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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

I never had biscuits growing up.  And I certainly never had chocolate gravy.  But that's just the difference between the north and the south...score one for the south!  (We did have fried dough- and that's hard to beat!)  L was a little dubious at first, but she quickly jumped right in.  The "gravy" is a simple stovetop chocolate sauce, not really fudgy, but with a rich flavor.  It's great paired with the touch of grace biscuits- or a pillsbury biscuit!

Chocolate Gravy
Adapted from Paula Deen

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/6 cup cocoa
1 cups whole milk

Heat butter in a skillet over low heat. Mix in sugar, flour and cocoa. Slowly pour 1 cup of milk into the skillet and whisk well to remove lumps. Whisk in remaining milk, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, being careful not to scorch. Serve hot over biscuits.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Roasted Carrots

I made a critical error when I made these.  I only made one pound of carrots.  Big mistake!! Have I not learned that anything roasted becomes tantalizingly good?  What is wrong with me?  They become sweet, crisp, and popular with the whole family! They are a versatile side and are going to make it onto our table again and again.

Thyme Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

2 lbs whole carrots
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400. Peel the carrots. If the carrots are large, half or quarter the pieces (aiming for uniform so the pieces will cook evenly). You can also cut them across into long (6 inch) pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and the leaves stripped from the thyme sprigs. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until you see some caramelization. Crumble goat cheese over the warm carrots and serve.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Touch of Grace Biscuits

There are two kinds of biscuits, in my mind.  There are the flaky layer kind of biscuits, like Dorie Greenpan's wonderful ones, that require cold cold butter and a light hand.  Then, there are these.  These are soft, tender, not layered, but puffed up by steam and slightly sweet.  Perfect for chocolate gravy, I might add.  Or soup.  Or snack.

This was the first thing I made out of Bakewise.  Shirley Corriher is a mad scientist, but actually this recipe was reprinted in Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Pie and Pastry bible, which means I've had this under my nose for a decade and just now am discovering it.  The Bakewise edition has a charming story about how these were biscuit her grandma made, and young Shirley never got them right, as she left out "a touch of grace."  The "grace" turns out to be gently tossing them in flour and minimally shaping them.  But RLB makes them foolproof!

And as for the 2 types of biscuits? I can't decide which I like more, but it's a problem I'm glad to have.

Touch of Grace Biscuits
Adapted from the Pie and Pastry Bible, who initially adapted it from Bakewise

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups Southern self-rising flour (7.5 oz), such as White Lily
OR substitute for the White Lily: 1 cup all purpose flour with 1/2 cup cake flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and add an extra 3/4 teaspoon salt
½ tsp. salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk or heavy cream
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 oz) for tossing
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted for TOPPING

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and spray an 8” round cake pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the self-rising flour, salt, and sugar and whisk to mix well. Add the shortening and, using your fingers, rub it into the flour mixture until there are no lumps bigger than a large pea.

Stir in the heavy cream or buttermilk.  Don't overmix, or gluten will form and make them tough. Let stand for 2-3 minutes to let moisture absorb. The dough will be very wet, resembling mashed potatoes.

Pour the all-purpose flour into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Rub your hands in the flour to dust them well. Using a ¼-cup measuring scoop or something of similar size, spoon a lump of wet dough into the flour, and sprinkle some flour over it to coat well. Gently pick it up and shape it into a soft round. I do this by cradling it in the cupped palm of one hand and gently shaking it, letting the excess flour fall through my fingers.  Place biscuit in pan and repeat with remaining dough, pushing biscuits tightly against one another so that they will rise up and not spread out.Brush with melted butter.

Raise the heat to 500 degrees at this point, bake for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 475 and bake for 10-15 more minutes.  Let cool for 2 minutes, then unmold and eat.

Makes 10-12 biscuits

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Southwestern Black Bean Egg Rolls

 I have a thing for pretty food.  For my daughter's birthday party, I did some serious cooking.  I miscalculated these egg rolls, however, and in my zest to be organized I made them in advance and slipped them into a ziptop bag precooking.   Big mistake, as the thin egg roll dough melted, essentially, and resulted in some seriously ugly egg rolls.  With holes in them.  At my 2nd eldest sister's urging, I served them.  Those social workers, they can get you to do anything through first validating you...  She said something to the effect of "I agree, I hate ugly food too, and they are ugly, but everything else is so pretty, no one will notice."  What she should have said is "These are so yummy their ugliness will only offend you for a few minutes!"  I remade them recently for dinner at a friend's home, but I made sure to keep a little filling for us to have later in the week!

