/2 t. per packet)
1/3 C. just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 C. just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 2/3 C. all-purpose flour
2 t. salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 C. sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

For complete directions for the Brioche Raisin (or in my case Chocolate) Snails or the Brioche loaves, check out these previous posts.

Tuesdays with Dorie- Brioche Raisin Snails
TWD- Brioche Snails Redo

May 26, 2008

BBQ Chicken

Happy Memorial Day! We've spent the weekend celebrating with family and had a quiet evening in tonight. I had Barefoot Contessa on and she was grilling chicken and my husband decided that was a good idea, so we put some legs on the grill and had a great improptu dinner. Here's our quick and easy recipe for a good dry rub and BBQ sauce. I love Sweet Baby Ray's but when I saw High Fructose Corn Syrup was the first ingredient, I was kind of turned off to the store bought. While we make ours with ketchup, and there's some HFCS in that, I'm glad it's not the MAIN ingredient!

Sweet Dry Rub
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 T. Chili Powder
2 T. Dried Parsley
1 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 T. Paprika
1 T. Ground Pepper
1 T. Garlic Powder
1/2 t. Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt (or Kosher Salt)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and rub over chicken. Let sit for at least 30 minutes until ready to grill.

Homemade Barbeque Sauce
1 C. Ketchup (spring for the Heinz... you know it's the best!)
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Soy Sauce
2 T. Worchestershire Sauce
1 T. Chili Powder
1 t. Sriracha hot sauce
2 T. Dijon Mustard (use more if you like a really mustardy sauce... but it's strong!)
1 T. Tomato Paste (I like the kind in the tube you can store in the fridge)
1 T. Garlic Powder
Dash of Ginger
Dash of Cumin

Whisk all ingredients into a bowl and refridgerate. Serve with BBQ chicken. If desired, baste meat with sauce in the last few minutes of cooking so the sugar doesn't burn. Be sure to throw out the extra sauce after basting (or cook it up) so it's not contaminated from the raw chicken.

May 20, 2008

TWD- Black and White Chocolate Cake

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie selection came from Tara of Smells Like Home. She chose Traditional Madeleine's but there was an option to go back to a previous recipe if you don't have the proper pan for the Madeleine's. Since I knew I'd get more rolled eyes at the mention of a new pan, I was happy to choose something I missed. I decided on the Black and White Chocolate Cake since I've been eyeing it since I bought the book.

As usual, I made several modifications. I made cupcakes because I was sharing this dessert and didn't want it to require utensils and more. Then, I piped the chocolate pudding into the center of the cupcake with a pastry bag after baking and cooling. It was simple and worked well. I also loved that the pudding inside the cupcake was kind of a little surprise- you didn't know it was there until after you bit into it! I frosted the cupcakes and topped them with some chocolate shavings.

As for the white chocolate frosting, I went against my better judgment (and Dorie's) and used the Toll House chips I had on hand. My cream whipped up great but when I added the chocolate I suddenly had white chocolate butter. So, I made my regular frosting and it worked out great.

I LOVED the combination of the frosting with the pudding, though I wasn't in love with the cake. I'm not a good judge, though, because I've never like cake, I just like making them and snitching the frosting! These were beautiful cupcakes and I really enjoyed making them. It was quite the process with the batter, frosting, and pudding, but I think it was worth it. I had a nice time putting everything together and, as usual, loved making my "Dorie" treat for the week.
Black and White Chocolate Cake
From Dorie Greenspan's “Baking: From My Home to Yours”

Makes 10 servings (or 24 cupcakes)

For the Cake
2 C. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1-1/4 sticks (10 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 t. pure vanilla extract (I used almost a tablespoon... I love vanilla)
3/4 C. buttermilk

For the Dark Chocolate Cream
2 C. whole milk
4 egg yolks
6 T. sugar
3 T. cornstarch, sifted (You guessed it... I didn't sift)
1/4 t. salt
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2-1/2 T. unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temperature

For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream (I made my favorite frosting after my first attempt failed)
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate (such as Valrhona Ivoire or Guittard), finely chopped
1-1/2 C. heavy cream

Chocolate shavings or curls, dark or white or a combination, for decoration (optional)

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake:
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack. (I baked my cupcakes for about 25 minutes)

To Make the Dark Chocolate Cream:

Bring the milk to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk - this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle - then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with the cream into a large bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To Make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil.

When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature - it can’t be the least bit warm when you add it to the whipped cream.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks. Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

To Assemble the Cake:
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place one layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.

Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream. (You’ll have some dark chocolate cream left over - use it as a dip for Madeleine's or sables.) Top with the final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and top with the remaining white chocolate whipped cream. If you’d like to decorate the top with chocolate shavings or curls, do it now.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Serving: Remove the cake from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut it. Though the cake is particularly good with coffee or tea, it also goes well with a sweet or sparkling dessert wine.
Storing: While both the dark chocolate cream and white chocolate cream can be made ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator, once assembled, the cake is best after about 3 hours in the fridge. However, it can be refrigerated overnight - just cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.

May 17, 2008

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies (TWD extra!)

I needed to make some brownies last week, so I propped open my Dorie book and had fun reading all the recipes (does anyone else read cookbooks like novels now? I'm not sure when I started doing that...) There are SO many that I had a hard time choosing. I ended up making the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies because they looked so decadent and delish (which was a funny coincidence because it was one of the alternate recipes for this week). They were! Picture this- semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa powder, and white chocolate to top it off.

Here's the birthday treat, ready to go. I like how it looked like a box of chocolates, but was huge! I made a double batch and baked them in an 11 x 13 pan- they were thick and delicious, though the large portions I cut were way too much to handle. Next time I think I'll make them a little thinner and cut them into little bites so it's just as tasty and less overwhelming.

I ended up making the Cashew Cream again for the glaze and it worked well. I bet it would taste awesome doing that and using Cashews for the nuts (I used walnuts). I enjoyed this recipe and had fun making this easy and tasty batter. Even with the nuts in the brownies I thought the texture was perfect and so good. Another winner from Dorie!

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies
From “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan

For the Brownies:
1/2 C. Flour
1/4 C. Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t. salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 T. strong coffee (I omitted this)
1 C. sugar
3 large eggs
1 t. pure vanilla
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips
1 C. chopped nuts

For the Glaze:
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
1/3 C. heavy cream (I used 1/2 C. Cold Water and 1/2 C. Raw Cashews, blended)

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet. (Yes, that's a postage scale sitting there measuring my chocolate... although I want a fancy one from Williams Sonoma, this one works great!)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt.

To Make the Brownies:
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted - you don’t want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously - you don’t want to add air to the batter - and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.)

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack - it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely. (I'd never done this before but it worked great... I just used Pam with Flour after lining my pan with foil)

To Make the Glaze:
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze.

Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2-1/4 inches on a side.

May 14, 2008

Oriental Chicken Wraps

After I saw Camilla's post about Superfoods I busted open my package of spinach and got to work. Mostly, I needed something light and easy- this was a tasty alternative to a green salad with chicken (my go-to meal for the past month... stupid diets). It would also taste great with some oriental salad dressing, but I think the "Rooster" sauce gives it a spicy, substantial flavor.

Oriental Chicken Wraps
1 Chicken Breast, grilled (I used the grill pan) and shredded
2 Carrots, shredded
1 package Bean sprouts
1 Cucumber, thinly sliced
1 C. Prewashed Spinach, packed
4 Flour Tortillas, cooked (I like the uncooked ones from Costco best)
Sriracha Chili Sauce
2-3 T. Reduced sodium Soy Sauce
1 T. Honey

In a hot skillet, toss the shredded chicken, carrots, and bean sprouts. Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a little chili sauce (I used about 2 tsp. but it was too hot for my husband, adjust to taste), and the honey. Stir and cook over medium high heat until the veggies are soft and everything is warm.

Lay tortillas flat and put 1/4 of the chicken mixture in the center. Top with a good handful of spinach, some sliced cucumbers, and tuck in the ends. Roll up the tortilla and enjoy!

May 13, 2008

TWD- Florida Pie (Key Lime Pie)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection came from Dianne of Dianne's Dishes and I want to give her a HUGE thank you. I absolutely LOVED this recipe! I made it in a tart pan and thought there was the perfect crust to filling ratio. It was also nice and light- a perfect end to our mother's day meal on the patio. Well, the real perfect end was when my husband did the dishes!

I made a few modifications because I remain convinced that coconut tastes like sunblock (I know, people say it's the other way around, but growing up in the desert will do that to you!) I toasted coconut and used it as a garnish so people could enjoy as much sunblock as they wanted. I also used whipped cream on top and it was wicked delicious. I made my crust from scratch and made a bit extra so I could make a few tartlets to deliver to some special ladies for mother's day. Next time, I think I will put a little extra butter in the crust because it seemed to crumble too much coming out of the tart pans. (Any suggestions? Bake it longer?)

I'm filing this in my quick and easy section to remember for another day- this tasted absolutely divine and came together so quickly. (It would have been even faster with a store bought crust, but I think the homemade crust really completed this dessert, definetely worth the time imo). Even my husband, who isn't too big of a fan of citrus, snuck a tartlet for breakfast this morning. How's that for a testimonial?

