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Archive for July, 2008

The Fourth of July harvest:

We grilled some turkey burgers (I added some peach/pineapple salsa that was taking up room in the fridge, and it made the burgers so delicious – try it!), corn with cayenne-spiked butter and the zucchini (thinly sliced with s&p), steamed the green (and purple) beans, and feasted. 

I decided to continue the tradition of July 4th chocolate decadence, and made these double-decker bars.  On the bottom, fudgy, chocolate-chip and walnut laced brownies.  On the top, chocolate chip cookies.  Daaaaamn.

Chocolate Chip Cookie-Topped Brownies From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  Have you bought this book yet?  Shouldn’t you click that link and do it?

For the brownie layer
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the cookie layer
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup storebought chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment (use enough so that it comes up and over the sides), and butter the foil/parchment.  Or just grease it.

To make the brownie batter, melt both chocolates and the butter together in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Melt and stir just until the mixture is shiny and smooth, then remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, beat the sugar and eggs together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) on medium high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla, then reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the flour, mixing on low speed just until it disappears into the batter. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chopped walnuts by hand with a spatula, then scrape the batter out into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Set aside.

To make the cookie dough, first whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, and set aside. Wash the bowl of your stand mixer (that you used to make the brownie batter), and then beat the butter and both sugars together using the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the egg yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate.

Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls onto the brownie batter, then use a spatula to gently smooth out the cookie dough layer evenly over the batter.  It’s hard.  You might have to use your fingers, then take tastes.  You’ve earned it.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the cookie top is deep golden brown and a sharp knife inserted into the pan comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate.

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack to cool, then when you’re ready to cut them, just lift them out using the foil/parchment that you lined the pan with. It’s easiest to cut these when they’re cool/cold, if you can wait that long. 

I gave away most of these to the neighbors, and packed up the rest to put in the freezer for a special treat – I had one yesterday straight from the freezer and, daaaaaaaamn.  Even better.

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I’m trying my best to be a good little hippie.  I really am.  So, when we ran out of peppercorns in the Trader Joe’s grinder, I went down to the co-op, bought some bulk peppercorns, and attempted to refill.  Then I made meatballs for Chris’ favorite, baked pasta.

Ugh.  I tried to fish out as many as I could, but there was only so much time I was willing to commit to sorting through turkey with my bare hands.  It gets old.  So, spicy it would be:

Adapted from Gourmet:

For the meatballs
1 pound ground turkey
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon salt
About a CUP of PEPPERCORNS.  I mean, 1 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ziti or penne
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
about 6 cups tomato sauce, or if you don’t have that, you can sub a large can of diced tomatoes, drained
15oz ricotta cheese

In a bowl stir together well turkey, garlic, bread crumbs, onion, pine nuts, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper and form into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook half of meatballs, shaking skillet, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain and brown remaining meatballs in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same manner.

Preheat oven to 375°F. and oil a 3- to 4-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish.

In a kettle of salted boiling water cook pasta until just al dente, about 8 minutes, and drain well. In a small bowl toss together mozzarella and parmesan.

Spoon about 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce and half of meatballs into prepared dish and spoon half of pasta on top. Spread half remaining sauce and half cheese mixture over pasta. Top with remaining meatballs and drop dollops of ricotta over meatballs. Spread remaining pasta over ricotta and top with remaining sauce and remaining cheese mixture.

Bake ziti in middle of oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

I’ll make this one again – it was a slight twist on our standard go-to.  The pepper actually provided some added excitement to the dish – I mean, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta in our minds, but it does tend to be a little comfort-food-boring at times.  The occasional unexpected crunch of a peppercorn really livened things up!  I think I drove Chris a little crazy, though, because I thought it was very funny whenever I’d say “Thassa spicy meataball” in a fake Italian accent.  Funny the first couple of times it happened, at least.

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