food blog

post33 // melting berry pie

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there was a lot to celebrate this past month, most notably my big brother rob’s move up to the big apple. i’ve been hoping he’d make the move since, well since i moved up here, and on saturday april first it came true! i was glad it wasn’t an april fool’s joke. he showed up with my brother jake and i showed up with the best thing i could think of: pie.

pie, pie, pie. we really love pie in my family. probably because i really love making it. on summer weekends together, pie is my baking project of choice. i run out of hands when i start counting the number of friends and family i’ve made pies with.¹ so it seemed only right that upon rob’s arrival, a pie would be a nice treat. not to mention, a really good mid-move snack.

fullsizeoutput_75fi had planned to make the pie saturday morning and bring it over to my brother’s new place that afternoon when they arrived. butttt my plans got a bit meddled after a night out on friday, spent very wisely at my favorite place in nyc: sid gold’s request room, which led to sleeping in on saturday.  who can blame me? needless to say, pie making was pushed a bit later in the day. and my brothers’ plans? they were actually arriving *earlier* than expected. not exactly what i wanted to hear. i got to baking right away.

two hours later and the brothers had arrived in brooklyn as i was just pulling out a hot berry pie from the oven. wow it looked good. but how the hell was i going to get this thing over there? i live seven stops away in manhattan requiring two trains to get to my brother’s new place. would i bring the pie on the subway? i thought about this. for like a second. hell no i was not taking a warm pie in the subway. how would i swipe my subway card and hold it? this pie was still hot so i would have to carry it on a cookie sheet. nope.

the pie didn’t make it on the subway. instead, i went with uber. i was already late anyways so hopefully a car would get me there faster.

fullsizeoutput_760my uber driver was not happy with my entrance. i had to ask a random man on the street to open the car for me and i didn’t really think through driving on nyc streets in a car with a liquidy, bubbling pie. as i sat clutching the pie plate so hard, the dessert spilled and leaked onto the cookie sheet. one big pothole and that pie would’ve leaked all over my uber driver’s car. and boy was he noticing. “is that going to spill??” he kept asking me. “everything okay?” came out of his mouth at each stoplight. i felt terrible, but what could i do! i needed to get the pie there! and i did. a few sticky fingerprints were left on my uber man’s car (sorry sir), but i made it and greeted my brother with a “welcome to new york city” shout and a pie shoved right into his face. a warm welcome right there.

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¹s/o to some special folks i’ve made memorable pies with: this thanksgiving apple w/ my mom, this lattice beauty with stella, this strawberry cream version w/ my dad, this low-res pie w/ yarbs (from my ig’s days of infancy), and this berry number showing off pie process with avh.


berry melt pie

makes 1 double-crust pie

fixings

pie crust:

2½ cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter

filling:

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 cups fresh berry medley (i used strawberries blueberries, and blackberries but cherries, peaches, plums, and any other fruit will be delicious.)

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons sugar

special tools

rolling pin (or wine bottle!)

pie plate

instructions

pie crust (adapted from Kate Lebo’s, Pie School):

  1. fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 3/4 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prep the following steps.
  2. in a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. drop 1-tablespoon pieces of butter into the flour and toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
  3. place your palms up and curl your fingers back to scoop up the flour and fat. rub, rub, rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. make sure you reach into the bottom and around the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. it should be chunky—mostly cherry-size pieces, the smaller bits resembling coarse cornmeal.
  4. take the water out of the freezer. pour it (slowly!) in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. toss to distribute the moisture. as you add a bit more water and toss, the dough will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. if it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. if the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done.
  5. gather the dough in 2 balls, one slightly larger for the bottom crust. quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. refrigerate for an 30 minutes to 3 days before rolling.

filling: 

