I hate baking. It’s a mess. It’s gotta be exact. It’s a pain in the ass. What ever the result is, I’ll probably hate myself after eating it. And, frankly, if I’m going to have steak or sushi for dinner I’d much rather have more steak or sushi for dessert.
But for some lame reason I like to take on new challenges and the past couple of weeks that has manifested in from-scratch brownies. Though, full disclosure, these actually came about because I was PMS’ing like a mofo, didn’t have chocolate in the house, and didn’t want to have to put on pants to go out and get some.
I’m calling them “Ooey Gooey Hipster Brownies” at the behest of friends that felt I shouldn’t call them “Stupid Fucking Hipster Brownies”. So, I also caved to peer pressure. Black pepper. The black pepper makes them hipster.
I wanted brownies that had a very dark almost bitter flavor. Like me, but good. I also wanted a texture that would end up like the boxed mixes, ya know a mix between cake, fudge, and ganache. To intensify the dark chocolate flavor I reduced the sugar, and added cinnamon, cherry juice, espresso, and yes, black pepper. “But Katie, why not add balsamic vinegar? That’s so hot right now with dark chocolate.” First of all, the ‘e’ in my name is silent. It’s Kate. Secondly, balsamic vinegar in desserts is so 14 years ago. And I want goo brownies, not dry pieces of crap, so shove your vinegar.
Everybody knows that in baked goods it’s not just fat that makes the moisture. Sugar traps the fatty, juicy globs and keeps it in place while baking, so to speak. So I had to reduce the sugar while balancing the fat retention, something my body has actually perfected. Baking time also had to be tweaked, so keep an eye on these the last 10 minutes of baking – everyone’s oven and pans are different. So. Here we go.
Stupid Fucking Hip Ooey Gooey Hipster Brownies
I use a glass pyrex 8 x 8 inch pan. You can double this for a 13 x 9 pan if you want to party it up or expedite heart disease or whatever, but I’d use a 1/4 cup less sugar.
4 large eggs
2 sticks (1lb) melted unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 tsps Vanilla
1 tsps cinnamon
1 TBSP powdered espresso
1 TBSP cherry syrup (from the maraschino jar you keep in shame in the back of your liquor cabinet)
2 TBSPs vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 cups dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark and they came out almost black. It’s awesome.)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips or roughly chopped walnuts, If you like some texture.
Preheat your oven to 300. Spray your brownie pan with some non-stick spray. Start melting your butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. You want it to be able to cool a bit before adding to your eggs. Using a beater or mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until they’re light and a little frothy. That’s the only time you’re going to use a mixer. From here on out it’s old school by hand with a wooden spoon. Once your eggs are frothed stir in the sugars, vanilla, syrup, and oil. Add the butter a little at the time so you don’t wind up with vanilla scrambled eggs. Add the salt, espresso, cinnamon, pepper, and oil.
Then add the cocoa. As any of you who have read my site knows, I don’t sift. I think terrible things about the people who take the time to sift. Don’t sift. Be hardcore. But also add it carefully, folding it in and then incorporating, otherwise you’ll have a fine coating of cocoa dust fucking everywhere. EV. ERY. WHERE. Add your flour the same way and then add the texture bits if you’re going that route. It’s probably going to be a little lumpy; that’s fine. If anyone questions your lumps, tell them the lumps are love and then accuse those people of making it difficult to love them.
Pour the mixture into your prepared pan, smooth out the top a little with a spatula, and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
After fifteen minutes, remove from oven for 15 minutes to rest. I’m not kidding.
After they’ve rested for 15 minutes, put them back in for another 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick or chopstick in the center. They should come out a little sticky, but you don’t want the tooth pick to be smoothly coated as if it’s just straight batter in the center. Cook in additional 5 minute intervals, until a toothpick placed in center comes out with little brownie chunks on it, but not completely clean.
Let them cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Then move them to the fridge. If you want warm brownies, cut into them after 45 minutes and don’t refrigerate, fine.
If you want cake-like brownies because, I dunno, you had a bad childhood or something, omit the oil, double the flour, use a mixer on medium pretty much the entire time until the batter is almost stiff, and bake straight through without the rest period outside of the oven, 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then throw the pan of brownies into the trash, because cake-like brownies are garbage, and just make chocolate cake.
Seriously. Gooey and moist is the way to be.
I make this once every week to two and keep it in a jar in my fridge. I put this on chicken burgers, salmon cakes, crab cakes, and use 2 TBSP of this instead of plain old mayo for tuna salad that is just crazy good.
