Saturday, September 24, 2011

helen gurley brownies

     Were you ever fortunate enough to read, or better yet, own a copy of Chocolatier magazine? When I got married in 1984, my friend Teresa gave me a year's subscription as a shower gift. I still have all of the copies from that year. Now that Chocolatier is out of print, the tattered and stained pages are even more special.
     One fave is Helen Gurley Brown's recipe for brownies. You remember Helen, don't you? In 1962, at the age of 40, she authored the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl.  In 1965, she became editor-in-chief for Cosmopolitan magazine, a career lasting 32 years. Some refer to her as the original Carrie Bradshaw.
     Ideology notwithstanding, her brownie recipe is the bomb! They're second only to the Star Brownies from Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah. But, I don't have the recipe for those. (Hint, hint.) In the meantime, here's Helen's recipe:
Ingredients
4- 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sifted, all purpose flour
1 c. chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Directions
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking dish.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter over hot water. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs and salt. Beat until light and smooth. Stir the cooled chocolate mixture into the sugar and eggs. Add vanilla and beat until well blended. Add flour just until mixed and smooth again. Gently fold in nuts.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
Try not to eat the entire pan before anyone comes home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

partners in thyme;)

      I am blessed in many areas of my life and in my workplace, the church kitchen, blessings abound. Our kitchen team can be compared to the Three Musketeers... of cooking.
     Jaime, Bob and I have been together for over six years. With church staff changes, schedule restructuring and economic woes, we continue to endure by the grace of God.
     While we cook, we talk and we laugh. We laugh alot! (It gets rather loud in the kitchen at times.) We also discuss hurts, fears and prayer requests. Our lives have become as intertwined as a veritable kudzu vine!
      Jaime and I have switched places as manager and assistant, but formal titles are seldom considered. Her talents strengthen my weaknesses and vice versa... the two of us make up one great chef! I couldn't ask for a better partner in thyme;)
     In the beginning of my tenure, delegating was difficult for me. These two make managing easier... a real team effort. Bob is tireless, humble, resourceful and frugal. He rarely complains. We each consider our position a ministry with a mission to serve.
      Our faithful volunteers come and go. Most stay for a season or two... or three. As time passes and life changes, God brings new people through the kitchen door. They serve tirelessly and we could not function without their steadfast support.
    
     Thanks, Lord! Thanks for these people, this place of Yours and for my sweet little job. I'm so very grateful!

Psalm 100:
"1 Shout triumphantly to the LORD, all the earth.  
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.  
3 Acknowledge that the LORD is God.
He made us, and we are His -
His people, the sheep of His pasture.  
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  
5 For the LORD is good, and His love is eternal;
His faithfulness endures through all generations."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

susan's tortellini with artichoke sauce

     My friend, Susan was a bonus I received when I began dating my future spouse. Her husband, Al and Chris were very good friends.... The three were a package deal;)
     Our lives have been intertwined for around thirty-three years. It would be more of a chapter-book approach if I attempted to recount all of our days.
     Friends such as these are more like a part of our family. Even their four kids and our two love each other like siblings and stay in touch.
     Susan is the type of girl that cuts right to the chase... I like that. If she begins a sentence with, "I have something to tell you, in love..." you know it may hurt a bit. She is someone I know I can trust.
     Whenever we all get together, it is as no time has passed. As our children grow up and the families change with weddings and babies, we simply add to our large circle of love.
      Susan's tortellini recipe is one of our all time faves. I tweaked it a bit with the addition of lemon zest, thyme and wine.
     You need only three main ingredients: a can of artichoke hearts, cream of celery soup and tortellini. You should have the other stuff on hand. What could be simpler?
Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can artichokes, chopped and drained
2 t. lemon zest
1/4 c. vermouth or dry white wine
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. italian seasoning
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
2 pkgs. fresh tortellini, any flavor
small amount of pasta cooking water
Directions
Place a large deep pot of water on for pasta. When water boils, add a generous amount of salt. Cook tortellini according to package directions.
In large skillet, saute garlic in olive oil. Add chopped artichoke hearts and cook for a few minutes. Add remaining seven ingredients and simmer for five minutes. Toss with cooked tortellini. Thin with a drizzle of pasta water. Serve immediately, passing additional parmesan on the side.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