These are vegetarian, filling, and surprisingly good, especially coming from several pre-made or frozen ingredients.  Make them for your next party!

Southwestern Black Bean Egg Rolls
Adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (i do this in a few paper towels)
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 package egg roll wrappers- about 24

In a large bowl, combine everything but the egg roll wrappers.  Mix well, making sure spinach is distributed- it clumps when so dry.  Lay an egg roll wrapper out on the counter so that one of the corners is pointing toward you and place ¼ cup of the filling in the center, making it somewhat log shaped.  Fold the tip closest to you up over the filling, roll a bit, then take the points pointing outward and fold them in toward the center.  Continue rolling into an egg roll shape until a small part of the remaining point is still free.  Dip a finger in water and lightly brush on the edges of the free corner. Press to seal closed.  Repeat.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place the sealed egg rolls on the baking sheet seam side down and spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly brown, turning halfway through baking, if you must have them equally browned.  Serve warm but not piping hot, with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Don't think you can manage to throw something together hodge-podge and beat this recipe.   Not possible.  These meatballs are really flavorful and tender.  These freeze perfectly, and are great for spaghetti and meatballs or a meatball sub.  The last time I made these I was out of fresh basil, and I subbed an equal amount of pesto- still lovely!  The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs meatloaf mix, but my butcher only carries 1 1/4, but it works great anyway.   These are a sure thing!

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef

1 large egg
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped (plus more for serving)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup water
1 1/4 pounds ground "meatloaf mix" (approximately equal parts ground beef, pork and veal)
¾ cup dried Italian Style bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus more for serving)

 Set rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and water. Add meat, breadcrumbs and Parmesan and mix until just combined. Do not overdo it.

Using your hands, take about 2 tablespoons of meat mixture (about the size of a golf ball) at a time and gently roll into balls. Place meatballs on ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and use a metal spatula to turn meatballs, or shake vigorously to brown evenly. Put back in oven and cook another 10 minutes, until nicely browned.

When the meatballs are browned, transfer them to the pan with tomato sauce, leaving the fat behind. Cover loosely with foil and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the flavors marry and the meatballs are cooked through. Keep warm until ready to toss with pasta.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pomodoro (red) Sauce

So this recipe blurred past me on my  facebook feed.  I was attracted to it because it sounded like how I already make marinara sauce, but with a few refinements.  I loved my mom's sauce growing up- probably something to do with the sugar she put in- man, was it tasty!  She doesn't make it that way anymore, either.  My version is sugar-less, with lots of basil, and a great consistency.  The olive oil addition, combined with the immersion blending, basically makes a scrumptious tomato and olive oil emulsion- not a bad thing at all.

Pomodoro Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit May 2011

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes
Kosher salt
3 tbsp fresh basil
12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti
2 Tbsp. cubed unsalted butter, if desired
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add  tomatoes, basil, and season lightly with kosher salt.  Blend with immersion blender (it's fine to puree tomatoes first).  Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.   Off heat, add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Restaurant Style Salsa

Hail to P-dub.  PW sometimes is too non fat conscious for me, but this recipe is your best local mexican restaurant in your own kitchen.  Not chunky, a nice tang from the lime, and completely yum.  Better than any jarred version, and not complex in any way shape or form.  My husband B would insist that he didn't know how to cook- he just assembled.  This recipe is assembly.  It makes about 3/4 of a liter of salsa, too!!
     It's my go-to salsa recipe.  Make this one week when you are planning Benchiladas or Chicken Taquitos- something that needs salsa as an ingredient!