  1. heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. in large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups sugar, the cornstarch and salt. gently toss with all the berries and let stand for 15 minutes. dump into the bottom crust-lined pie pan. fold the top crust over the pie plate and arrange strips in a lattice if desired! crimp edges and brush crust with milk, followed by a sprinkle of sugar.
  3. place pie in the middle oven rack and put a cookie sheet below it in case of leakage. bake 20 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. cover edge of crust with foil strips to prevent burning. bake 40-45 minutes longer or until middle part of crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. recommended: let stand 2 hours before serving (we know I didn’t do that…).

photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post31 // sweet potatoes with thyme

DSC_0193Thyme-Infused Sweet Potatoes

Like many people, I have a sweet tooth. I love cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, floats, the list goes on and on and on. However, recently I’ve been trying to substitute these cravings of mine with smaller portion sizes and sugar I can benefit from. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that should be added to your grocery list ASAP. Low in grams, one sweet potato contributes an extensive amount of nutrients for its percentage of the recommended dietary allowment (RDA). Also beneficial, sweet potatoes are high in amylopectin, a digestible type of starch.

If those scientific benefits didn’t lure you in, then this taste will. Littered in thyme leaves and a kick from red pepper flakes, these sweet potato rounds are full of flavor. I promise they’ll keep you full for a long time and if you make the whole recipe at once, you’ll be able to add them to meals throughout the week!

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Thyme-Infused Sweet Potato Rounds

Adapted from Kathryn Matthews, Epicurious

Materials:

Large bowl to mix

Cutting board

Knife

Vegetable Peeler

Cup/spoon measurements

Baking sheet or baking dish (13X9)

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Extra butter or oil to grease pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease your baking sheet or dish with butter or oil.
  2. Combine all ingredients and toss in large mixing bowl.
  3. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet or dish.
  4. Place on middle oven rack and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

post26 // a day with chef joel: where i gained an irreplaceable wealth of culinary knowledge

Imagewith Chef Joel Delmond and our Tarte Tatin

It all began on a warm Palm Springs night, under an umbrella-covered dining table where I sat languidly, dead from the parties of Mardi Gras that had slowly sipped the life out of my body. My mom and I sat in the chairs of Pinzimini, the new dining spot in the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa. Despite my normal rash approval of my mothers’ occasional wine offer at dinner, tonight, I declined. Yet, when our waiter circled back around, his news enlivened my drained sensibility. He pointed over to the corner of the veranda, identifying a tall man clad in a pleated tall pearly hat as a James Beard honored chef. For those of you lost as to what “James Beard honored” indicates, the James Beard Award is the highest of national culinary awards, typically referred to as the “Oscar’s” of the food world. While Chef Joel Delmond is not a recipient of this award, he has cooked in the James Beard House, a sensational recognition of its own. In this moment, my ears perked up like those of a puppy hearing the word walk. My mother and I immediately wrapped our friendly waiter into a conversation where we relayed my infatuation with all things culinary, the blog that I began writing in Peru, my obsession with photographing meals from every imaginable angle, and so on. Before I could add another detail about peruvian cuisine, the waiter had brought the amiable Chef Joel to our very table.

My mother, Chef Joel, and I began discussing my love of food, rummaging through the details of my ever-developing blog. In his impeccable English, dusted with a distinct layer of french inflection, Chef Joel spoke of peruvian gastronomy with a striking fluidity. Though soon to get back to the kitchen, Chef Joel did not leave without sharing his information and inviting me to bake with him in the coming days. We exchanged e-mails the next day and decided on an afternoon spent baking a Tarte Tatin, an upside-down apple tart from the Loir-et-Cher region of France, along the Loire River. I later learned that the tart originates from the Hotel Tatin, where the two sisters and owners, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, famously baked the first Tarte Tatin, the result of a horrid kitchen diaster. Fittingly, Chef Joel hails from this specific part of France and after hearing my stories on peruvian cuisine, he was anxious to share a quintessential french dish.

