Category Archives: Basics

Simple recipes that are used to create more complex dishes.

Baked Spring Ratatouille

 

Baked Spring Ratatouille-2

Why should summer have all the fun?  There are many perfectly wonderful vegetables in spring that can be combined to make a beautiful rendition of ratatouille.  This is one of those dishes where you go to the farmers’ market and you just look around to see what your ingredients will be.  If it’s nearly eighty degrees and those yellow squash are calling your name, you should go for it.  If you are still shivering under a sweater and you are grateful for the first sight of asparagus tips, you should go for those, instead.

It’s still pretty chilly here, so I used a combination of some local spring vegetables and some greenhouse grown summer favorites.  However, the heat treatments in this recipe allow the natural essence of the vegetables to be brought forth. So if they’re not completely at their peak, it’s ok, because you’re maximizing all flavor potential.  The warmth is officially on its way!

It’s one of those dishes that is versatile and can be baked with a layer of provolone when it’s still cold at night just to add a hint of delicious comfort.  If and when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, I recommend you skip the baking process, of course.  But that’s not yet.  This version can be eaten with a whole wheat pasta or even put into a crusty roll for a ratatouille sandwich.  You can also wrap up any remaining the next day for lunch with some crispy romaine and a dash of balsamic vinaigrette.  It’s versatile and happens to be both vegetarian and low carb.  Enjoy!

Baked Spring Ratatouille

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes (of chopping vegetables)
Total Cook Time: 40 minutes (including oven baking and cool time)
 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups diced spring onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups diced (small, firm) eggplant, skin on
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus tips
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated provolone
  • 3 tablespoons parmigiana-reggiano, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly spray, with cooking spray, the bottom and sides of an oven safe casserole dish (1-2 quarts in size).
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add oil.  Once oil sizzles and before it smokes, add spring onions.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and a pale golden color, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add eggplant and thyme with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, asparagus, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes.
  5. Stir well to blend, add additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired and then pour into prepared baking dish.
  6.  Bake in preheated oven until cheese bubbles and turns a pale golden brown, about ten to fifteen minutes.   Allow to set for five to ten minutes before serving.  Plate and garnish with parmigiano-reggiano and chopped scallions or basil leaves if desired.

 

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Meatless Monday: Chickpea Salad with Citrus and Herbs

Warm-Chickpea-Salad-citrus-herb

We have had so many snow days this year that today is both the first and last day of our supposed “spring break”.   And, after a beautifully sunny near-sixty-degree weekend, this morning it was a lowly 26 degrees.  I went from biking sixty miles and cleaning out my closet with a smile while whistling, to not wanting to get out of bed this morning because the floor was too cold and the covers too warm.

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Only in March does this happen over the course of one week.

Ouch.  Spring break.  Sure!  I guess you could call it that.

So, as winter hangs on, kicking and screaming with its snowy tantrums, we all know this cold won’t last forever.

Time to lighten up the meals.  This is  tangy, fresh, light and very filling. It feeds anyone you can imagine with a special diet; vegans, dairy free, gluten-free, vegetarian and the rest.

In just a short eight weeks, I will be basking in the sultry warmth, chasing our boys with the water balloon launcher, err…   lounging at the pool in the near tropical sun while chilling my manicured toes under the gently flowing waterfall.

One can hope.

Warm-Chickpea-Salad-citrus-herb-3

Chickpea Salad with Citrus and Herbs

Toss with prepared vegetables and server over rice or quinoa to make a complete meal. Serves a large crowd, about 7-10 people. You may freeze leftovers or halve the recipe, if desired.  Time: 2-3 day soak (inactive).  1 hour for cooking beans.  15 minutes to prepare & finish.

  • 16 oz. dried chickpeas (1 pound bag)
  • water
  • 3-4 vegetarian vegetable bullion cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil: LouAna*
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced: Your favorite kind as long as it’s the size of a softball, otherwise use more than half.
  • 3/4 cup diced, drained roasted bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup white wine
  • the zest of one lemon
  • the juice of two lemons
  • the juice of one large naval orange
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt, plus more to taste if desired
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and basil
  • 1 cup prepared vegetables or baby spinach (optional)
  • drizzle of organic honey, plus more to taste

*A sample of LouAna coconut oil was used to create this recipe.  I was pleased with the results.

