Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I've moved

Hi everyone,

Brownies for Dinner has moved to http://browniesfordinner.com. Come on over and check out the new look and let me know what you think! (You will be redirected in about 20 seconds...)

-P

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Changes...

Hi everyone,

I'm moving. But I don't want to leave anyone behind, so if you are currently "following" me through Blogger please consider subscribing to the RSS instead. Starting sometime in the next couple of days, you will be redirected to my new spiffed up blog. And I'll be posting some pretty pictures and tasty recipes again very soon.

Don't forget... subscribe to the RSS and I will see you soon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's roundup time!

But first, I must tell you about my cupcake disaster. I'm still in shock. I am headed to a cabin in Tahoe this weekend with a bunch of folks, and naturally thought "I'll bring cupcakes". So this morning I went about whipping up some of the beautiful strawberry cupcakes. First, I overfilled the muffin cups so the cupcakes didn't make a nice little dome but instead spread out on the top so much so that it was going to require some minor surgery to separate one from another. I was feeling a little disappointed at this point, but set up my wire rack in preparation for the siamese cupcakes.
Quick tangent before finishing my cupcake disaster... I live in a small apartment. My kitchen has limited counter space so I try to utilize the "breakfast bar" as additional counter space. On the other side of said bar is the living/dining area (basically it's just my living room with a little space where a table would go).
So... I set up the wire rack on the upper counter / breakfast bar. It's one of the stackable wire racks that folds up. Anyway... I took the cupcakes out of the oven and placed them on the rack to cool. Without any time to comprehend or react, the entire rack and muffin pan proceeded to slide off of the counter in the direction of the living room landing... where? That's right, on the carpet. Up. Side. Down. Pink cupcake guts everywhere. I just stood there in shock while D. cleaned it up and Raven ate the crumbs.
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I've decided today is not a cupcake day after all. I think I'll just make brownies.

On to the roundup...
- First up, Bakerella's Dining out dessert: A walnut blondie with maple butter sauce. I love maple sauces and glazes. I usually reach for the maple glazed doughnuts first... yummy.

- Just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Green Cupcakes! Cathy at Noble Pig brings us key lime cupcakes. I've been looking for ideas for St. Patrick's Day. I think I will either make these green cupcakes or the Irish car bomb cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen.

- Marshmallow crunch brownie bars from Eat me, delicious. Chocolate, marshmallow, with the crunch from rice krispies... these are a few of my favorite things.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Almost brownies (chocolate biscotti)

Sometimes I am inspired to bake: I walk into the kitchen and without any real thought, I have something coming out of the oven, be it cupcakes, brownies or bread. Other times though, I need to bake but have no direction. I don't mean that I need a sweet treat to eat. I mean, I need to bake something... work with flour, butter, sugar to create something. Do you have days like that?
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On days when I feel that need but have no inspiration, I turn to experts like Dorie Greenspan. Baking: From My Home to Yours is such a thick and wonderful book filled, but there are so many recipes, it's often difficult to find where to begin. I decided chocolate is always a good place to start. But I looked at brownies and thought "meh" (meh to brownies?! -- I know, right?). I just wasn't in the mood. I wanted to try something different. So I looked through the cookies and saw biscotti. But I don't like biscotti. Of course, I have only had the rock hard biscotti you get at coffee shops which always leave me disappointed... unfulfilled even.

But instead of passing on the biscotti, I trusted Dorie and set aside my biscotti bias. I am so glad that I did. The results were like a brownie-cookie lovechild. I did have some difficulty with one of my biscotti logs falling apart. Well, it didn't fall apart exactly so much as crumble profusely anytime I touched it. I think I took them out a little too early. I will bake them for the full 25 minutes next time (I can't believe I'm actually a biscotti fan now).
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A little bit chewy, not too sweet. D. loved them (he even liked them without coffee which is saying a lot).