My afternoon spent in the kitchen was beyond any of my expectations for baking the Tarte Tatin. Not only did I learn an irreplaceable amount of information on pastry-making from Chef Joel, but he elected other members of his staff to introduce me to their large-scale operations of sushi making, pizza dough molding, and the like. When I say other members, I allude to Chef Shawn Aoki, a former Iron Chef contestant. I could not then and still cannot fathom my luck!

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Rolling sushi with Chef Shawn Aoki

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Learning how to handle the pizza peel

By the end of the day, Chef Joel and I had two baked Tarte Tatins. During the assembling of the first tarte, Chef Joel took me on a detailed journey through the art of pie-crust making and caramelizing. He shared tips only a pro would know like how to flour your dough before using your rolling pin, what kind of surfaces you should use for specific actions, how to caramelize for different end results (looking for a sweet and light caramel or an almost-bitter type?), the list never ends.

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Letting the apples soak in water to keep fresh before baking

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Constructing the upside-down tart

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Top layer of the upside-down tart

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Rolling the dough between two sheets of plastic to keep the dough from melting or sticking to the pin

Both Tarte Tatins slowly evolved into beautiful, really striking pieces of culinary art. Smothered in buttery caramel, the apples congealed together in a perfect geometric form, seated upon a thick base of flaky pastry crust. After many Friday afternoons and Christmas seasons spent baking, I cannot say I have made such a beautiful dish as this Tarte Tatin.

With our finished product, Chef Joel and I took the fore-picture of this blog post, a student and instructor, both grinning happily at a Tarte Tatin well done. That evening, my parents and I ate our final meal in Palm Springs at Pinzimini, electing Chef Shawn’s Tasting Menu. We couldn’t have chosen a better meal and to cap it off, we each engulfed our hardy servings of the Tarte Tatin, brought out by Chef Joel himself. I waddled home in the eighty-five degree paradise, brain full with improved pastry techniques and a stomach wide with caramelized apples.

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The baked Tarte Tatin, before being flipped

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The flipped and final Tarte Tatin

Unfortunately, I do not have Chef Joel’s Tarte Tatin recipe for you yet. However, in the meantime I thought that Julia Child’s rendition will do. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients
For the Tart Dough:
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed
For the Tart Tatin:
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved
1 lemon, zested and juiced
11/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment

Directions
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Slice the halved apples into 4 lengthwise wedges each, and toss in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest and 1/2 cup sugar. Drain the apples after macerating 20 minutes.

In a 9-inch skillet melt the butter over high heat. Stir in the remaining sugar and cook until the syrup bubbles and caramelizes, and turns a brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange a layer of apple slices in a neat pattern on the caramel in the skillet, then arrange the remaining apples neatly on top.

Return the pan to moderately high heat and cook for about 25 minutes, covering the pan after 10 minutes. Every few minutes press down on the apples and baste them with the exuded juices. When the juices are thick and syrupy, remove the pan from the heat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a circle, 3/16-inch thick and 1-inch larger than the top of the pan. Drape the dough over the apples, pressing the edge of the dough between the apples and the inside of the pan. Cut 4 small steam holes on the top of the dough. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped, about 20 minutes.

Unmold the tart onto a serving dish (so the pastry is on the bottom), and serve warm or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as desired.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tarte-tatin-recipe.html?oc=linkback

post24 // a valentine tradition in the making: dark chocolate raspberry pie bars

ImageIf you are not a baker, keep reading. While other recipes that I’ve posted on my blog have proved difficult but reaped delectably rewarding results, this recipe cuts to the chase, blending a perfect ratio of raspberry pie with dark chocolate crumbly excellence. The triple-layered bars feature a pie crust bottom, a thick layer of dark chocolate, and a sprinkled pie crust crumble topped with halved fresh raspberries and mini chocolate chips. The ingredients, with the exception of the raspberries, are all common pantry holders so you’ll have no excuse for leaving this recipe in your to-do list. The prep time churns unbelievably quickly and the oven time leaves you with enough time for a fast nap, if you can wake up!

