Super Thick Brownies, 4-Ways

Fudgy, super-thick, decadent brownies.
4 easy variations to the batter base to suit every craving + mood. 
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There are days when only baking (and more truthfully, devouring) a slab of warm, chocolatey goodness will set things right again.

Combined with a fit of mercurial indecision and a wild burst of energy, these days yield FOUR pans of brownies (and very happy neighbors).

S'mores Brownie

Brownie-Sampler_styled

Ingredients

  • 18 oz (3 cups) chocolate chunks, divided
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1-1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Melt the butter and pour over 2 cups of the chocolate chunks, the white sugar, and the brown sugar. Mix until combined.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Mix together the dry ingredients separately, then add to wet mixture. Don’t over mix!
  6. Incorporate the remaining chocolate chunks (1 cup).
  7. Spread into a buttered 9×13 pan. Top with additions if desired (see notes below).
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set. Do not use the toothpick test – it will result in overdone, dry brownies!

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Cheesecake Brownies

  • 1 (8 oz) pack cream cheese
  • 1/3  cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup flour

Mix cheesecake batter from ingredients above. Swirl into the brownie batter in the pan, dragging a knife through the mixture for a marbled design. Bake.

Salted Caramel Brownies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Heat sugar on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. Boil until a nice golden color is achieved, but be careful not to burn. Slowly add the butter, then drizzle in the heavy cream- slowly because the mixture can splatter like hot oil.  Remove the sauce from the heat and mix in the salt. Either top the raw brownie batter with the sauce then bake, or drizzle on brownies afterwards. The former will yield brownies with a baked in caramel flavor; the latter are messier but will retain the consistency of the sauce on top.

S’mores Brownies

  • 1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers
  • 2 cups marshmallows

Sprinkle marshmallows and graham cracker pieces over brownies halfway through baking time (after about 15 minutes), returning to oven for remainder of baking time.

Alternately, spread half of batter in pan, top with graham crackers and marshmallows, then remaining brownie batter. Bake as normal.

 

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Red, White, and Blue Mojito

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This is a fruity, summery cocktail, not too sweet and just in time for election fever!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • handful mint leaves
  • handful strawberries
  • handful blueberries
  • 1/2 can soda
  • ice
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a glass muddle lime, simple syrup, mint, strawberries and blueberries.
  2. Add rum and stir. Fill glass with ice and top off with soda.
  3. Garnish with a skewer of strawberries and blueberries.

<<<<Watch the video instructions>>>>

Mojito Video

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Lemon Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

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This lightly citrusy cheesecake is tall and decadent, creamy without being too heavy, and absolutely sure to impress. Both people who swore they hated cheesecake and those that hated lemons (who hates lemons?!) sang this cake praises.

It’s not difficult to make, but keep in mind that it does need to be made a day ahead of serving in order to chill.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon twists (garnish) – I used this recipe by blogger HomemadeToast

Method

Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir the cookie crumbs and the butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter removable-bottom cheesecake pan. Use a tall pan (at least 3 inches) because this recipe makes a very tall cheesecake. Also, I like to line the bottom of cheesecake pan with parchment. Bake the crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  2. Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.

Filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the salt. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour the filling into the pan.
  2. Place the wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake until the filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove the cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 2 hours. Then chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
  3. Run a knife around the sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on the pan bottom, unless you’ve lined the pan with parchment) on a platter. Garnish with lemon leaves or twists.

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Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish

Show up as early as you can get yourself to drag out of bed.

Wander around the industrial section of Greenpoint at dawn.

Sneak into the unmarked, graffiti-ed door, looking behind you as if you were trying to throw the mobster trailing you off your scent.

Buy pastrami lox and whitefish from the no-nonsense, lab-coat clad fishmonger – after much sampling, of course.

Rendezvous with the friend responsible for the bagels + cream cheese.

Plot your next Acme Smoked Fish heist between ravenous bites.

Whitefish Salad Ingredients

Salad Building

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

The following recipe is a variation of this recipe by Bobby Flay.

