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Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

Monday, April 9, 2012



I saw this recipe sometime ago on Food Network and decided I must try it one day. The perfect occasion came with Easter, so here we are:

For the Red Velvet brownie layer:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Cream cheese layer:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 


Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.


Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.


Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy!

Cream of Leek and Asparagus Soup

Monday, March 26, 2012



This soup is a great way to celebrate asparagus, and the addition of leeks in the recipe gives a boost of extra iron as well as delicious flavor. This sumptuous soup tastes even better if made a day ahead, and it can serve as a creamy and satisfying main meal alongside a tender salad and some crusty wholegrain bread. 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 ½ pounds asparagus
6 large leeks, white and palest green parts only, chopped and well rinsed
vegetable stock (about 3 cups or as needed)
½ teaspoon each: dried tarragon and dried basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 to 1 ½ cups low-fat milk or soymilk, as needed
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste 


Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and celery and saute over moderate heat until the onion is golden. 


Crustless Smoked Salmon, Leek and Red Peppers Quiche

Thursday, March 22, 2012



This crustless quiche is easy to make and great for any meal. The smoked salmon lends a touch of elegance, and the leeks can be substituted with onions or shallots. 

Ingredients:

- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 6 oz smoked salmon
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced (about 1 cup of slices)
- 1 small red pepper, chopped 
- 3/4 cup shredded cheese - almost any kind or combination is fine, but not too much strong-flavoured cheese such as Parmesan
- 1 tsp dry mustard (I replaced with Dijon)
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- pinch of cayenne pepper or a bit of hot sauce
- paprika, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Saute leeks in a little olive oil. When they begin to soften, add the peppers. Add a little salt and cook for 3-4 minutes. Just before taking off the heat, add the thyme.

Risotto Primavera

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This is a twist on the technique to cooking a classic risotto, and it only takes 6 minutes of continuous stirring, as opposed to 18, because this risotto cooks undisturbed for the first 12 minutes. It is a quick and easy meal for two, using the following ingredients:

- 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 3 oz cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
- 1 small onion, chopped fine (I used 3 scallions)
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 3 oz asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Pork Chops

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



Ingredients (I halved the quantities listed below, as I had two monster pork chops :)))
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 (2-inch thick) pork chops, bone-in rib loin chops, split to bone
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk salt and sugars in 2-quarts of cold water. Add pork chops and cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the pork chops from the brine and dry well.

In a large heavy bottomed saute pan, begin to fry bacon. Add celery, onion and garlic to pan and allow to saute with the crispy bacon. Add rosemary, sage and parsley after bacon has cooked for 8 to 10 minutes. Saute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl add cornbread, dried cranberries and chicken stock. Stir in the cooked vegetable mixture. Mix well.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Stuff the chop with about 1/2 cup of stuffing.


Use toothpicks to help seal the chops. Grill the chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be 145 degrees F. Allow chop to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Enjoy!

Roasted Branzino Stuffed with Leeks and Meyer Lemons

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I prepared the branzino in the Mediterranean style, with citrus and herbs and served with a risotto Primavera. You can replace the branzino with any white, flaky fish.

Ingredients:

1 whole branzino or other white-fleshed whole fish, butterflied
1 leeks cut into thin strips
1 Meyer lemon cut into thin rounds with one wedge reserved
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place fish on a roasting pan open and flesh side up. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both fish. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over each fish. Line one side of the fish with lemon slices, top with a generous amount of leeks and 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold the empty side onto the filled side. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.


Cook for 12 to 18 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.


Enjoy!

Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

Thursday, March 8, 2012



A staple in the Roman cuisine, tomatoes stuffed with rice appear on nearly every antipasto table in Rome. You'll need:

- 8 firm, medium ripe tomatoes (I had 3 very large ones)
- 1/2 cup raw Arborio or other risotto rice
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

Position oven rack in top third of oven, then preheat the oven to 400F. Trim about 1/4-inch from the top of each tomato and set them aside. Working over a medium bowl, use a small spoon to carefully scoop out inner pulp without puncturing the walls of the tomatoes; reserve the pulp. Arrange the scooped-out tomatoes open end up in a medium baking dish and set aside.

Pass the tomato pulp through a food mill or pulse in the bowl of a food processor to a chunky puree, then transfer back into the bowl. 


Add the rice, basil, parsley, garlic and oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well. 



Spoon the filling into prepared tomatoes 


and place a reserved tomato end loosely on top of each stuffed tomato. 



Drizzle a little bit of oil over tomatoes and bake until rice is tender and the tomatoes are soft and well browned, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. 



Enjoy!

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