Box of Delicious! {Foodie Pen Pal June & Coffee Brownie Recipe}

This month, as a part of the Foodie Pen Pals, I received a box from Heather and sent a box to Dustin.

A few weeks ago, I gave you a peek inside the box I got from Heather. Now it is finally time for the reveal!

Here’s what I got:

In case you can’t read all the labels, it’s Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar-Caramel with Black Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate (filled with) Speculoos Cookie Spread, Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups, Artisana Pecan Butter, Jessica’s Vanilla Maple Granola, Artisana Coconut Butter, and Trader Joe (Jaques) Fleur Del Sel Caramels. (Heather did say she loves Trader Joe’s in her note, which, by the way, is the card with the cherries on it in the background.)

Thanks, Heather for the yumminess and for making me want to visit my local TJ’s! :)

For Dustin, I used some of the coffee from last month’s box to make brownies. I really like the idea of using something from the last box to forward on to the next one. Just a fair warning for the other foodie pen pals reading this right now.

I forgot to include the recipe in Dustin’s box, so I am putting it here:

Adapted from Epicurious: (original recipe)

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 tablespoons (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal pan with nonstick spray. Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, ground coffee, and salt in large metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (texture will be grainy). Remove bowl from over water; cool mixture to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour over and fold in.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies in pan.

Note: the original recipe includes pecans in the brownies and a mocha frosting, but I thought the brownies were good as is.

Photo Friday!

Since I missed this past Wednesday’s What I’m Reading, I am going to add that to the end of this week’s Photo Friday! post. I’ll be back on track next week; sorry!

So, I am getting better at remembering to take pictures; however, I am bad at remembering to take my camera with me everywhere, so I had to take all photos with my phone this week. Therefore, you’ll have to bear with my unedited, poor quality pictures this week.

First up, a blurry picture from trivia on Tuesday night. If you live in SF and want to join our team, we are scouting for members, especially those that know sports and pop culture/movie/music trivia. :)

I was going to take more than one picture of that night, but got caught up in the game and drinking (duh!) and forgot!

So, the next few pics are all from last night, at the Underground Market at Public Works. (Should I really be sharing this in a public space?!)

First thing I ate all night: Biscuit Bender’s with their cheddar gravy. YUM!

The picture really does not do it justice. These were mighty biscuits! They also have sweet options and American Eatery (part of Prather Ranch Meat Co.) in the Ferry Building uses their biscuits for breakfast items on their menu.

Next, a photo of the band Izzy Wise, who rocked out last night. The girl was playing the clarinet and the guy, Izzy, was playing a few different (and strange) instruments.

 

Next up, the truffles I bought from Casa De Chocolates in Berkeley. They are dark chocolate with cocoa powder. Sweet and delicious, but a bit messy from the cocoa powder.

The view from above…they are making mac n’ cheese from Homeroom and cheese plates from Mission Cheese. Mmm….cheese!

The next photo is my view of the crowd last night from my spot upstairs. It was totally packed! Lines for food were bending around corners and up stairs! Crazy!

And…that’s all for the photos of this week! Now, for What I’m Reading!

  1. Blog posts about cookies: peanut butter drizzled chewy milk chocolate chunk, & coconut oatmeal chocolate chip, to be exact.
  2. Recipes with blueberries: lemon blueberry poppy-seed muffins and a grain-free blueberry tart.
  3. A poem about Boysenberry and Plum Cobbler
  4. and, to round it all out, because pies are round (worst pun ever!): Chocolate Espresso Ganache Pie

Two Ways {Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough}

There is almost always two ways of doing things (and sometimes more). This week, I made chocolate chip cookie dough in two different ways and made them into two different things. 1) chocolate chip cookie dough truffles 2) chocolate-dipped chocolate chip cookies

You can try some for yourself if you come to San Francisco tomorrow (Saturday, April 28th) and come to Omnivore Books between 11am-4pm during the SF Food Bloggers Bake Sale! <<one way to entice you to come to the bake sale.

Or, you can come to support Share Our Strength and No Kids Hungry. <<another way to entice you to come to the bake sale.

OR, you can go to Omnivore Books to see Alice Medrich speak about her book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts and come early to get a good seat/snag a goodie from the bake sale. <<yet another way of enticing you to come to the bake sale.

OR, you can come to buy goodies from other bloggers (that are helping to host the sale): Annelies, Anita, Irvin, and Shauna (Thanks for all your hard work putting this together for the third year in a row!) <<yet ANOTHER way to get you to come to the bake sale.

What ever your reason is, I hope to see you tomorrow! :)

Not in SF, you say? Well then, I guess you could try making these at home. They are simple, really. Just make chocolate chip cookies. Then dip them in chocolate. {From another SF blogger, Anita (she happens to be one of the organizers of the bake sale) about chocolate tempering.} Dine on one of your chocolate-dipped cookies. Maybe have another. With some ice cream. Or a glass of milk. See? More than one way of doing something. The truffles are a bit more work; more to come on those soon.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy your weekend! And, if you ARE in SF, come stop by and say “hi”! (I can’t stop! Sorry!) But really, it’s for a good cause. (Okay, now I’m done.)

April Showers Bring May Flowers.

Can you believe that we are only a couple of weeks away from May, already?

I know that I was definitely busy between, uh, last July and now. :)

But now that I am all caught up on the exciting things I’ve made since then, I will now share what I made in April, since I spent the month posting about the past.

In the beginning of the month, I celebrated Passover. I even hosted a Seder for the first time! I made a (super delicious) pescatarian dinner that included veggies from the farmer’s market and fish from the San Francisco Fish Company and wine from The Wine Merchant. Here is a list of recipes I made/adapted for my Seder:

Baked Stuffed Zucchini (My favorite dish, besides the matzoh ball soup.)

