Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Imperial Porter Brownies

Tonight I plan on taking comfort from the cold in a growler of Southampton Publick House Imperial Porter. This afternoon I used just a little of it to make some brownies. Here's the recipe:

Imperial Porter Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

If you can't find porter, another malty, slightly sweet beer such as stout, brown ale, red ale, or bock are good substitutes.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/3 cup malty beer such as stout or porter
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1 inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until chocolate is almost melted. Whisk until completely smooth and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
3. Whisk brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder into chocolate. Gently stir in porter. Fold in flour mixture until just incorporated.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until just set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
5. Grasping overhanging foil on either side of pan, lift out brownies and place them on a cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut into 16 squares.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Return to Morning Program

For many years I was an enthusiastic regular at the Elementary School's Morning Program. But once my kids graduated to Pierson they told me it would be weird if I continued to show up at SHES every day by myself. So I was very excited when I was actually invited to come back today to talk about writing cookbooks. Everything was just as I had remembered, except for that nice new gym floor they have installed. I pledged allegiance. I sang Your a Grand Old Flag along with Mr. Lahann. I got to talk about myself. And then some gracious ESL students presented me with cookies they had baked from a recipe in my book! Here is the recipe (the student bakers left out the nuts since SHES is nut-free):

Potato Chip Cookies
Makes 14 cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecan halves, finely chopped
1/2 cup crushed potato chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchmetn paper. Pour 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
2. Cream butter and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Stir in flour, nuts, and potato chips until incorporated.
3. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Grease the bottom of a small juice glass with butter and dip into sugar in bowl. Press lightly on a cookie to flattin it and coat it with sugar. Repeat with remaining sugar and cookies, regreasing bottom of glass as necessary.
4. Bake until cookies are light golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies stand on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove them with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Fortifying Breakfast

Before I could face the preparation of holiday cinnamon buns, pecan bars, palmiers, and creme brulee, I ate a bowl of steel-cut oats (look for them at the IGA, with all of the other Bob's Red Mill products) topped with dried figs. Cooking them pilaf-style, covered without stirring, gave them a great texture, toothsome but not crunchy. A nonstick pot is essential. Here is the recipe:

Steel-Cut Oats with Dried Fig Compote
Serves 3 to 4

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 1/4 cups water
Pinch salt
1/2 cup dried figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Milk or half-and-half

1. Melt the butter in a nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook without stirring for 30 minutes.
2. While the oats are cooking combine the figs, brown sugar, ginger, and remaining 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and cook at a bare simmer until the liquid is thickened, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir the oatmeal, divide it among 3 or 4 bowls, and top with the figs and their liquid. Serve immediately, with milk or half-and-half if desired.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Decorating with Cupcake Liners

My younger daughter discovered that cupcake liners make the best paper snowflakes. And then she got out her hot glue gun and made a garland with them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pasta Friday: Holiday Edition

Pierson Seniors are allowed to leave campus for lunch. Eight or so of them always show up at my house on Friday for pasta and cookies. I usually take some chocolate chip cookie dough out of the freezer, but today, in honor of the coming holiday, I baked spicy molasses cookies. They aren't the most beautiful cookies, but  teenagers really like them. Here's the recipe:

Molasses Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well-combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake until the tops are just dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Chocolate and The Challenge

Although I'm pretty sure they're not kosher, I love the coffee cups I received from my uncle for Chanukah on Sunday. Last night we watched the Pierson Quiz Bowl team battle East Islip on MSG Varsity, while enjoying some rich hot chocolate in the new cups. The lobster looks like he made it out alive. Here is the recipe:

Rich Hot Chocolate
Makes 4 cups

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Pinch salt
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the chocolate chips and salt in a heatproof bowl.
2. Combine the milk and cream in a heavy pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the bowl and whisk to melt the chocolate.
3. Return the chocolate mixture to the pot and whisk constantly until smooth.
4. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Chanukah is getting off to a slow start at my house, I'm afraid. On Sunday, my husband smoked the Fairview Farm pork bellies he had been curing for the past 10 days (instructions are in the new America's Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook). Then he made BLTs for lunch. No one complained, especially because we knew that latkes and brisket were for dinner.