Restaurant Style Salsa
adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
¼ cups Chopped red onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
¼ teaspoons Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
½ cups Cilantro
1 1/2 -2 tbsp Lime Juice

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
Refrigerate salsa until needed.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Favorite Cornbread

Growing up in the northeast, cornbread wasn't exactly what you would call a staple in my childhood home.  For my husband, it was!  Every year they would have cornbread dressing at holidays.  I never really had a recipe that made cornbread noticeable, until this one.  I made it first at Christmas.  I was determined to make the end all, be all cornbread dressing, which involved sage (of course), shredded chicken breast, and sausage.   Well, the ground sausage was a mistake- it totally overpowered the rest of the dressing.  But this recipe was a hit.  In fact, I had to keep my husband's hands out of it so it didn't all disappear.  (and maybe my own....maybe)  I made it again for dinner tonight and I was very pleased, although I do prefer bread to muffins.  The salt is a little prominent, so if you're a salt-o-phobe, decrease it to 1 teaspoon.

Cornbread (muffins)
Adapted from Martha Stewart 

6 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (this will be about 9 ounces)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 6 3/4 ounces or spooned and leveled
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups low-fat or fat free buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or butter it.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Stir cornmeal mixture into buttermilk mixture just until moistened. 

Scoop into muffin tin with a #16 muffin scoop for even muffin sizes and even cooking.  Bake 10-13 minutes depending on how generous your scoop was.

To make as cornbread: drop temp to 425F.
Brush bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with 2 tablespoons butter.  Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan at least 15 minutes before inverting and slicing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ranch Dressing

I didn't have any idea what really was in ranch dressing, never mind that one could actually make it- quickly, deliciously, and more healthfully!  We are slowly realizing that there is really no need to buy your salad dressing.  My eldest sister has been telling me this for years, but I always thought she was terribly foodie and fancy for insisting it was easy.  Although she is very foodie, she's right!  This makes a lot of ranch, so you need to eat salad nightly for a couple weeks or use it as a condiment- pizza anyone?

¾ cup light mayonnaise 
¾ cup light sour cream 
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
¼-1 cup fat free buttermilk (I use the 3/4 cup)
1 small bunch chives (or 1 tablespoon dried chives)
Small handful parsley 
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or with a whisk, starting with ¼ cup of the buttermilk and blend for about 10 seconds.  Check the consistency and taste and blend in additional buttermilk as desired- this can go from thick dip to salad dressing.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


So to give you an idea how good this guacamole is, let me tell you about Hail and farewell.

The Navy has a lovely tradition of throwing a party at the beginning and end of people's duty station assignments.  It's a time to welcome the new, and thank the old, which in the Navy has quite a bit of overlap, since everyone moves so much- hardly a hail and farewell happens without an old friend arriving and a new one leaving.  Military are pretty much salt of the earth people.   It was pretty funny, I remember thinking one of the captains was sexist for asking if I'd go part time once we had kids- now, I realize he was not sexist, but wise.  Or perhaps, wisely sexist.   It's hard for (this) woman.

Anyway, I made this guacamole for the last one we would ever attend.  Someone else made guacamole too, not that anyone noticed.  This sat 18 inches from the other, lonely guacamole, and this one got demolished while the other just sat there.  Barely touched.   It was the first time I saw guacamole look embarrassed.

I've made it a million times since then, as does my husband (he takes particular pride).  Don't be scared by the tabasco- it's essential.  So is the lemon, unless you like brown guacamole.

This is always made as a double batch- too much is never enough.

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

4 ripe Haas avocados
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
8 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup small-diced red onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 medium plum tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl with a spoon.  Immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced, or use a potato masher. Add the tomatoes. Mix well.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry Syrup for Pancakes and Waffles- Brian

So this was my mother's day breakfast.  Brian made the light and fluffy pancakes also on the blog, and also whipped up this strawberry sauce to go with it.  It was sweet and very well done!  Brian and I have different philosophies of cooking.  He like to just kind of wing it and season to taste- I like to measure everything so I can recreate it exactly.  

So I kind of had to pull out of him exactly how he did it- but it would seem this is the way it was done.   The lemon juice is the only thing that's in question, so I used Rachael Ray's recipe to guide me.  

