Tag Archives: chocolate

Mystery

Wednesday was a snow day. My office was closed, schools were closed, State offices. The gas station at the One-Stop was open but only because that’s a point of pride for those particular “WE NEVER CLOSE” folks. Someone skidded into one of the pumps; not hard enough to cause an explosion but there’s enough damage that it’s being held together with duct tape so perhaps closing would have been a good idea, but whatever. I had the whole day off and to celebrate we rearranged the furniture.

We built our house in 1993.  That’s the royal “we”; my partner swung the hammer, laid pipe and ran conduit while I kept us fed and out from underfoot. We moved in over Easter weekend in 1994 and then took several trips south to Portland to retrieve furniture from a storage locker. The television, kitchen table, mattresses and what-all went in piecemeal and wherever they landed, there they stayed. We haven’t changed the layout of what is essentially one large first floor room with two bedrooms and a bath on the second floor for fifteen years and it was time for a change.

I don’t have any recent “before” pictures, but this is what the south end of the house looked like when we moved in.

Yesterday’s reconfiguring of the room went well. We exchanged enough pieces that we could get the rug up, vacuumed and turned around, we dusted and teased out the snarl of wires behind the rack of computer paraphernalia, and threw out four big bags of garbage. I went in to work the next day and talked about the changes; “The sofa looks really nice in the new living room area!”,  and that’s where this post comes in. People who have been to dinner at my house have never noticed that we had a sofa.

It’s a whale of a thing, our sofa – truly. Long enough to lie down on, ornate and covered with green and striped horsehair upholstery with the tufted back and geegaws, I would not have thought you could miss it. Or the chandelier, which also got me blank looks. “You have a chandelier?”.

I hereby admit that our previous floor plan (I can’t call it interior design) was deeply flawed if there was enough stuff in the way to hide furniture of this magnitude in only 600 square feet (minus the stairwell). And I feel compelled to provide pictures of the new arrangement even though there is no proof, I guess, that I didn’t go out and purchase these things after the fact. You’ll just have to come over for dinner again and see if the sofa looks familiar.

I found I couldn’t take a picture of the chandelier (36″ in diameter, stained glass waterlily pattern) without dusting it, which is going to have to wait until I finish this batch of cinnamon chili cupcakes with chipoltle ganache for the Town Hill Chili Fest tomorrow night. Until then, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Mmmmm Chocolate Cobbler

Wikipedia has a lovely entry on cobbler:

Cobbler is a traditional dish in both the United States and the United Kingdom, although the meaning of the term is quite different in each country. In the United States, it is usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a rolled pastry dough, then baked in an oven. In the United Kingdom it is usually a savoury meat dish, typically a lamb casserole, which is covered with a savoury scone-like topping—each scone (or biscuit) forming a separable cobbler. Fruit-based versions are also increasingly popular in the United Kingdom—although they still retain the separate cobbler (or biscuit) topping of the meat version—and savoury or meat versions are not unknown in the United States.

Chocolate cobbler is an old Maine dish that I had previously only seen in restaurants along the coast. I  couldn’t imagine the recipe that would make this combination of cake – crust – softness but today I traded a few oatmeal raisin cookies for a co-worker’s notes from her Mom and, voila!

Chocolate Cobbler!

1 C all purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt

7 Tbs cocoa – divided and  1 1/4 C white sugar divided

1/2 C milk, 1/3 C melted butter, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 C hot tap water

Preheat oven to 350.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and 3 Tbs of the cocoa and 3/4 C of the white sugar. Reserve the remaining cocoa and sugar.

Stir in the milk, melted butter and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8 x 8 baking dish. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 C white sugar, the brown sugar and remaining 4 Tbs of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter.

Now, here’s where it gets weird: pour the hot tap water over the top and DON’T STIR!

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the center is set and doesn’t “jiggle”.

Serve warm (the top will be a goey sauce) or cooled. We like it cool and fairly solid, served with strawberries. This is a wonderful treat.

The Wikipedia entry also includes my all-time favorite cookbook title: Practical Sanitary and Economic Cooking Adapted to Persons of Moderate and Small Means. I can’t wait to find a copy.

Cobbler is a traditional dish in both the United States and the United Kingdom, although the meaning of the term is quite different in each country. In the United States, it is usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a rolled pastry dough, then baked in an oven. In the United Kingdom it is usually a savoury meat dish, typically a lamb casserole, which is covered with a savoury scone-like topping—each scone (or biscuit) forming a separable cobbler. Fruit-based versions are also increasingly popular in the United Kingdom—although they still retain the separate cobbler (or biscuit) topping of the meat version—and savoury or meat versions are not unknown in the United States.

Strawberry ganache birthday tart

birthday-strawberry-tart1
Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (you can actually use a cup or so of walnut halves)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (generous) strawberry jam

Filling

  • 1 C  whipping cream
  • 2 Tbs white corn syrup
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled, halved.

Preparation

For Crust:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor and mix. Add walnuts; process until chopped. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add yolks and process just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; press into tart pan. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven 375°F. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes or until golden. The crust will “puff” slightly, but that’s OK.  Spread jam on crust.  Cool completely on rack.

For Filling:
Heat cream and corn syrup in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until tiny bubbles appear around edges. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and butter, shake pan to mix slightly. Then beat with a whisk until mixed, cool until mixture is room temperature and beginning to thicken but still pourable, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes. Pour chocolate filling into crust. Refrigerate until filling is set, about 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. cover and keep refrigerated.)

Arrange strawberries cut side down in concentric circles atop filling. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 1 hour.

Have dinner of Creole shrimp a la “po’boy” (recipe to follow, some day) with friends and eat tart with birthday present of Rain vodka. For whatever reason, this is a great life.

Three-fold Brownies

The ingredients

The ingredients

This is the first receipe I memorized. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember reading the original recipe myself, from the pre-War copy of Fannie Farmer that included lots of advice about boiling canned green beans and making individual custards for invalids, that they might seem more appealing.  The proportions have changed over the years, but this remains a very dependable recipe for excellent brownies. It will survive your landlord’s crummy oven that won’t keep a steady temperature and can be baked in any flat pan or even (on one memorable road trip) in a folded piece of aluminum foil reinforced with wet string.

They are “three-fold” brownies because many of the ingredients can be easily memorized in threes, by a five-year-old girl, for example.

Melt 6 Tbs (3 x 2) butter with 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate.

In a medium bowl, beat together: 1 1/2 C sugar (3 half cups) and 3 eggs. There is no leavening in this recipe – the eggs are all you’ve got – so whip this mixture until it’s yellow and airy. Or not, if you’re in a hurry. The brownies will be terrific either way. Stir in the butter/chocolate mixture, stirring as you pour so that the hot mixture won’t cook the eggs. Add 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (3 1/2 tsps.).  Add 3/4 C flour and 1/3 tsp salt. Before you fully incorporate the flour, add 3/4 C chocolate chips. Spread the brownies in a greased and floured 9″ x 9″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes* at 350 degrees.

My oven requires about 40 minutes for some reason. You want the top to be shiny and crackled and the insides fairly firm after cooling.

This recipe will also support a 1/2 C raspberry preserves and 1 1/2 tsp of Kirsch instead of vanilla.

Eh voila!

Three-fold brownies

Three-fold brownies