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Outrageous Brownies

To have chocolate, or not to have chocolate – there is no question! The word “outrageous” is not a hyperbole when it comes to these brownies. Since you make these from scratch, I love melting down the chocolate in the bowl. It smells so warm and delicious. The hint of coffee granules when you take that first bite out of your finished product is sheer heaven. It’s not overly sweet which is a common thing for most brownies. I think these would go lovely with a delicious Sunday-night dinner and they’re a wonderful “comfort” food.

My Comments:

  • Try not to use a baking sheet of dark metal – ever notice how this gives baked foods a harder taste and makes them more easily burnt?
  • As my old saying goes – if you like something, have more! I love the taste of coffee in these brownies so I always add a little more than is called for. Gives it a nice little kick.
  • For anyone with nuts allergies, I’ve made these without nuts before and they’re just as good. Don’t feel that you’re depriving the recipe of anything should you remove the walnuts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces unsweetened 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

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened 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 to cool 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 of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf 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 overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.


Asian Grilled Salmon

I admit I wasn’t very excited to make this recipe. I wasn’t sure of Ina’s expertise with Asian food, and the soy/oil/dijon marinade didn’t seem “exotic” enough. Boy, was I wrong. I’m writing this blog not so much to guide readers on how to make this dish (it’s pretty simple), but more to encourage fellow cooks to please make it since it’s delicious!

Here are some of my comments:

  • I didn’t have access to a BBQ, so I used a cast iron grill pan on my stove. The grill marks help stand up to the marinade and keep the fish from gettting soggy. Some commenters on FoodNetwork said they put the fish in the oven at 400 degrees.
  • Ina says to remove the skin after putting the rest of the marinade on. I think this could get a little messy. The skin easily comes off after it’s been flipped on the grill.
  • Be sure to let the fish sit for about 10 minutes before adding the rest of the marinade. Otherwise, the oil in the marinade will separate due to the heat.
  • I served the salmon with white rice and a thrown together recipe of szechuan green beans (chinese green beans, ginger, garlic, hunan sauce, siracha and soy sauce). Delicious!!!

A simple marinade of mustard, soy sauce, garlic and olive oil!

Spoon the marinade onto the salmon before putting on the grill.

The fish starts out skin-side down on the grill pan. The marinade juices stay put on top of the fish!

Okay, my flipping technique isn't so good. I would recommend removing the skin at this point.

Let the fish sit for about 10 minutes, then top with the rest of the marinade. Ta Da!

Served with white rice and szechuan green beans. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

  • 1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)

For the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Directions

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking.

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don’t worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Warm Mushroom Salad

Is there anything more fun than taking something traditionally served cold and making it warm? This is a delicious French salad. I highly recommend making it with Ms. Garten’s Croque Monsier. One night I just decided to make something I’ve never attempted. I told my sister that I would surprise her – and did I! It’s fun to keep dinner a secret until it’s put on the table, especially when you serve Ina Garten’s Warm Mushroom Salad served with her Croque Monsier.

My Comments:

  • Try to make the salad as close to the moment your groceries reach your kitchen as you can! Freshness is always key.
  • You may be tempted to skip the block and go for the package of pre-shredded Parmesan. But let me say that fresh shavings of this cheese have such a richness of flavor that just melts in your mouth!
  • As this is a heavier sort of salad, don’t pair it with a main dish equal in weight. Croque Monsiers are a great choice as they are little sandwiches.

- The following recipe was obtained from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris (2004), pgs. 100-101.

Ingredients:

1 pound crremini mushrooms

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 bunches of fresh arugula, washed and spun dry

8 slices good Italian prosciutto

2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar

Chunk of Parmesan cheese

8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and julienned

Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:

CLean the mushrooms by brushing the tops with a clean sponge. Don’t wash them! Remove and discard the stems and slice the caps 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

In a large saute pan, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until bubbly. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper to the pan, and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat, tossing frequently. Reduce the heat to low and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, arrange the arugula on 4 lunch plates and cover each portion with 2 slices of prosciutto. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the sherry vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce on top of the prosciutto. With a vegetable peeler, make large shavings of Parmesan cheese and place on top of the hot mushrooms. Sprinkle with the sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, leaves, salt, and pepper, and serve warm.

Comfort food galore! My sister and I make this from time to time and I believe we’ve finally perfected Roasted Asparagus with Scrambled Eggs. You want to get the thinnest asparagus you can find – this will help it roast even better. A delicious addition to this dish is some garlic bread. I recommend using Italian country bread, it toasts nicely on the outside while leaving a soft warm texture inside.

My Comments:

  • The creaminess of the eggs makes them melt  in your mouth with a delightful pan-roasted aftertaste. It doesn’t even feel like one of those “breakfast-for-dinner” meals.
  • Do not be afraid of overcooking the asparagus – a little bit of black on the tips creates a nice crispiness that accompanies the eggs well.
  • I would recommend that you not pour the eggs into a searing-hot pan. Consistency is the key, so start on a low heat, warming the liquid, then increase it enough to where it starts cooking!
  • This is not for those who despise garlic, but putting a little garlic powder in the eggs is rather nice. It enriches the flavor.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound fresh asparagus
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 to 4 slices 7-grain bread

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they’re thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

While the asparagus is roasting, whisk the eggs in a bowl with the half-and-half, and salt and pepper, to taste. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Cook the eggs on the lowest heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to the desired doneness. Remove from the heat, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and stir until it melts. Check for seasoning, salt and pepper, if needed, and serve with the roasted asparagus and 7-grain bread (no offense to me if you prefer this to Italian country!).

Hello and welcome to my first Barefoot recipe: Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken! This was my first time making a roast chicken and it was a lot easier than I thought. Just run the chicken under water and remove any of the giblets inside. Pat it dry, put it in your roasting pan, and then follow the directions as written. I didn’t have kitchen string to tie the legs together, so I used dental floss in a pinch. Luckily, the bacon, lemon and thyme flavors overpowered any suspect minty taste.

Before going into the oven. Chicken cavity is stuffed, bacon layered on top and lemon quarters and garlic are placed in the pan.

Taken out of the oven after 1 hour of roasting. At this time, you remove the bacon and put back in the oven for another 1/2 hour.

The Finished Product! Bacon, roasted lemon on the side, fresh lemon and thyme are the garnish.

Gravy made with fat drippings, white wine and chicken stock. Takes longer than the recommended 5 minutes to reduce by half.

Here are my comments:

  • The lemon, bacon and thyme flavors are subtle in the chicken, and taste delicious on the skin (if you’re not counting calories!).
  • The bacon fat drips over the chicken to make it incredibly moist and juicy.
  • I recommend leaving out the garlic and the lemon quarters until the last 1/2 hour, as they burn after being in the pan for the whole time.
  • Definitely make the gravy if you can. It adds to the subtle flavors of the chicken. The gravy may take longer to reduce than the 5 minutes listed in the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 lemons
  • 3 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, reserving enough thyme to garnish the chicken dish, 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Cut 2 of the lemons in quarters and scatter the quarters and remaining garlic around the chicken. Lay the bacon slices over the chicken to cover.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon slices from the top of the chicken and set aside. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.

Slice the chicken on a platter. Garnish the chicken platter with the bacon slices, roasted garlic, reserved thyme and 1 lemon, sliced. Serve with the gravy.

Hello Barefoot chefs!

I admit it. I LOVE Barefoot Contessa (aka Ina Garten). Her recipes are simple with a sophisticated twist and are always a hit in my household. Since I am cooking her recipes so much, I figured I may as well share my cooking trials and tribulations with all of you (I know, this is all very “Julie and Julia”). I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback as I cook my way through this blog.

Bon appetit!

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