Friday, February 29, 2008

Heavenly Brownies

This recipe always turns out for me. Not too moist or too cake like. I think it has to do with the ten minute beating of the eggs, vanilla and sugar. It adds a lot of volume to the batter.

If you are a brownie lover, try this recipe. I think you'll be pleased with the result. If you don't want the bother of frosting them, just sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Brownie ingredients:
8 – 1 oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate
1 – cup butter
5 – eggs
3 – cups sugar
1 – Tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ - cups flour
1 – teaspoon salt
1 ½ - cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a 9”x13” pan with Pam or grease with Crisco.

Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over very low heat and set aside. In a mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. Blend in chocolate mixture, flour and salt just until combined. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40.

When brownies have completely cooled, frost with the recipe below.

Frosting ingredients:

½ cup butter
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup milk

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or in saucepan over very low heat. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and ½ cup of the milk. Beat for at least 3 minutes (the longer you beat it, the less raw sugar taste). Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and beat for another 2 minutes. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Frosting will thicken as it cools. Let stand until spreadable.

Friday, February 15, 2008

French Apple Pie

This has been my favorite apple pie recipe for many years. It has a delicious crumb topping. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a foil covered cookie sheet in the oven to preheat as well.

Pastry Ingredients:

2/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Crisco shortening
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons chilled water

If you have a food processor, place all ingredients, except water, in the processor bowl. Cover and pulse until consistency of cornmeal. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, through port in processor cover, while on low speed, until dough forms a ball and cleans sides of bowl. If too much water is added, dough will become sticky.

[If you do not have a food processor, cut the flour and salt into the shortening (using 2 knives) until particles are the size of small peas. Then add the water, one spoonful at a time, etc.]

Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball. Flatten ball to a thick circle shape and roll on lightly floured surface, to form a circle large enough to fit an 8" or 9" pie plate. I prefer metal pie pans. I think the bottom crust bakes more evenly in them. Place your crust in the pie pan and crimp or flute edges. Set aside until filling is ready.

Pie Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
5 cups of pared and thinly sliced apples (I use Granny Smith)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup firm butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Add all of the topping ingredients to a food processor and pulse until coarse.

To Make Filling -
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add sliced apples to this and make sure they are coated well. Place this mixture in your prepared pie crust. Generously spoon topping over the top of the pie until the apples are completely covered. Use as much of the topping as you can heap onto the pie.

Place pie on the cookie sheet in preheated oven. Loosely place (really just set it on top of the pie-don't press down or it will stick to the topping ) a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie for the first 40 minutes of baking. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling. Remove from oven, on the cookie sheet, and allow to rest for about 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese

Not only is this comfort food, but it also is a delicious meatless Lenten meal. Serve with a vegetable side and a salad - you'll never miss the meat.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/4 cup onion (diced)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg (beaten)
12 ounces shredded medium cheddar (use white and yellow or you may substitute gouda or asiago cheeses)
1 teaspoon salt (for salting the pasta water)
fresh black pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish (butter or spray with cooking oil).

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain.

In a separate large pot melt 3 T. butter on low heat. Slowly whisk in flour and dry mustard. Continue stirring for a few minutes, making sure there are no lumps. Slowly stir in milk, onion, and paprika. Once combined, add whole bay leaf. Simmer on very low heat for ten minutes, stirring gently every few minutes to prevent sauce from burning. After simmering, remove bay leaf. Remove pan from heat source. Slowly, just a bit at a time, stir in the egg until combined. Stir in 3/4 of the shredded cheddar and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the cooked and drained macaroni into the sauce mixture. Pour the coated pasta into the casserole dish and sprinkle remaining shredded cheddar on top.

To prepare topping -
In a small saucepan, melt 2 T butter. Remove from heat and add one cup of breadcrumbs and 2T parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the macaroni.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Smoked Turkey Quesadillas

In case you exhausted all your appetizer recipes during the holidays, here is a good one that can also serve as a meal.

8 seven inch tortillas
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
2 cups diced smoked turkey
1/4 cup diced green chilies
24 fresh baby spinach leaves (washed and dried)
1 jar of mild or hot salsa
1 pint prepared sour cream
2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 fresh lime for drizzle

Brush oil on one side of each tortilla. On half of the non-oiled side, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese, 1/4 cup of diced turkey and 2 teaspoons of the chilies. Quarter the lime and drizzle some juice over the cheese, turkey, etc. Top with 3 spinach leaves (or to taste). Fold tortilla in half and cook until golden brown, on both sides, in a large skillet. Once browned, remove from pan and cut into three wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Makes 24 appetizers.

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi is a delicious dish and is really quite simple to make. Here is what goes into it.

1/2 lb. angel hair pasta
1/3 cup butter
2 minced garlic cloves (adjust to your taste)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 and 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and veined
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (used as a thickening agent so you may need less)
4 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan. Saute garlic and onion until translucent. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink and looks done. Remove shrimp from the pan and add white wine to the pan. One teaspoon at a time, stir in bread crumbs until desired consistency of the sauce is reached. Return shrimp to the pan and coat with the sauce. Make a bed of pasta and place the shrimp on top. Generously grate parmesan cheese over all. Serve with a mixed greens salad.

If desired (and you are a fan of broccoli), broccoli florets can be added to the pan with the shrimp and cooked together -giving the dish an added dimension.