Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mom's Cucumber & Onion Salad

I picked up a couple pounds of meyer lemons and was planning on making lemon bars or lemon & rosemary jam.  Unfortunately, i just haven't felt like cooking.  But i have felt like some of my mom's delicious cucumber & onion salad.  It's similar to Factor's, but it's even better because we use the persian cucumbers and slice them paper thin.   Plus, i use Splenda sugar instead of the real thing, so at least i don't have to feel guilty when i eat a cucumber salad.

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of sugar (or splenda)
  • 1-1/2 cups of water
  • 1 sweet onion
  • Dill
  • 12 Persian cucumbers.
Heat the vinegar, water and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves.
(To make it super easy, i just add all 3 ingredients to a 4 cup pyrex measuring bowl and then heat it in the microwave for 5 minutes.)
Let the mixture cool, either in the refrigerator or on the counter.
Slice the cucumbers and onion as thin as paper.  I use a mandolin which does the job perfectly and in a flash!
After the mixture has cooled, pour over the cucumber and onions. 
Add the dill.

Buon appetito!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Julia Child's Orgasmic Brownies

Brownies, before and after.
 I wanted to make another batch of Julia Child's delicious brownies, but decided to put a spin on them since it's Valentine's Day.  The "spin" was inspired by Smitten Kitchen's gorgeous brownies, although I decided to stick with the brownie recipe i enjoy so much.

So i made two different batches, which i must say took a number of pots, pans and bowls (yes, and a lot of cleaning!).  Then i realized my heart-shaped cookie cutter was too large, so i figured i'd find a new cookie cutter on Sunday.  Wrong!  Who would have thought how difficult it is to find a small, 1" heart-shaped cookie cutter.  Since i needed something to "cleanly" slice through the brownies, i decided to use an apple corer.  So i didn't have hearts in my brownies, i had a circle.  Or, as Elliot declared, they're more like the "circle of life" brownie.  The fun part is you have dark chocolate brownies with white chocolate centers, or white chocolate brownies with dark chocolate centers.  Keeps everyone happy!

I gave my niece, Jessica, a box of the brownies and told her to share them with Annie and Emily (i've been promising Annie some of these brownies).  She texted me this morning and said I'm free to quote them --

"HOLY $HIT- your brownies are THE $HIT. Hands down best brownie I've had. Honestly, and you can quote me on that. Also you can quote Emily- 'it's orgasmic', and Annie stood up as to give you a standing ovation!  (I think Julia Child would smile knowing her brownies are "orgasmic".)

The following ingredients and recipe are for one pan of 16 brownies.  To do black & white brownies, you need to duplicate the recipe using white chocolate and a little less sugar.

  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
Sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water (water should not be touching the upper bowl).  Add 1 cup of sugar to the mixture and stir for half a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs into a stand mixer bowl and mix or whisk by hand just to combine.
Little by little, pour half of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula so that the eggs don't set from the heat.
Fit the whisk attachment to the mixer and whip the remaining sugar and eggs until they are thick, pale, and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes.
Using the rubber spatula, delicately fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture.
When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients.
Pour and scrape the batter in to an unbuttered 9-inch square pan. (If you want thin brownies, use a considerably larger pan; say, 9 x 13).
Bake the brownies for 35-40 minutes, during which time they will rise a little and the top will turn dark and dry.
Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack.

Buon Appetito, and happy Valentine's Day!