Kate and I wanted to make a Valentine themed baked good around the holiday to give away to both our single friends and some admirers. We naturally turned to the lovely Pinterest and found a slew of dessert recipes that ranged from drunken chocolate cherry cake to gooey red velvet s’mores bars. Though overwhelming, our choice was made on dark chocolate raspberry pie bars from the dessert blog, Deliciously Sprinkled. We figured a straight-forward recipe would be easy to duplicate for the growing audience of #Bakedby2Kates!

With the help of our friend Natalia, Kate and I successfully baked almost fifty of these sugary delights, each batch calling for a full can of sweetened condensed sugarmy Peruvian favorite! I will not advertise the bars as a “healthier dessert option,” but it was for Valentine’s Day, a sublime twenty-four hours of sugar. In any case, my most lasting image of baking this recipe was the environment outside. I trekked over to Kate’s apartment as half a foot of snow was blasting down on Davidson, North Carolina. For those who fail to venture far south of the Mason-Dixon line, six inches is unheard of in these parts. Seriously, if I had told you it would snow six inches when it was 60 degrees two days before, you would not have heard me. We baked in the middle of an uncharacteristically wintry scene, indulging in the warm pie bars as the sun went down. In my most melodramatic of words, that frosty afternoon will be one of my best memories at Davidson.

Some of you may now be adding events together and realizing that what! Valentine’s Day was on a Friday this year! Where did all the baked goods go? Who saved them for the special day? Well, in an attempt to make a Valentine’s Day treat, our pie bars were inhaled by every friend possible, two full days before the holiday. The last-standing individual was the boyfriend of Natalia, who, due to snow, received his bars in the mail the Monday after Valentine’s Day. Despite time and space, the air-tight seal of Tupperware and love had him send a dazzling report back.

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From Jenn Kurkiewicz with Deliciously Sprinkled Blog:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars

Prep time: 20 mins; Cook time: 45 mins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup fresh raspberries, semi crushed and sweetened with a little sugar.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Generously spray 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, mix butter until creamy. Mix in brown sugar, flour and salt continue mixing until crumbly. Press 1¾ cups of crumb mixture into prepared baking pan. Set remaining crumbs aside.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven.
  4. While crust is baking, pour sweetened condensed milk in small sauce pan and add one cup of dark chocolate chips. Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour over warm crust.
  6. Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over chocolate layer. Spoon raspberries over crumb mixture and top with mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.

post21 // a recipe for bean fiends: cappuccino swirl snickerdoodles

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In our second week of Bakedby2Kates, we decided on a recipe that would be easy to multiply and deliver yummy results. Unlike the rich marshmallow-oozing brownies of the week prior that left my stomach in need of deflating rehabilitation, these snickerdoodles were the perfect dessert to enjoy without over-indulgence (OK, I did have two…

…or three).

Before I begin delving into the recipe details, let me make an announcement. If you consider yourself a baker or are aspiring to that position of self-identity and enjoy the art of transforming bland grocery store products into the Mona Lisa’s of your everyday sweets: this recipe is for you. If you’re looking for a quick cookie recipe and have not ever heard of Cream of Tartar, I would just steer clear. While the recipe is clean and easy to follow, I am the first to say it is not the quickest cookie baking experience. Yet, the final product of these coffee-infused delights is unforgettable: a sweet and energizing three-bite cookie that takes snickerdoodles to a cinnamon-sugar covered next level.

Although Kate and I didn’t have baking paper to line the cookie sheets and we failed to purchase cornstarch (you can tell our brains were awake at the grocery store), the cookies turned out great! The original recipe yields 30-40 cookies but given our love for sharing alongside the fact that we like big cookies, we doubled the prescription and made 60 cookies. Kate and I looked to the internet to help save us from the cornstarch absence. This website has a great write-up on how you can replace flour at a 3:1 ratio for every tablespoon of cornstarch you’re missing, http://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/cooking-questions/constarch-substitutes-00420000013001/. In terms of time, eight minutes seemed to do the trick for each batch. Like the last recipe I followed and posted on here, I cannot be more adamant about the need to follow the recipe! When it calls for both instant and ground coffee, that means they are not interchangeable. Buy both.

