You pretty little darlings are coming home with me tonight. I will use you to create deliciousness the world has never known before. And it involves Nutella.
You pretty little darlings are coming home with me tonight. I will use you to create deliciousness the world has never known before. And it involves Nutella.
It’s been a busy couple of months around the Kitchen, with the holidays and wedding planning taking up much of our time. This past week was my birthday, and Mr. Kitchen got me an awesome present — a gift certificate for a workshop with DessertTruck here in NYC, where I will be learning to make macaroons!
Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday, I wanted to pass along a new recipe for these fantastic brownies — with three types of chocolate (baker’s unsweetened, dark, and semi-sweet) and a generous heaping of peanut butter, they’re not too sweet but incredibly rich.
They don’t take long to make, so if you’re planning to head to a party for this evening’s 6:30 kick off, you’ve still got time!
Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for buttering baking pan
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s provides 1 oz squares, if you’re using a bar, chop the chocolate into chunks)
1 ounce dark chocolate
4 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels, plus an extra 2 ounces for chocolate chunks in the brownies
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Mixture
1/2 stick of butter (melted)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
Put butter in a double-boiler (set a heatproof over a pan of simmering water). Stir until melted and add chocolate (unsweetened, dark and 4 ounces of the semi sweet morsels), mixing until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated into the butter. Let cool slightly.
Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder and add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. Stir until well incorporated (about 3-4 minutes). Stir in the remaining chocolate morsels.
To make the peanut butter swirl mixture, stir together butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. I’ve found that melting the butter in a double boiler, adding the sugar and then the peanut butter and whisking together works well. Just be sure to let the butter cool slightly before adding everything else.
When pouring the batter and peanut butter filling, you’ll have to work quickly. Pour one-half the batter into the buttered pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop heaps of peanut butter filling (about 2 tablespoons each) on the batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. This should amount to about half the peanut butter filling. Pour the remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop heaps of remaining peanut butter filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise, with the tip of the knife hitting the bottom of the pan.
Bake about 45-50 minutes in center rack of oven, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into brownies comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan, slice and remove and let cool completely on a rack.
A trick for cutting brownies: Use a plastic knife! I don’t know why, but it stops the brownies from crumbling/cracking/falling apart while cutting.
Things have been super busy in Casa del Kitchen as we get ready for the holidays. If you’re like us and you spend your holidays traveling and not hosting, the lead-up gets spent in frenetic travel preparation. There’s been lots of shopping, wrapping, late work nights to get everything done before year’s end, and this week, we’re traveling to see family for the holidays. Sadly, it’s also one of the times of year where I find myself not cooking much. We’ve been subsisting on quick meals and take-out over the last two weeks, and I’m definitely ready for some fabulous home cooked treats. Lucky for us, we’ll be seeing both our families over the next few weeks, and we’ll likely be stuffed to the gills for the next month! I did, however, recently find time to make this delicious apple walnut raisin bread pudding, which I think would make a tasty addition to any holiday spread. It’s also a great recipe to make ahead — just reheat in the oven during dinner, and serve warm with some fresh whipped cream (or, if you’re an ice cream lover like Mr. Kitchen, a scoop of vanilla).
On a separate note, Mr. Kitchen and I exchanged our gifts today and he got me a super kick-ass netbook so I hope to be posting more regularly!
1 loaf Challah Bread (cubed and crusts removed)
3 apples, diced
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350º
Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and put the bread cubes in the pan and roast in the oven until lightly browned (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool, and then put the bread into a buttered 13 x 9 baking dish. Leave the oven on.
In a medium sauce pan, cook the apples, butter and sugar until the apples are a bit soft (about 5 minutes). Pour the apple mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish. Add raisins and walnuts to pan and gently toss to mix apples, bread, walnuts and raisins together.
In a mixing bowl, beat the brown sugar, heavy cream, milk and spices together. Add eggs one at a team and beat together. Add cornstarch and beat for 2-3 minutes until fully incorporated.
