; Supermarket Serenade: May 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Really Outrageous Brownies

Never has a recipe, IMHO, had a more fitting title...this week's Barefoot Blogger recipe is Ina Garten's "Outrageous Brownies". And friends let me tell you...outrageous they indeed are.

In my busy little corner of the world I am frequently able to convince myself that a boxed brownie mix delivers a "homemade", melt in your mouth chocolaty treat. That is until I make the effort to prepare a "from scratch" version and then I know I'm simply fooling myself...a boxed mix just can't compare to the results that a recipe like this gives you...fudgy, rich and really melt in your mouth chocolaty-ness.
I made only one slight alteration to the recipe and that was to use half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half bittersweet (60% Cacao) chips. The bittersweet chips give an extra richness. The hardest part about this recipe, which the Food Network classified as difficult, is melting the chocolate. Chocolate can be very temperamental...I have tossed many a bowlful of seized chocolate and let me tell you as delicious as correctly melting chocolate smells, burnt chocolate is a horrendous smell! In my opinion it's not worth the risk to melt (often expensive) chocolate in the microwave-make the extra effort and melt it over a double boiler or as I do in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Stonewall Kitchen sells the boxed version of this recipe I would love to hear if anyone has ever tried both the boxed version and the homemade version...do they compare? Ina's recipe below says that it makes 20 large brownies, I usually cut them a great deal smaller for about 48 brownies.

FYI the Barefoot Bloggers are a group of bloggers devoted to preparing 2 of Ina Garten's (aka The Barefoot Contessa) recipes each month.

Outrageous Brownies
Copyright (c) 1999 by Ina Garten
Makes 20 Large Brownies “Inspiration for this recipe came from the Chocolate Glob in the SoHo Charcuterie Cookbook published by William Morrow in 1982. In its heyday, the SoHo Charcuterie was the cutting edge of New York restaurants. The giant confection was a blob of chocolate dough filled with chocolate chips and nuts. I though I could make a brownie with almost the same formula. They’ve been flying out the door for fifteen years!”
-Ina Garten

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven self to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.
Notes: Flouring the chips and walnuts keeps them for sinking to the bottom. It is very important to allow the batter to cool well before adding the chocolate chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies. This recipe can be baked up to a week in advance, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Steak Tostadas

I am a steak girl. Steak is one of the few meats that everyone in my family will agree on. This past weekend we grilled just about every meal...today's recipe is one of those meals-it's quick and easy and you probably have most of the ingredients right in your fridge. Starting this past weekend (Memorial Day) I'm also a lobster roll girl...my very favorite restaurant opened for the season: Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank, CT. (I'm going to make you very jealous right now) they have the ultimate lobster rolls: steamed fresh lobster piled high on a toasted roll drenched in hot melted butter! No globby mayo for the Connecticut style lobster roll-just lobster and butter.

Attention all of you Food Network Star wannabes!! World Harbors, makers of delicious sauces and marinades, is running a contest right now that some of you may be interested in entering. It's called The World Harbors Look Local Video Contest. The way it works is you make a short (2 minutes) video of a locally themed recipe that you created and you post it at the World Harbors facebook page (there is a sample on their facebook page). If you are a little camera shy you may also enter a "print" recipe with a photo. World Harbors will be giving prizes for the best video and for the best print recipe.

I have long been a fan of World Harbors sauces -I won a contest a few years ago using their Chimichurri sauce and marinade-why don't you give it a go and try to win a great prize for yourself! For a little inspiration I've made some steak tostadas (not very local for Connecticut this time of year...we can't grow avocados here ever and this time of year it's too early for tomatoes...I probably should have made something with asparagus since that's about the only local food right now, but I felt like making tostadas and I really didn't think asparagus tostadas would work.) Not to worry if there isn't too much coming out of your garden or Farmer's market right now because you have until July 15 to enter.