  1. Sift through dried chickpeas removing odd bits; rinse chickpeas; place chickpeas into large air tight container.  Cover chickpeas with cold water.  Cover and place in refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Note: Any shorter soak time will require a longer cook time.
  2. In a large stockpot, add drained soaked chickpeas. Add fresh water 2 cups at a time until water covers chickpeas.  Add one bullion cube per 2 cups of water added to pot (about 3-4 cubes).
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and allow to cook until chickpeas are tender but not mushy (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  4. Drain chickpeas reserving 1 cup simmering liquid with chickpeas and set aside.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add coconut oil and diced onion.  Simmer until translucent and fragrant.  Add diced roasted peppers,  crushed red pepper flakes, turmeric, white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice black pepper and sea salt. Simmer gently together until wine is reduced, about fifteen minutes.
  6. Add chickpeas and toss together.
  7. In an extra-large salad or pasta sized serving bowl, pour in chickpea salad.  Toss with fresh herbs and prepared vegetables or baby spinach if desired. Drizzle with honey and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  8. Serve with rice or quinoa for a complete meal.

Notes on serving:  This makes a large (dinner party sized) portion.  If making for a smaller crowd, you may either halve the recipe or make the entire recipe and store leftovers in individual air tight containers in the freezer.  Keeps for up to three months in the freezer, depending on how much air and moisture is removed from freezer container.

Notes on brands: I use knorr vegetarian vegetable bullion cubes almost all the time and am always pleased with the results. You may use any brand of bullion cubes that require two cups of water per cube to make stock/broth, vary salt levels if you change the brand to taste.   I used Mezzetta jarred roasted peppers this time, if you prefer a different brand, you may use what you prefer.   I used yellowtail pinot grigio for the wine.

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Ten Tips for Perfect Blanching (and a recipe for Garlic Infused, Perfectly Blanched Asparagus with Orange Ginger Glaze)

 

perfectly blanched asparagus with garlic, ginger-8

We’re getting another ten inches of snow this weekend, however, it is technically almost spring.  And if you have even the slightest bit of luck, you might start to feel the weather warm up in the next couple of weeks (or months. But I’m optimistic, so just roll with it).

The markets will become flooded with sweet baby peas, green beans, baby broccoli florets, and of course, the Easter favorite and spring go-to of all households, asparagus spears.

Many people pride themselves on their marinades and dry rubs, their rich or perfectly balanced sauces, and they are, of course, all wonderful, I’m sure.  However there is one common cooking method that is sadly overlooked, often underestimated and unfortunately executed with little attention to detail and lackluster flare.  You’ve probably blanched and shocked vegetables in the past and not given it much thought, but it’s almost spring and we need to talk technique.  These vegetables should be given the respect they deserve.

Nobody puts spring green vegetables in the corner and I’m here to help.

Blanching and shocking is a simple, effective and delicious way to prepare these spring favorites.  However, it must be done properly or not at all, in my opinion.  If it’s not done properly you will be left with a quaggy, gray, disgusting, mush-like dish that someone said was once a vegetable and probably would benefit from a can of condensed soup poured on top of it.  Oh, yes, I did just say that.

This is not ok, people!

No main dish can make up for the fact that your vegetables are terrible (says the vegetarian).

Yes, I might be biased, but I feel it’s time we pay more attention to our vegetable dishes especially when they’ve just come back from the dead of the frozen winter ground for our consumption.  Fresh green beans and asparagus spears have a deliciously bitter-sweet and earthy flavor that should be enhanced, not smothered.  Smothering is so November through January.  Macaroni and cheese and sweet potato chili are now nearly a thing of our past.

It’s time to think about sweet pea soups that barely need cooking and lemon scented crispy green beans or grilled broccoli spears dusted with parmesan and sea salt.  These vegetables don’t need much help, they’re pretty much perfect the way they are with just a little help.