Matzoh Lasagna (I added spinach to mine. Surprisingly good…almost as good as lasagna made with noodles)

Matzoh Brittle (made it twice…once for my Seder, and once for a friend’s Seder. The first time, I followed the recipe and the second time, with the inspiration from a friend that came to my Seder, I added some ginger to some pieces and some cinnamon to others)

The fish part of the meal was just some sauteed cod. I just cut the fish into pieces that fit into the pan, sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. No real recipe, just cook until fish flakes apart with a fork. I think it was about 2 or 3 minutes on either side.

Throughout the month, I also made some ice cream. I got the recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, David Lebovitz. I added a chocolate fudge sauce to it while it was in the machine churning, but it turned out I added too much, because it caused the ice cream to soften and it separated. This made it a sort of micro-chocolate chip-caramel ice cream. All in all, it was pretty good. I would like to make more ice cream using his recipes and just stick with the recipe, because I have a feeling they will turn/churn out well. (See what I did there?!)

Some other things I made this month include a simple pasta dish, an orange-lemon pound cake,  and mini tartlets, again. The pasta dish was spaghetti, peas, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil all tossed and heated/cooked together in a saute pan. First, the olive oil cooks the garlic, then the peas and tomatoes are added, and finally the pasta. Lunch or dinner is ready in minutes!

The orange-lemon pound cake was made with some orange sugar…which is just like vanilla sugar, but with orange zest. All you have to do is zest some orange (or any other citrus, or a combo would be good, too) into sugar and rub them together. It makes the flavor stand out more. The recipe I used was more or less made up. It is a simple 1:1:1 ratio, as you may have guessed. In this case, it was 8 ounces butter, 8 ounces sugar, 8 ounces flour, and an egg, some vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Bake in a buttered loaf pan in a 350-degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before overturning and cooling completely on a cooling rack.

The tartlets I made were basically the same as before, using orange curd and candied orange peel as garnish. The shells were made with a pie/tart dough recipe that used cream instead of eggs/water/other liquid. But you can go ahead and use sable dough if you’d prefer.

So, that’s what I’ve made in April (so far). I am excited for what the month of May will bring! What are some of the things that made April special for you? What are you looking forward to in May? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

All Caught Up {Fresh Pasta and Waffle Brownies}

As you may know, I have been trying to catch up on what exciting things I’ve made before returning to blogging. The last couple of items I would like to share with you are the fresh pasta and the waffle brownies I made.

Up first, the pasta. I made fresh pasta for the first time in a long time.

It is a bit of a process to knead together the flour and eggs, but once you get started, it is really easy. It is one of my favorite doughs to work by hand. Just two ingredients, rolled out thin, and cut into pieces. Cooks in a few minutes. It really couldn’t be easier. And it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the pasta from the store. You can even add tomato or spinach right to the pasta dough (might require more flour, to make it not so sticky) which makes it so flavorful, you don’t need to add anything. Maybe just some olive oil. Oh! Pro-tip! Make sure you salt your water! It’s the best way to add salt to pasta (or to veggies).

The other item I am excited to share is waffle brownies.

These are brownies made in a waffle iron. What the what?! Yes, you can pour waffle batter into a pan and wait a long time for them to come out of the oven. OR, you can pour it on your waffle iron and have brownies in like 5 minutes! We all know that (basically) instant brownies are the best! Don’t be fooled, though, these brownies are for dessert, not breakfast. Or are they?! :)

Bringing New York To San Francisco {Bagels & Black and White Cookies}

What says New York like bagels and black and white cookies? Even Anthony Bourdain said that New York makes the best bagels…

So, taking on the challenge to create perfect bagels and black and white cookies was, well, challenging.

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Let’s start with bagels. Once I tell someone that I have made bagels, they ask, “did you boil and then bake them?” and I think my face contorts into a funky mess as I reply, humbly, “Yes, of course!” It always comes to a surprise to me that people even have to ask. How else are bagels made? How else do you get that chewy texture? Have they heard of people just simply baking bagels like they would anything else? I guess so. I just can’t even imagine it.

So, yes, I boiled and then baked the bagels. I think they came out great, especially with the addition of poppy seeds.

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Now, on to the other New York classic, the black and white cookie. Now, just to clarify, these are sugar-type cookies (though more cake-y than cookie-y…) that are frosted in half chocolate frosting and half vanilla frosting—hence the black and white. Not to be confused with the other black and white cookies, made with white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips! These are almost their own breed of cookie. You just have to try them, okay? :)

I made these because, believe it or not, I met someone who had never even heard of them until I brought them up. Also, because I love the memory I have of my sister and I sharing them. She got the vanilla half and I got the chocolate half. Perfect.

Mini Tartlets

When I saw these in the store, I knew I had to get them! I love all things mini. There’s just something about the small size that grabs my attention more than the full-size version. Mini Snickers bars that somehow only make an appearance on Halloween. Mini muffins or cupcakes. Mini loaves of bread. Mini. Easy. One or two bites. An amuse bouche. A petit four. Mignardises. How ever you put it, I love it!

I used these to make tartlets for New Year’s Eve this past year (2011-2012). I made chocolate ganache and orange curd tartlets. I sprinkled the chocolate ganache ones with white sugar crystals (the sort of sugar that does not dissolve) and the orange curd ones with homemade candied orange zest.

Cover of "Baking"

I got the recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking, by James Peterson. I like this book because it not only gives you great recipes, but because it shows you steps by picture and gives you more than one technique to doing something. For example, the tart/pie dough recipe can be made with either water, heavy cream, or eggs/egg whites as the liquid (or any other liquid–maybe orange juice). It also says how to mix the dough by hand (on a table or in a bowl) or by mixer. It is a great book for all of the basic baking you might want to do.

P.S. This post is a part of my catching up series.