Monthly Archives: February 2008

double chocolate espresso brownies

Last night I really only wanted to bake. This happens sometimes, when I don’t even really need a treat, which is rare. Anyway, I had accidentally made a shot of espresso at around six, without thinking that if I drank it I would be up all night. So, I decided to make some espresso brownies, because I hate when food (or drink) go to waste. While this is a good recipe, I feel kind of guilty making things like this with absolutely no nutritional merits, especially when I don’t even desperately need the chocolate.

  • 1 and 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (that is a shocking amount of butter, I must say)
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate (why not?)

Earlier in the day, I had been looking at Tastespotting, and someone had posted a picture of “one bowl blondies” which I dismissed as ridiculous, because, in my head, everything I bake is “one bowl.” So, when it came to making these, I just threw everything in the bowl until I remembered that there are actual steps and the dough was really not sticking together. I think you’re supposed to heat the butter, stir in the cocoa, and then add the rest, but I shun steps and logic, apparently, and just mixed it all together with my hands. It worked okay, though I guarantee there are easier ways to make brownies, with only slightly more dishes. But! The coffee taste is nice and these brownies (though filling my butter quotient for maybe ever) are pretty good.

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grilled cheese.

Today Maytal is asking lots of serious questions about cheese and cheeze whiz and I am reminded that I lovelovelove grilled cheese. This is pretty strange considering that I literally (literally, for real, not like sometimes when I am exaggerating) did not have a grilled cheese sandwich until I was twenty years old. My family never ever had processed cheese and we really never ate it, because I thought I hated it. This meant that I also rarely ate pizza growing up and if I did, I would take the cheese off it, meaning that I was having the rough meal of bread and sauce. It turns out that I do hate most cheeses, but I love a strong, strong cheese. I am also enamoured with the cheese store near my house, which has also helped my cheese consumption. Anyway, back to grilled cheeses.

I have some key rules:

  • Good bread (my absolute favourite is challah, because it’s fluffy and smushes properly.  Also, the only time I get pre-sliced bread is if I’m going to make grilled cheeses.  The slices are the perfect width to be pressed (more on this).  Otherwise, thicker is better!
  • Sharp sharp cheddar – extra old, at least, but a smoked applewood also works. This is expensive, but worth it. Otherwise you are eating a treat that tastes bad and oily.
  • At least one other ingredient, to bring make it less “grilled cheesey” because I still kind of think that I hate cheese so it’s hard to eat an exclusively cheese sandwich. My favourites are avocado and tomatoes (sun-dried or regular-type). Ideally both!
  • Not fried, grilled, on my birthday grill! I love this grill so hard.
  • Thin slices of cheese. I use a cheese plane, so it’s thinner than packaged cheese slices and cheese slices from a slicer. This way the cheese melts quickly and doesn’t overpower the other delicious parts of the sandwich.

These are easy rules, though, and so worth it. Grilled cheese sandwiches are maybe my ultimate comfort food. How strange.

chai squash soup.

It is kind of raining snow here, and I am feeling a bit let down by the weather, so I thought I’d make some soup. This summer, Jen made a fun sounded butternut squash soup that I think she tried to copy from a place in Canmore that may be called “Communitea.” (note: I love puns. And tea.) I didn’t try it, but she liked it and it’s been at the back of my mind for awhile, and today seemed like a good day for a spicy and hearty soup. Since Jen is in Zambia, I decided to just figure out a recipe myself. Basically, any time any liquid was used, I put in strong chai tea, black.

  • 1 large butternut squash (mine was a little over 4 pounds)
  • 5 shallots
  • 3 apples (I used Crispin)
  • 6 cups of black chai tea
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon

Half the squash length-wise and roast and 350 for an hour and a half, face down.  Peel the shallots and half them, peal the apples and core and quarter them, and put them in a baking tray with a cup of chai and the olive oil.  Bake them (conveniently also at 350) covered in tin foil for an hour, then remove the tin foil and bake them uncovered for half and hour.  I hate this kind of waiting, but I did read a lot while this was cooking.

When the squash is done, let it sit until it’s cool enough to touch, then peel the skin off.  Purée the apples and shallots, and add in about a cup of chai.  Transfer the mixture to a pot, and purée the squash, gradually, while adding chai to break it down.  Pour the squash into the pot and heat, adding the rest of the chai.  Since everything is already hot, this won’t take long.  Add the nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

I am pretty into this soup, but I might have puréed it too much.  Next time I might use a hand blender.

Toblerone cake

Lately, my friends and I are really into the pudding cake. As in, between my roommates and I, and Ashley, we probably make four a week. This is a lot, but they are easy and delicious. Last week, for family day dinner, we decided to up the ante a bit and make the slightly more complicated, but still quicker version, the Toblerone cake, which I think Paige found on Tastespotting. Sadly, I think we may have overcooked it a little, but it was still amazing, and just a bit richer than the pudding cake. We doubled the recipe and made two ramekins of oozy cake.

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The recipe was in grams, which is workable thanks to our surprisingly well-used kitchen scale. And, I think, because chocolate bar quantity is in weight.