Pour the custard over the bread mixture and let set for 20-30 minutes, until the bread soaks up the liquid a bit. Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for about one hour, or until golden brown and the bread offers a bit of resistance in the middle from a gentle touch.
A couple of weeks ago, we Kitchens went out on the North Fork of Long Island to take advantage of the lovely not-quite-Fall weather, wineries and pumpkin picking. Restaurants aren’t exactly plentiful for a good portion of the wine trail on the North Fork, so I thought it might be a good idea to pack snacks. (Otherwise we’d be two car-fulls of drunks on a Sunday afternoon.) I decided on empanadas because they pack a pretty filling punch and are fairly easy to make in decent size numbers. The wineries were super gorgeous! There were pumpkins and delicious looking squash and acres and acres of beautiful vineyards.
Now, I know I’m going to catch flack for my recipe. I don’t use chorizo because I find a lot of it too greasy. I also buy the dough — I’m sorry, but I’ve tried making it and no amount of kneading or tampering with recipes can get the dough to be like La Fey’s. So do yourself a favor and just go and buy La Fey discs for these. Trust me, it’s 10 times easier and they work beautifully in the oven. Goya also makes a decent empanada dough.
Chicken & Sausage Empanadas
2-3 packages of the large La Fey discs. The filling recipe below makes enough for about 24 (20 if you’re packing it in) Extras can be frozen.
4 chicken breasts (medium/large size), cut into small chunks
5 – 6 Italian sausages (hot), diced/chopped into small pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Chardonnay or other fairly dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 large Spanish onion (diced)
2 heaping tablespoons garlic cloves (diced)
3 Bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup Spanish green olives with pimentos (pitted)
1/8 cup capers
1 green pepper (diced)
1 egg lightly beaten with a teaspoon of water
I find that most of the La Fey discs are pretty well frozen when I buy them, so let these defrost while you’re cooking the mixture. For the filling, in a large (12-14″ pan), heat the 2 tablespoons of oil and add diced onions and garlic and saute until onions are softened (5 minutes). Add diced chicken and sausage and cook on medium high heat, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add wine, chicken stock, pepper, cumin, bay leaves, green pepper, olives, capers, salt (basically all remaining ingredients). Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until meat is cooked and sauce has thickened (about 30 mintues). After it’s cooked, let the mixture cool uncovered for about 20-30 minutes.
Take this time to pull apart the dough discs. If you’re using La Fey, they’re generally not separated in the package by wax paper, so be very careful when pulling them apart or the discs will tear. Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare baking trays for cooking — if you’re making 24 empanadas, you’ll likely need three pans. Lightly lightly grease the pans. For filling the empanadas — if you’ve got a calzone mold, this will be super easy. Place the disc in the mold, spoon in about 3 tablespoons filling and close the mold, which will seal the seams. If you don’t have a mold, it’s really just as simple. Spoon the mixture on to one side, and fold the other half over so it forms a half-circle. Use a fork to seal the edges (just like you would a pie dough for a two-crust pie). Place on baking sheet and repeat for remaining empanadas. Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden. You can serve these warm or at room temp, and they freeze beautifully!
For the past couple of years, one of my friends has thrown a Bacon Party. (She’s evil, but obviously well-loved.) If you don’t know, a Bacon Party is a potluck party featuring only foods that contain bacon (or fake bacon for the vegetarians). Each year I gain at least 3 lbs from this party. Let me tell you – it’s totally worth it. This year I made a couple of dishes to add to the melee — bacon cheddar knots and a pumpkin pie topped with walnuts, brown sugar and, of course, bacon. Sadly, Mr. Kitchen had to miss the party because he was working. Luckily I came home with two giant Tupperware containers filled with treats. (I know, I’m totally evil, but if I’m not gonna fit in my wedding dress — he’s not fitting into his kilt.)
