Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mocha Caramel Brownies

When you have tons of leftover ingredients from past baking experiments what do you do? Do you throw it away or choose to turn it into something new....I definitely choose the latter. I had some caramel sauce leftover from christmas and chocolate leftover from valentines day. I decided that the easiest thing would be to make some brownies and swirl the caramel in...nothing innovative just simply yummy goodness. I used my favorite brownie recipe and added 1tbsp of espresso powder and swirled in my homemade salted caramel. For this recipe you can simply use store bought caramel sauce but if you want the recipe I used just email me.

Mocha Caramel Brownies
8tbsp unsalted butter
5oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbsp espresso powder
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup caramel sauce

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper foil
- Melt chocolate and butter in large sauce pot ove low heat.
- When chocolate and butter is melted, add sugar and espresso powder to the same sauce pot and whisk until combined.
-Whisk in eggs one at a time followed by vanilla and salt
- Finally whisk in flour until mixture is smooth and uniform
- Pour brownies into prepared pan and then add dollops of caramel sauce on top of different sections of the pan.
- Use a butter knife to swirl the caramel throughout the brownie mixture.
- When your finished swirling put your brownies in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Prepare a sheet pan with ice an leave to the side.
- When brownies are finished sit the pan on top of an ice bath and allow to cool and then cut as desired.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Orzo Pasta with Broccoli

When you first look at it you may think the tiny pellets are rice but they are actually little pasta noodles. I cant recall the first time I had orzo but from the first time I ate it, its been a staple in my home. Orzo can be cooked in boiling water like most any pasta or done in a pilaf method which is my favorite. For this orzo recipe the ingredient list is simple just orzo pasta, salt, pepper, vegetable bouillon cubes, stock/broth, broccoli, grapeseed/olive oil, and additional water.
The Dream Team
This recipe is really simple and hearty, especially if you sprinkle on some grated parmesan or romano cheese it can easily become the main course at dinner. If broccoli isn't your thing you can easily replace it with spinach or any vegetable of your choice. Just make sure and adjust cooking times accordingly.

Orzo Pasta with Broccoli

1lb orzo pasta
4tbsp grapeseed oil
1tbsp butter
1 shallot minced
1/2 bulb garlic, peeled and minced
1qt vegetable stock
1 vegetarian bouillon cube
20 oz fresh or frozen chopped broccoli 
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan (optional)

- Set large saucepan over medium/high fire and add in oil and butter.
- add shallots and garlic to pan, sauté for 2 minutes
- add in orzo pasta and sauté for an additional minute
- add in stock and bouillon cube, lower heat to medium/low
- cover pot and let it cook for 10-15 minutes
- add in broccoli, salt, pepper, and replace cover, add in additional water in necessary
- let cook on low until done.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quick Tips - Reconstituting Bread

You ever buy or bake a loaf of bread and have it for a day or two and it gets aerated and hard? Sometimes  that happens to me and I used to microwave it for a few seconds but I decided that there must be a way to get it as soft as the day it was baked. When I bought a sourdough loaf to make tuna sandwiches last week from trader joes it got a bit hard after a few days but I didn't want to throw it out so i decided to soften it a bit and get a toasty crust at the same time. Heres how I did it:

1- I took a skillet pan and set it over low heat. Then I took my slices of bread and drizzled a mix of grapeseed oil and water onto one side. You don't need to drench it just sprinkle about a tablespoon amount of water/oil mix for each slice. Also If you don't have Grapeseed or olive oil you can spray the slices with cooking spray and drizzle on the water.
Bread on the pan.

2 - While the bread is in the skillet the low heat will and the water in the bread will create steam to soften the bread. The oil will give your toasted bread a nice crust and additional flavor. Touch the bread and if the softness is to your liking you can raise the heat to allow the bread to toast. Flip you bread to toast the other side if desired and remove from heat. Enjoy!