Quick Steak Tostadas

2 boneless strip steaks (cut 1 1/4 inches thick)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup World Harbors Steak Sauce
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
(you can add some shredded cheese if you would like...I decided to go cheeseless this time)

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Grill steaks on preheated grill for 9-11 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a cutting board, season with the salt and pepper then let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno and lime juice.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add two of the tortillas and cook until lightly browned on both sides; repeat with remaining teaspoon of oil and remaining tortillas.
Spread the avocado mixture over the tortillas, evenly dividing. Carve the steak into 1/4 inch thick slices and fan over the avocado mixture on each tortilla. Drizzle the steak sauce over the steak. Top with the shredded lettuce.
Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Wild Card

Please if you haven't yet (and are so inclined) click on the Crisco link and vote for my Caribbean Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Mango Sauce!! $25,000 is on the line!

This week for Barefoot Bloggers an interesting feature has been introduced. (BTW for anyone who does not know, Barefoot Bloggers are a group of food bloggers that prepare a delicious recipe created by Ina Garten-The Barefoot Contessa-on two Thursdays of each month). The new feature is a wild card of sorts or as the Barefoot blogger hosts call it backtracking...we're allowed to choose an alternate Barefoot Blogger) recipe as a substitute for one of this month's selections.
I am sooooo relieved! This weeks selection was to have been Tuna Salad (selected by Kate of Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails). There are only two thing I can absolutely not eat and they are Tuna and mayonnaise. This tuna salad does not call for mayonnaise but nevertheless I am using the wild card. I decided to select a recipe that was prepared before I joined the Barefoot Bloggers group-in fact, it was the very first recipe that the group prepared: Herbed Baked Eggs from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris Cookbook.

The results were positively divine! What an absolutely elegant and delicious way to serve eggs. I was out of parsley so I substituted fresh sage for the parsley; I'm certain that any herb combination would be wonderful. I would love to try substituting different cheeses-I was thinking of perhaps a Cotija cheese with bits of jalapeno tossed in for a Tex-Mex version.

Herbed Baked Eggs

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or Brioche for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley and Parmesan cheese and set aside. Carefully crack three eggs into each of two bowls without breaking the yolks. (It's important to have all the eggs ready to go before cooking).
Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes until hot and bubbly. Quickly but carefully pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle with the herb mixture then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place under the broiler for 5-6 minutes until the whites of the egg are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly). The eggs will continue to cook once you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Caribbean Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Mango Sauce

When I hear the expression "food of the Gods" the first thing that pops into my mind is mango. Mangoes with their luscious flavor and bright orange color are among my very favorite foods.

A spicy mango sauce made with a roasted jalapeno, citrus and Crisco-Puritan canola oil with Omega-3 DHA is the highlight of my Caribbean chicken dish that is a finalist in the Crisco Live Smart Cook Smarter contest! Please follow this link to see all the finalist recipes and if you would be so kind...cast a vote for my recipe (Caribbean Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Mango Sauce-Veronica, Connecticut). Voting ends this Sunday.

My recipe, one of five finalists in the contest, is a family favorite...not too spicy and not too sweet. Don't let the jalapeno in there fool you-while it adds wonderful flavor it does not necessarily have to add a lot of heat. After roasting the pepper and carefully removing the skin, use a sharp knife and remove all the seeds and all the membranes. Of course if you like a lot of heat just go ahead and leave some seeds and membranes in there.
Here is the recipe...the photo below is the one taken by the Crisco folks-what a difference a food stylist makes!!

Caribbean Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Mango Sauce
1 jalapeno pepper
1 cup diced mango
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 shallot, peeled
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons Crisco Puritan Canola oil
1 lb. boneless chicken tenders
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the jalapeƱo pepper on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Place the roasted pepper in a small plastic bag for at least 5 minutes to loosen the skin. Carefully remove the skin from the pepper and remove seeds and stem. In a food processor or blender combine the pepper, diced mango, orange juice, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, shallot and 1 tablespoon of cilantro; process or blend until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the Crisco Puritan Canola oil and process or blend until well combined; set aside

3. Place the chicken in a shallow dish add the remaining lime juice and stir to coat; let sit for 15 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor combine the remaining salt, oats, coconut, cayenne pepper and black pepper; pulse 5 or 6 times until combined. Spread oat mixture onto a small plate or a sheet of waxed paper. Whisk the egg whites in a shallow dish until foamy.

