Monday, June 30, 2008

RATATOUILLE

Temperance and I chose this recipe for the beginning of Recipes to Rival. You will find that some of the vegetables are beginning to come into season. There are several versions of Ratatouille out there but we thought we would go with the recipe that the movie, RATATOUILLE used. According to Revolution Health the following recipe is the offical recipe of the movie.

Ratatouille - Definition


A popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs --all simmered in olive oil. The vegetables can vary according to the cook. They can be cooked together, or cooked separately and then combined and heated briefly together. Ratatouille can be served hot, cold or at room temperature, either as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers.
-- Epicurious.com

What a great recipe this was! I so enjoyed the taste especially the piperade. It will be making an appearance with some other dishes this summer!

Confit Byaldi
from NY TIMES


1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a bay leaf
Kosher salt


FOR VEGETABLES
1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds 1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons olive oil 1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


FOR VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.


1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Check out You Tube clips of Ratatouille if you have not seen the movie. Its definitely a foodie movie.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A DARING BAKER'S DANISH

Who knew I could make laminated dough. That's the thing about Daring Bakers, you have this whole team of people cheering you on, comforting you, giving you ideas to do the things you wouldnt normally do on your own.

A few years ago I saw Julia Childs make laminated dough with a guest chef. I thought to myself there is no way I could do that. I wouldn't want to spend all that time only to have it fail. But fail it did not. It succeeded. All you need is the Daring Bakers (wink, wink).

Kelly of Sass & Veracity of picked this recipe and worked with Ben of What’s Cookin’?. The two of them provided guidance along the way. Great pick and great job! The recipe is quite lengthy so I will refer you to either of these two lovely Daring Bakers! So click on their site and you will find their yummies and then click on Daring Bakers to go check out all the flavors that are possible.

I made my filling with pastry cream and blackberry puree. My other braid was pastry cream and apple pumpkin butter filled. Most everyone preferred the blackberry one. If I were to do it all over again, and I am sure I will, I would do a frangipan one and a cream cheese one. Oh the possibilites that await!










Roll out the dough and spread the butter.










Even though I folded it wrong my end product was delicious. Who knew?










Starting the braid.










Inserting lots of yummy bling to make your taste buds happy.














The braid and the final product.

Here is what you can do with any leftover dough. I am sure there will be a mouth ready to eat it!!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PROFITEROLES


Sinful, delectable, melt in your mouth goodness, profiteroles. A few days before our get together I made David Lebovitz, mint ice cream. Our group almost always enjoys mint tea at our gatherings. So I knew I could not go wrong with mint flavor.

The puff pastry is from Dorie Greenspan. The chocolate sauce is basicly a ganache. I heated 2 ounces of milk chocolate and about a 1/3 of a cup of heavy cream in the microwave and whisked it periodically until it was warm enough to melt and mix. I had prescooped the mint ice cream into balls so that when it was time to serve, it came together in a snap. Pop open the puff, insert ice cream ball put top back on, drizzle with chocolate sauce. Easy peazy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

RED FEATHER on INDIAN FOOD

This past Saturday I had some friends over for what we call our Four Corners Group. When we first started meeting back in 2000 we called ourselves the Intuition Group. We met to read and practice a book together called Practical Intuition. It's basically about how to really listen to what your inner voice is telling you. Like I am sure you had the experience of thinking to yourself after an event took place, "I knew that was going to happen." That knowing is what we were seeking to develop. The book eventually was completed and we just had this chemistry and wanted to keep meeting. A couple of years ago we decided to go an outing and my friend called me Red Feather. It just kind of popped out. So then we all named each other American Indian type names and called ourselves the Four Corners (representing East, West, North and South and Earth, Wind, Fire and Water). I am Red Feather Swimming (water), my friend who named me is called Sparkling Stone, Earth (yeah, she loves jewels and sparkles), another friend is named Eagle Soaring, Wind (she conquered cancer, is there anything more soaring than that?) and finally my other friend is Dancing Flame, fire (she is a trained dancer).

I had them all over on Sunday and we enjoyed an Indian lunch together. East Indian that is. We had Naan (click here for the recipe), Tandoori Chicken (click here for the recipe, I did add a teaspoon of turmeric to that recipe) and Raita (see below). And for dessert, well, I will tell you all about that tomorrow (I will give you a hint, it's French).


RAITA

2 cups yogurt (I used fat free)
1 cucumber shredded
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 T mint, chopped
1 tomato, coursely chopped and squeezed of excess juice
4 scallions, chopped
1- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (depending on taste)
1- 2 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all and let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

You can add any kind of vegetables to Raita. It's so refreshing and so nice dipping Naan into it or cooling off your palate after eating some tandoori chicken.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER

I made Dorie's cover cake, Devil's Food White Out Cake, for my daughter's end of the school year celebration. It was her first year of school and she did so well. She picked this cake from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home To Yours.
We liked the cake Dorie, but my daughter and I did not like the frosting. However, five other people sitting at the table loved the cake, frosting and all. I must say that your recipes are so good and explained beautifully. You do a fabulous job. I have just ordered Paris Sweets to show my love! wink wink smile.

