Monday, October 27, 2014

Brownie Pudding

The ice cream truck is alive and well in Dallas, TX.  This guy either gets around and has tapped into the cloud which houses our schedule or this is big business and there is a fleet of trucks canvassing the Dallas parks.  So when the jingle started playing and the kids came running “can we have an ice cream?”, I distracted them with a “I’ll make you a ‘real’ dessert at home tonight” comment.  As if I have ever turned down an ice cream sandwich or a Lemon Chill before.  And now I had to come up with a dessert.  Fortunately, I had most of the ingredients for this brownie pudding recipe by Barefoot Contessa in the pantry. 
Brownie Pudding

The kids were pleased with the delay in satisfaction (David even tried a bite).  This dessert is crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside.  Home run!!

Her new book, Make it Ahead, is coming out this week!  I’m so excited!!    


Ingredients
  1. 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  2. 4 large eggs
  3. 2 cups sugar
  4. 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  5. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 1 t vanilla extract
  7. Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 2 sticks of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (Ina says paddle attachment – I couldn’t find mine so used the whisk one instead), beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, then the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. (Don’t let this step deter you – the oval dish fits nicely inside a 9x13 – 3 qt Pyrex dish).  Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pretzels

“Howdy folks!”  It is the well known greeting of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas, an annual and favorite outing for Travis, Elizabeth and Andrew.  We ventured out and crammed in as many rides, games, and fried and sugary food as possible in a short timeframe (it's also great people watching, and boy, were there a lot of people (my favorite was a father feeding a morsel of pizza to his 4-month old - I checked and he probably should wait until at least 7-9 months).  When we returned home, David asked “how was it?”  My response: “I feel disgusting.  I need a pretzel to soak up all the fry and sugar.”

This is a fun recipe to make with the kids (just make sure there is a good hand washing before you do!)

Happy (early) birthday Mimi!

Ingredients  
Pretzels

  1. 1 1/2 C warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  2. 1 T sugar
  3. 2 t kosher salt
  4. 1 package active dry yeast
  5. 22 ozs all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  6. 2 ozs unsalted butter, melted
  7. Vegetable oil, for pan
  8. 10 C water
  9. 2/3 C baking soda
  10. 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T water
  11. Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface (or tape some wax paper on the countertop) and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fingerling Potato Salad with Green Beans, Feta and Olives

I walked right past you.  But then I did a double take.  You were so small and cute.  I hadn’t really given you much consideration before.  I didn’t know what to do with you.  But Bobby did.  Oh, fingerling potato – forgive me for neglecting you all this time.  If my kids did this, it would be a prime parenting opportunity.  Do as I say…
 
Fingerling Potato Salad
with Green Beans, Feta and Olives
Ingredients
  1. 8 ozs haricot vert (French green beans), trimmed
  2. 12 fingerling potatoes
  3. 1 T kosher salt
  4. 3 T red wine vinegar
  5. 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  6. 1 T Dijon mustard
  7. ½ T clover honey
  8. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  9. ½ c extra-virgin Greek olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  10. Canola oil, for grilling
  11. 8 ounces feta, crumbled
  12. 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  13. 2 tablespoons lightly chopped fresh oregano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the haricot vert until al dente, about 90 seconds. Shock in ice water, drain well, chop in halves or thirds and reserve.

Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with 2 inches cold water and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook until a small knife inserted into the center of the potato meets with some resistance, about 5 minutes. Drain well, place on a baking sheet and let cool slightly. Halve lengthwise.

Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.  (Bobby made twice as much dressing but it was more than we needed).

Bobby grills the potatoes – ours fell through the grates so I placed it on a cookie sheet and broiled it in the oven.  If you do/can grill, heat the grill to medium heat. Toss the potatoes with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown in spots, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove and toss with some of the vinaigrette.