While I am not the biggest coffee fiend (unlike Miss Kate Sanford), these cookies were delicious! In general, we feed college students who in general, drink a lot of coffee. These were a huge hit across campus so please scroll your eyes down to the delicious recipe. It could be your next project!

Adapted from the TopWithCinnamon Blog:

Cappuccino Swirl Snickerdoodles
makes 30-40 cookies

10 tbsp (5 oz / 140g) butter
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (7 oz / 195g) sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup / golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ricotta
3 tbsp cornstarch *see link for substitutions if necessary
1 3/4 cups (8 oz / 225g) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp very hot water
3/4 tsp ground coffee

1/2 cup (2 oz / 55g) sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon

Melt the butter in a medium-large sauce pan over a medium heat. Keep cooking the butter, swirling the pan often, until the butter foams up, smells nutty and you can see beige solids in the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat straight away and stir in the sugar.
Next, stir in the corn syrup and vanilla extract. Leave this mixture to cool whilst you preheat your oven to 340 degrees F (175 degrees F) and line a cookie tray with baking paper.

To the cooled butter mixture, add the egg and egg yolk. Beat them in well, then beat in the ricotta and cornstarch. Add the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, then stir together until it just forms a dough. Remove half the dough to a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in the very hot water. Add this and the ground coffee to the cookie dough in the bowl, and stir it in until the majority of the dough has turned a beige colour.

In a shallow bowl, combine the 1/4 cup (2 oz / 55g) of sugar and the cinnamon.

Take a slightly heaped teaspoon of the vanilla dough, and a slightly heaped teaspoon of the coffee dough, stick them together and roll into a ball. Roll this in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then place on the lined cookie tray. Repeat, placing cookie dough balls about 1 1/2” away from each other on the tray, until the tray is full. Flatten the cookie dough so it’s about 1/2″ thick, and bake for 7-9 minutes, when the cookies should be set on top, but still a a little soft in the centre. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Repeat this whole step until all the dough has been used up.

post19 // ooey gooey dulce de leche and marshmallow swirl brownies

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Wow. I still get hungry just looking at that picture. And I just ate ten minutes ago.

To begin, let me tell you a little about my friend Kate. She shares my name Catherine but spells it with the ugly, gnarled, and crooked letter known as K…ew. While I’ve never had an affinity for Katherine’s (that is with a K), I cannot ignore the same-wavelength nature of my friendship with Kate. We spent an entire semester together exploring Peru and South America, but more importantly, she like me, loves to bake and eat desserts that contain the amount of sugar you should probably eat in a month. But hell, why not do it in one day! Anyways, this Houston broad and her willing roommates, have decided to let me into their apartment each Friday afternoon for Baked by 2 Kates. To learn more about our Friday baking bonanza, follow this link https://cathmodonnell.wordpress.com/baked-by-2-kates/

Now back to that pecan-topped ooey gooey delight that is draped across your screen making your eyes glaze. The base of the dessert is a homemade chocolate brownie made with a combination of unsweetened baking chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, and two cups of sugar. The brownie comes out pretty cakey so if you don’t want it as cake-like, add 1/3 cup more of all-purpose flour. Unable to find canned dulce de leche in these parts of the world was surprising to two girls who just returned from Peru. Instead, we found out that by heating a can of sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan of low-medium heat, there it was, homemade dulce de leche! Make sure you heat the milk until it really starts to thicken into the consistency of maple syrup.

In alternating spoonfuls, load the cooled brownie sheet with marshmallow creme and dulce de leche. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and wait thirty minutes for setting and cutting.