Chocolate Biscotti
(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
sugar, for dusting

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift together all dry ingredients.
3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla and beat another 2 minutes.
4. Reduce the mixer to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Mix in the chocolate and nuts.
5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that tried to escape.
6. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch long log. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular.
7. Carefully put both logs onto a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment but seemed to be okay without). Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.
8. Bake the logs for about 25 minutes (Don't take them out too early or you'll get a crumbly mess like me). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.
9. Using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Put the slices back on the baking sheet and bake again... about 10 minutes this time.
10. Cool biscotti on a rack. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy...

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Rainy morning, blueberry pancakes

Sunday morning, I awoke to a gentle drippity-drop rain outside my window. I love the rain. Though I like a lot of things about California (including the weather), I miss thunderstorms. I grew up (mostly) in Savannah, Georgia where in the middle of summer we'd see the big dark clouds roll in and the sky would just open up... raindrops the size of half dollars, thunder, lightning... and it would be over in an hour or two. Warm, summer rain smells so good. But since it doesn't rain that much here in California, I will take what I can get; even if that is a light, chilly rain that lasts for days.
making blueberry pancakes
After listening to the rain for a while, I rolled out of bed with an empty stomach. Not just a normal empty stomach. No, this was a vast emptiness that could only be filled by pancakes.

I turned to my shelf of cookbooks. Always up to try a new recipe, I started with my newest cookbooks first but they either were sans pancakes or had frou-frou fancy pancakes which sounded delicious but not what I was after this time. So I turned to the classic: Joy of Cooking. It is the first cookbook I ever used as a kid. I don't turn to it very often now, but I can't imagine being without it in my library.
blueberry pancakes
I was only feeding my own empty belly so I cut the recipe in half. This turned out to be the perfect amount for two (I had leftovers). I also replaced the milk with buttermilk and added some blueberries because buttermilk pancakes are awesome and blueberries are almost de riguer in my pancake world.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
7/8 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (basically 1 scant teaspoon)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (or a little more if batter is too thick)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, butter and buttermilk.
3. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until combined (there will be lumps, but that's ok).
4. You've got your pan ready, right? In a fry pan or on a griddle, melt a little butter. Ladle on the batter. At this point, sprinkle a few blueberries on each pancake.
5. Flip.
6. Spread on a little butter. Pour on the (real) maple syrup. And grab your fork!

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Iron Cupcake Voting Time

Don't forget to check out all of the pretty cupcakes entered in the February Iron Cupcake challege. All of the entries are posted over at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner along with the voting form. A huge thanks to the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen for hosting this monthly event!

cuppa joe
My Cuppa Joe cupcakes are entered and would appreciate your vote (hint, hint).

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Meyer lemon curd

Meyer lemon curdI have never made lemon curd before, I always just buy it. But with 3 Meyer lemons awaiting their destiny, I thought WWBCD(What would Barefoot Contessa do)? I want to be Barefoot Contessa when I grow up.

I followed this lemon curd recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. It is an easy recipe if you have a food processor at your disposal. I don't think it would be too much harder if you don't have a food processor, but I might zest the lemon with a grater or zester rather than a vegetable peeler. Actually, I might do it that way next time anyway. The peeler method left me with pith to scrape off before I could use the zest.

The flavor of this lemon curd is fantastic. Fresh, very lemony. Not too tart and not too sweet. It is not as thick as the store-bought lemon curds I have tried, but the flavor makes up for that by leaps and bounds. I wonder if I should have cooked it a few minutes longer to thicken it more? Or is store-bought lemon curd just thicker because they use thickeners and preservatives? (It did thicken up a bit after being refrigerated overnight, but still not as crazy thick as some of the store bought stuff).

Either way, if you have not tried homemade lemon curd and like me have been intimidated by the process, I say just go for it. The flavor experience is worth all ten minutes you have to stand there stirring. I read while I stirred so 10 minutes went by very quickly: book in 1 hand, spoon in the other (I'm reading The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart. It's interesting to read her perspective on starting a small business and following your passion).

I'm very much a chocolate girl, but I have really enjoyed the detour from chocolate with these Meyer lemons. In fact, I see more lemons in my future.

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