Combine the potatoes, green beans, feta cheese, olives and oregano in a bowl. Toss with more of the vinaigrette, taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Apple Pie

Classic apple pie
It is fall and you know what that means.  Apple season! (I know that’s exactly what you were thinking).  After a series of missteps trying new recipes, I went with a tried and true, down home, easy as (apple) pie recipe… oh wait, this is apple pie.  Thanks Joy of Cooking – I needed a thumbs up (Elizabeth even gave me one).  

Pick ‘em at an orchard or pick ‘em up at your grocer, grab some golden delicious apples and enjoy your fall!

Ingredients 

  1. Pie crust dough, like Pillsbury pie crusts in the refrigerated section
  2. 6-8 medium-large golden delicious apples (about 7 cups of apple pieces)
  3. 3 T unsalted butter
  4. ¾ c sugar
  5. ½ t ground cinnamon
  6. 1/8 t salt 
    Beautiful on the inside and out

Preheat the oven to 425.  Unroll the pie crust and place the bottom crust in your pie dish.

Peel, core and slice the apples a little more than ¼ inch.  Measure 7 cups of cut apples.  In a large skillet or pot, heat butter over high heat until sizzling and fragrant.  Add the apples and toss until glazed with butter.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  The apples should soften on the outside but still be slightly crunchy.  Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook at a rapid boil for about 3 minutes until the juice becomes thick and syrupy.  Remove the apples from the heat and spread out onto a baking sheet to cool.

Once cool, pour the apple mixture into the bottom crust.  Brush the overhanging edge of the bottom crust with cold water.  Cover with the to crust and seal the edges (trim, crimp or flute, if you wish).  Cut about 6 steam vents into the top crust.

Bake 40-45 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling bubbles.  Part way through cooking, you might want to place aluminum foil over the edges of the pie to keep it from burning.  Let the pie cool to your desired serving temperature (we couldn’t wait that long, about 10 minutes, and there was still steam coming from the filling).  The pie is best eaten on the day that it is made but it will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature.  Don’t forget to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Profiteroles

Profiteroles
“You’ve got to be in it to win it.”  I admit it.  Our family plays the lottery (but only when the jackpot gets big (because $4M just isn’t “enough”)).  We are not talking big sums of money spent on playing a game whose odds are worse than <almost anything else you can think of.>  As Travis turns 11, I am thinking about numbers and how David and I have won the lottery with him, Elizabeth and Andrew.  So here is a breakdown of the numbers 1 to 11:
  • You will always be our first born. 
  • There are 2 little people in this house who watch and emulate your every move. 
  • Together you are the 3 musketeers – you guys can get after it like no one else but when it’s good, it’s really, really good and it's fun to have a front row view into that bond. 
  • Why does no one tell you that the 4 year old check up is the worst ever? (This is a public service announcement to all mothers of children under 4.  You are welcome.)
  • They know the lines of most Peanuts cartoons by heart – do you?  “Lucy Van Pelt: ‘I'll give you five good reasons. One, two, three, four, FIVE!’ Linus Van Pelt: ‘Those are good reasons. Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it's getting too dangerous.’ ”
  • Do you remember the joke: Why is 6 afraid of 7?  Because 7 8 9.
  • After age 10, you have to become more creative with your finger gestures to indicate your age during the annual birthday picture.
  • Congratulations Travis!  You have survived Daddy’s and my “expert parenting” for 11 years now!  Happy Birthday!

What is better than combining pastry, ice cream and chocolate?  Well, just about nothin’… 

Ingredients:  

  1. 1 c milk
  2. ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  3. Pinch of kosher salt
  4. 1 c all-purpose flour
  5. 4 extra-large eggs
  6. ½ c heavy cream
  7. 12 ozs semisweet chocolate chips
  8. 2 T honey
  9. Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.

While some recipes call for putting the dough into a pastry bag, I didn’t have one so I used an ice cream scoop and a spoon.  Spoon about 18 balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (the balls should be about 1-½ inches wide and 1 inch.  If you want, wet your hands and you can lightly shape/mold them into little balls.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set aside to cool.