So here are some tips on how to perfectly blanch spring green vegetables.

1.  Salt the water!  If the water tastes like nothing, then your vegetables will taste (yup, you guessed it) like nothing.  The water should be as salty as the ocean.  The salt will be washed away in the ice bath so don’t under season your boiling water.  It is important.

2.  Add some flavor.  I add garlic cloves or some lemon slices and allow them to soften up in the simmering water before I add the vegetables. This infuses a gentle hint of flavor into the green vegetables without overpowering their natural and authentic flavor.

3.  Bring your water to a rapid rolling boil before adding the vegetables.  Adding the vegetables at any point in time before this, will not suffice.

4.  Stay there!   This particular category of vegetables can cook in less than thirty seconds, depending on the size and thickness of them.  Stay there and watch them turn bright spring green.  Remove them from the water with a large spider or colander and drop them directly into the ice bath.

5.  How to tell when they’re done?

a) For small vegetables like peas and green beans:  They will turn a very vivid shade of green.  At this point, remove one and taste it.  Are they too crunchy? Probably not, because they take about thirty seconds to cook.  So, unless it’s only been ten seconds, remove and shock.

b) If the vegetables are larger like asparagus or broccoli spears, stick a knife into the center of the vegetables when they change to bright green.  If the knife clings to the vegetable without budging, wait another minute.  If the knife slides easily through the vegetables,  then get them out of that water as soon as possible because they’re almost overcooked.

6. The vegetables will continue to cook until you shock them.  This is why I prefer to get them out of the boiling water when they’re still bright and crisp.  I can drain them and wait a minute and then shock them and they’re still perfect.  Overdone is not reversible, so it’s better to err on the side of caution with this method.

7.  Keep the vegetables in the ice water bath long enough for them to cool completely.  If they’re not cooled completely, they’re still cooking and will therefore become mushy soon after.

8.  The ice water shock bath should be equal parts ice and water and leave enough room in the bowl for the vegetables.  You don’t want things overflowing.

9.  If you plan to cook them with a sauce after blanching and shocking ( either in a baking dish or a stir fry, etc. ), then reduce the cooking time a bit.  They will finish cooking once combined with the sauce of your choosing.

10.  Taste.  This tip goes for every recipe and method in cooking.  Taste the water, taste the product at every stage of cooking so you know what direction you’re headed in with the dish.   An untasted dish of any kind, is most likely going to need a lot of help once you finally take that first bite.  You don’t want that bite to be had by everyone at the table.   That’s when people start grabbing the ketchup.  It’s not because they love ketchup. It’s because you didn’t taste.

If these tips are followed you will be enjoying brightly colored, tender but crisp earthy fresh spring greens. You’ll taste a nuance of the ocean and the brightness of lemons.  It should taste like spring.

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Garlic Infused, Perfectly Blanched Asparagus with Orange Ginger Glaze

Serves 4 (with rice or noodles) as an entree.  Serves 6 as an appetizer or side dish.

NOTE: Please taste the salted water to make sure it is thoroughly flavored.  This recipe is for standard 1/2 inch asparagus spears.  If using baby asparagus, reduce cooking time by half (about one and a half minutes into the boiling water).  This recipe works with any green vegetable if you’re not a fan of asparagus.

Garlic-Infused and Perfectly-Blanched Asparagus

  • 5 cloves of garlic, whole and peeled
  • salt
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  1. Fill a large metal bowl half way with equal parts ice and water. Set aside, near the stovetop.
  2. In a large saucepan with a fitted lid, fill three quarters of the way with salted water.  Cover and place over high heat until it starts to simmer.  Taste the blanching water to make sure it is thoroughly salted and add more if needed.
  3. Add garlic to the pot and allow to cook for about three minutes, or until garlic is fragrant and soft.
  4. When water boils rapidly, add asparagus to the water and allow to cook for three or four minutes, or until tender but crisp.
  5. Using a large spider, strainer or colander, remove asparagus and garlic from the boiling water and transfer to the ice water bath.  Stir until the asparagus is warm and the ice melts slightly.