4. Remove the chicken from the lime juice and pat dry. Dip each chicken tender first in egg whites and then roll in the oat mixture to completely coat. Place the tenders on a baking sheet and drizzle the 2 teaspoons of Canola oil over each tender. Bake chicken tenders in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a serving platter.
5. To serve, spoon a few tablespoons of sauce onto a serving plate, top with two chicken tenders and garnish with the remaining cilantro.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Butterscotch Glazed Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I have this bad habit of every few weeks deciding that I am going to commit to eating cereal and a banana every day for breakfast. I stock up on Total, bananas and good intentions. Sadly the good intentions only last about two days and then I go back to eating my usual combination of granola bars and fruit smoothies.

This "habit" doesn't seem so bad on the surface, but what ends up happening is I'm left with a slowly blackening bunch of bananas which more often than not ends up in the trash. My kids are not the biggest fans of bananas so they don't usually eat them...but I really, really hate to throw away food so the solution became obvious: banana bread. Now every few weeks I have a bowl or two of cereal with a sliced banana followed up later in the week with a tasty banana bread-maybe it's a pretty good habit after all.

It's teacher appreciation week and I volunteered to bake something for our high school teacher breakfast--so this week they are the recipients of my blackened bananas (that doesn't sound like a very nice gift). I feel very fortunate to live in a town with some incredible teachers and my little banana bread is just a small thank you for their big job that they do so well...thank you teachers (everywhere).

So I finished typing this post and grab my camera to upload my photos and guess what?? I never put the memory card in!! There should be a bell that goes off or a warning screen that comes up for careless photographers such as myself. Well trust me when I tell you it looked really pretty!

Butterscotch Glazed Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 medium very ripe bananas
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides an 8x4x2 1/2 inch loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars, using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating just until incorporated. Add the bananas and beat until combined; stir in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake bread in the 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Gently remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. When completely cooled top with the butterscotch glaze (recipe follows).

Butterscotch Glaze:

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Bring the butter, sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat; boil for 1 minute. Whisk in the confectioner's sugar and the heavy cream. Spoon the glaze over the cooled bread.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Comfort of Camembert

Everyone has that one food that when they are sad or just not feeling themselves they crave; for some it is chocolate-it's rich creaminess offering a sweet, soothing feeling. Others crave fried foods-with their greasy saltiness providing a warm comfort. Well for me that go-to food is cheese-melted, layered or just plain, cheese provides nourishing solace for me not matched by any other food (except maybe Twinkies).
The lovely folks at Ile de France were kind enough to send me a free sample of one of their delicious cheeses-and given my adoration of cheese I was thrilled. Long a fan of their Brie cheese, I had not previously tried any of their other varieties so I was pleased to see Camembert in the package. Camembert, while similar in texture to Brie, has a much stronger almost nutty flavor. It was the perfect addition to my Grilled Steak Sandwiches with Chive Sauce.

Grilled Steak and Camembert Sandwiches with Peppered Chive Sauce
2 New York Strip Steaks (about 6 ounces each and 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-inch) Ciabatta rolls
4 ounces Camembert cheese, rind removed
2 cups baby spinach leaves, stems removed
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1/2 cup Peppered Chive Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat a gas grill to medium high flame.

Pat the steaks dry and season both sides with half of the kosher salt and half of the pepper. Lightly spray the grill rack with cooking spray. Cook the steaks in a closed grill for 8 minutes, turning occasionally, for medium rare doneness. Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board to rest.

Split open the Ciabatta rolls and spread the cheese onto the top half of each roll. Place rolls cheese side up on the grill rack and cook with the cover closed for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the rolls are lightly toasted.

Layer the spinach and tomatoes on top of the cheese. Spread the Peppered Chive Sauce on the bottom half of each roll. Carve the steak into 1/2 inch thick slices, season with the remaining salt and pepper then fan over the sauce on each roll, evenly dividing. Close the rolls to serve.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Peppered Chive Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl; cover and chill until ready to use.