The cheddar bacon knots were surprisingly easy, though in preparation for that and the pie, Mr. Kitchen and I fried up an entire package of bacon. I could feel the cholesterol and fat seeping into my pores — kinda gross, but damn tasty! For any of you who are thinking that a bacon party is a brilliant idea, it is, but I would recommend starting on some sort of cholesterol medicine now, followed by lots of fiber. On the plus side (like bacon needs another plus side), at least I couldn’t actually feel the presence of my gallbladder after this year’s party.
Knots Dough (Adapted Heavily From Nick Manglieri)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil to coat a baking (jellyroll) pan
3 baking (jelly roll) pans
Bacon Cheddar Filling
3/4 package bacon, cooked
1 8 oz package cheddar cheese (or any cheese you prefer)
Egg wash (1 egg, mixed with about 1 tablespoon water)
Combine flour and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix yeast into water and let stand for a few minutes until the water fizzes a bit (stir if it doesn’t begin to fizz). Whisk oil into water/yeast mixture. Make a well in the flour and pour water into center. Using a rubber spatula, begin to fold the flour into the water center, gently incorporating and mixing outwards until all of the flour is combined. The dough will be very soft. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until the dough has risen to double its size (approx 2 hours). After the dough has risen, scrape it into an oiled jelly roll pan. Lightly oil your hands and press the dough into the pan so that it is evenly filled. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (oiled) and let the dough rise again, approximately 1 hour. While the dough is rising, cut the 8 oz block of cheddar into approximately 2 dozen pieces. After the dough has risen for the second time, use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into approximately 24 squares (6 length wise, four depth wise).
Preheat the oven to 350º. Cover 2 baking pans in foil and lightly grease.
Take a square of the dough and place about half a strip of bacon and 1 piece of cheese in the center. Fold two of the opposing corners over each other. With the other two opposing corners, twist them together, forming a knot on top. Place the piece in the pan. Repeat with remaining 23 pieces of dough. Brush all of the knots with the egg was and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden.
I admit, I have been totally delinquent in my blogging, BUT! there has been good reason. Mama Kitchen had surgery this week — everything went smoothly, but I wanted to be here to help take care of her and to help out during the recuperation. So yes, delinquent blogger, but, also, good daughter. I think these things even out. Apparently, the universe has seen fit to reward me today and I couldn’t be happier. You see, I just won a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma. (Did anyone else just hear a choir of angels? Cause I sure did.) And who, you might ask, is the fairy godmother who hath bestowed this unbelievably good fortune? It’s Merci New York, this fantastic resource for chic, sophisticated stylish brides. And while Merci can plan any sort of event, their blog (Merci New York Blog) is an absolute must-read for brides.
Now – on to the recipes! Mama Kitchen chose this next one, but it’s really a perfect fit with our recent focus on fall produce. It’s getting chilly down here in South Carolina and the perfect cure for that? Chowder. Specifically — Chicken and corn chowder.
2 chicken breast cutlets (I’m sorry, I forgot to weigh them), cut into cubes
6 cups chicken stock
2 15.25 oz cans of corn, strained
3 celery stalks, diced
6 small russet potatoes, chopped into chunks
1/2 medium onion or 1 small onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp dill
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the diced onions until soft (about 3-4 minutes). Then add chicken and cook together with onions over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add celery, green peppers and spices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring soup to a boil. Let cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Ladle out 1 cup of the boiling broth into a bowl (or measuring cup). Slowly stir in the 2 tbsp of flour. This will help to thicken your soup. After the flour has been completely incorporated into the broth, return the mixture to the soup pot and stir in and mix completely. Add potatoes and corn. Let cook for another 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add heavy cream, and mix into broth. Let soup simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. (Note, you can also use corn starch in place of flour to thicken the soup.)