Orange Ginger Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (+ more for garnish/color, optional)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about the amount of juice from one large naval orange)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  •  a dash or two of sriracha (optional)
  • 2 pounds prepared vegetables*

*1  recipe for prepared “Garlic Infused, Perfectly Blanched Asparagus” (above)

In a large nonstick saucepan over high heat, add all ingredients.  Toss until hot and covered evenly.  Note: you may add a bit of water if needed to help coat the asparagus evenly.  You may double the ingredients if you prefer a more saucy dish. Remove whole garlic cloves before serving.

Serve with rice or noodles, garnish with zest

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Slow Cooker Tuscan Vegetable Soup

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This soup is packed with massive amounts of vegetables that can be varied to whatever you have on hand.  It’s meatless yet offers heat, tanginess, heartiness a bit of sweetness and a ton of balanced flavor. The recipe has only five directions, all of which are entirely simple.

Oh!  Did I mention it also feeds a small army, freezes phenomenally, doesn’t require turning on the stove and only uses one pot?

Yeah… It’s really that good.

Pair with grilled sandwiches of any variety or just a loaf of deliciously hearty and crusty bread, like this one.

Go ahead and act like you slaved away in the kitchen all day.  It’s the weekend.  Enjoy it.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Vegetable Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup diced red onion (about 1-2 onions)
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red (or white) wine
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 32 ounces vegetable broth (4 cups)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and chopped (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney or cannelini beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
  • parmigiano reggiano cheese rind (optional)
  • 1-2 cups additional liquid (stock, broth or water) for thinning, if desired
  • salt and pepper

What you’ll need: 6 quart slow cooker (or larger)

Directions:

  1. Turn slow cooker to high and add olive oil, garlic, potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnip, celery, thyme, oregano and Italian seasoning.
  2. Stir to combine, cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Turn slow cooker to low. Add all remaining ingredients except additional liquid.
  4. Stir.
  5. Cover and cook on low until all vegetable are fork tender, or at least four or five hours add additional liquid (water or stock) if desired.  Remove cheese rind before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recommendation:  Allow to cool to warm before refrigerating overnight to enjoy the second day.  Once refrigerated overnight, the flavors blend together even more nicely than they do the first day.  Place slow cooker insert back into slow cooker and heat on low/warm until hot.

Note for storage: To extend the shelf life of the soup, do not put any tasting spoons back into the soup after tasting, this prevents bacteria from transferring into the pot and allows the soup to stay good in the refrigerator for up to four days.  Store any excess of leftovers in small air tight freezer-friendly containers.  Thaw frozen soup storage containers in refrigerator overnight or in microwave.

 

 

 

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Fast and Light Weeknight Fix: Salad Pizza

salad-pizza-kate-from-scratch-2It has been nearly a week since I last posted anything involving pizza, therefore I’m lagging terribly behind.  I’m kidding (not kidding); I could eat pizza for every meal since the template offers so much versatility.  This particular recipe was made on a busy weeknight so it’s all very prep-friendly.  I’m sure if I made this on a lazy Sunday I would make the dough and the sauce that day.  But, fortunately I usually have those things on hand in the freezer. If you don’t, the grocery store has everything you need.

salad-pizza-kate-from-scratchThis is a lightened up version for those of you that want to enjoy pizza without the heaviness of traditional pizza.  It’s tangy and spicy and fresh and offers crisp greens on top of hot and cheesy pizza.  I added some peppers and shallots to the tomato sauce to bulk it up and give it some more flavor.  However, this could work without the extra vegetables in the sauce, if you’re really pressed for time.

The greens can be whatever you like.  I added some radicchio, a bit of romaine for crunch and some spinach for heartiness.  I added some diced red pickled cherry peppers for heat and lightly dressed the salad in a balsamic vinaigrette before topping the hot pizza.  The hot peppers are optional, of course.  It’s delicious, will keep you satisfied and won’t weigh you down.

Salad Pizza

Makes one large pizza: Serves four.