Sometimes a great picture doesn’t translate into a great recipe. This did. Outrageously rich and heavily sweetened, this recipe was a huge hit with everyone we shared it with. My favorite part? The brownie. The foundation of a delicious cakey brownie made this dessert. Oh yeah, the dulce de leche and marshmallow helped too.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens:

Dulce de Leche Fluff Brownies

Ingredients

6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of butter
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour *add 1/3 cup more for less cakey brownies
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1 ounce of dulce de leche *or one can of sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce of marshmallow creme
1/2 cup of chopped pecans, toasted *or walnuts

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan cook and stir unsweetened chocolate and butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over edges of pan. Grease foil; set pan aside.
  2. Stir sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition just until combined. Stir in vanilla. In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in semisweet chocolate pieces. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are set and center is almost set.
  3. Meanwhile, transfer dulce de leche to a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) about 1 minute or until softened, stirring once.
  4. Remove brownies from oven and set pan on a wire rack. Immediately spoon marshmallow creme in mounds on top of hot brownies. Drop spoonfuls of dulce de leche between mounds of marshmallow creme. Let stand for a few minutes to soften. Using a table knife or narrow metal spatula, gently swirl marshmallow creme and dulce de leche together to marble. Sprinkle with pecans. Cool in pan on rack.
  5. Using the edges of the foil, lift uncut brownies out of pan. Cut into brownies, wiping knife as needed between cuts. Serve brownies the same day they are prepared.

post18 // giada’s eggplant timbale: where meat, cheese, pasta, and eggplant reach an apex

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Stepping away from my traditional posts on Latin cuisine, I couldn’t resist writing about one of my favorite dishes of all time. As a big fan of many Giada recipes, this delicious Italian meal will leave you washing plates that have already been licked clean. If you’re unfamiliar with Giada de Laurentiis, I’m sorry. Then again, I’m not the sorry because you’re reading this post, which means you at least now know who she is.

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Look, there she is! Fitting that she’s holding an eggplant (wow, what a perfect transition into talking about the eggplant timbale!). Anyways, she’s got some great recipes, this one in particular coming from her book Giada’s Kitchen. For the past four years, my Dad Tom—who first inspired me to start cooking alongside baking— and I have cooked an eggplant timbale, fixing our previous errors each time and stuffing our faces together. I love cooking with my Dad and some of our recipe nights have been my greatest memories with him. But as any familial relationship goes, there are ups as tall as Kimye’s soon-to-be wedding cake and lows as low as the burnt bottom of a cookie pan that you just can’t quite scrape clean. While we struggled to agree on the pasta quantity that fills the eggplant covered pan, which then led to a time out for the two of us, I eventually won the portion squabble using my baking background as ammo for how to fill a spring-form pan. If this is the worst thing we’re fighting about, I think we’ve got it pretty good.

In terms of what this eggplant timbale actually is, let me explain. Tucked between the eggplant layering and the sprinkled pecorino cheese seen in the above photo is an outrageously delicious meat pasta made with Italian sausage, ground beef, onions, green peas, and mozzarella cheese. Despite two brothers who are not enamored with eggplant (unlike my Dad and I, self-trumpeted eggplant worshipers), the pasta makes up for what they perceive as a veggie distraction. I on the other hand, can’t help but enjoy every bite of my timbale helping, a tasteful blend of vegetables and cheesy meaty goodness.

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If you’re going to undertake this recipe, and it is an undertaking, please make sure to give yourself three hours from start to finish. Do not plan to do anything after you eat the meal because all you will want is your bed. Stick to the instructions! I cannot repeat these guidelines more to people I’ve shared this recipe with. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with a poor ratio between the different ingredients. With any extra pasta that doesn’t fit in the timbale, you can store it in a tupperware container for up to five days. That time period is the same for storing the eggplant timbale.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis:

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick *I suggest buying the largest eggplants you can find
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan *You can use an 8-inch too, just be aware that you might not need as much eggplant

Directions

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/eggplant-timbale-recipe.html