Whitefish Salad

  • 3/4 cup good-quality mayonnaise (I used olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds smoked whitefish, skinned, boned and flaked
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bagels, for serving (I used baked spaghetti squash)
  • Pickled Red Onions, for serving, recipe below

Pickled Red Onions:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Whisk together the mayonnaise (or olive oil), lemon zest and juice until combined. Add the whitefish, celery and onions, and gently mix until combined; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pickled Red Onions:
Combine the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Put the onions in a medium bowl, pour the vinegar mixture over and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours before serving.

Greek Brunch

Greek Brunch Buffet

The Menu

Greek Brunch Buffet

Watermelon Salad

Greek Dips

tzatziki

sheep’s milk yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt

taramosalata

carp fish roe, potato, olive oil, lemon juice

melitzanosalata

eggplant, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, parsley

Pita Bread

Greek Olives

Tsoureki

 Tsoureki, a sweet bread similar to brioche, is traditionally topped with red-dyed eggs for Easter.

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad with Mint + Feta

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice OR white wine vinegar
  • kosher salt + freshly ground pepper, to taste (careful with the salt- the olives and feta will be plenty salty)
  • 1 8-pound seedless watermelon, cut into chunks (10 cups)
  • ½  pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
  • 1 ¼ cups pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

Whisk the vinegar, salt+pepper, and olive oil together. Toss with the watermelon, feta, olives, onion, and mint.

Guinness Float

Beer float? Strange, yes – but interesting enough to be worth the risk. Really.

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This version uses Guinness and coffee ice cream; neither are crowd-pleasers, so experiment with flavors and brews to your heart’s content.

guinness-floatThis concoction barely calls for instruction, but here goes:

  1. Scoop some ice cream into a frosted mug.
  2. Slowly pour the beer, stout, or ale over the ice cream.
  3. Top with chocolate or caramel syrup.

guinness-float

Chag Hamantashen Same’ach – Happy Purim!

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I’ll go-ahead and admit it: before I moved to NYC, the only Jewish holiday I could name was Hanukkah.

As an attempt at some justification of this inexcusable ignorance, .03% of the population of North Carolina (where I spent a decade of my formative years) is Jewish.

Side effect: I lived a Hamantaschen-deprived life.

Hamantachen are cakey sugar dough cookies with a filling, most traditionally poppy seeds or prune butter made & eaten to celebrate Purim. Purim is a holiday similar to Mardi Gras in that it is celebrated with lots of heavy drinking and masquerading. It celebrates the story of Esther, whose bravery saved the Persian Jews 2,500 years ago.

The hamantaschen recipe below is my friend Jill’s, by way of her Jewish boyfriend’s grandmother. Those are her hands in the photos, too!

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Dough

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

Filling (see recipes below) + Finishing

  • Choice of filling: poppy seed filling (most traditional), prune butter, apricot butter, apricot jam, strawberry jam or even chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • cinnamon/sugar mix
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cover 2 baking sheets w/parchment or foil.
  3. Either by hand or with a mixer, combine the oil, eggs, vanilla, water, sugar, baking powder and flour and knead until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough out into a very thin layer. Dip the rim of a 3 or 4 inch cup or glass in flour and use like a cookie cutter to cut the circles. Re-roll the scraps of dough and reuse.
  4. In the center of each circle drop a teaspoon of your filling.  Shape into a triangle by folding 2 sides of the circle to the center, and pinch together at the corners. Make sure corners are tightly pinched so they don’t open during baking.
  5. Place hamantaschen 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.  Brush with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar.
  6. Bake 20 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen. Hamantaschen freeze well.

How to Fold Hamantaschen
How to Fold Hamantaschen

Poppy Filling

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb. poppy seeds
  1. Pour boiling water on poppy seeds and drain.
  2. After poppy seeds have settled to bottom, chop up fine.
  3. Add egg and sugar, stirring well.