1 cup 2% plain Greek Style Yogurt (you can use 0% as well, it just won’t be quite as thick)
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1 1/2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 dash Worchestershire OR 2 tsp Hot Sauce depending on who wants what
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill for at least 1 hour for flavors to marry. Will keep in tupperware in the fridge for 5 – 8 days.
It’s getting’ Italian up in here. There are some inherent comfort foods in my life spawning from my upbringing and a really good pasta sauce is one of them. To Italian households your tomato sauce is a family recipe; other sauces, restaurants, etc just don’t taste right. As cold weather has finally started to settle in to Austin, I needed something filling and hot to warm my soul. When you want all the flavors without so much fat you can substitute the ground beef with ground turkey and serve with spaghetti squash instead of pasta.
1 lb 80/20 ground beef, preferable chili beef, a thicker grind (If you substitute ground turkey for this, be sure to add a cube of beef boullion when add the cans of tomatoes, stirring to dissolve.)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
1 diced white onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 TBSP Tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 28oz. cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon, you can also use a good white for this)
1 TBSP low sodium soy sauce
The zest of 1 lemon
1 lbs prepared linguini, rotini, or 2 lbs prepared spaghetti squash
1 minced anchovy (strictly for glutamate flavor, adds no fishiness, but optional none the less)
Saute the beef over medium high heat in a deep pot or sauce pan for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. You don’t want to cook it through, but you definitely want it to give up a lot of its fat. After few minutes, when a significant amount of grease has been rendered, but the meat has yet to really brown, turn off the heat and strain the meat with a slotted spoon into a bowl and set aside. Dispose of the rendered fat. If you want some added flavor, you can also do 1/2 lb beef with 1/2 pound ground pork, and you can use ground turkey for a healthier option, of course, skipping the step to render any fat.
In a deep pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted and bubbling a bit, add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions are just transparent and the garlic is no longer raw, about 5-7minutes. Move the onions to one side of the pot, exposing a bare area and dollop the tomato paste there, to toast a bit, about 1-2 minutes. Stir the tomato paste with the onions and garlic, and then add the oregano and basil. Stir, letting the flavors marry and carmelize, about 3 minutes. Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, red pepper flakes, wine, and soy sauce, stirring well. Add the meat back to the sauce and let it simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, and allow the pot to continue to simmer over medium heat for another 10 minutes or so or until the sauce has thickened.
Serve over your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash and top with shredded fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
You don’t need a bread maker. You don’t need any special flour. All you need is some water, a couple of cups of all purpose unbleached, and a packet of yeast.
I generally make a loaf of this each weekend to give my household its bread fix through most of the week.
Depending on what’s planned for lunches, I’ll use the same dough to make rolls as well. This is very versatile and can be used in a number of ways, whether you’re planning on drizzling it with honey, smothering with jam, turning it into chewy garlic knots, or making a Dagwood. I always use King Arthur’s All Purpose Unbleached flour, but really you can use pretty much anything with this. That’s one of the greatest things about bread – mix together roughly the right ingredients and you’ll still wind up with bread.
Easy Peasant Bread
2 cups luke warm water
1 packet yeast (regular or rapid rise, it really doesn’t matter)
1 TBSP sugar or honey (your preference and, yes, the honey flavor will come through)
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 TBSP Herbs de Provence (optional)
Heat up one cup of the water by either microwaving it for 1 minute or simmering on the stove until bubbles just barely begin to form at the bottom. Remove the water from the heat, pour into a small mixing bowl, and add in the sugar or honey to dissolve. Add the remaining cup of water (room temperature/straight from the tap) to the 1 cup heated water. Ideally, the two cups of sugared water should be between 95-110 degrees once combined. I stick my finger into the bowl and if it’s slightly warmer than room temperature, it’s good to go. You can also use a cup of your favorite beer in lieu of the cup of cold water to add a little more flavor to your bread. Sprinkle the packet of yeast over the top of the warm water and let it proof for 10 minutes are so. It should get a bit bubbly. If it all sinks to the bottom, the water was too warm and you’ve murdered your yeast. My condolences.
While your yeast is proofing, set to work on the dry ingredients. In a large bowl whisk together the salt, flour, and herbs if using. If you want to make garlic knots, now would be the time to swap out the Herbs de Provence with Italian seasoning or basil & oregano, add 1 TBSP garlic powder, and 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Once the yeast is nice and bubble-tastic pour it over the flour mixture. You can use a mixer with a dough hook attachment if you’d like, but really the best tool for the job is your hands. Using your fingers and palm like a spatula, mix and fold the ingredients together until if forms a ragged dough. It should be fairly wet and sticky. Make sure you run the side of your hand around the edge of the bowl as well as incorporating all the flour at the bottom. Do not over mix the dough with a hook or your palm, otherwise it will get tough. You can still use it to make bread, but it will have a far less pleasing texture.
