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    Chocolate Stout Milkshake

    This is my St. Patrick’s day gift, from me to you. Well, it’s technically not my gift. After all, it does come from the gentlemen who gave us Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. It’s not a difficult recipe by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one of the few recipes that I’ve put on the table in the past year or so that has received an A+ from all.

    And as a side question: How awesome is it to put beer in a milkshake?

    • 2 cups chocolate ice cream
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1/4 cup Stout beer, chilled
    • 1 Tablespoon powdered malt

    Put all ingredients in a blender, and mix until smooth. Serve in a chilled glass.

    Serves 2


    Butterscotch Sundae Cookies

    If I’m going to write about cookies, it would be nice if I actually provided a recipe for one. It’s nearly the least I could do.

    So why this recipe? Well for one, members of my household love the flavor of butterscotch, both the real and artificial kind (and yes, there is a huge difference between the two). Second, with a name like “Butterscotch Sundae”, I was intrigued as to how close the recipe could get to an ice cream flavor. Finally, it was a simple drop cookie, so I didn’t have to sweat things like cookie cutters or press guns.

    The recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. The more I go through this book, the more I find myself falling in love with it. This isn’t a bad thing. Romantic love of course, and very much unrequited.

    Part of my love affair comes from the fact that it provides the amounts of key ingredients in both weight and volume sizing. As I dig further into the realms of baking, I’m finding that the American preference for measuring cups lends itself to inconsistencies in results.

    Speaking of results, keep an eye on these cookies when in the oven. The use of dark brown sugar in the recipe makes it difficult to see if the cookie is overdone. Twelve to thirteen minutes is really all you need, eleven if you like moister cookies.

    Do the cookies taste good? Yes. Very much so. But they don’t taste a thing like an ice cream sundae.

    • 3 oz. (by weight) unsalted butter
    • 8 oz. (by weight) chopped pecans
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 6 oz. (by weight) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 10.875 oz. (by weight) dark brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. dark spiced rum
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 8.5 oz. (by weight) all purpose flour, sifted
    • 6 oz. (by weight) butterscotch chips

    Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

    Place a skillet over medium-low heat on your stove top and melt the 3 oz. of butter. Add the pecans and coat with the melted butter.

    When the pecans begin to brown and start to smell toasty, add your 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well, and then remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

    In a mixing bowl, cream together the 6 oz. of butter, brown sugar, and rum. Add to this mixture the eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Once thoroughly incorporated, slowly add the flour, pecans, and butterscotch chips.

    On a baking sheet that has parchment paper, drop 1 tablespoon of the dough repeatedly until the sheet is full, keeping between 1 to 2 inches between each drop of dough.

    Place the baking sheet into the oven and allow to bake between twelve and thirteen minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

    Makes about 3 dozen cookies


    Chocolate Soy Pie

    Those of you who read the comments have come across Leisureguy before. He’s a regular here, and I find his contributions to the discussions often insightful and spot on. He sent me an e-mail, about two weeks ago, extolling the virtues of pie recipe that he was fond of, made of chocolate and soy. He ended the e-mail to me by saying “you probably won’t try it.”

    I can guess why he wrote that, as I am not a fan of soy. I am, however, a tremendous fan of pie, and am also curious enough to see if I can get it to work.

    The result? A very interesting pie, with a lighter chocolate taste, especially when compared against a typical chocolate silk pie. Dare I say it? This pie has nuance.

    It’s also a breeze to make, once one is able to find the key ingredient – soy. The site from which the recipe first appears recommends a specific brand, as others tend to be less silky in texture, a key aspect of this pie.

    The recipe calls for a no-bake pie shell, which I also purchased rather than made myself. This was intentional, as I wanted to replicate Leisureguy’s take on the recipe. For those of you who feel I should lose my pie-making license over this, I humbly apologize.

    • 2 boxes of low-fat Mori-Nu silken tofu (12.3-ounces each, any firmness)
    • 1 10-12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • /2 tsp. water
    • chocolate-cookie no-bake pie shell
    • raspberries (for garnish)

    Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until the chips retain their shape but are soft as warm butter. Remove from heat and let stand a couple minutes.

    Puree the tofu in a food processor (about 2 minutes) frequently scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that all of the tofu is converted from a soft brick into a warm-pudding consistency. Add the water to the sugar, then mix both into the tofu. Add the softened chocolate and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a chocolate-cookie pie shell and swirl the top to make soft peaks, like frosting a cake. Garnish with berries. Then chill to set. Ready in 1 hour.

    Serves 8 – 10


    Watermelon Chiffon Pie

    This has not been a good week for me, for several reasons, mostly all of them dealing with the pain in the ass that is my regular, paying job.

    Due to these stresses,I was looking forward to this recipe. As regular readers here know, pie is my paxil, my “go to” food when I need to make sense of the world. It is also the bane of my doctor’s perspective on how I approach my life, but that’s a different post.

