Rhubarb

Posted: May 19, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

I fell in love with rhubarb when I was 21.  I had just graduated from college and had agreed to travel to Denmark and Germany for almost a month with the family that I had been a nanny for during my last year.  We started in Copenhagen, spent some time in Hamburg, and even had a couple of days at the original Lego-Land, which was mildly entertaining, but not when you are toting around two children that are not yours while their parents criticize every move you make.  The best part, however; had to be the ten days we spent on an organic farm in the country outside of Copenhagen.  This was where I learned all sorts of new thing about fruits and vegetables.  Cucumbers, when left to their own devices, will grow curvy.  Fresh mango is the most amazing flavor in the world, and rhubarb is super delicious and WAY more versatile than I thought.  There was a rhubarb patch behind the farm house, so I would take the kids out in the afternoon and pick the biggest leaves so we could use the edible portion for dinner.

As a scientist I also this its pretty cool since the leaves are highly toxic to humans, but the stalk, also known as the petiole, that connects the leaf to the stem is completely edible.  One of my colleagues, who is a botanist, tries to accompany each of his plant anatomy lessons with ‘edible visual aids’ so he had carrots and ranch dressing for the kids when they were learning about roots, hot chocolate and coffee when they were learning about seeds, etc…  So the other day they were studying leaves, and he brought in rhubarb pie.  He offered me some of the left over and as I was shoveling it into my face, while trying to appear calm and casual I started thinking about different rhubarb recipes that I could try now that it is back in season.  In Denmark we made a lot of cobbler/crumble type desserts with rhubarb, and one morning we put it on our pancakes which was super delicious, but I wanted to do something a little bit different just because thats what I do.  So after thinking about it and looking around I came up with these:

Rhubarb White Chocolate Brownies:

The Brownies:

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1cup sugar

2 Eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler until its smooth.  Take it off the heat and mix in the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Finally, add the flour and salt.

Rhubarb:

Cut rhubarb in appx 1/3″ slices until you have a full cup.  Put it in a small sauce pan with 1/3 cup water and 2 1/2 tbsp sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil for about a minute, then reduce the heat and let simmer until the rhubarb falls apart a bit when you stir it.  Remove it from the heat and pour it into a blender or food processor.  Let it cool for a few minutes and then blend it until it forms a smooth compote.

White Chocolate:

Melt white chocolate pieces with some heavy cream until it forms a smooth mixture that is thick, but pour-able.

I folded the rhubarb mixture in to the brownie batter, poured it into an 8×8 brownie pan and drizzled the chocolate over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes at 325, or until a fork in the center comes out clean.

The flavors all came together just like I wanted them to, and these bad boys are delicious with the sweet and tangy balancing each other out.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

1) The rhubarb flavor wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be, so next time I think I will reduce the compote to concentrate the flavor.  I also might drizzle it over the top rather than mix it in with the batter, but that will probably be decided as I’m making it next time.

2) The white chocolate was a little dense and sort of sank into the batter as you can see from the picture.  I want to find a way to lighten up the mixture so that it hangs out more on the top.  Perhaps beating in some cream cheese?  Any suggestions would be more than welcome.

As we head in to summer, I am excited about all the produce opportunities that are coming my way, so hopefully I will end up with some great new summer recipes.


Easy from scratch brownies

Posted: December 4, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , | No Comments »

I do not like brownies from a box.  I know that they are perfectly acceptable, however that weird papery film they get on the top of them freaks me the hell out.  Its just not natural for baked good to develop a film…if I wanted a dessert with a gross skin on top I would just leave pudding out over night and chow down.  Anyway, the point is that when you make brownies from scratch, they don’t get that little ‘extra topping’ and they are super chocolatey and delicious and I love them.  My grandmother has been making great brownies from scratch for years, but they are a little too cakey for me.  I tend to like my brownies dense and fudgy (I’m aware that’s a gross word, but just go with me here).  So I have been playing with my grandmother’s recipe in an attempt to mold it to my liking, because we all know that I can’t just let a recipe be itself, I have to mess with it CONSTANTLY.  The first thing I did was reduce the bake time.  I have actually started doing this on all of my grandmothers baked goods, and it has worked out nicely.  Then I adjusted the ingredients a little.  At first, my results were pretty tragic, particularly when I tried to make them ‘no flour’ brownies and ended up with baked goop that tasted like liquid bakers chocolate.  Eventually though, I got it right.

This weekend I am flying to Connecticut for my nephew’s christening, and while the whole family is there we are going to go have and early Christmas with my grandmother since she is 92 and not so much into airline travel anymore.  We are making a full meal and she requested brownies and ice cream, so I made brownies tonight in preparation so that I don’t have worry about baking in her galley kitchen at the retirement center.  It is a one bowl recipe and super easy.

Delicious Grandma Brownies

Ingredients:

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar (I ran out of granulated so I ended up with a combo of granulated and confectioners and it worked out fine)

3/4 cup unsweet cocoa powder.

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 large COLD eggs

1/2 cup of flour

Take a large skillet and fill it about half way with water and set it on the stove over medium heat.  Once the water it simmering, put the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt into a heat safe bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.  Work it with a rubber spatula until the butter is fully melted and the whole mixture becomes smooth and is hot.

Brownie 1Brownie 2

Once the ingredients have fully combined, remove it from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes until it no longer hot but still pretty warm.  Then stir in the vanilla and stir until it is fully incorporated into the mixture.  Add one of the cold eggs and stir quickly to mix it in before it begins to cook (this is also why it needs to be cold).  Add the second egg and again stir it quickly to make sure it incorporates into the mixture.  Add the flour and stir until you can no longer see the flour and it resembles a  ’typical’ brownie batter.

Brownie 3

Pour it into a 8×8 pan (that has been either greased or parchment papered)  and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes.  The brownies are done when you put in a toothpick (or fork, or knife, or any other sanitary projectile) and it comes out with just a tiny amount of batter on it.  I know you are going you think that they are undercooked at that point, but keep in mind that both the brownies and the pan are still hot from the oven at that point so they are going to continue to cook for a few minutes until they cool.

The end result is warm, fudgy delicious brownies that you can say you made from scratch and impress people with.  And they don’t have the weird film on top! :)

I also like to add stuff to my brownies depending on my mood.  Sometimes it might be chocolate chips, or pieces of mint candies (andes style) or peanutbutter chips…perhaps even a caramel drizzle.  In this case I am just leaving them the naked brownies, but I also have the challenge this time of somehow getting them on and off a plane without TSA stealing my baked goods.  It should be an interesting adventure…

TT


Also

Posted: June 25, 2009 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Just so you think this blog isn’t going to be too “serious”, here’s something I whipped up last night.

BEHOLD! Red Velvet Brownies!

Red Velvet Brownies!

Full update later.



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.