You know what bugs me? When my kids and/or spouse start hovering around the kitchen at about 4pm saying things like:
What’s that I smell cooking?
Have you thought about dinner yet?
Will dinner be soon?
I don’t know why these questions drive me batty, but I suppose it has something to do with the look in some people’s eyes when I tell them we’re having Turnip Toss for dinner and, of course, turnips are their very least favorite food. Or maybe it’s because at 4pm on many days I’m still not sure what’s for dinner and it’s like squirting lemon juice into my “I suck at motherhood” wounds every time I hear that question and I have no answer.
I feel perpetually overwhelmed by the demands of prepping food for two strapping young teens and a verra hungry man-spouse. Adding to that, the late afternoon is probably my grumpiest time of day and so I’m already not on the mood to be reminded of my shortcomings. Yah.
That last quarter of a killer brownie that’s still sitting in the pan from dinner the other night. The one that just keeps getting smaller because everyone else isn’t selfish enough to eat the last brownie…
I eat it for breakfast. No guilt whatsoever. Because that’s the kind of person I am.
Killer Brownie recipe
Really, these are the best brownies. Crispy on the edges, fudgy in the middle. Rich, rich, rich with no fantsy-pantsy chunks or caramel or rice crispies. Just pure unadulterated brownie.
8 oz of unsweetened chocolate (use organic or fair trade so you can eat your brownies sans guilt)
1 cup organic butter (I use unsalted, but if you use salted butter, cut the sea salt to 1/2 tsp or less)
5 free-range eggs (meaning that the chickens are free range, not the eggs themselves…)
3 cups organic sugar (get this fair trade, too, if you can!)
1 tablespoon vanilla (I didn’t use organic, but will when I use up all the vanilla I already own. I’d recommend the special vanilla* for any Mormons trying this recipe)
1-1/2 cups organic white flour (though next time I’ll try a mixing in some whole wheat flour just to see what happens)
1 teaspoon sea salt
optional: 2-1/2 cups chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, then set aside (do remember to lick the spoon on this one–it will send you to all kinds of happy chocolaty places). In a stand mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. Stir in chocolate mixture, flour and salt until just mixed. Add the nuts. Pour into greased 9×13 pan.
Bake for 35 min.
*Growing up in an LDS home that eschewed alcohol, “the special vanilla” referred to the vanilla beans soaking in a mysterious bottle
of dark rumthat we used for our extra-special recipes
photo by yum9me
As I was making broccoli soup (CatGirl’s fav) for dinner tonite, I noticed a few tired apples in the produce basket. I decided I should whip up something to use them up, but what to do?…
I ended up peeling and slicing/dicing them and put them in a saucepan to simmer, just to see what would happen. Would they soften? They were mostly fuji and gala apples–not exactly typical cooking apples. I added a dollop of unsalted butter, thinking that that might help them not to burn to my fav little flame-colored le creuset saucepan…
Then I added a shake of cinnamon so they would smell good as they cooked even if they didn’t turn into anything edible. Oh, and just a small squirt (like a tsp) of agave nectar for sweetening. And put the lid on.
As I cooked the soup I stirred it occasionally and noticed some softening of apples.
By the time the soup was done, the applestuff was a bit mushy. A quick zip with the immersion blender finished the job. Voila–the easiest-ever homemade applesauce! I served it in petite bowls with chopped locally-grown walnuts (hand-shelled by my brilliant bambinos) sprinkled on top. So sweet and tasty!
Next time I might add just a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning. But this batch was eaten so quickly that it didn’t even have time to turn, so maybe that’s not even necessary….
Today I flirted with the cult of domesticity. After filling a huge bag of dented and squishy organic persimmons (50 cents/lb, my friends) at the Farmer’s Market, I brought them home and commenced to figuring out some persimmon recipes. I know I could probably just chunk and freeze them for shakes (yum), but I thought I’d scout around for a few good recipes instead. What I ended up making: Persimmon scone cookies and Persimmon Freezer Jam. Both turned out so outstandingly that I have to share my recipes with you…
Persimmon Scone Cookies
* 1.5 cup pureed ripe persimmons (about 1/4 lb)
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1 egg
* 1 cup white flour
* 1 cup wheat flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup chopped pecans (note: taste just fine w/o nuts or with walnuts, too)
1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease or line one baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
3. Cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in egg and persimmon puree. Add flour mixture and mix until combined, stir in the chopped nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.