I won a cookbook giveaway! Since Mr. Kitchen and I have started planning our wedding, I’ve become a devoted wedding blog reader. I recently entered a giveaway hosted by OneWed for the Dam Good Sweet Cookbook by Beard nominee David Guas, and I won! The cookbook features New Orleans-style desserts and I can’t wait to give it a try. (How I’m going to fit into a wedding dress, I have no idea.) Mr. Kitchen is in for a yummy fall! Speaking of yummy, Mr. Kitchen and I have been working tons and tons over the past few weeks, and we are plum tired. So tired, that I forgot to buy tickets for today’s Vendy Awards. So instead of spending the afternoon tasting the delicious fare of some of the city’s best food trucks, we’re heading over to Eataly. Something tells me my bank account is going to be very angry with me later… Hey, some girls shop for shoes — I shop for food!
Anyway, on to fall produce! Next up: Carrots. Definitely one of the most versatile of the fall vegetables, carrots can go in, well almost any dish, and one of the easiest fall dishes to prepare is a hearty, stick to your ribs beef stew. Seriously all you need is the ability to chop, brown and boil to make stew. I’ve used lots of different cuts of beef for stews but I recently tried giving short ribs a try. I really liked the way it turned out — the marbled meat was definitely falling off the bone by the time the stew was done and it was absolutely tender. I’m also a firm believer (and perhaps this is my Irish heritage talking), that you can put in almost any vegetables you’ve got lying around.
7-8 hearty-sized short ribs
3 celery stalk (roughly chopped)
3 shallots (roughly chopped)
2 medium sized carrots (roughly chopped)
2 Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into bite size chunks)
1 sweet potato (or just use 3 Yukons) (cut into bite sized chunks)
1 turnip (roughly chopped)
2 cups beef stock
1 small bottle red wine (I think it’s 375 ml?) (I prefer a cabernet sauvignon for beef stews)
1 tsp salt (to taste)
2 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp tarragon
Flour (for dusting short ribs)
2 tbsp olive oil (for browning ribs)
In a bowl, toss the short ribs with flour, salt and pepper. In a large pot, heat oil and brown the short ribs on all sides. Remove short ribs from pot. In the remaining oil, saute shallots. Once they are soft, add the meat back in and add the wine. Cook over medium heat until the wine is halfway reduced, about 10 minutes. Add beef stock, thyme, tarragon, carrots, turnips and celery and reduce heat, cooking meat until it is very tender (about 1.5 hours). Add chopped potatoes and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until all vegetables and meat are completely tender. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
My old kitchen was what we affectionately termed a Barbie kitchen. Literally the size of a dollhouse kitchen, it came complete with a mini, under-the-counter size fridge and an Easy-Bake Oven. I have no idea how I ever cooked things there — I had one square foot of counter space. Let me repeat that. ONE SQUARE FOOT. It was a galley kitchen you had to turn sideways to walk in. But I was single, so it was perfect for me. I had the unicorn of NYC real estate –a backyard — and I threw summer dinner parties and bbqs. But it came with lots of cooking complications. Like my freezer not working. And the fact that I could fit absolutely nothing in my fridge. And ONE SQUARE FOOT OF COUNTER SPACE. Can you imagine rolling out a pie crust in one square foot of counter space? Or making lasagna? Or chopping, well, anything?!? My stove was no better. I couldn’t fit a standard size roasting pan in there. I had to get itty bitty cookie sheets. The one blessing of that kitchen — it forced me to cook nearly every day. I couldn’t fit leftovers in my fridge!
Truth be told, I learned a lot about myself living and cooking on my own. I learned that I could never ever date someone who didn’t love food and who didn’t love my cooking. My husband-to-be, who I met while in that apartment, became my ultimate taste-tester and sometimes regretful guinea pig. I would venture to say he might have fallen in love with my lasagna and my cheesecakes before he fell in love with me, but he disagrees. It’s with him that I’ve finally graduated to a Big Girl Kitchen, complete with ten times the counter space of the Barbie Kitchen and a real, life-sized refrigerator and oven. I can cook whole meals in there! So here’s me, cooking my way through life, love and everything in between.