  • 15 ounces (store-bought or homemade) refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough
  • scant handful of cornmeal, for pizza pan
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • flour for board
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup minced bell peppers (fresh red or green)
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce (your favorite/whatever is easiest)
  • 3/4 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 cups mixed greens, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 pickled red cherry pepper, diced (optional)

 

Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.  Remove dough from refrigerator to bring to room temperature.  Meanwhile Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal onto a large pizza pan.

Once dough is at room temperature, drizzle oil over rolling in and form dough into a disc.  Roll dough out to the size of your pan, or slightly smaller than pan.  Note: Dough will be thin once rolled.  If dough is springing back when rolling, allow to rest (don’t touch it) for five minutes.  If dough is sticking, you may add some flour to your rolling pin and board.

Place dough on prepared pizza pan.

In a small nonstick saucepan add shallot, garlic, and bell peppers. Once fragrant and lightly softened, add tomato sauce.  Stir and allow to cook for no more than a minute.  Add tomato sauce to prepared pizza dough in spoonfuls. Spread each spoonful around dough to make a thin layer of sauce.

Top sauce with mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown at the edges, or about ten minutes. REmove from oven while gently cooling pizza (not too much, just enough so the greens don’t wilt too much).

Dress greens in a mixing bowl with balsamic vinaigrette and top pizza once slightly cooled.  Add diced cherry peppers over the top of the dressed salad for extra heat if desired.  Slice and enjoy.

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Ten Awesome Game Day Recipes

The Super Bowl is coming soon and it’s practically right next door to us too.  Get excited.  This means that not only is traffic going to be an absolute freaking nightmare in our area (Fun!), but also that it is time to start planning your big game menu.

We have it all covered.

The second you take one look at these Super Bowl recipes you will be completely sold and doing whatever it is that’s required to get them into your mouth menu plan as quickly as possible.

Make food, drink beer, get rowdy.  It’s the Super Bowl.

   Jalapeno Popper Dip

jalapenopopperdipThis dip is so insanely addictive that it has been coined “jalapeno crack dip” in our home.  One bite and you will be hooked.

Chili

black bean chiliThis easy peasy one pot wonder is a staple for any game gathering and will stay hot all day in a slow cooker while you enjoy the game.

Add some extra heat just for me.

Whiskey Steak

Whiskey-Steak Yes I said whiskey and steak in the same sentence.  Meat and booze lovers rejoice!

Egg Rolls

vegetarian-egg-rollsThese egg rolls are surprisingly light and packed with vegetables and protein.

Pair with some Thai style chili sauce or traditional duck sauce (found in the international aisle of your regular grocery store).

You won’t be sorry.

Meatballs

meatballs Make mini ones for an appetizer or buffet and be sure to make meatball pockets if there’s anything leftover the next day.

There probably won’t be.

 Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip is green so it’s obviously good for you.  Yep, I’m rolling with that.

Deep Dish Pizza

http://katefromscratch.com/2013/03/23/cake-pan-pizza/

Click the photo, get the recipe and then let your imagination run wild with toppings.   This crust is built for it.  Don’t be shy.

Overstuffed Potatoes

overstuffed-potatoes-broccoli-cheddar-twice-baked-game-dayOverstuffed twice baked potatoes are meant to be over the top.  These are brimming with cheese and broccoli, but for the non vegetarians out there, go ahead …add bacon.  You know you want to.

Eggplant Rollatini

eggplant rollatini

Make the most delicious eggplant rollatini in the world.   The superbowl in in New Jersey this year.  Gotta represent.

OR

Southwest Style Veggie Wraps

Southwest Grilled Veggie Wrap

This one also works well for those of you grilling or tailgating.

Looking for more recipe ideas?  Kraft’s Game Day Pinboard is highly drool-worthy.  Check out the other Kraft boards to see some of my stuff there.  Feel free to spread the love.

Happy Game Day!

Posted in All, Basics, Breakfast, Dinner, Entertaining, For Kids, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Best Brownies Ever

brownies

Max disappeared into his room for a few minutes and then this happened. Never mind that mess in the background. One more week and they’re in school, this place will be tolerably clean again, but I digress.

kate-from-scratch Then he decided that it was time to “conquer a brownie battle” .  I obliged considering I was dubbed his “sidekick dragon-lady” and I take my character very seriously and also …I like brownies.  It makes sense.

