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.