Saturday, March 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Brownies Recipe

Peanut butter has to be one of my all time favorite foods, which is why it makes it especially unfortunate that I now work in a nut free environment! Peanut butter is still a staple in my cupboard and it must literally always contain it. However, I rarely get to eat it due to work and the  fact that my husband loathes it (how did I marry this man when we are divided on such an important issue I am sure you are wondering); therefore I have to plan my baking attempts with peanut butter carefully to cater to my audience. Fortunately I had the opportunity this week at a game night with coworkers. Multiple cheeses, crackers, peanut butter brownies, and plenty of yelling with Catch Phrase = a good time. This is another favorite from Smitten Kitchen and I apologize for redundancy in recipe selections but I simply adore the clean yet engaging way that she discusses food. Not to mention she has skills I may never possess in the ability to alter and improve recipes! She waxed nostalgic about Reese's peanut butter cups being one of her few weaknesses when it comes to store bought candy. I will not profess to have that few weaknesses, but I certainly agree with one addition. I sincerely believe that holiday Reese's are far superior due to an improvement in the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. Back to the subject at hand though, I thought that these brownies were delicious and would highly recommend making them. One person actually groaned while consuming his first bite! As someone who enjoys feeding others not much regarding food could make me happier. Disclosure do not expect any caloric information regarding these, as far as I am concerned none of us want to know!

Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from Butterwood Desserts, West Falls, New York via Gourmet, October 2007

Makes 32 brownies, more or less, depending on how you cut them

These “brownies” are more blondie than cakey, with an excellent peanut butter-chocolate contrasts and fantastic edges, for those of you into that sort of thing. Have a glass of milk handy.

For brownies
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half all purpose with great success)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt, see note

For ganache
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer sped to low, then mix in flour until just combined.

Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (It will be thick, almost like cookie batter.)

Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make ganache: Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.

Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.

Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sally Lunn Bread + Honeyed Brown Butter Recipe

Let me start this by saying thank you Mom and Dad for taking the hubby and I on a trip to the UK last year. It was approximately a year ago that we went for an amazing trip back to where I was born thanks to the Air Force and where I definitely have some genealogical roots. I have a sweet little Nana whose parents traveled from the UK to Michigan not long before she was born. It was from her and my mom that I earned an appreciation for homemade gifts, foods, and the comfort of a pot of tea. Though I unlike my Nana, need some sweeteners in my beverages!

 When we went the UK I fell in love! I would move there in a heart beat. The beauty of the buildings in the city, the transportation, the pastoral landscapes when we got out of town, the style (I have been trying to get my husband to wear a more tailored suit ever since), and just the magnificent history of it all. One of the days we had the pleasure of traveling to Bath and I could think of hardly anything but Jane Austen, whom I adore.  We also went to the original Sally Lunn's. We just happened to go at a time when they were between breakfast and lunch so there are pictures of both. The pictures really don't do these brioche type buns justice they were amazing! Truly one of the highlights of our eating experiences.
Sally Lunn Bread
Taken from Smitten Kitchen; Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Cakes
Ingredients: 2 C all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp table salt, 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast, 3/4 C milk (I used almond milk and it made the taste so uniquely delicious!!), 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened, 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk 
1. In a large bowl, mix 3/4 cup flour (Do not be like me and accidentally mix in all the flour this will prevent your yeast from reacting to create a batter! Another thought, I attempted once to use half whole wheat and half all purpose without success the bread was far too dense. I may try again sometime, but the moment I would not recommend), sugar, salt and dry yeast by hand or with an electric mixer.
2. In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter together until the mixture is warm (105 to 110 degrees); don’t worry if this butter isn’t completely melted. Gradually pour the warm ingredients into the dry mixture and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or stir vigorously by hand with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes. Add the egg, yolk and another 1/2 cup flour and beat again for 2 minutes by machine or 3 by hand. Add the last of the flour and beat or stir until smooth. 
3. Scrape down bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Let rise for one hour or until doubled. Meanwhile, butter and flour a 9×5x3-inch loaf pan. Once the dough has doubled, scrape it into the prepared pan. Cover with buttered plastic wrap and let rise for a total of 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, however, remove the plastic and preheat your oven to 375°F.
4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Heatter says the bread should make a hollow sound if tapped with your fingertips but I haven’t weathered mine enough yet that I didn’t find it unpleasant.
5. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out to a rack to cool.

Just to note, Heatter suggests that the bread be cooled out of the loaf pan but upside down on the rack, I presume to square off the loaf, so this is an option for more perfectly square bread.

Salted and Honeyed Brown Butter Spread

Ingredients: 1 stick unsalted butter, divided, 1 to 2 Tbsp honey, Few pinches flaky sea salt

1. In a small saucepan, melt half your butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. While it is cooling, leave the other half of the butter out to soften slightly (semi-firm is fine). (note to self, do not give this particular task to husband AKA sous chef) 
2. Whip softened butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the room temperature browned butter, honey and salt continue whipping until combined. Chill butter in fridge until a nice spreadable consistency, or until needed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini Recipe

I don't know if everyone feels this way, but I am on an uphill battle to eat enough vegetables and enjoy a wider variety of them. So here is one of my many attempts to do just that. I have to admit that I still don't enjoy the skin, but the rest was great! Not to mention I love love love my subscription to Real Simple that my husband gets me annually. It is such a great combination of enjoyable recipes, fashion, design, product reviews, and book reviews.
Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini
Taken from Real Simple

Ingredients: 4 Tbsp olive oil, 2 large eggplants (sliced lengthwise, approx. 16 total), 1 1/2 C marinara sauce, 2 large eggs, 1-15 oz container ricotta (I used low fat), 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 C grated mozzarella, 1/2 C parmesan
1. Heat oven to 450. Divide the oil between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Dividing evenly, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and turn to coat in the oil; season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
2. Bake the eggplant, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until soft and beginning to brown, 12-15 minutes, let cool. Reduce heat to 400.
3. Meanwhile, in the bottom of a 13x9" pan spread 1/2 C marinara sauce. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, oregano, 1 C mozzarella, and remaining salt/pepper.
4. Place about 3 Tbsp of ricotta mixture on one of the eggplant, roll it up, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Continue
5. Top the eggplant rolls with the remaining marinara sauce, remaining mozzarella, then sprinkle with parmesan.
6. Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Per Serving (8 total): 355 calories, 24g fat, 106mg cholesterol, 744mg sodium, 19g protein, 18g carbs, 9g sugar, 6g fiber, 2mg iron, 371mg calcium

I only made a half batch and would comment that the olive oil soaked into the eggplant really quickly so be cautious of that so that it can make its way to both sides. In addition the nutritional info is listed as if no changes or lower fat cheeses were used. I also apologize for the lack of step-by-step pictures!