    It also seemed a bit exotic. I mean who uses watermelon in a pie recipe? And how does one incorporate a highly volatile fruit into a solid pastry format? The answers to the above rhetorical questions are “Fans of chiffon pies” and “you use gelatin, and a fair bit of it”.

    So, using a recipe found in my “Go to” pie cookbook, (Ken Haedrich’s Pie:300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie) I set upon the task of making my week a little better.

    The result? A Pie that I’m still unsure about. I taste’s okay, don’t get me wrong. But it a tad bit disconcerting to have watermelon flavor come from a slice of pie. My mind simply wasn’t ready to make the correlation between seeing a slice and expecting the flavor of the summer fruit. It’s as if my mind can only allow for a specific set of flavors to be used in pie, and when faced with a new one, it treats it as if it’s some sort of rare novelty.

    And it takes a pretty horrible picture to boot. A slice is unable to hold its own weight for any length of time, and physics then dictates that the slice of watermelon chiffon has to collapse upon itself. Thus this picture above, where the pie tin has the task of ensuring a decent looking slice.

    But here’s the thing…It’s not that bad. In fact it’s pretty good. But if you’ve never had watermelon in anything but the natural watermelon format – slices at a barbeque- you may be bound to say “Well that tastes weird…but in a good way”.

    • 1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted
    • 6 cups of watermelon flesh
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 envelops of unflavored gelatin
    • 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
    • Egg whites from 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
    • Whipped cream (home made or store bought, your preference) for garnish

    For the Crust:

    Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until well-combined.

    Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate or tin.
    Place in the oven and bake the crust for 7 to 9 minutes. Place in the regrigerator to chill.

    For the Filling: Place the watermelon and the granulated sugar into a large bowl. Using a potato Masher (Mr. Haedrich’s method) or immersion blender (my method), liquify the flesh as fully as possible. Set aside for 15 minutes. Then strain the mixture, ensuring you have 2 3/4 cup of sugared watermelon juice. Discard the pulp and any extraneous liquid.

    In a medium sized bowl, pour in 1/4 cup of watermelon juice and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside for 4 minutes, allowing the gelatin to dissolve. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of the watermelon juice in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Whisk the hot juice into the gelatin mixture.

    In a larger bowl, place in the remaining watermelon juice, and stir in the watermelon gelatin mixture. Add the lime juice, and then cover and place in the refrigerator.

    Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites in a medium sized bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In yet another bowl (that’s # four) that has been chilled, pour in the heavy cream and beat with an electric beater until peaks form. Add the sifted powdered sugar, and incorporate until smooth. Place in the refrigerator.

    When the watermelon gelatin starts to firm (my took about an hour) remove and add 1/4 of the whipped cream. Whisk the contents with the electric beater until smooth. Fold in the egg whites and remaining whipped cream, ensuring consistency of the filling. You want to avoid pockets of white from either the egg whites or whipped cream. Pour into the chilled pie shell. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to chill overnight.

    Serves 10


    Coniglio allo Zafferano (Saffron Rabbit)

    More than anything else, this recipe is meant to demonstrate a new toy in my bag…the photographic light tent. Let’s give it up for the light tent! Woot!

    Running a food blog requires several talents – writing being the most obvious, but food photography is a close second (Others talents include such things as learning basic server administration and dealing with disrespectful commenters).

    Now some of my skills are relatively moderate, and have only modestly increased in skill (I speak, of course, of my writing, which is always long on voice and short on such things as basic spelling and rudimentary grammar). However, my picture taking skills have…well.. just take a look at my first picture on this site way back in January of 2004. Compare that to the one above.

    I have to admit, I shed a little tear of joy. Now if I could only start to understand photoshop beyond cropping.

    By the way, here’s rabbit recipe from the Abruzzi region of Italy.

    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 4 sprigs of oregano, mince
    • Zest of 1 orange
    • 6 Tbsp olive oil
    • 3 lbs rabbit, cut into 6 or twelve pieces
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Pinch of saffron
    • 1 cup white wine
    • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
    • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
    • 2 small zucchinis, sliced
    • 9 oz. cherry tomatoes
    • 1 bunch basil

    In a large bowl, combine garlic, oregano, orange zest and two tablespoons of olive oil. Place rabbit pieces into bowl, and coat with the garlic/oregano paste. Season rabbit with salt and pepper to taste.

    Meanwhile, take half of pinch of the saffron and mix into the one cup of white wine.

    Heat two more tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot that is over high heat. Brown a piece or two of a rabbit on each side and then set aside. Repeat for each piece. Lower the heat to medium and return all pieces of the rabbit to the pot. Pour in half of the wine. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

    Meanwhile, sautée the peppers and and zucchini with the two tablespoons of olive oil. Do this for five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

    After the 40 minutes, add the vegetables and tomatoes to the dutch oven, and pour in the remaining wine. Add the other half of the pich of saffron. Cook for another twenty minutes. Before removing the rabbit, check to see if done.

    Serves 4


    Bumbleberry Pie

    I am such a pie person. Cake? Feh. Hit the bricks, pal. The best of cakes simply can’t compete wih the best of pies.