Devil’s Food White-out Cake
From: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
½ cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
½ cup boiling water
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

For the filling and frosting:
½ cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder 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 sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, 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. At this point, the batter will be thick, like frosting. Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully bakes, the cakes will be springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Don’t worry if the tops have a few small cracks. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cakes layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

When you are ready to fill and frost the cake, inspect the layers. If the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. With the same knife, slice each layer horizontally in half. Set 3 layers aside and crumble the fourth layer; set the crumbs aside.

To make the filling and frosting: Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242° F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.

When the syrup is about 235° F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour in the hot syrup, pouring it between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable – don’t try to scrape them into the whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting. Although you could keep it in the fridge in a pinch, it’s really better to use it right now.

To assemble the cake: Put a bottom layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a long metal icing spatula, cover the layer generously with frosting. Top with a second layer, cut side up, and frost it. Finish with the third layer, cut side down, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Don’t worry about smoothing the frosting – it should be swirly. Now, cover the entire cake with the chocolate cake crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs in to the filling with your fingers.

Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour before serving. (If its more convenient, you can chill the cake for 8 hours or more; cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cilantro Pesto with Tofu

Yeah, that's right, a creamy, dreamy, low fat pesto made with tofu! How could you go wrong?
It may not be the most traditional of recipes but it sure tastes great. My husband thought it was regular pesto. The fact that he thought that left me with two conclusions, either his taste buds do not know any subtle or major differences in taste or the pesto is so good that it tastes just as divine as the real mccoy. I want to believe the latter of these two statements. I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself.


This is my entry for Equal Opportunity Kitchen's blogging event called, TRIED, TESTED and TRUE TWO. What a great idea for an event!

CILANTRO PESTO with TOFU

1 12oz package soft or silken tofu
2 cups cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup peccorino romano
juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Spin all ingredients in food processor or a blender. The taste is best when left for at least an hour to marry. A day before is even better. Serve with grated cheese sprinkled on top and a few pine nuts. Bon Appetito!

Monday, June 16, 2008

BOSTON CREAM PIE

My Father loves Boston Cream Pie. Me, I am not a fan. It's okay but not my favorite. It was Father's Day after all and I did my Dad proud. I loved hearing him enjoying it. The last time I made this cake (a different recipe), it was a complete flop. Whatever work was involved in this one, it was well worth it.
Look how light and airy the crumb is. A very nice and light cake indeed.

This recipe from Gale Gand was very light and enjoyable. The pastry cream was easy and tastey. I made two batches and used one for another recipe. Definitely will have that as my go to recipe for pastry cream.

Friday, June 13, 2008

EARLY SUMMER SALAD

Here is one of my all time favorite salads that I dutifully and happily make every year, as summer begins. A quick trip to the market, fresh radishes, green onions, cilantro and sometimes I even get my feta there. One stop shopping at the Rochester Public Market. Yes, I brave the crowds, each and every Saturday, pushing my two year old in her stroller, through the crowds. Ah yeah, no easy task, I tell yah! People get annoyed when you brush past them but secretly they are wishing they had a stroller to carry all that produce home. Apples and potatoes get heavy after a while. Luckily I am blessed with a husband that loves to go there. I like the diverse crowd and he likes how we save a lot of money.

This particular recipe is from a book called, The Periyali Cookbook: New Classic Greek Cooking by Holly Garrison, et al.

RADISHES WITH SCALLIONS AND FETA

2 cups thinly sliced radishes
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Arrange the radishes and scallions in layers in a large bowl, sprinkling each layer with some of the cilantro and oregano. Drizzle with a mixture of the vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with the feta cheese. Toss just before serving.

Or you could be like me and throw it all together. This recipe will make you love radishes if you didn't love them already.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

RECIPES TO RIVAL

















Hello All;

I have been trying to find a Savory Club similar to the Daring Bakers because I just love the Daring Bakers! I really didn't find anything. I did have the good fortune of finding Temperance of High on the Hog through DB. Through her dedication and hard work, a forum and a blog site was created. It's called Recipes to Rival. Her talent and quick work made this blog happen very rapidly. Check out those logos... to cool huh? I tell yah she's good!

Basically. this is how it works. Each month a different host picks a recipe and all of us in the group follow the leader and post on the date established. There will be the main group and an alternate group. Anyone who is vegan or has special dietary needs would be in the alternate group. Enrollment is open until after the first recipe release. At that point enrollment will be on the first of the month. The new recipe will be shared within a few days of that. Release of the recipe will be about three weeks later. So you have approximately three weeks to complete the recipe.


