Monday, May 31, 2010
After baking some okay but not great brownies and then hitting a disaster with overly fudgy ones, I have been obsessed with finding a perfect brownie recipe. So I went searching all the usual suspects (aka dessert food blogs) and bookmarked some 20-odd recipes.
I'm trying to avoid chocolate here folks (or so my doctor thinks, ha!) so let's try all 20 recipes doesn't come up as an option. I noticed Two Spoons baking some brownies based on a Julia Child recipe and pronouncing them the best ever. And I thought, if it's Julia Child, it can't be all that bad. So I followed the recipe just as two spoons did, except I halved it.
First you half fill a saucepan with hot water. Add 110 grams butter and 90 grams chocolate to a mixing bowl and place it in the saucepan so it can slowly melt. At this stage, I opened my jar of caster sugar, found it almost empty and panicked. Then I told myself it was okay, the chocolate will take a long time melting and I could get myself some sugar in the interim. So I called the grocery store, made myself a cup of tea and settled for some reading.
Half an hour later, equipped with newly home delivered caster sugar, brownie making was on again and the oven was set to preheat at 175C. By this time, the butter and chocolate had melted but there were small chocolate chunks remaining. I popped the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds and stirred everything to melt completely. To this, I added 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence.
While the chocolate cooled to room temperature, I cracked two eggs in a small bowl and added 1/2 cup of sugar. Whisked them until just combined, then added half of the egg mixture to the chocolate. The other half, I beat with a mixer until doubled in volume. I folded the beaten eggs into the chocolate and finally, sifted over 3/4 cup of flour and folded it in until just mixed.
I poured it into an 8X5 inch pan lined with parchment and baked for 25 minutes. Everyone warns against overbaking brownies, so what I was looking for was a dry top even while the batter still stuck to the tester and the whole pan was still a little wobbly. I know, it's hard for a cake baker like me to stop at this stage but Julia Child said so.
Just like my previous brownie disaster, these were very soft. Even when they had cooled to room temperature, I didn't dare cut them. Instead, I popped them in the freezer for half an hour to harden and they cut into squares easily. All the while retaining that essential fudgy feeling.
So call it third time lucky, but this is just the brownie I was looking for!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
My personal benchmark of a well stocked pantry is a situation where I can cook a meal I am happy about without having to step out of the house. Handy in situations when I get into one of these strange moods I was in last night - I don't feel like eating what my cook made out of the last vegetables in the fridge and I don't feel like eating out.
So I made this pasta. Set the macaroni to boil in plenty of salted water. In the meantime, I chopped and pureed two tomatoes in the blender. Before you object, let me assure you that tomatoes are not vegetables in my world - my mom's always told me that they are, like onions and potatoes, a staple. So we stick to pureed tomatoes, and also finely mince two cloves of garlic.
Heat olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and let it brown a little. Now add the tomato puree, a tbsp of white wine vinegar, a generous pinch of herbs de provence and another pinch of salt. Give it a stir, then add a cup of water. Cover and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes or so.
Your pasta should be done by this time so drain and keep it aside. Also to while away the time while your sauce cooks, finely chop a handful of olives and a couple of sundried tomatoes. When the sauce has reduced to half, add olives, sundried tomatoes and a tbsp of capers. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thick, then add the pasta and mix well. Top with parmesan, or any other hard cheese you like.
I had this pasta with my latest addiction : bread toasted then topped with smoked chipotle sauce and softened cream cheese.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The dough's simply 100 gms each of cream cheese and butter, softened then thrown together with a cup of flour in food processor until just combined or mixed with hand until just blended. Chilled overnight, then divided into four parts, each rolled into a circle. I spread each circle with pesto, then cut the circle into 8 wedges. Starting from the base, rolled each wedge into a crescent. Baked at 190C for about 20-25 minutes, my rugelach crisp and golden by then.
If you don't end up eating all of rugelach right away, it might get a little soft the next morning. 5 minutes in a hot oven fixed that for me all right.