Be sure to check out all the other delicious pies from everyone at Tuesdays with Dorie!

Florida Pie
Adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan, photos by Anne
1 9-inch graham cracker crust, fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust (I made my own)
1 1/3 C. heavy cream
1 1/2 C. shredded sweetened coconut (I only used about 3/4 C.)
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C. Fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 C. Sugar

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat. (I used one 10 inch tart and two tartlet pans)

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling. (I omitted this due to my ridiculous coconut aversion)

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue: (I skipped the meringue and topped the pie with sweetened whipped cream with vanilla after freezing)

Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Serve with toasted coconut and lime slices to garnish. Enjoy!

May 8, 2008

Sprinkles Now Open

A few months ago I went to a birthday party and my friend Anna had made Sprinkles frosting from Oprah, knowing how much Melanie loves Sprinkles. Again last week Melanie was saying how she couldn't wait for them to open in the valley. Well, they're here! They opened today in Scottsdale on Scottsdale and Camelback Road. I read an article in the paper that says they have frosting shots, which my cousin Auburn is going to be all over (I think I've posted this before but Auburn is my inspiration whenever I make frosting... I always wonder if she would like it and how I could make it better for such a connoisseur.)

I really want to go see what all the hype is about but I'll have to wait until I'm in the area, so then I won't feel as bad about cheating on my diet. I saw the owner, Candace Nelson, on the food network yesterday and she was adorable. The frosting I tried was awesome too. I don't doubt these cupcakes live up to their reputation. Still, three something dollars for a cupcake? I think I could make a wicked delicious cupcakes at three bucks a pop! Today I'm going to make Dorie's Quintuple Chocolate Brownies... I'm guessing that's going to be better than a cupcake to me! (photo from

May 6, 2008

TWD- Peanut Butter Torte

I love peanut butter and I love chocolate, so I knew this was going to be a winner (Ina would say, "How bad can that be?"). I took it to a family lunch on Sunday and everyone loved it. For their sake (since some of them read this blog) I will say up front that while this dish was ridiculously fattening I did do a few things to help lower the calories. First, I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. I use it for everything and didn't notice any problems.

Second, instead of using an extra 1/2 C. of heavy cream for the ganache, I made "Cashew Cream" from Enlightened Cooking by Camilla Saulsbury. This girl is a genius- I love reading her blog and can't wait to get her new book! Anyways, for the cream... Basically, you blend equal parts cold water and raw, unsalted cashews and you get cream! I couldn't tell the difference in my ganache and felt better about eating it! It was SO good I was dying to lick the bowl. I'll certainly do that next time I need ganache (but keep in mind for my friends with babies that they shouldn't eat nuts until they are two or three... so this is something you might overlook when you let your little on have a snitch of your dessert).

I made my torte in a standard springform pan and made a tartlet on the side so I could test it before taking the big one over, since I'm always a little nervous to take something I've never made before. I LOVED the tartlet and thought it was the perfect ratio of filling to crust, so next time I think I will make a full size tart and a wedge of that will satisfy as well as a piece of the huge pie did, so it will be even healthier (who am I kidding, less bad for you is more truthful!). Be sure to stop by TWD and see how everyones torte turned out and an extra thanks to Elizabeth for choosing this, I loved it!

Peanut Butter Torte
from Baking by Dorie Greenspan (go buy it, seriously!)
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping) (I left out about 1/2 C. and there was plenty still)
2 t. Sugar
¼ t. Cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ C. Mini chocolate chips
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender (I used about 35-40 oreos)
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used 7 T. to increase crust)
2 ½ C. Heavy cream (I used 2 C. cream, 1/3 C. Cold water, and 1/3 C. Raw cashews)
1 ¼ C. Powdered sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel)
1 ½ C. Peanut butter
2 T. whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. (I didn't need any butter with all the fat in the crust, mine came right out.)

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside. (I don't do coffee so I omitted the espresso and used just a tiny bit of nutmeg since I don't like it much)

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling. (Mine needed about 20 minutes of baking, 17 for the tartlet)

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the powdered sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. (see directions below for Cashew Cream)

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cashew Cream (adapted from Enlightened Cooking)
1/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup cold water
7 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Place the nuts and cold water in a blender and blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides. Blend at least 1-2 minutes longer until the mixture is smooth (mixture will be very thick; add 1-2 additional tablespoons water, if needed, to blend until smooth).

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and cool slightly. Stir in cashew cream, vanilla and salt until well-blended. Top torte with your "healthy" ganache, and enjoy!