Monday, November 17, 2014

Supernatural Brownies

I've posted more than a few brownies over the year and I thought I was happy with my recipe. But this weekend, when the brownie craving hit, I found myself wanting something different - no cheesecake, not cocoa based - and decided to try a recipe I've heard a lot about over the years: Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies. I was expecting to be disappointed. What brownie could live up to the internet hype and name of supernatural brownies? While reading online, I read that the magic happens overnight, so I patiently waited for them to meld. The end result? A rich fudgy brownie that fulfilled all of my brownie-related cravings. The cocoa brownie recipe I have might be easier and the cheesecake raspberry might be more elegant, but this is definitely what I think of when I think of just a pure brownie.

One year ago: Pasta Rustica with Sole, Greek Olives, and White Wine
Two years ago: Saffron Rice
Three years ago: Hot and Sour Rhubarb with Crispy Pork and Noodles
Four years ago: Brisket
Five years ago: Bread Pudding

Supernatural Brownies (from Nick Malgieri courtesy of Saveur)

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into ¼" pieces
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. fine salt
1 cup flour

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment paper.
2. He recommends using a bain marie to melt the butter and chocolate, but I would save a dish and melt the butter in a pan over very low heat and then melt the chocolate in. Just be careful not to brown the butter or overheat the chocolate.
3. Whisk together eggs in a large bowl.
4. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt to the eggs; whisk to combine.
5. Stir in chocolate mixture; fold in flour.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Allegedly magic happens after it's left overnight.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Black Olive Roast Chicken

We don't often have chicken, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much the olive-rosemary paste permeated the meat and the flavors of the potatoes and fennel. Although the roasting time is long on this, it's a pretty low effort meal. You could easily roast this with only thighs or breasts depending on your chicken meat preferences. Traunfeld recommends using a 6lb roaster to make stuffing the bird easier, but we used a smaller 3 or 4lb bird which was far more manageable for a group of 4. The extra herbed olive paste was appreciated too!

One year ago: Silver Packet Flounder with Miso Mayo
Two years ago: Garlicky Sesame Cured Broccoli Salad
Three years ago: Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce
Four years ago: Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Five years ago: Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Black Olive Roast Chicken (from The Herbal Kitchen)

Herbed Olive Paste
1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
2 tbsp thyme leaves
3 tbsp rosemary leaves
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold (or other potatoes), cut into 2" chunks
2 fennel bulbs, white parts only, sliced 1" thick
1 roasting chicken

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Puree olive paste ingredients in food processor until smooth.
3. Put potatoes and fennel in roasting pan and dot with 1/4 of olive paste. Toss.
4. Using poultry sheers, cut along each side of chicken backbone to remove. Turn chicken over and spread it out flat. Loosen the skin over the breast, thigh, and leg and stuff the remaining olive paste under the skin.
5. Lay the chicken over the vegetables, positioning the legs so they point inwards.
6. Roast chicken for 50 - 70 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken) or until the skin is browned and juices run clear. Let the bird rest 10 - 20 minutes before carving.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Pears and Thyme

I don't think I realized how much I use cardamom and chiles until asked to cook gluten-free meals without those. That rules out Indian and Middle Eastern - two of my go-to cuisines for gluten free. Soy restrictions ruled out anything Asian, so that left me spinning back to basics. Luckily, Jerry Traunfeld's Herbal Kitchen is full of simple, yet outstandingly flavorful dishes. I was worried this one might be too sweet, but it ended up just fine. For serving to my guests, I substituted a Napa non-alcoholic grape juice that does a pretty good job of mimicking white wine, but if not dealing with a brewer's yeast allergy, I recommend just going with wine.

One year ago: Steamed Fish Curry
Two years ago: Chicken Fricassee with Porcini
Three years ago: Chipped Beets and Beet Greens
Four years ago: Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
Five years ago: Chocolate Layer Cake

Braised Pork Shoulder with Pears and Thyme (from the Herbal Kitchen)

5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 10 rectangular pieces (I used leg and cut a bit smaller)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 pears, such as Bosc or Barlett, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" dice
1 small bunch (1 ounce) thyme sprigs
4 bay laurel leaves
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3 tbsp coarsely chopped thyme
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
Cooked polenta

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sear pork in batches until deep caramel brown. Set aside.
2. Turn heat down to medium-low. Pour most of fat from pan, leaving a thin layer. Add onions and garlic and stir until they wilt down (I let them caramelize a bit).
3. Pour in wine and broth and scrape bottom.
4. Stir in pears and put pork back in pan.
5. Tie thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and vanilla bean together and tuck in between pieces of meat. Cover pot, turn heat to very low, and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
6. Lift pork from pan, move to a platter, and cover with aluminum foil. Discard bundle of thyme.
7. Add chopped thyme to braising sauce, increase heat, and boil until it thickens enough to coat the spoon.
8. Stir in parsley and lemon juice, season to taste, and return pork to pan. Serve over polenta.

Roasted Black Cod with Bok Choy and Soy Caramel Sauce

Fish always seem to be my go-to dish when I'm time constrained. In this case, we needed a quick meal before heading to the airport. This one creates a complete meal with minimal effort and dirty dishes. You can make the soy caramel sauce while the vegetables are roasting (and use the extra time to pack your bags). The book recommends serving with rice which I omitted but would be a good addition.

One year ago: Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac
Two years ago: Pot Roast Studded with Almonds and Bacon
Three years ago: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
Four years ago: Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart
Five years ago: Asparagus, Oka, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Pasta

Roasted Black Cod with Bok Choy and Soy Caramel Sauce (from Good Fish)

5 ounces red cabbage, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 large bulbs boy choy, halved
2 small tomatoes, halved
4 green onions, white and green parts cut into 3" lengths
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 tsp rice wine vinegar
4 slices lime
1 serrano chile, sliced
1 lb black cod fillet, cut into 4 equal portions
Soy Caramel Sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup sake
3 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, cut into tablespoons

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a pan with aluminum foil.
2. Make 4 piles on the foil with each pile having 1/2 cup cabbage, a bok choy half, a tomato half sprinkled with a little salt, and a quarter of the green onions.
3. Drizzle each pile with 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp rice wine vinegar.
4. Top each pile with a lime slice and sprinkle with chile slices.
5. Roast vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, make soy caramel sauce. In a small saucepan add everything but butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, 5 - 7 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting and whisk in butter 1 tbsp at a time.
7. Place one piece of black cod skin side down on each pile and drizzle with 1 tbsp soy caramel sauce. Roast for 8 - 10 more minutes or until fish is cooked.
8. Serve with rice and remaining caramel sauce.