Once all the ingredients are mixed well and you have a nice, cohesive, albeit sticky dough, let it rest in the bowl, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap in a warm area for an hour or so. It should puff up quite a bit, if not double in size. Once this happens, the dough is proofed and you have a few options.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
You can spray a pyrex (8″ x8″) with non-stick spray or butter it and turn your dough right into it to rise a second time. That’s what I’ve done in these pictures. Allow the dough to sit about 20-30 minutes or until your oven is heated. It will rise during baking. Before putting the dough into the oven, slice the top about 1/2 inch down with a sharp knife or cut the corners toward the center, make 4 slashes that ultimately look like an X. This is optional, but adds to a golden brown crispy crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
You can also flour your counter top, turn your dough out, flour the top, and cut into rolls or knots.
If you do rolls, tear off a small ball of dough from the bowl, about 2-3 inches or so in diameter, and pat to the desired shape. Space each roll on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick or with parchment paper about 1 inch apart and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
If you decide to do knots, roll out the dough into logs about 6-8 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick. Loosely tie in a knot, and place on a cookie sheet the same as directed with the rolls. Brush with 2 TBSP melted butter mixed with 3 tsps garlic powder, 2 tsp dried parsley, salt, and pepper or sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 22 minutes or until lightly golden brown. I made the below ones a little crisper than normal this time, but they’re nice and chewy when they’re a little less done.
Which ever shape you choose, do your best to allow your bread to cool for 20 minutes or so. It’s hard to wait this out, believe me. And your house will smell amazing.
Use you bread to accompany an Italian food feast, eggs in the morning, ham & swiss for lunch, or just with a little butter and drizzle of honey for a snack.
So you may have heard that Black’s was opening on Riverside. No need to drive out to Lockhart for a bite of delicious Black’s brisket. Unlike Smitty’s, Black’s quality stayed consistent throughout the boom in popularity and Food Network attention, and it continues to be some of the best and easily obtainable (I can’t wait any longer for you, Franklin) Q in town. Thing is, brothers Mark and Mike, grandsons of the original Black, were the ones who decided on Riverside…a move the rest of the family was apparently none too thrilled about. Their uncle, Kent, felt that if Black’s was going to bother to open in Austin, it better be done right. And since Kent is the one with the rights to the name, the Original Black’s BBQ opened 3110 Guadalupe Street right near campus in October of this year. Which means it’s best to go when UT isn’t in session. And there’s no game or festival going on.
A day like Saturday December 27th.
As expected, The Original Black’s on Guadalupe has everything right down to beef ribs. Links of sausage, original and jalapeño cheddar, were $2.49 a piece. The Pork ribs were the spare cut – the BEST cut – as St. Louis style falls to a close second and baby backs being just a joke meant for those who want sauce over meaty fatty melt in your mouth pig flesh. The point is that Black’s is a pro that doesn’t cater to that which isn’t worth it. Their brisket in Austin is just as delicious as their brisket in Lockhart and their sides are standards. All the pickles you can eat, standard cole slaw, über cheese mac, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, potato salad, etc.
Our order was a small (single) mac & cheese, a single cole slaw, 6 pork ribs, 1/2 lb brisket mixed, and each of the kinds of sausage. The total came to $53. Black’s had plenty of local beers in cans, including a variety from Austin beer works, various bottled and fountain sodas, and, because this is Austin, Topo Chico. Their prices are more expensive than on their website, gotta figure that’s due to their new space and Austin’s rent. Their brisket was $16.50 a pound and the ribs were about $15 a pound. Their beef ribs were about the same. The sides were cheap at a couple of bucks a piece.
There’s a lot of BBQ in and around Austin. I used to wait until I really needed that melty meat and drive all the way out to Lockhart, pick my favorite cuts from my favorite places and finish off everything with a $1 ice cream cone from Smitty’s. That and their “ambiance” are just about the only reason I stop in there any more. I no longer have to get out there. I love Micklethwait Craft Meats. They’re incredible, but they’re busy enough now where they’re going to need a brick & mortar stat. I was significantly less than impressed with Stiles Switch. And Aaron Franklin is our city sweet heart, known to be a good guy with great eats, doesn’t even need to be touched on. I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to trying Terry Black’s. But now that I know I can get real Black’s brisket and ribs real close, there’s no rush.
I can’t eat like I used to. About a year and a half ago I picked up running for some ungodly reason, and damned if it hasn’t had a fantastic effect on my health. So for Christmas Eve I’ve decided to make a wonderful dinner that’s also on the lighter side: Salmon Filets on cedar planks. Of course to aid in people feeling like they’re over-indulging I’ll be adding richness in the form of a fresh hollandaise sauce.