I make cookies and brownies materialize so ubiquitously that I often forget to include them in my recipe arsenal.  I surmise that everyone already knows their favorite brownie recipe, so there’s no sense in inundating you, my clever and knowledgable readers, with unnecessary and trivial things such as brownies.

Right?

But, wait just a minute.  Maybe this assumption I’ve made on your behalf is all kinds of wrong.

Maybe you don’t have a favorite brownie recipe yet.  I didn’t have a favorite brownie recipe until last year!  In fact, I wasted a lot of time and energy on years of crappy disappointing brownie recipes, one just as disastrous as the next.

So, maybe you’re just like me three years ago; kitchen surfaces showing their brownie battle wounds and you, randomly being splattered in chocolate and the only thing to show for it is overly fluffy, grossly gooey or the worst –”I can’t believe I wasted that much good (expletive) chocolate on a wrongly written baking time” brownies.  It’s a thing, yes, wrong baking times are out there and some are even in print.  You’ve been warned.

Maybe you always turn back to box mixes because it’s just easier than the obnoxious recipe that calls for things you never have on hand.  Things like time, patience, Himalayan salt and fifty zillion egg yolks.  The entire point of brownies is that they’re uncomplicated and cut straight to the point with little fuss.  You can slather them in chocolate frosting, drop handfuls of peanut butter chips into the batter before baking, you can add that bowl of candy to the batter that’s sitting around after Halloween or (if you’re fancy) swirl in some goat cheese lightly doused with cinnamon and sugar if that’s your thing.  I kept it simple and added one single Hershey kiss to the center of each brownie this time.

brownies-best-ever

Best Brownies Ever

Hardly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  •  3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Optional: 9 Hershey’s Kisses, or 3/4 cup of your favorite add-in (chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, nuts, chopped candy, cream cheese swirl, etc)
  • Optional: confectioner’s sugar or a drizzle or light coating of frosting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter an 8×8 inch square glass or metal brownie pan.  Note: As always, if using metal, baking time will be less than when using glass so please be aware of this.
  2. Place strip of fitted parchment inside of greased pan and rub butter over parchment.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot filled with two inches of simmering water until only a lump or two remain. Remove bowl from heat and stir until thoroughly melted.
  4. While whisking constantly, add sugar, eggs. vanilla and salt.
  5. Continue to beat until smooth and velvety.
  6. Fold in flour until combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking dish
  8. Place one unwrapped Hershey kiss into the center of each brownie portion (3×3 grid)
  9. Bake in preheated oven for twenty-six to twenty-nine minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out fairly clean.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack until warm.  Grab parchment at sides and lift out of brownie pan.
  11. Served most deliciously while warm with ice cream.
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Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers

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“Mommy, can we please make dinosaur cookies now and not tomorrow?” he asked with a big grin.

Looking at the grey sky and realizing I was out of distractions, I obliged.

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This is Max; our little ball of perpetual exuberance and wonder who turned three a few weeks ago and loves dinosaurs almost as much as he loves chocolate cookies.  He helped mix the dough, roll it out as well as shape the dinosaurs.  But the most fun part was “excavating” the dinosaurs from the powdered sugar; a wildly jovial experience for anyone, obviously.  dinosaur-breakfast-dunker-cookies

 

I dunked them into my coffee this morning, and with irresponsible genius it passed as my breakfast.  They are delicious.  A light cocoa taste, not too sweet and not too heavy.  They’re soft and almost biscuit like as they soak up your extra hot morning coffee or tea; resembling a cocoa version of a Stella D’oro breakfast treat.

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Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture in three additions; mixing after each for about ten seconds, or until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill an hour or more.
  4. Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top, if desired. Bake on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your preferred cookie – I like thicker cookies).
  5. The cookies will puff slightly when they’re done baking.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar or decorate as desired.
Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers
Recipe Type: Dessert, sweet, cookie
Cuisine: dessert, sweet, cookies,
Ingredients
  • Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture in three additions; mixing after each for about ten seconds, or until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill an hour or more.
  4. Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top, if desired. Bake on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your preferred cookie – I like thicker cookies).
  5. The cookies will puff slightly when they’re done baking.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or decorate as desired.