Strawberry Compote:
Adapted from Rachael Ray

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
3 cups of strawberries

Combine sugar, lemon and water in a small sauce pot. Over moderate heat, dissolve sugar into water. Stir in fruit, coating it in sugar water and bring the fruit and water to a bubble. Reduce heat and simmer 7 or 8 minutes.  The strawberries will break down, but may need and extra five minutes.  Serve with French toast, pancakes or waffles.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grilled chicken fajitas

These are the best fajitas.  As in, good-enough-for-company-fajitas.  We often eat them without tortilla, as a sort of "stir-grill," I guess.  We just don't get tired of them, ever.  I would easily prefer these to any fajita I've ever gotten at a restaurant.  The marinade is not spicy, despite what you make think with a jalapeno being in there!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Adapted form Annie's Eats, who adapted from Cook's Illustrated September 2005

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (LEMON DOES NOT WORK)
8 tbsp. vegetable oil plus more for brushing
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp. brown sugar
2 jalapeño, seeded, ribbed and diced
3 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
¾ tsp. pepper
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, about 1 lb.
1 large red onion (about 14 oz.), sliced into ½-inch thick slices, rings not separated
3 large bell peppers, stemmed, quartered and seeded, a mix of red and green
8-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the marinade; set aside.  Place the chicken breast halves in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Brush both sides of the onion rounds and peppers with vegetable oil.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Place tortillas wrapped in aluminum foil in a 200 degree oven to warm.

Remove the chicken breast halves from the marinade and transfer to a warmed gas grill; discard the left over marinade.  Place the onion rounds and peppers on the cooler side of the grill.  Cook the chicken until it is well browned, 3-4 minutes.  Using tongs, flip the chicken and continue grilling until it is no longer pink inside. Meanwhile, cook onions and peppers until somewhat charred and crisp-tender, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice as needed.  When the chicken and vegetables are done, slice them and transfer them to a large bowl and pour reserved marinade over them (NOT THE NASTY RAW CHICKEN MARINADE- this is obvious, I know) and toss to combine.

 Arrange the chicken and vegetables on a large platter with the warmed tortillas and serve.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Benchiladas"- Brian's first foray as blog chef

These enchiladas are really good. I made them for my brother and sister in law, as well as my parents in law, and they were a big hit!!!  They have nothing exotic for ingredients, and errrrrrrr....almost nothing remotely mexican, for that matter!  Except the salsa, but come on, these days that's like saying ketchup is chinese.

Of course, I usually make these with homemade salsa and homemade ranch dressing, but you could certainly use the jarred stuff.  These were a Friday night post cinco de mayo dinner.  I had planned to make vegetarian enchiladas, but they were relatively complicated to ask B to sub in for with 2 kids at his heels.  I asked Brian to make these on my way home and I came home to these puppies ready and waiting.  Happy Mother's Day to me!  (you can also tell these are made by Brian from the startling lack of cheese.  Healthy man, my husband.  Feel free to be more liberal in your incarnation.)  They got the name "benchiladas" from Annie's husband's love for them...they'll be named after you soon enough.

Cheesy Chicken “Benchiladas”
Adapted from Annie's Eats and her dad's local newpaper!

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
8 oz. sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
8 oz. Ranch salad dressing
flour tortillas (10-15)
about 1 cup of salsa
shredded mexican cheese, 2 cups and more to taste

Cook chicken breasts  until cooked through. Set aside to cool a bit.

While chicken is cooling, mix up the sauce. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the sour cream and half of the Ranch dressing. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the sour cream and Ranch dressing. Stir both until well combined. Shred or chop the cooked chicken and add to the large mixing bowl. Mix well with sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan. Take one tortilla and top with a scant 1 tbsp. of the sauce from the small bowl. Spread over the tortilla in an even layer. Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla. Top with salsa, 1-2 tbsp per your preference. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, to taste. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Feel free to add additional salsa to the top.  Repeat with remaining ingredients (usually makes 10-15 enchiladas).

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (30 for a crispier tortilla). Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Breakfast Pancake

So we had this all the time growing up!!!  Or rather, every time we had it, it was very memorable.  This is ridiculously simple, but absolutely delicious.  Little puddles of butter get on top of the "pancake" (translate- scrambled eggs and flour's love child) and then absorb the powdered sugar to become a little bit of yum on this otherwise savory eggy creation.  Make no mistake- this is a sweet and not healthy.   It's best served sliced like a pie in wedges as an accent to some fresh fruit or something else to purge yourself of the decadence.  My mom always used to marvel at the variability- sometime it would puff up dramatically, and other times would be virtually flat- it's never the same shape twice.