Prune Filling (Lekvar)

  • 2 cups dried prunes
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash clove
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  1. Combine everything into a saucepan (except brown sugar) and cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes. Heat to boiling.
  2. Lower heat to simmer, cover pan and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Mix in the brown sugar. Cook, reducing the liquid and stirring every few minutes being careful not to scorch the mixture. Mash with a wooden spoon until the prunes are soft and broken up and mixture is about the consistency of oatmeal (about 20 more minutes). It will thicken more when cooled.

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and also freezes well.

Veggie Overload

CSA recipes

I’ll be damned if I do anything half way: I went for the full share.

In hindsight, perhaps 20 pounds of vegetables is more than any one person can eat in a week.

Here chronicles this week’s brave attempt to defy the odds.

This week’s Turtle Bay CSA share:

1 bulb fresh garlic
1 red cabbage
1 white onion
1 red onion
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch green basil
1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch carrots
2 Italian eggplants
2 green zucchini
6 pasture raised eggs

Sautéed Swiss Chard

To a sliced onion in some olive oil in a skillet, I added minced garlic, the chopped chard and salt & pepper. The final incarnation of this dish was damn good quesadilla filling.

Roasted Red Cabbage

I put the quartered cabbage, drizzled with some olive oil and salt & pepper,  in a 400° oven until it started to brown on the edges.

Baba Ghanoush

I charred eggplant on my gas range, then puréed  the flesh with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. This dish was nearly a complete fail: it is spreadable burnt. Next time I’ll roast the eggplant in the oven.

Zucchini Frittata

I’ve been relying on frittatas nearly every week to use up my eggs; this week I incorporated the zucchini, basil, some of the garlic and onion. Michael Chiarello’s recipe is very close to this version.

Carrot & Chickpea Salad with Carrot Green Chimichurri

I used this carrot green chimichurri by Love & Lemons as a dressing on a grated carrot and chickpea salad.

Seafood Curry

Seafood Curry

This fantastic bowl of food was made using this Nigella Lawson recipe as inspiration. It’s from the “TV Dinners” episode of her show, and although it is overall a fairly simple dish to prepare, any dish that involves shelling and deveining shrimp isn’t in on my list of quick & easy. I’ll try pumpkin instead of butternut squash next time for a more carb heavy, filling wintry main.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
1 1/2 cups fish stock (I used broth from boiling the shrimp shells for about an hour)
3 tbsps fish sauce
2 tbsps sugar (I left this out)
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into 1/3’s and bruised with the flat of a knife (I used a tsp of ground lemongrass)
3 lime leaves, stalked and cut into strips (I couldn’t find this in my grocery store)
1/2 tsp turmeric (I forgot this)
2 1/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into large, bite-sized chunks
1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 lb peeled raw shrimp
bok choy or any other green vegetables of your choice (I used peas)
juice of 1 lime
cilantro

I added:
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
4 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 medium white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, julienned

Skim the thick creamy top off the can of coconut milk and put it into a large saucepan with the curry paste, over medium heat. Beat the cream and paste together until combined. (Here I added the onion, then the garlic and ginger). Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil and then add the squash (and red pepper). Cook on a fast simmer until the squash is tender, anywhere from  5-15 minutes.

You can cook the curry up until this part in advance, maybe leaving the squash with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you’re about 5 minutes from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and shrimp (if you’re using frozen shrimp they’ll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and shrimp have cooked through, which shouldn’t take more than 3 to 4 minutes, stir in any green vegetable you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits – and tamp down with a wood spoon. When the bok choy is wilted, or other green vegetable is cooked, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat and pour the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the cilantro; the point is that the cilantro goes in just before serving. Serve with more chopped cilantro for people to add their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice (I used brown rice).

Zigzag Brownies

cheesecake brownie

To get that perfect surface zigzag:

Pour your favorite brownie batter into a greased pan. Fill a piping bag with cream cheese mix (for a 9″ square pan: 8oz box of cream cheese, an egg, sugar and perhaps a flavoring or extract). Pipe thick lines of cream cheese filling across the length of the pan. Drag a knife through each line of cream cheese, alternating direction with each stroke. Voila!

White Chocolate Brownies 2

white chocolate brownies