We hope you are interested and will swing by to check out the blog roll. If you are interested please email me at LorilipsmackerZ@gmail.com and Temperama@gmail.com. We look forward to co-creating delicious recipes with you. Hope to "chat" with you soon in the forum. The forum location will be released to you upon joining.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SPRING = STRAWBERRIES

This week for Tuesdays with Dorie we did LaPalette's Strawberry Tart (recipe here ). What a perfect recipe as strawberries are all over the market with the arrival of Spring. (You can see the crumb in this picture

I spread a low sugar jam over my tart. It is mixed berry and it's one of my favorites. I also made Tangy Chocolate Sauce from Dorie's book. I poured that all over my piece. It was yum!


My review of this tart. Well as far as tarts go I am not that picky because I love them. This particular tart is not a soft dough but rather a crumbly kind of dough. Some may baulk at that but it tastes so much like a shortbread cookie that I didnt mind. Have I told you that shortbread is my favorite kind of cookie. Which is why this tart was so appealling to me. In the future it will be one of the recipes in my tart dough repertoire. I have a few that I like. One I make has almond paste in it. Wow let me tell you it is delicious. More on that later. For right now Dorie gets the spotlight.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Marinated Asparagus with Rocket and Gruyere




Oh yum. This has become my salad of choice. I have had it two times this week. I had the idea out of desperation. I haven't really felt like buying iceburg, kind of sick of it. The other leaf lettuces have been too expensive. So last Saturday, at the market I bought some arugula/rocket because I love it's peppery taste. It was a good price and I knew it was local. I also bought asparagus. I know everyone uses asparagus for many things but usually I just prefer it lightly poached with salt. I love it that way. This time I had seen a recipe for marinated asparagus. I decided instead of going to the trouble of making this elaborate marinade that I would just pour some balsamic and olive oil with a little sugar and salt and pepper. That was it. My parents were over for dinner and there was definitely not enough asparagus to go around so I added the arugula/rocket and sprinkled gruyere on it. It was divine! I cant stop eating it. I went back to the market mid week to get more asparagus and rocket! Now that was long winded post.


Marinated Asparagus with Rocket and Gruyere

1 bunch of arugula (about three cups)
2 cups asparagus, chopped into two inch pieces
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
s and p

Boil asparagus until tender crisp. Combine vinegar, garlic powder, oil, sugar and s and p. Marinate asparagus for at least four hours. Best results when asparagus is marinated overnight.

When ready to serve combine rocket/arugula with the marinated asparagus. Sprinkle gruyere on top.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MA PO TOFU


I have made this recipe a number of times. I love it. The only thing I do different is add more veggies. I would love to add more "fire" to this dish but I am th eonly one who can stand the heat.

"Ma stands for "mazi" (Pinyin: mázi Traditional Chinese 麻子,) which means a person disfigured by pockmarks. Po (Chinese 婆) translates as "old woman". Hence, Ma Po is an old woman whose face was pockmarked. Legend says that the pock-marked old woman (má pó) was a widow who lived in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Due to her condition, her home was placed on the outskirts of the city. By coincidence, it was near a road where traders often passed. Although the rich merchants could afford to stay within the numerous inns of the prosperous city while waiting for their goods to sell, poor farmers would stay in cheaper inns scattered along the sides of roads on the outskirts of the ancient city.

It is said that the first people who tasted the old woman's cooking were a farmer and his son who arrived late to the city during a terrible rainstorm. They were forced to find shelter in the old woman's home having found that all of the inns were full.

Pleased with the company, the old woman prepared them a meal from her paltry larder, including the dish now known as Ma Po Dou fu. The dish was so delicious that soon each time the father and son passed the old woman's home, they would stay for a meal. In this way, the old woman's renown spread as others joined the father and son in visiting and staying at her home. These visitors would often bring the ingredients for her dish so as not to burden her larder."

From Wikipedia


Ma Po Tofu
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2006
my input is in red
1 pound package firm tofu
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 T corn starch
1-2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce
4 oz. lean ground pork (I grind my own pork to limit the fat even more)
1 T grated ginger
3 garlic cloves
2 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1/3 cup green onions (I add way more green onions)
1 cup cabbage chopped small 1 1/2 cups peas

Grind pork and marinate with 2 T soy sauce, ginger to taste, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 2 teaspoons sugar. Marinate overnight if possible.

Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towel ( I use tea towels to avoid waste). Place a dinner plate on top of covered tofu, let stand 30 minutes. Remove plate, discard paper towels. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.

Combine broth and next four ingredients, stirring with a whisk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add pork, cook four minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Add chopped cabbage, cook until golden. Add ginger and garlic, cook one minute stirring constantly. Add tofu, peas cook four minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth mixture to pan. Bring to a boil, cook 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat.

