if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Resurfacing from winter colds

Finally I am able to breathe! Jordan and I have both had sinus colds. We went into survival mode with the kids watching more videos than usual as we nap and drink tea and patch together meals. Our trip has been put on hold as we need to start out somewhat healthy. I'm launching into registration for school, having decided to pursue study in NZ. So much for the three months off! When we return from our trip I will be moving into a little batch in Piha to have a sabbatical. It is an experiment to see if I can get my writing back on track in a more uncomplicated environment. Hopefully it will bring on a new perspective and renewal.

Piha has a different feel than Karekare. The history of the two places are very different, even though they are just a few kilometers from the other. Karekare has a severity and epic essence. Nature is awesome and seems to be in charge in Karekare. There are no stores or amenities of any kind, except the volunteer operated fire station. Piha, on the other hand, is historically a surfing village and has a peppier social vibe. There is a store, a bowling club, a surf club- which seasonally serves food and drink, and the rugged RSA which is like a American Legion hall in the states. The man who owns the store, Pete, has offered me a job and it is tempting to do a couple of shifts a week. I know the wage will be lower than I get as a chef but Id be willing to take it if given creative latitude. The timing is right because there will soon be a new cafe just next to the store and the competition will be fertilizer for new ideas, I suspect. I need to get going on school business. Here is a recipe for Brownies with some decadent toppings.

Good Dark Cocoa Brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process is fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. (150°C) Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heavy bottom saucepan, turn heat to low. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Let cool for a few minutes.
Stir in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan (the batter will be very thick).
Bake until a toothpick emerges with some moist crumbs sticking to it (but not wet with batter), 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.

One can make a peppermint topping out of ½ lb powdered (icing )sugar with ¼ cup melted butter, 3 TBS cream and 1/2- 1 tsp peppermint extract or oil. THEN (and this is crucial) spread 4 oz melted UNSWEETENED chocolate over the top. Let the thing go solid and cut with a sharp knife.

If you are not a mint fan you can do the same layering thing with Mascarpone orange filling instead of the sweet mint layer. Make sure the brownies are cool for the orange version and lightly sweeten the mascarpone with sugar and add some fresh orange zest and 2 TBS OJ concentrate (full un diluted strength) top with high cocoa solid dark chocolate that has been melted and cooled. Let me know how this works for you, why don't ya? K

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