  • 1 egg
  • 25 grams of sugar
  • 20 grams of flour
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 50 grams of Toblerone bar
  • 20 grams of bittersweet chocolate

I should mention that this is the kind of ratio I support: the most chocolate, a lot of butter, some sugar, and a little bit of flour. So, you beat the egg and the sugar, then add in the flour and beat it some more. In a double boiler (or, my version called “small pot in a large pot”) melt the two chocolates, and add in the butter when they’re smooth. Fold the chocolate into the other mixture until it too is smooth. Pour the mixture into a well-greased ramekin, and cook for ten minutes at 400. Take the cake out of the ramekin immediately after it comes out of the oven.

This is a good recipe, but I think we’re probably sticking to the pudding cake for less intensely-planned meals, since it is pretty rich.

banana loaf

Hannah gave me this recipe awhile ago, and though it is pretty much the best treat ever, the combination of whole wheat flour and no butter (but! olive oil instead) has somehow tricked me into thinking that it’s in fact healthy. Plus, it contains most of the food groups: grain (whole wheat flour, oats!), fruit (bananas), milk products (milk chocolate chips are so so much better than semi-sweet). Anyway, I am being ridiculous, because this is definitely a treat. If I made them in muffin tins, I would have to call them cupcakes, even without icing (but ohhh! they would be amazing with nutella on top!).  That said, banana bread still has a special limbo status because it’s one of the few cakes that is socially appropriate to eat for breakfast (others include brioche and scones.  I love a breakfast treat!)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla (note that if you are one of those people who doubles the vanilla, I have already tripled it… so, at your own risk)
  • 2 large mashed bananas
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (again, if you like to add more chocolate, I’ve already accounted for this…)

DSCF6073

Mix everything together and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes in a greased pan (I usually don’t bother with grease, but it’s important here). And, let it sit and cool before you try to take it out.  This is annoying, but otherwise the top half will fall out and the bottom will stay in and everything will be messy.

pho!

I am not really that good at Vietnamese soup. Sometimes I accidentally order it with tripe, and I always drip and slurp it all over myself. But! Pho is delicious, and also Zack’s favourite. Sometimes I try to pretend that when he says “soup” he means any type of soup, but really he only means pho. Anyway, this week he has his mother’s car while she is away, so we’ve been three times (!!!) to his favourite place, Pho Linh, at College and Dufferin. Yes, this is not so far without a car, but since there are about one trillion Vietnamese restaurants between our apartments (which are only four real blocks apart…), it seems silly to travel even a little for the pho. But, this place is really wonderful. It’s much smaller than the huge huge places on Spadina, especially now that Pho Train (Xe Lua) takes up all the space (well) that Bo De Duyen used to use, which is maybe why the soup is so delicious. I’ve been kind of off beef pho recently, but their chicken is actually amazing.

family day dinner

Family day is kind of an insane holiday, but I am obviously into holidays and was determined to celebrate even though my family lives far, ish, away. So, my lovely friends and I had a pretty amazing family dinner, featuring amazing and relatively light (especially considering that it was paired with a blue cheese sauce) gnocchi and a Brussels sprout hash. I love making a sort-of labour-intensive meal with many friends, especially my friends. (cheesy! also, true!)

Ashley’s “world’s lightest gnocchi”

  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • olive oil
  • nutmeg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of flour

Coat the potatoes in oil, with the skin on, and puncture them with a fork. Bake them at 400 for an hour. I think that baking, rather than boiling, the potatoes is key. When the potatoes are cooked, peel the skin off, and mash the potatoes. Add in the egg yolk and as much nutmeg as you want. Once the potatoes are well mashed, add in the flour. Do a test run to make sure the consistency is right by dropping a ball of the dough into boiling water until it floats, which takes about 4 minutes. If it doesn’t fall apart, and tastes good, it’s ready. If not, add more flour. Roll the dough into a long tube and cut into chunks. Then, press a fork into the pieces, and leave them to sit for about twenty minutes, so they harden.

To make the gorgonzola sauce, melt the following ingredients in a saucepan, and throw in some sautéed shiitake mushrooms (because blue cheese and mushrooms are the best combo ever!)

  • 2 tablespoons gorgonzola
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream

Top with chopped marjoram and fresh parmesan cheese. This is the “heavy” part of the gnocchi, which is maybe a bit insane, given that gnocchi is potato pasta.

We also made a Brussels sprouts hash. I have to say that I was skeptical of this, since I absolutely love Brussels sprouts, just boiled and eaten plain. This was a different Brussels sprout experience, still good, but I think I’ll stick with the straight up boil for everyday eating.

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cut into slices
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh parmesan cheese

Sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, then add in the Brussels sprouts and sauté for about 15 minutes. Gradually add the soup stock, stirring constantly. When the soup stock has boiled off, toss in the cheese and the walnuts. Add pepper to taste, but unless you are using zero-sodium stock you probably won’t need to add salt.

Mid-February isn’t really the best time for Brussels sprouts, but I still support family day!