Friday, July 30, 2010

My Wife's Friend's Brownie Recipe Passed Along from Her Mother

Someone somewhere knows where this recipe started.  My wife's mother raved about this recipe from one of my wife's friends from way back.  We just call them Angela's Brownies.  Thanks Angela.  And please extend our gratitude to whoever gave the recipe to you. 

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

The Method
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt to large bowl and mix together.  In a separate mixing bowl add eggs and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed while slowly adding sugar until creamy.  Continue to mix while slowly adding butter.  Decrease mixer speed and add remaining dry ingredients.  Return mixer to medium speed and beat until ingredients are evenly combined.  Batter will be thick.  Spray 9 x 13 baking pan dish with canola oil and spread batter evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Food for Thought
Butter is good.  On paper, this is not vastly different from many other brownie recipes but on your tongue, these brownies are special, with hints of buttery, caramel-like richness that makes your brain superimpose flavors from ingredients that are not there.  But speaking of adding ingredients, my mother-in-law's twist is to add chocolate chips.  My wife skips the chocolate chips (or should I say she saves them for different applications) and adds 1/2 cup chopped pecans.  Try this and let the decadent realities and the related gustatory hallucinations begin.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Southern Sides

Collard Greens with Coconut Milk

This recipe comes from our friends who invited us over for the Southern cuisine dinner.  The old proverb goes that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day but if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.  It has also been said that, if you teach that man to cook his fish, he will eat well.  With the exception of living in New Zealand for two years, I spent most of my life inland and so do not have a great appetite for fish (how many fish recipes have you seen on this blog?).  With this proverb in mind and applied to other types of food, I say thanks to our friend Katie for the recipes which will undoubtedly come in handy when we get a jones for the awesome collard greens and baked beans that we so good they are sure to haunt and to be craved. 

1/2 lb. bacon
1 lb. collard greens or kale
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. coconut milk
1/4 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/4 tsp. pepper (or red chili flakes)
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped (or 2/3 can of diced tomatoes)

The Method
Chop and saute bacon. Drain and set aside. Wash collard greens well. Remove and discard stems; cut up leaves (should have about 14 cups). Bring water to boiling in a large pan or Dutch oven. Add collard greens and onion. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, bouillon, tomatoes, and pepper and add bacon back in. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes more or until slightly thickened and greens are tender. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Food for Thought
If you've cooked greens, spinach and the like before, you know that the cook down a ton, being mostly water. Our friend Katie said that for our gathering, she actually doubled this recipe.
The Crockpot Bean Recipe

3 cans white beans
1/2 c. chopped Canadian bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 c. ketchup
1 Tbsp. mustard
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
1/4 c. molasses

The Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and combine ingredients in dutch oven, cover and bake for 60 minutes.  If using a crockpot, cook on low heat for up to two hours.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Y'all Come Back Now! Ya Hea?

Sometimes it seems that we don't get out  much (hello - blogging about food here - that fact should be self -evident).  Sometimes, however, we have more on our plate, socially speaking, than we feel like we can handle.  Yet if the company is good, it is permissible to have a little extra at times.  It has been observed that you can get too much of a good thing.  As far as good food and good friends go, it may, in fact, take us a while because we love both. 

H and I have, after leaving our last neighborhood filled with some very interesting and talented foodies whom we still miss, found kindred spirits in our present location and have had the pleasure of a couple of great dinner parties within the past few weeks.  Each one was excellent in it's own way owing to variations in the company and the menus.  One was couples only while the other included our children.  One was more formal while the other was a bit more casual.  One took place on a night when there was really nothing going on and one was, by way of either coincidence or by good planning, part of a Fourth of July celebration.  One was a combination of unplanned but surprisingly harmonious dishes and the other was totally planned out with a regional theme and menu.  As I said, each one was excellent.  Even so, slight edge, based solely on my love for food of the American South, to tonight's July 4 menu.

- Buttermilk fried chicken
- Baked beans
- Collard greens
- Fried zucchini
- Watermelon
- Biscuits with berries and cream 
- Peach pie
- Mint and lime slushees

So )(*&*&^*^%*(&)(*&++%$#@!!#&*( good!  See links below for the best fried zucchini you've ever had and an excellent fried chicken recipe:

Neely's Fried Zucchini

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Food for Thought
I haven't made the spicy dipping sauce included with the fried zucchini recipe but I'm sure it's great.  I have tried just good old Ranch dressing - super good.

My variation on the fried chicken was to use Panko breadcrumbs for the final coat on the double-dipped chicken.  I also recommend just an extra pinch of salt.  Also, because this chicken had to travel, I used Crisco.  I usually choose a healthier option such as canola oil - but one must ask - "If I am eating fried chicken, how health conscious am I?"  But seriously, if you know how to fry food at the right temperature and for the right amount of time, the amount of residual fat you consume is sometimes worth the difference in taste.  Anyway, back to the Crisco - if you are making picnic fried chicken, if it has to travel or be made ahead of time, or if you just like leftovers and like it cold, I definitely recommend Crisco.  Otherwise, from fryer to table - canola oil is fine.