Saturday, April 29, 2017

ChezCindy: Please, don't lose this brownie recipe!

Favorite Brownies
Ever have that one recipe that everyone loves, but the next time you want to make it you cannot find the recipe anywhere?  This is exactly that recipe.   Hold on to it.  Store it in multiple locations.  Share it with your BFF.  But please, don't lose this recipe!

If you like fudgy brownies, this is the recipe for you.  These are rich with big chocolate flavor.  The recipe fills a 13" by 9" pan, which is a lot of brownies.  I usually cut the pan of baked brownies into 4 large pieces, wrap them individually and freeze 3 of the 4 pieces. 

Favorite Chocolate Brownies
3 sticks unsalted butter
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 13" x 9" metal non-stick baking pan. 

Chop the chocolate into roughly 1/2" pieces.  Working with a double boiler pan, melt the butter with the chocolate, stirring until smooth.  Remove the top boiler pan from the lower pan.  Whisk the eggs one at a time into the chocolate.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together.  Add the sugar and the salt, stirring to combine.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients, folding with a large spatula to combine. 

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing out the top and filling in the corners. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 2 hours. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

ChezCindy: Tabbouleh Herb & Vegetable Salad

 Tabbouleh Herb & Vegetable Salad

A traditional tabbouleh recipe would not include the vegetables and cheese that I added to this bulgur wheat grain salad.  I have taken liberties with tradition to make this a substantial and tasty side dish for summer picnics or Sunday brunch with friends and family.  The salad can easily be turned into a main course by adding grilled chicken or shrimp.  Or keep it vegetarian by adding chickpeas.  Either way, this salad comes together quickly with no cooking. 

Tabbouleh Herb & Vegetable Salad
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 "English" cucumber
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup diced yellow or orange pepper
6-ounces feta cheese

Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 grinds of black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil

Place the bulgur wheat into a large bowl.  Pour the boiling water over the bulgur; add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes. 

To make the vinaigrette:  Place the Dijon mustard and honey in a small bowl.  Add the kosher salt, a few turns of ground black pepper; whisk to combine.  Add the red wine vinegar; whisk together.  Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking vigorously. 

Prepare the vegetables and herbs:  Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise.  Using the edge of a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Cut the cucumber into 1/2 in pieces.  Cut each cherry tomato in half.  Dice the pepper into 1/2 inch pieces.  Chop the green onions and herbs. 

Once the bulgur wheat has absorbed the water, add the prepared vegetables/herbs to the bulgur.  Add half of the prepared vinaigrette.  Dice or crumble the feta cheese; add to the bulgur.  Gently stir to combine.  Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.  Serve at room temperature. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

ChezCindy: Baking with Whole Grains

Raspberry Walnut Whole Grain Muffins

Baking with whole grain flours has been an exploration for me over the past few years.  A close friend of mine has a bit of a gluten intolerance, so I have taken an interest in discovering new ways to bake gluten free.  For my own preference, I like to incorporate whole grains in my baking to raise the health factor, while not taking away from the flavor and texture. 

There are more and more cookbooks available from the masters in this field from which I have learned, along with my own recipe experimentation.  Alice Medrich, a favorite cookbook author of mine, has a beautiful cookbook titled Flavor Flours, dedicated entirely to baking with wheat flour alternatives.  This book is truly a gift for those seeking gluten free options.  Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce is another great cookbook.  Kim's book provides recipes for baking with alternative flour profiles, blended with all-purpose flour.  A recent publication by Martha Stewart, A New Way to Bake, focuses on using whole grain flours with updated ingredients.  This book also includes a handy reference guide explaining different flours, fats and sweeteners. 

Spelt flour and millet flour have become my go-to flours when swapping out for all-purpose flour.  When a recipe calls for 1 cup of white flour, I substitute 1/2 cup of spelt or millet for 1/2 cup of the white flour.  Easier to find is whole wheat flour, to which you can do the same substitution.  I also like the flavor of buckwheat flour and oat flour, but substitute these to a smaller ratio.  Many of these flours can be found in the bulk food section of high-end grocery stores or prepackaged on store shelves. 

Raspberry Walnut Whole Grain Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup millet flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or whole milk)
2 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh whole raspberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare large muffin pans: lightly grease the muffin cups with spray oil or line with paper liners.  Recipe makes 15-18 large muffins.

Working with the dry ingredients, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a large bowl.  Add the sugars, stirring to combine. 
Melt the butter, allow to cool slightly.  Add the tablespoon of sugar to the raspberries, gently stir to coat the berries.  Toast and chop the walnuts.
In a second bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter to combine.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir all to combine.  Fold in the sugared raspberries and toasted walnuts.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling roughly 3/4's full.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the muffins have risen and the tops are lightly browned.  Remove from oven.  Allow the muffins to cool in the baking pan for roughly 15 minutes.  Remove each muffin from the pan, place on a tray to fully cool before storing.

No raspberries available?  You can be creative with the base recipe, swapping in other berries such as blueberries or cranberries.

Serve for brunch or a light afternoon snack with fruit and tea. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ChezCindy: Roasted Carrot & Chickpea Hummus

Once you have made hummus at home, you'll most likely not want store-bought again.  It is extremely easy to make, less expensive, and tastes fantastic.  I use canned chickpeas, or you can cook the legume from its dried state, if you have the time and desire to do so.  

I made this lovely roasted carrot and chickpea hummus with the left-over roasted carrots from the previous night's dinner.  Roasting carrots enhances their natural sweetness and adds a nice flavor to the chickpea hummus.  I was so pleased with the outcome I was eating it by the spoonful.  Yum. 

Roasted Carrot & Chickpea Hummus
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
1 cup roasted carrots
3 tablespoons tahini 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup water

Working with a food processor, add the drained chickpeas and roasted carrots to food processor bowl.  Pulse to combine.  Add in the tahini, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Process to bring together.  Add in the water to make the texture creamier and smoother.  Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy.  Store remaining hummus in the refrigerator.

To make traditional hummus, simply use all chickpeas, eliminating the roasted carrots.  For an extra creamy hummus, substitute 8-ounces of cannellini beans in place of the roasted carrots.