Monday, 31 August 2009

terribly good fool-proof* chocolate brownies

I'm not bad at baking if I do say so myself, but brownies have always eluded me. they usually turn out too cakey. I love cake, but cake isn't brownie. so this recipe makes me feel happy and clever. and heavier. sigh.

a lady from a book-making class I went to a while back gave it to me. we took turns making morning tea, and this was her contribution. she must be very devoted to it - when I asked for the recipe, she wrote it straight down on a scrap of paper without having to think.

this works beautifully with the Basco all-purpose gluten free flour as well. dangerously scoffable especially when you cut it into little squares. wafer-thin, don't you know?

  • 125g butter
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 1 cup almost-but-not-quite firmly packed brown sugar (the darker the better)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs

  • as with all baking, it's best if ingredients are at room temperature
  • preheat oven to 180C, if you're lucky enough to have an accuate oven
  • grease and line a small pan about umm... a bit smaller than A4-sized and about 3-4 cm deep. that's what I use and it's just right. I'm crap at measuring pans, which is naughty, because for baking you should try and use the same dimensions as described in the recipe. except she didn't tell me
  • melt butter, chocolate and brown sugar together in a medium bowl - about 40-50% power in a microwave, minute at a time and stir in between
  • sift cocoa, flour and baking powder together into a larger bowl. yes, you lazy bugger. sift. it does make a difference, especially with the cocoa
  • add the butter/choccie/sugar mix to the dry ingredients and combine
  • lightly beat the eggs (just to combine them). I use the bowl that's just had the wet ingredients in, because it saves washing up another...
  • mix the eggs in - fold and stir rather than beat. no need to beat
  • pour into the pan
  • bake for approx 35-40 minutes. test by skewer or wait until the brownie has risen in the centre (it won't rise much) and has slightly cracked open
  • cool a little in the tin then turn out and cool completely

I have to add, resist the urge to slice it when it's still warm, because a) it's much more crumbly and just gets messy, and b) much as I'm a fan of scoffing straight out of the oven, this is SO much nicer after a few hours, or even the next day. the moisture content rises and it becomes perfectly brownie-like, but when it's still warm it's drier and cakier. so a bit of patience pays off. and it is brilliant straight from the freezer. unfortunately.

*no guarantees

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pork with Red Wine Poached Pears

I made a thing.

It started with some pork chops. I like applesauce with my pork chops, and we didn't have any, so I thought I'd do something else fruity with them. Pork and fruit seems to work pretty well. So I dug around the cookbooks in the kitchen and found a recipe for Prune and Sage Pork Chops.

But I didn't have any prunes. Or any sage. Or, in the end, any white wine, thyme, shallots, chicken stock, or parsley... or effectively _any_ of the ingredients for the recipe. (Time for a shop.) So I faked it, stealing a few ideas from the original, and got:

~3/4 cup red wine (a Merlot)
the juice from a tin of tinned pear halves
salt and pepper
~1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
"some" chipotle pepper sauce, to taste (more than you think - the sweet of the rest drowns out the chili.)

Brought to a simmer in a small pot, removed from heat, added the pear halves, covered and let sit. Seasoned the pork chops and seared on both sides in a pan, then removed to a tray in the oven until just done, then removed to rest. Put a nob of butter in the chop pan with some salt and pepper and about 1/4 cup diced onions. Sauteed for a couple of minutes, then added 1 tablespoon of flour and sauteed for another minute. Stirred in the pears and the pear liquid and simmered for ~4 minutes, until thickened somewhat. Added the juice of 1/2 a lemon (one of the sweeter Meyer ones, from my grandmother's garden) and removed from the heat. Poured the sauce over the chops and served with boiled baby taters and broccoli.

Really rather nice. I would not do this without the chipotle - or at least some form of chili - and lemon juice; it would be too sweet. Could have used a bit more rosemary (or possibly some of the sage I didn't have.)

Figured I'd best write it down; there is no way I'm coming up with the same thing from the same starting point a second time...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cajun Arse-periment

half a chicken breast, big chunks
a chorizo, sliced thin
some bacon, cubed (I had some 'cut your own' left over)
one onion, diced
garlic (you do the maths)
'cajun' spice (stole ideas from here, then added more paprika, and lots of smoky paprika, and didn't bother with their amounts except as a ratio guideline)
carrot, diced
a can of white beans
a can of tomatoes
green beans, in little pieces
crapsicum slices

In a casserole, brown them all in olive oil. Let them rest on paper (that's gotta be healthy, right?).
I burned the bottom of the pot, so I glazed with water to clean it up before the onions. The water went a great colour, so I kept it as stock.
Brown onion, garlic. Add spices, stir. Throw in tomatoes to stop the burning happening, mix, add meat, carrots and the magic water. Let it all warm up again.
When it's simmering, turn it to a low heat, add beans, put lid on, leave it for 10.
Take the lid off, let it reduce for 20.
Add the geen beans, stir through, allow to heat. Either add the crapsicum to the pot to warm them, or use as garnish. I like my crapsicum crunchy.
Serve on rice.

Totally tasty. The smoky paprika was a great addition. I also added some chopped fresh toms that needed eating, but I don't think it made a major taste difference. The amount of water from the glaze was small, about 3 tablespoons. I feel that it could have reduced a little longer - it was a bit wet. Then again, I might have been dreaming of paela, and not getting paela!
The beans had disappeared by the time we ate it. I think I'd put them in after the 10 min simmer next time.
I might add sweet potato next time too.