Thursday, May 28, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Absurd Brownies

I discovered that the Contessa put a warning label (outrageous) on this recipe for a reason. Unfortunately, I made this discovery after I added dark chocolate pieces, cayenne pepper and cinnamon resulting in my adaptation of the Outrageous Brownies recipe, which I am now calling Absurd Brownies. I am proud however, that despite the vulgarity of these coma-inducing beauties, I’m still “tasting” them three days after production. (I seriously need to get them out of my house!)

Inexplicably, I was going for an exotic Mexican chocolate. Don’t ask. I have very little experience with chocolate; I’ve never even made a ganache. To be honest, I was completely baffled by the selection of bittersweet, unsweetened, milk chocolate and dark chocolate “baking bars.” I never even found the Hersheys! (Was she referring to a regular Hershey’s chocolate bar?)

Nonetheless, like everything I do in life, I decided to jump right into this recipe as if I were a Belgian-born Chocolatier. I spent the better part of an afternoon (in heels) sweating over a hot stove stirring melted butter and chocolate, later realizing that I failed to add the 6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, requiring a repeat of the melting process. My entire house smelled like a Chocolaterie for two days. It was truly decadent and I sensed these brownies were going to be rich. No kidding. Literally, the only person in my family who was able to down an entire piece was my sugar-fueled 3-year old niece who thinks she could live on confections alone.

Silly girl. I forgot to call my sister later that day to find out whether it stayed down!

Absurd Brownies
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate (Don't forget!)
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons of instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to preference)
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
6 ounces of small dark chocolate pieces ( I used 76% cacao)
3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350
Butter and flour a full cookie sheet

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Once melted add the cayenne and cinnamon. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool at room temperature. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Once cooled, break the dark chocolate bar into very small morsels and toss into the mixture along with 12 ounces of chocolate chips and walnuts. (The Contessa recommends to flour the chips and walnuts before tossing them so they don't sink to the bottom)

Bake for 20 minutes. Pull baking sheet out and tap it down on a hard surface a few times to get the air out from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes more until the toothpick comes out clean. "Do not overbake!"

Happy Indulging.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Tuna Salad a.k.a. Hawaiian Ahi Poke and Avocados

Aloha bloggers! This week’s Barefoot recipe was found online at the Food Network and was chosen by Kate of Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails. As my Northern counterpart will appreciate, we Californians eat a lot of Tuna. Whether raw, seared or beer-battered I would guess that this wonderful protein is consumed in mass quantities in our sunshine state. My all-time favorite way to devour this delicious fish is Poke style (pronounces POH-kay). And, I was so pleased to get my hands on this recipe.

In case you haven't tried it, Poke is a Hawaiian dish consisting of well-seasoned bite size pieces of raw fish. (I happen to prefer the Ahi slightly seared) Typically, Poke is served as an appetizer, which helps the pocketbook when buying Sushi grade Tuna –a “must have” for this dish. The most delicious Poke appetizer I’ve ever tried included diced Avocados and a Ponzu-style vinaigrette. At first glance, this online recipe appeared to contain all of these elements.

That is, until I followed the recipe....

Was it just me or did someone at the Food Network drop the ball on this one? The proportions in this recipe were way off the mark! My vinaigrette was so sour that it felt like I singed the first layer of my tongue while tasting. I found the quantity (six tablespoons) of lime-juice to olive oil and soy sauce totally disproportionate. I’m also thinking that the lime zest is unnecessary. I ended up salvaging my first attempt by adding more olive oil, low sodium soy sauce and ginger. It worked! I was able to control the acidity and get a fabulous result. Also, I avoided the salt because (as from our prior experience with the Chinese Chicken salad dressing) the soy sauce (even the low sodium version) contains enough salt for this vinaigrette.

Ahi Poke with Avocados
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Tuna Salad

1 lb of Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna
1-2 diced Hass Avocado
1/3 cup of minced scallions
1/4 cup of minced red onions

3 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of soy sauce
3 tbsp of fresh lime juice
zest of one lime (optional)
1/2 tsp. of fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp of wasabi paste (to preference)
1-2 tbsp of fresh ginger

Optional toppings:
Sesame seeds
Fresh herbs i.e. baby cilantro

Brush tuna with olive oil (both sides) and sprinke with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Sear on grill for 2 minutes or less each side. Cut tuna into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl, place avocado, scallions, red onions and tuna.

In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, wasabi, pepper, ginger, (and optional lime zest). May need to adjust for taste.

Lightly pour vinaigrette over tuna, avocado and onions. Add sesame seeds and fresh baby cilantro.