calzones

     The other day, the hubs mentioned his great fondness for calzones. I've known the guy for 33 years and did not know this tidbit of info... HOW is that possible? Anyway, I decided to make him some.
     A calzone is sort of a wrong-side-out, folded pizza without all the sauce. Your favorite fillings can be folded inside the crust.
     Red sauce can then be poured over the calzone and eaten with a fork, or if you make a small hand-held version similar to a meat pie, it can be dipped.
      I began by taking my favorite pizza dough and placing it in a well-oiled bowl. I let it rise for a bit. While that was going on, I made the filling.
     I happened to have Italian sausage, sweet cubanella peppers and a vidalia onion on hand. The whole process took mere minutes. The result? Crusty, delicious calzones and a happy husband!
Ingredients
2 refrigerated pizza crusts
1 T. olive oil, for cooking, plus more to rub on dough
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, sliced into pieces
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
4 small cubanella peppers or 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. concentrated tomato sauce from a tube
1/4 c. dry red wine
1/4 to 1/2 c. prepared red sauce
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella balls (boccini or pearls)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop veggies and slice the sausage links into rounds. Begin browning the meat in a wide, flat-bottomed pan on medium heat.
Add the vegetables and stir. If you like a little heat, throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season with black pepper and a tiny bit of salt. When meat is cooked through add the tomato paste. Let it brown a little, then splash in the red wine and red sauce. Toss in the fresh herbs, if you have them. If not, add a teaspoon of dried herbs.
Simmer to reduce sauciness. When it has tightened up quite a bit and most of liquid is gone, remove from heat and let it cool. Prepare the dough by cutting into two or three pieces, depending on desired size of calzone. Stretch dough, fill with sausage and peppers. Evenly distribute fresh mozzarella balls among the calzones. Crimp edges to seal. Make a couple of tiny slits in the top of each one to vent. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove and serve with sauce.
      A calzone is a great way to use up cooked stuff you're tired of eating... veggies, cooked meat, cheeses. Wrapping anything in pizza crust and surrounding it with gooey, melted cheese has to taste good, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rhizopus stolonifer... bread mold

modern art? beautiful!... this one's named rhizopus stolonifer
     The Housewife wanted to know why darker breads last longer than white bread. I'm always eager to do research on food. And shoes, but that's another post.
     My first question to my dear friend, who I thought I had had a positive influence on would be: Why is there even white bread nearby to observe?
     I went to ask.com for an answer. I was not really surprised to see the results of several science projects... my kids were homeschooled. We did quite a few experiments over the years.
     Homeschoolers are very creative. Some of their research included homemade bread from freshly ground, whole wheat. Here is a link to a science project from two young men in Canada: Nick and Lachie's Experiment.
     They found that sourdough bread lasted for nearly a month. Personally, I don't think I would have to worry about that around here! Sourdough is one of our faves.
     Bakers they spoke to reported that the greater the yeast and sugar content in the dough, the faster the product will mold.
     Scientists who exist solely to research bread mold (yes, really!) say the denser the bread, the slower the molding process. So the more common brands of white bread might start to mold a little faster than some dense whole-grain breads—but maybe not.
     It’s really the preservatives that count most. The bread made with freshly ground whole wheat, which still retains the vitamin-E rich germ was the first to go.
      I found one researcher from science world blog studying the effects of cinnamon enzymes with regards to prolonging shelf life. I'm thinking he needs to get out more;)
     Okay, Housewife... hope this answers some of your questions. The ones on bread mold, at least.