Serve tofu mixture over rice. Sprinkle with onions. Yield four servings.
1/2 cup rice, 3/4 cup pork mixture and two tablespoons onions is 290 Calories

Tagged

I have seen so many people get tagged and was wondering when I would get tagged. I did today by Christine over at Blenders Galore. I never seen it coming, boom I am it.

What was I doing ten years ago?

1998... hmmm. Summer 98 I was getting my Master's. Eating, breathing and living books, research, classes, and trying to get money. Now if you had asked about the folllowing year that would be a bit more exciting. Like get my diploma and talking with a head hunter and shipping myself off to SC.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:

1. get to the gym and have a hardcore workout!
2. plant my cucmbers, the only thing left to plant.

3. do laundry, oh yeah thats my daily chore!

4. Make Ma Po Tofu and post it.
5. Get started creating a new group for people to join... (ha ha , more on that later)

5 Snacks I enjoy:

popcorn
granola bars

carrots
almonds

pretzels



Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

I would invest in something that would contiinually make me a billionaire. I would travel the world, a little at a time. Be a philanthropist, more specifically start a horse farm for disabled children. Go to spas, regularly.

Places I have lived:

Phoenix, AZ (Mesa)
Knoxville, TN

Abbeville, SC
currently Rochester, NY

Jobs I have had:

KMart Home Health Aide Merry Maids (I lasted three days) CAT Scan and Angio Receptionist Coordinator for Home Based Services Medical Social Worker Nephrology Social Worker

I tag…….

Shelly, This Old Farm
Temperance, High on the Hog
Ulrike at Kuchenlatein
Leigh, Lemon Tartlet
Lyndsey Cafe Johnsonia

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

HONEY, DO YOU KNOW WHERE ALL THE BROWNIES WENT TO?


I have to say that I go against the grain when I say this. I am not a big brownie fan. Now that does not mean that I don't get a craving for these chocolatey bites once in a while, because I do. For the most part however, there are so many other things I want to eat or try.



I made Dorie Greenspans recipe (I did not use raisins) with no excitement for the final outcome. Sorry Dorie, it's not you, it's the brownie. I have to say that the batter was out of this world. The final outcome, well, I liked them. They were much lighter than your typical brownie. Neither fudgey or cakey but super chocolatey. Dories orginal intent was to make a cake so think along those lines. I bet you will find in all the Tuesdays with Dorie blogs, mixed results, largely depending on the butter consistency, whipping times and chocolate used.

For me they ranked as a make again recipe as my husband nearly ate the whole batch. I guess you could safely say that his review was more than satisfactory.

French Chocolate Brownies

- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.

Ingredients

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Hominy and Me, We're pretty good company..."


Okay, that would be Harmony and Me (Elton John) but it is fitting for this post. I looked in my fridge the other day and I saw cabbage, radish, cilantro, limes and I got thinking. Hmmm, do I have pork hocks in the freezer, why yes I think I do. Oh yes,,, POSOLE ROJO! Have not had this in so long.

I use to live in Phoenix Arizona. I learned a lot when I lived out there. Lots of life lessons and lots about Mexican culture. I had a friend there who was Mexican and she taught me a lot about Mexican food and Mexican men. What a combo. I remember one time, sitting with her by the pool with our feet dangling in the water. She said do you know how to say the vowels in Spanish. I of course said no being the Gringo that I am. She said, it goes like this, "ahhhhhh (insert slight tilting of the head and eyes rolling), ayyyyyy ( throw a little breathlessness in there). On and on it went until I was rolling with laughter. She was the quintessential sex pot! She really took me in as a friend and older sister.

One time she made this incredible soup that I just fell in love with. It wasn't the soup base necessarily, it was the incredible rainbow color presentation. You see Posole, at least according to my friend, needs to be served with fresh shredded cabbage, julienned radishes, chopped cilantro and green onions. If you like the heat, chopped jalapenos as well.

I have not stopped making it since then. I just love this soup!

POSOLE ROJO

1 medium onion chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 quarts tomato juice
2 cups water
2 teaspoons cumin
1 large can hominy
2 smoked pork hocks (much better flavor if they are smoked)
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup julienned radishes
1 cup chopped cilantro
minced jalapenos
1 cup chopped green onions
limes, wedged

Saute onions in a large pot with oil. When they are golden, add garlic and cumin, saute for one minute more or until fragrant. Pour in water and tomato juice. Bring to a boil. Add pork hocks, bring to a boil again. Simmer for at least an hour, until pork is falling off the bone. When finished take pork hocks out and remove meat, return to pot. Discard the bone and the skin. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with the fresh cabbage, radishes, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno and lime wedges. Everyone can add what they want.

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