I was thrilled to see this was in a cookbook other than the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' cookbook- it's too good to be secret!

david eyre's pancake-- Known in my house as BREAKFAST PANCAKE

Originally adapted by my mom from the Fine Arts Cookbook, 1967 edition

adapted from Amanda Hesser's Essential New York Times Cookbook as seen in Daily Salt

serves 2 to 4

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons salted butter (I like the salted butter especially well)
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon (optional, I never used that, but I like the thought)

Heat the oven to 425F. Combine flour, milk, and eggs in bowl.  Beat lightly.  Batter will be lumpy - do not overmix.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heat-proof handle. When it is very hot, pour in the batter.  Bake for 15-20 min, until pancake is golden brown.

Sprinkle with sugar. Sprinkle with lemon juice if desired.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Panko Crusted Salmon

Well, you'll just have to forgive me for not getting a good picture of these cooked.  I didn't, and they were eaten without any leftovers before I could possibly manage to fix it!  This has the absolute potential to become a regular.  I made an emeril recipe back before we were married that we used all the time that also featured mustard, but this one is 100% better.  I love the lemon zest with the bread crumbs- it gives a nice lemon flavor throughout.    It's very easy and fast, with no special ingredients, which makes it perfect for nights after work.   The mustard is very subtle- don't be scared off!

I have had not desire to get Ina's new cookbook, but with this recipe, I may have to reconsider!!

Panko-Crusted Salmon
Adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from How Easy is That?

2/3 cup panko (I food processored a homemade roll and toasted it in a saucepan)
2 tbsp. finely minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
3-4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 (6-8 oz.) salmon fillets, skin on (wild sockeye if you can get it)
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  In a small bowl, combine the panko, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly coated; set aside.

Place the salmon fillets skin side down.  Brush the top of each fillet with the mustard and then season with salt and pepper.  Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each fillet to help the panko adhere.

Heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3-4 minutes without turning to brown the skin. You remove the skin, so don't worry about this step- this is oil you won't eat!!

Transfer the pan to the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until the salmon is almost cooked through and the panko is browned.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Serve warm with fresh lemon wedges.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sweet and Salty Brownies

Ok, so perhaps 2 brownie recipes when I only 30 recipes total is a little excessive.  So be it.  These brownies were made for date-night-at-home.  We're watching the king's speech and having some red wine.  Chocolate and red wine go great together!

These brownies are impossibly fudgy, with a thin layer of caramel in the middle.  The topping is salt and fleur de sel, and does brush off easily if the salt is too much for you.   I love that the coarse salt and sugar are indistinguishable by sight- it keeps things unexpected.  If you've never used black cocoa, I love it (comparison photo to hershey's dark).  It adds a big depth of chocolate flavor.  These brownies were  very rich- the caramel is not distinct, but adds complexity to the brownie.

I also like their caramel recipe a lot- the corn syrup helps prevent the caramel from seizing.  Seized caramel is messy and nasty, so anything we can do to avoid it, I'm a fan.

Sweet & Salty Brownie
adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

1 c. sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 c. sour cream

1 and 1/4 c. flour (6 3/4 oz)
1 tsp. salt
2 TBSP dark cocoa powder (I used 1 tbsp Hershey's dark and 1 tbsp black cocoa)
11 oz. quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped (chips are fine)
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla (vanilla bean crush)

1 and 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1 tsp coarse sugar

Make the Caramel:
In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 c. water, stirring together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan.  Cook over high heat, until a thermometer reads 350 degrees and is dark amber in color.

Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream (it will bubble up).  Then add the fleur de sel.  Whisk in the sour cream.  Set aside to cool.

Make the Brownie:
Preheat oven to 350.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13" pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Spray parchment with baker's joy.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a makeshift or real double boiler.

Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water.  Whisk in both sugars until completely combined.  Remove bowl from pan.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.  Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined.  Add the vanilla and stir until incorporated.  Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Add the flour mixture.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until there is just a trace of the flour mixture remaining.

Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Drizzle and 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the batter, trying to stay away from the edges. Gently spread the caramel sauce evenly with an offseet spatula, if you have it.  In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the remaining batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently over the caramel.

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and the coarse sugar.

Cool completely before serving, and store well wrapped in the fridge (preference, not safety).