Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Outrageous Brownies

The Barefoot Contessa has done it again! After I first saw her make these brownies on her food network show, I just couldn't believe the amount of chocolate she put in this recipe. The brownies just looked so unbelievably scrumptious and divine. Nowadays, the contessa sells the brownie mix at fine food stores, but it's really not the same. One thing to keep in mind, though, is to NOT OVERBAKE the brownies. That's the key to the perfect brownie. These are perfect brownies for those chocoholics out there...and you know who you are!

INGREDIENTS (makes 20 large brownies)

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces bitter 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 bitter 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 cooling 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, and 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.

Outrageous Brownies (c) 1999 by Ina Garten

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Smoked Salmon on Bagels

awesome smoked salmon on poppy seed bagels
I love the weekends because that's usually the only time when either Matthew or I get to cook breakfast. One of our all-time favorite breakfast, though, is smoked salmon on bagels. Since smoked salmon is a little expensive, we usually only make this on special occassions, but it's definitely worth it. Mmmm...


  • 4 oz Smoked Salmon
  • 2 bagels (egg, plain or poppy seed)toasted, split in half
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tomato slices (optional)
  • 4 red onion slices
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained

1. Spread cream cheese evenly over 4 bagel halves.

2. Top bagel halves with salmon slices.

3. Add tomato and onion slices and sprinkle capers on top of each bagel half. Eat immediately with a hot cup of joe or a mimosa!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon Pudding
Around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, persimmons go on sale like crazy here in Southern California. If you've never had these delightful fruits, you should give them a try. They look like tomatoes, but taste like apple, pumpkin and kiwi fruit combined...well, that's what I think. Anyhoo, after watching Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, Matthew and I wanted to make plum pudding for Christmas but after we realized all the steps and ingredients it takes to make it, we decided on a simpler pudding...and this pudding is quite easy; however check the pudding after 55 minutes because some ovens tend to get hotter than others.

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)

  • Ripe persimmons, Hachiya or Fuyu (enough to make 2 cups of persimmon pulp)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • Fresh, whipped cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the skin and seeds from the persimmons and puree the pulp in a blender or food processor. In a large bowl, combine the pulp, milk, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until well mixed. Stir in the chopped nuts, if desired. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 9- by 13-inch baking pan and bake for 70 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Croque Monsieur

Ooh, winter is here and this is when my food cravings go into frenzy. I tend to crave hot, gooey, carbo-loaded food during this time of the year. Recently, my husband has been on a baking kick, making such things as biscotti, poppy-seed muffins, and sugar cookies. But, what I crave the most is the simplest thing, soup and sandwiches. Last week we had the American staple of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, but tonight we are going French. This sandwich, croque monsieur, is a favorite Parisian sandwich. It's quite simple and quite divine. The sandwich itself is very indulgent, so I think Minestrone or even mushroom soup would go well with this. Bon appetit!

INGREDIENTS (makes 4 sandwiches)

  • 8 slices of good white bread
  • 8 slices of ham (the good kind)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Crème fraîche*
  • Good Dijon mustard (optional)**
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees.
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of grated Gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup crème fraiche. Set aside.
  2. On 4 slices of bread spread the butter thinly on both sides.
  3. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoon of the grated cheese, then lay 2 slices of ham on each bread, and then spread the crème fraiche mixture on top of ham, about 2 tablespoons per sandwich.
  4. Cover with the second slice of buttered bread. **Here, you can spread a little mustard on each slice to give your sandwiches more flavors
  5. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top of each sandwich.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly and a little brown.

How to Make Crème Fraîche

Usually you can find crème fraîche is most big supermarkets in the US and at Trader Joe's. But but just in case you are unable to find it, a substitute for crème fraîche can be produced by adding 1–2 tablespoon of cultured buttermilk to two cups of pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) heavy cream [heavy cream has a fat content between 36% and 40%] and letting the mixture stand at room temperature (leave the container ajar, and place on a high shelf in a warm part of the kitchen or on top of the refrigerator) for 8 - 24 hours until thick; to develop a fuller flavor, allow the mixture to sit an additional 12 hours.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Classic Pecan Pie

pecan pie
My step-mom, Elaine, makes the best pecan pie ever! I look forward to Thanksgiving every year for two reasons: to be with my family, and to have a piece of Elaine's famous pecan pie. Also, as Elaine said, "be sure to follow the suggestion for preheating the cookie sheet--it helps keep the bottom of the pie from being undercooked..."


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter OR margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat eggs slightly with fork in medium bowl. Add sugar, Karo® Corn Syrup, butter and vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Place pie dough in pie pan. Pour pecan filling into pie crust.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

**To use prepared frozen pie crust: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.

TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly - it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.