    This recipe is a perfect example of this belief. It’s based off of a recipe found in Ken Haedrich’s book Pie, which, in turn, comes from the Dundee Arms Inn kitchen. I made a few slight alterations to fit my own tastes as well as the ingredients on hand. Yes, this includes rhubarb, which takes on an ensemble role here.

    In fact, that’s what makes this pie so great…there is no one single taste that dominates, providing a perfect example of how a recipe can create an entirely new flavor that one has never experienced before.

    What also makes this pie so interesting is the new (to me) pie crust technique offered to create a crumble-like look that adds a new texture from what I was used to. I will be using this technique (listed in the instructions below) for other fruit pies in the future.

    • 3 cups AP flour
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and diced int o1/4 ” pieces
    • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
    • 1/2 cup water, cold (near freezing, if possible)
    • 1 cup blackberries
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
    • 1 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 Tbsps. lemon juice
    • 1/3 cup AP flour
    • 2 Tbsp butter, chilled and dice
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp Vanilla Sugar (or granulated, if no vanilla sugar is available

    To make the dough, combine three cups of flour, the tablespoon of sugar, and the teaspoon of salt. Using your hands, mix in the butter and shortening, working with the dough until it becomes almost sand-like in its consistency. Work in the water, two tablespoons at a time, until the dough becomes one solid form. You may not need the entire half cup of water, depending upon your taste. Place the dough in the refrigerator.

    After chilling in the refrigerator for one hour, divide the pie dough into two pieces. Place one of the two pieces in the freezer (wrapped in Saran wrap), the other roll into roughly a thirteen inch circle in order to place it into a 9 1/2″ pie pan.

    Place the pie crust in the freezer. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    In a bowl, combine the berries, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice, folding together delicately. When the sugar has been thoroughly incorporated, add the 1/3 cup of flour and also fold into the filling. Pour the filling into the now chilled pie shell, and smooth it level with a spoon. Dot the top of the filling with the several pieces of butter.

    Now here’s where the cool part comes into play. The first half of the dough that you had wrapped in plastic wrap and placed into the freezer? Take it out and grate it with a box grater over the filling, as if it were a huge chunk o’ cheese. Use a fork if you have to distribute the dough gratings evenly. Once done, sprinkle the top with the vanilla sugar.

    Place in the oven and bake for thirty minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and rotate the pie 180 degrees, so an even baking will occur. Bake for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2 hours.

    Serves 8


    Chicken Provençal

    I was in the mood for something new, yet still familiar, which is a weird mood to be in. The foods in which I was regularly acquainted weren’t good enough, but anything new that seemed too exotic were also quickly dismissed. This is a mood best described as “picky” or “annoying as hell”. Picture the following:


    Inner voice: How about puttanesca?

    Me (whiny): Nnnnnoooo. We just had that last week.

    IV: Pork Chops

    Me: Ugh. No.

    IV: You could make something Spanish.

    Me: What are you, high?

    IV: That’s it, I’m outta here.

    Isn’t it always the case? Just when you discover that the world is your oyster, you find yourself tired of shellfish.

    Luckily I came across this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which shut down the urge to be a pain in the ass to anyone who suggested a dish to try. It’s new, at least to me, as I have never tried to make it before. But yet it’s similar enough to chicken cacciatore, that I knew what to expect when all was said and done.

    This is one of those dishes that one might be tempted to replace the water with chicken stock. Resist this temptation at all cost! There is enough flavor from the onions, tomatoes, and pancetta, that any flavor the stock might bring will be overwhelmed.

    • 8 Chicken thighs
    • salt and pepper
    • 4 oz. pancetta, diced
    • 1 large white onion, diced
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
    • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
    • 1/2 cup niçoise olives, pitted and chopped
    • 1/4 cup basil, minced

    Salt and Pepper the chicken thighs to taste. Set aside.

    In a Dutch Oven or large stock pot, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy, roughly 5 minutes or so. Remove the pancetta from the pan, but leave the residual grease. Place in the chicken thighs, skin side down, and turn up the heat to high. Fry until golden brown, roughly six to eight minutes. Turn over chicken with tongs and allow to cook for three minutes on the non-skin side of the thighs. Remove the pot from heat, and transfer the chicken to plate to cool. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the remaining fat.

    Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place over medium heat and cook until the onions just start to become translucent. Meanwhile, scrap any of the remaining brown fronds from the chicken and pancetta off of the bottom of the pan and mix into the onions. Add in the garlic and flour, and cook for one minute. Add the vermouth, water, and tomatoes.

    Remove the skin from the chicken. Place the chicken into the stew, and add the pancetta. Bring to a simmer (185 degrees F). Cover, and lower the heat to medium low. Cook for 30 minutes, turning over the chicken at the fifteen minute point. After the 30 minutes, add the olives and cook for five more minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a serving dish. Add the basil to the braising liquid. Ladle over the chicken and serve.

    Serves 4