Baking notes: Pureeing your persimmons is a breeze with one of these! You’ll have soupy sweet orange goo in about 5 seconds flat.
These are very cakelike cookies. I couldn’t decide if they were more like cookies, scones or flat muffins. If you try making them, let me know what you think!
Oh, and if your walnuts are the ones on the shell that you bought at the Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago and then realized that you couldn’t open because you have no nutcracker, have your kids open them with a hammer. And make your youngest wear your glasses from junior high to protect her eyes from flying walnut shell shards. And try not to giggle when you realize that she looks an awful lot like Sally Jessy Raphael in those hideous glasses.
Persimmon Freezer Jam
* 2.5 cups pureed persimmons
* 1.5 cups sugar
* 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
* 1 pinch ground nutmeg
In saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Boil for 30 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir constantly.
Cooking Notes: Do make sure that you keep up with the stirring part–when I left the pot unattended for about 30 seconds to wash some dishes, mine started burning on the bottom. Older kids make good stirrers–esp if you tell them that they can lick the jam pot after they’re done.
This jam tastes a lot like marmalade. It’s sweet, but the lemony bits cut the sweetness just enough to make the flavor a bit complex and interesting. You’ll love it. Seriously.
I love the herbs that I grow in my garden and on my pack porch. Pesto is a favorite treat around here–yum!
My other favorite recipe with basil is John’s Basil Coulis served on Almond Blancmange. It is one of the many very perfect recipes from Chocolate & Zucchini. Seriously, I am not one to gush about cookbooks. But if you haven’t tried this one, you are missing out. It is so tasty and fun and _everything_ we’ve tried has been wonderful and fairly fresh and simple.
Just ask those who’ve tried John’s apricot compote (another of Clothilde’s recipes from C&Z).
And yes, it is better than sex.
And, no, it is not better than sex except when someone is using hyperbole to let their husband know that they think his cooking is the very best kind of foreplay. But sex with apricot compote, now that would be good.
I have a new best friend, it is my Kitchenaid Immersion Blender.
While I’m rarely one to encourage my readers to buy more stuff, I just have to share that this gizmo rocks. It can make shakes in a snap. Yesterday it whipped the batter for my Dutch Baby Pancakes so fast and so smooth! The day before that it pureed the veggies in our soup quite handily. And it’s WAY easier to clean than a traditional blender. And that is a huge plus at our house.
I bought mine at Target for under $50. The link above to amazon.com is a bit spendier. But if you’re wondering what to get for that person who likes to cook, this might just be a winner! :)
FYI, for those of you who’ve never tried the wonders of a Dutch Baby pancake:
Dutch Baby Pancake
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (or both!)
5 tablespoons butter
**Freshly squeezed lemon juice
**Powdered or confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place oven rack on the middle rack of your oven. Put a large, heavy ovenproof frying pan or a cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat it, too.
In a large bowl, beat (with your immersion blender if you have one) the eggs until light and frothy; add milk, flour, vanilla extract, and cinnamon; beat for 5 minutes more.
Add the butter to skillet; tilting the pan to melt the butter and coat the bottom. Pour the prepared batter into the hot skillet, and immediately return the skillet to the oven.
Cook for approximately 25 minutes, or until the pancake is all puffed up and brown on the top.
Note: do not take out of the oven until you have the camera handy, because if you do this, then your husband will laugh at you as you race to get said camera as the pastry is slowly deflating…
**Cut into wedge-shaped pieces and serve the traditional way with lemon juice and powedered sugar. Or serve with fresh maple syrup (Yum!) or the way we ate them yesterday which was with chunky spiced applesauce on top. To die for!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
May your day and dinner be filled with good food and much joy!
I’ve been chopping squash to make this delicious-sounding recipe from “Food on the Food.”
Momentarily I’ll begin cooking my lumpy-bumpy Halloween pumpkin (the one I bought from my alma mater at the Farmer’s Market) for pumpkin pie! It’s been awhile since I’ve done pie and I’m looking forward to it. Yum!!
PS: Is there anyone else out there who likes to eat pie for breakfast on the day after? IMO, that’s truly the best part of Thanksgiving weekend!