For the chocolate sauce (and I made half of what is listed in the ingredients), place the cream and chocolate chips in a bowl set over simmering water and stir just until the chocolate melts. Add the honey and stir until smooth. Set aside.

For serving, cut each profiterole in half crosswise, fill with a small scoop of ice cream, replace the top, and drizzle with slightly warm chocolate sauce.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

What do you think of when you hear “pavlova”?  A scientist who trains dogs to salivate when they hear a bell?  A Russian tennis star?  Now when you hear “pavlova” you will start to salivate and have to play a little more tennis to work off the calories.  Or if you are playing Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy the real answer is that a pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova.  This recipe came from Nigella Lawson.

Ingredients:  
Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

For the Meringue Base:
  1. 6 large egg whites
  2. 2 c sugar (calls for superfine, I used Imperial)
  3. 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  4. 1 t balsamic or red wine vinegar
  5. 2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:
  1. 2 c heavy cream
  2. 4 c raspberries
  3. 1 to 2 oz dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake pan that size.  Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle – and place it on the cookie sheet.

Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.

Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.

Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you're ready to serve, invert onto a big flat bottomed plate and peel off the parchment.

Decorate the Pavlova: Nigella’s instructions are included here however I cut the pavlova into individual servings then topped with whipped cream and raspberries on each plate rather than topping the cake first and then cutting into individual servings.  Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Man and his love affair with fire began over 400,000 years ago (some studies indicate 1 million years ago but let’s not squabble about the minutiae, it was a long time ago.  However, to put it in perspective, the first game of golf was only over 550 years ago).  I digress.   

This Mann enjoyed both fire and golf on his Father’s Day.  After some early temperature control issues, he managed to get the Big Green Egg under control and made us some delicious beef short ribs (recipe courtesy of Kevin Rathbun). 

Whether you call him Dad, Daddy, Pop, Pa, Father, Gigi, or Sir, call him this Father’s Day and tell him how much he means to you.

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Ingredients: 
Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Rub
  1. 1 t garlic powder
  2. 1 t onion powder
  3. 1 t smoked Spanish paprika
  4. ½ t cayenne pepper
  5. ½ t dried thyme
  6. ½ t ground coriander
  7. 1 T kosher salt

Other ingredients 
  1. 4 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, cut 2-2 ½ inches thick
  2. 16 oz lager beer
  3. 2 C chicken stock
  4. 2 C white balsamic vinegar
  5. 4 T salted butter, cubed
  6. Hickory chips 

Green Egg Equipment: plate setter, porcelain coated grid, hickory chips, 9in x 13 in glass or ceramic baking dish (we used a disposable aluminum pan instead)

Preheat the Egg to 200 degrees without the grid.

Place the hickory chips in a small bowl, cover with water and let soak for at least 1 hour.  Drain and scatter over the preheated charcoal. Using barbecue mitts, place the grid on the Egg.

To make the rub, mix all of the dry ingredients together (garlic powder through salt).  Generously rub the short ribs with the spice mix.

Place the ribs on the grid and close the lid of the Egg.  Let the ribs smoke 1 ½ - 2 hours.  Once the short ribs have finished smoking, transfer the ribs to the baking dish. 

Using the grill gripper and barbecue mitts, carefully remove the grid and add the plate setter, legs up, and replace the grid.  Raise the internal temperature of the Egg to 375.

Mix the beer and the chicken broth in a large bowl and set aside.  Place the vinegar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.  Pour the beer and chicken mixture over the ribs.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil; place in the preheated egg for 2 ½ hours or until the ribs are fork tender.

Warm the reduced vinegar over low heat.  Using a whisk, add the butter a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the butter is emulsified.  Do not boil.  Transfer the ribs to plates, top with the sauce and serve immediately.