 

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

 

 

 

 

Posted in Basics, Breakfast, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Peperonata Potatoes

peperonata-potatoes
I had some peperonata rustica (recipe from Keller’s Ad Hoc) and some leftover potatoes sitting in the fridge from last night’s dinner and so I just put them together for a very simple brunch this morning.  I served it with poached eggs and sprinkle of Manchego and it was absolutely one of my most favorite brunch items I’ve ever made, and I’m not normally much of a fan of breakfast items.  This could easily be lunch or dinner with a twist or two.
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Peperonata Potatoes
  • 6 yellow bell peppers, deseeded roasted -cooled and peeled
  • 6 red bell peppers, deseeded, roasted -cooled and peeled
  • 8 ounces piquillo peppers (drained peeled and seeded)
  • 1/2 cup soffritto
  • 1 1/3 cups Vegetable (or chicken) Stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (+2 teaspoons for seasoning potatoes)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 5 pounds Gold Waxy Potatoes, baked until tender and cooled to room temperature
  • your favorite oil for sautéing
  • lime juice and extra virgin olive oil

 

Note:  After rinsing and trimming the potatoes I bake them on a baking sheet in a hot oven until fork tender.   The soffritto can be store-bought or homemade.   I make the peperonata rustica often and keep it in the fridge and/or freezer just to have on hand because  it goes well over almost anything (toast, garlic bread, eggs, potatoes, pasta, chicken, fish, etc).  This recipe happened as a very happy refrigerator coincidence.  I had leftover peperonata rustica and leftover baked potatoes.   Add poached or fried eggs for a delicious and impressive brunch item, perhaps with some grilled vegetables or savory muffins on the side.

Serves: The full recipe makes up to 12 servings.

Directions: Tear the cooled bell peppers into long strips about 3/4 inch wide.  Tear the piquillo peppers into strips the same way.   Combine all peppers, soffritto, stock and Espelette in a medium saucepan over medium heat and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook for thirty minutes.

Slice baked potatoes into 1/2 inch slices and season with kosher salt and two teaspoons espelette pepper.  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add your favorite oil.  Add 1 cup sliced potatoes and 1 cup peperonata rustica.  Toss until the potatoes begin to blister and char, lightly.

Serve over spring greens doused in lime juice and a bit of olive oil with eggs and cheese of your choice, (I’d go with Manchego if asked).

 

“Peperonata Rustica” from Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller p.208-209.

 

 

 

Posted in All, Basics, Breakfast, Dinner, Entertaining, For Kids, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Black Sesame Wasabi Edamame

wasabi-edamame You can count the amount of ingredients on one hand in this super healthy flavor punching snack.  Perfectly crisp soybeans enveloped  in the heat of wasabi and the full-bodied flavor of toasted black sesame with just a pinch of sea salt.  They’re the perfect finish on a salad or you can eat them by the handful as an afternoon snack.  I keep these in small batches and then drizzle a few drops of sesame oil over them right before eating to add even more dark and complex flavor.   So, while you’re standing around talking about what you’re going to make for dinner, eat these.  

Black Sesame Wasabi Edamame

  • 1 cup steamed shelled edamame 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss edamame with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.   Roast in preheated oven until crisp and golden, or about 10-12 minutes.  Drizzle with toasted sesame seed oil before serving.      

Black Sesame Wasabi Edamame

 
Recipe Type: snack
Black Sesame Wasabi Edamame1 cup steamed shelled edamame1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon wasabi powder1 tablespoon black sesame seeds 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil (optional) Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss edamame with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.   Roast in preheated oven until crisp and golden, or about 10-12 minutes.  Drizzle with toasted sesame seed oil before serving.
Ingredients
    • 1 cup steamed shelled edamame
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
    • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss edamame with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until crisp and golden, or about 10-12 minutes. Drizzle with toasted sesame seed oil before serving.
 
Posted in Basics, Entertaining, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments