Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fudgy Brownies

It's been a while since I've blogged because I've been trying to eat healthier, and I've been too lasy to go through the cook books and spot pick healthy recipes.

Yesterday I wanted chocolate... and chocolate I got. It's an old magazine clip, and given the big fluffy letters, I'm guessing it's Cosmo, Marie Claire or the like.

6oz unsweetend chocolate

1 1/2 sticks (6oz) sweet butter

6 eggs

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or confectioners sugar (optional)

** I had a cup of white chocolate chips left over from something, that I sprinkled on the top before baking **

The recipe also has this optional frosting:

4 tablespoons butter, soft

1lb confectioners sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup warm water


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan with butter, dust with flour and set aside. Using a knife, finely shop chocolate. in a medium-size heavy sauce pan, melt chocolate and butter over medium-low heat, stiring occasionally. Immediately after chocolate is melted, set aside to cool. With an electric mixer at medium speed, combine eggs, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla in a large bowl until fluffy. Add melted chocolate, and blend well. Fold in flour and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan. When cooled cut brownies into 3 inch squares. Dust with confectioners sugar or spread with frosting.

To make frosting - combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix until smoth, then drizzle over brownies.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chicken Francais

Firstly, let me appologize for such an ugly photo of the dish. I only took one last night, and the cauliflower sitting next to it, doesn't look half as tasty as it actually was.
Secondly, I am a little troubled by the name of this dish. This comes from my Grandma Melusine, and she was a stickler for spelling things correctly. I cannot figure out what a Chicken Francais is. At first I thought maybe she just forgot the E in Fracaise, but the ingredients aren't what you would find in Fricasise. There is no lemon, no bread crumbs...
Irregardless, this is a damn good recipe. It's also one of a kind I suppose. This one is written in my grandmother's hand. It's printed, and it's very neat, which tells me that it's very old. My grandma Mel, had horrible arthritis by the time I came long (mid 70's) and her hand writting was not this neat then. She also opted for cursive later in life, because it was easier for her to continue the flow of the pen. anywho, just alittle aside to the history of the recipe.
Chicken Francais
1/4 cup butter
1 frying chicken cut up
1 medium onion, minced
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
3/4 cup apple cider or juice
2 cups half and half
2 tbsp cornstarch
heat butter, add chicken and onions and brown slowly for 20 minutes. Add seasonings and apple juice. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove chicken to headed platter. add cornstarch mixed with 4 tbsp of half and half. Stir in remaining half and half and cook until thick.
Add chicken back in and cover in sauce, then serve.
First let me just say the Chief Commentator's eyes lit up when he walked into the house and smelled dinner. He rushed right over to the pan and stuck his nose in it. Perhaps that's because Chief Commentator thinks that pan cooked chicken is a gift from the gods. Until we started this project neither of us had really cooked chicken in a pan, but rather relinquished it to the oven or a fryer. the Chief Commentator loves the color on the skin, and how it seals in all the juices.
This recipe was no exception. Great flavors, tender chicken. He ate a good 3/4 of the entire pan last night - picking every morsal he could find from the bones, and enjoying the sauce. I loved the texture of everything. I think the chicken really is showcased nicely in the sauce. I think next time I make it, I may double the seasonings and add a hint of black pepper, but that is just how I like my sauces.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Bread -1

First let me say, I didn't actually make this one. I did stand over and supervise the making of it though. Chief Commentator's daughter asked to make some pumpkin bread, so I dug up a recipe in my Grandma Melusines cookbook, and the two of us hit the kitchen for a little baking time. Again a recipe that was cut out of a newspaper with no credits.

Also, much like my cranberry dilema, it seems that myself, and both Grandma's have a think for pumpkin bread too (and zucchini bread, and carrot cake... ) so I have resorted to the numbering system.

2 cups cooked pumpkin
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup walnuts,finely chopped (thank you food processor)

Blend pumpkin, sugar, eggs and oil, add baking powder, soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon and flour. Mix well and fold in nuts. Bake at 325 for 1 hour or until done when tested with toothpick. Makes 3 small loaves.

Delishes. Everyone who tried some loved it. No one could believe that a 10 year old made it. One friend commented that she is officially 'out baked' by a 10 year old. The recipe is pretty fool proof, and the loaf comes out with a beautiful texture and pumpkin flavor. Not overwhelming with too many spices, or faux pumpkin like some of the boxed mixes - this is really a treat to behold.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cranberry Caramel Drops

In continuing with my love of everything cranberry, I have decided to make a cookie that involves them, to break up the monotony of all the bread recipes.
This one comes from my Grandma Melusines binder, they are called Cranberry Carmel drops, and the recipe is a cut out from a newspaper, no credit is given to the original creator.
Makes 4 dozen cookies
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 package (small 3 3/4oz) butterscotch instant pudding
5 cups quick cooking oatmeal
2 cups fresh cranberries
In a large saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and milk. Cook while stirring until miture comes to a full rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in pudding, otameal and cranberries. Stir until well blended. Cook 15 minutes. then drop by teaspoonfuls on waxed paper. Let set several hours befor paking into airtight container and storing in a cool dry place.
Ok - first of all, the recipe does not say how to cook for the final 15 minutes. Cook high? cook low? I just put it on medium, and stirred it a bunch of times and hoped that counted. I am guessing it didn't, because the drops came out a bit soggy. The flavor was incredible, and I loved the idea behind them, but I really need to figure out how to make them a little less limp.
Kids loved them. Chief commentator loved them. But we'd all like them to be a little firmer.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cranberry Bread - 2

Yes. Here we have another recipe for Cranberry Bread. This one also comes from my grandma Melusine. This one is a cut out from a newspaper clipping. The clipping credits Eleanor Madigan, so cheers to you Eleanor, thank you for sharing your recipe.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 cup fresh cranberries - chopped (I threw them in whole, and let the mixer chop them)
1 cup nuts (ditto on the chopping)

Combine all ingredietns except cranberries and nuts, mix well, stir in cranberries and nuts, pour into pan which is well greased and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes.

Yes, you can see this one earned the distinction of Easy - mostly because I took it upon myself to make the chopping of the nuts and cranberries easier. A little something I learned, if you just toss them in and let them whip themselves with the dough - the crack and chop all on their.

Chief commentator liked this one a lot. He said he could really taste the orange coming through in the recipe and loved how the cranberries left little tart pockets in the orangy flavored bread. We both liked the consistancy better than the first batch, although I still feel like there is a recipe out there with a slightly better texture. Good thing I seriously have like 29 more cranberry bread recipes to try...

Arnaud's Remoulade Creole Jambalaya

If you now me, then you know of my love of all things New Orleans. The food, the people, the culture, the music, the ambiance, did I mention the food? I love Remoulade's situated right on Bourbon street in the heart of the French Quarter. Its somewhere that I frequent, when in NOLA, and if you are a fan of yelp, you can read me waxing poetically about my love of this restaurant.

When I was there in 2007, I fell in love with their Jambalaya. As luck would have it, I found the recipe on their website, and printed off a copy for my cookbook. I have made it many times over the past few years, and it has become a staple in my cooking.

If you are in the NOLA area, Remoulade's is a must stop. If you can't make it there, well, you can have a little taste of NOLA right in your home. I like to make it when watching Saints games...

2 pounds jump shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound seasoned sausage, such as andouille, diced
1/2 cup green onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1 bayleaf
1 teaspoon crushed thyme
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (I use 1/4 I like it a little hotter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups broth
1 cup long grain rice

1 - prepare shrimp.

2 - in a dutch oven or a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid, saute sausage in the oil for about 3 minutes

3- Add garlic, onion, and green pepper, cook til tender

4- Add parsley, tomatoes, seasonings, rice and water. stir in thoroughly then add shrimp

5- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover tightly

6- cook without stirring over low heat, or transfer to 350 degree oven for 25-30 mins until rice is fluffy (I prefer the oven method)

7 - remove bayleaf before serving.

The chief commentator couldn't get enough of this. I think he ate 3 bowls the first night (and I had made homemade corn bread to go with it!) He was delighted beyond all belief. I of course love it, and have considered it a staple in my kitchen for a while now.

I do double the cayenne in the recipe when it's just him and I. The 'normal' 1/8th teaspoon howeer is fine for the kids, and they love eating the recipe as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cranberry Bread - 1

First off my darling readers, I must make a confession. I love cranberries. LOVE them. The day that fresh cranberries hit the supermarket shelves, I am buying bags by the armfuls and throwing them into any and every recipe I can. I'm also freezing them like crazy so I can have cranberries year around. I think one of the reasons the Chief Commentator is so hesitant to buy a deep freeze is because he secretly knows I would devote a solid 1/2 of it to cranberries.
Apparently this obsession of mine with the fruit runs in both sides of the family. Not only do the cook books I've put together have pages upon pages of recipes with the lovely little red berries being showcased, both of my grandmothers fill their books with recipes requiring them.
So for simplicity sake of keeping track of the volumes of Cranberry recipes, I've added Cranberries to my sortable list (on the right side of the blog) and because there are so many Cranberry Bread (and also Cranberry sauces, etc) I am going to number them so not to confuse myself or hopefully you. Many of them do not differ by much, although I am hoping in those small subtle differences, I will find what truely makes one better than the other.
This one comes from a recipe card from my Grandma Melusine's small cardex box. I found it the same day I found the beef bourguigon and made it the following.
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
juice of 1 lemon , juice of 1 orange plus water for 1 cup total liquid
1 1/2 cups cranberries cut in half
bake one hour at 325.
Ok - my first kevetch of this recipe... I do not like standing there slicing cranberries in half. Especially for a fruit that when exposed to heat pop on their own.. but I did it (patiently). It's for that reason, the recipe got a Moderate rating rather than easy. It takes a lot of time to cut those suckers. Not that it's necessarily "hard" work.
I also kinda felt like I was wasting the lemon and the orange by not grating the rind into the recipe.. but maybe that is just me.
First off, the bread came out looking beautiful. It had a very nice light color to it, it smelled amazing. The dough consistance had good flavor of oranges, and cranberries, but the texture was a little moist. Cheif commentator wondered if maybe we should have cooked it longer (although the tester came out clean) to make the texture a little firmer. Or perhaps that is just how it was supposed to be?
All in all a good recipe. Little more work than most, but tasty.