Cedar Plank Salmon with Hollandaise
4 salmon filets (4 – 6 oz each)
2 Cedar planks, roughly 6″ x 12″ or so (Optional)
3 gloves garlic, minced
4 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup unsalted melted butter
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp tarragon
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp white vinegar
Soak your cedar planks, if you’re going that route, for at least 2 hours in lightly salted water. Meanwhile whisk marinade ingredients and pour over salmon filets. Allow to marinate in refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes, turning once.
Heat oven to 400. If not using cedar planks, spray a glass pan or cookie sheet with non-stick spray or cover in aluminum foil, and place salmon skin side down on cookie sheet or plank. Bake salmon uncovered for 12-16 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. Cook until the internal temp of 130-135 degrees is reached; the more you cook salmon the “fishier” tasting it will become. Me? I like my fish to lack any “fishiness” and aim for just a warm center, about 12-13 minutes of cooking.
While the salmon is baking, get your hollandaise together. I’m not going to lie: This isn’t fun to make. Is it worth it? Yes. Will your arm whisk those yolks so much that you’ll feel it 12 hours after finishing your meal? Probably.
Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel or glass bowl until they’ve thickened a bit. Please the bowl over a saucepan containing water that is barely simmering (or a double boiler if you got one); make sure the water level is low enough that it does not touch the bottom of the bowl you’ve placed over it. While whisking the egg yolk mixture, drizzle in the melted butter. Once incorporated, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the salt, peppers, and tarragon. If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in the white vinegar. If the sauce is too thin move it back over the simmering water for another couple of minutes while whisking constantly. It should be thick enough to nicely coat a spoon, but still be drizzled over your yummy target of fish, poached eggs, artichoke, etc.
Once your salmon is out of the oven drizzle about ¼ TBSP of Hollandaise sauce over every 1 oz of fish. If you’ve got fillets that are roughly 4oz each, I would recommend a mere 1 TBSP of Hollandaise per filet, as you want to TASTE the salmon. Sure, there will be some who want to drown the protein in the Hollandaise, but they really just want the Hollandaise, not the fish. And, besides, if you have some Hollandaise left over, you can store it in tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheat by whisking over the double boiler again, i.e. EGGS BENEDICT FOR BREAKFAST THE NEXT MORNING!! Whoot to the Whizoot.
Serve with rice, a simple salad, or even grilled asparagus with shaves Parmesan.
This is the bread pudding recipe so good that even those claim to hate bread pudding will ask for a second helping.
In his episode The Proof is in the Bread Pudding, Alton Brown makes a spiced pudding in a bread crust, and a second chocolate version with chunks of challah bread in a pyrex dish. If I was going to attempt this whole bread pudding thing I’d want a custard that was rich and flavorful, had a relatively simple recipe and task list (i.e. pyrex over a perfectly carved crust basin), and perfect texture rather than just damp bread. I decided to balance AB’s two recipes, switch a few items, and add chewy Craisins and Ghirardelli chocolate chunks for texture.
Kate’s Mashup of AB’s Bread Puddings
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried orange peel
15 whole cloves
15 whole peppercorns
1/2 ounce crystallized ginger, chopped
4 cups half-and-half, divided
2 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 ounces spiced rum
1 Challah cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/2 Dark Chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% dark cocoa chips)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (optional)
Place the cinnamon, nutmeg, dried orange peel, cloves, peppercorns, and ginger into 3 cups of half-and-half in a microwavable container and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Check the temperature of the mixture and microwave in 30 second increments until it reaches 180 degrees F. Cover and steep 15 minutes.
Place the eggs and yolks in a blender with an 8-cup carafe. Blend on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. Raise the speed to quarter power and slowly add the sugars and blend until thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add the remaining cup of half-and-half. With the machine still running, pour in the spiced half-and-half through a small hand strainer and add the rum. Use immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours.
Butter or non-stick spray a 9 by 13-inch metal pan and place the cubed bread in the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and dried cranberries on top of the bread and slowly pour in the custard. Press down on the mixture with a spatula or the back of a spoon (or your hands) to thoroughly saturate. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours. You can do this the night before if you want.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Bake about 40 – 45 minutes. If you’d like your top extra crispy, set your oven to the high broil setting with the oven door slightly ajar. Remove the bread pudding from the oven. Pour the melted butter into a spray bottle and spritz the top of the bread pudding or brush on melted butter carefully. Return to the middle rack and broil for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.
I served mine with vanilla ice cream and leftovers kept for 3 days in the fridge.