Double Chocolate Brownies

March 31, 2010

Someone please help. I’m being held hostage by Martha’s double chocolate brownies, from April Living. OMG these are SO good. They’re evil. Melt 8 oz bittersweet chocolate with a stick of butter (I did it in the microwave, heck on that double boiler insanity). Then whisk in 1 1/2 cups sugar and 3 eggs. Fold in 1/2 cup and 2 tbsp flour and 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 tsp salt. That’s it! Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and then prepare to get out the fat pants. This is deep, rich, moist, crunchy at the edges and simply heaven.

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Rice Pudding

March 30, 2010

Martha's rice pudding

When I was in high school, I worked in a Greek ice cream shop. One side was a chocolate shop and the other was an ice cream shop. The ice cream shop also sold homemade (actually made at home by the owner’s wife) rice pudding which was delicious. I’ve never tried to make it though, so when I saw that Martha had a recipe for honey rice pudding in April Living, I decided to give it a go. The recipe called for arborio rice, which seemed sort of odd to me. I know my grandmother never used arborio rice in hers. I went with it though. The recipe is simple – 3 1/2 cups milk (I mixed skim milk and some heavy cream), 1/2 cup arborio rice, 1/2 tsp salt, and a tsp of vanilla with 2 tbsp sugar (I added more since I decided I didn’t want to add honey to this). That’s it. Martha says to cook 20-25 minutes. Mine took MUCH longer – about 45 minutes to get the right consistency. I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top when serving (you have to do this – it makes it taste even better).

After I made this, I called my mom and got my grandmother’s recipe and made it for comparison. Don’t tell anyone, but Martha’s is much, much better! My grandmother’s recipe involves egg and gets baked in a water bath.  It tastes very eggy, not nearly as creamy and it just more complicated. Martha’s method is straightforward and totally fab. In fact, it all disappeared within 12 hours. So now I’ll be making some more since there is rioting.

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Martha Mondays: 4/5

March 29, 2010

The next Martha Mondays pick is mine. I haven’t chosen one in a while, so I gave this some serious thought! For 4/5 let’s make Pane Integrale, the no-knead bread in April Living. The recipe is not online yet, so if you need it, just let me know and I’ll send it along.

If you would like to join Martha Mondays, you are welcome to! Anyone can play along and if you would like your name added to the official list and would like a turn choosing a project, drop me an email or just leave a comment.


Martha Mondays: Easter Eggs

March 28, 2010

Thanks to Teresa at Homemade Iowa Life for picking this project – the assignment was to make Easter eggs from the selection on Martha’s site. I made the silk tie dyed eggs last year (#12 in that slide show if this link does’t take you directly there) and my only regret is that I used hard boiled eggs, so all my hard work was thrown out! They were gorgeous and a great project – I highly recommend them. This year I decided it was time to try blowing out eggs. The first

Making the hole

challenge was the eggs. I only buy organic, and they only come in brown, so we ended up buying regular eggs and dumping the contents (wasteful, and I am ashamed).

I read Martha’s instructions for this and her method is to go buy a egg blowing contraption. I decided I didn’t want to invest in that so we decided to do it the old fashioned way. I read some other online

Blowing the egg

instructions about how to do this yourself and we got started. Mr. MarthaAndMe went first since his hands actually do what his brain tells them to do. He used a cake tester and scratched and scratched and scratched at one end until he had a hole. He did the same on the other end and moved the cake tester around to make the hole bigger.  Then you swirl the cake tester around inside to break up the yolk.

Washing the egg

Hold the egg over a bowl, big hole down and blow through the small hole. Success! Next, submerge the egg in a bowl of water and keep blowing water out until it runs clear. Set it back in the egg carton to completely dry.

When I tried it, I couldn’t get the egg to come out. When Dude Martha tried it, his holes ended up uneven and shattered looking. Mr. MarthaAndMe decided that there had to be an easier way. He’s a man, so that meant power tools. He came back with his drill and used a small bit for the small hole and a slightly bigger one for the bigger hole. He stood the drill up

Here come the power tools

and held it stationary and then moved the egg towards the drill bit so he could control it. This worked well the first time. The next few broke, but then he got back on track. Some eggs broke as they were being blown. Out of a dozen eggs, we ended up with 8, 3 of which had nicely shaped holes. Not such a great ratio. It was fun to try this though since I had always wondered how hard it was (pretty hard). I also enjoyed making comments about Mr. MarthaAndMe sucking eggs which made him almost choke as he was trying to blow one out, so that was a highlight as well.

The next day we colored the eggs. I decided to try Marbelizing Eggs. The Attempting to marbelizedirections say to color the egg first in one bowl then in another bowl, mix up the dye and add oil. Swirl the oil and roll the egg through it to get the marbelized effect. Total disaster. No marbelizing happened at all. None. We tried adding more dye, more oil, etc and nothing working. So Dude Martha and Mr. MarthaAndMe then began to experiment (shudder). Mr. MarthaAndMe has memories of making these kinds of eggs as a kid and tried to recreate it by

Marbelized result - not so marbelized

adding drops of food coloring to vinegar and water, not mixing it, and quickly rolling the egg through it. It sort of worked. Then he started dripping food coloring directly on the egg and rolling it in the water. That worked the best and resulted in the more brightly colored eggs. Dude Martha did the same thing and the eggs really did turn out quite vibrant and interesting.

This was fun, but was not as successful as I’d hoped. I do like having blown out eggs to work with so that if you’re lucky enough to create something beautiful, you can keep it. That being said, I think I’ll go back to the Broadway Market next year (see yesterday’s post) and buy some more professionally made eggs for $10!

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The Broadway Market

March 27, 2010

We made an excursion to The Broadway Market, a market in downtown Buffalo that is a traditional place to visit during the Easter season. It struck me as something Martha would enjoy, so I snapped some photos and thought I would share the experience. The market is open year round, but the Easter and Christmas seasons are when it is in full swing. In fact, the market makes all of its money during those seasons and is in danger of closing because no one comes to it at other times of the year (organizers are trying to revitalize it and I hope they are able to since this is a tradition everyone who lives in Buffalo knows and loves).

Pussy willows

At this time of year, there are many traditional items at the market that people come from miles around to buy. Pussy willows are always for sale and people take bunches of them home. Horseradish is another popular item – whole or ground.

Butter lambs

Butter lambs are a beautiful addition to an Easter table and I buy one every year.

The market is also home to many Polish baked good specialties. This year I

Chrusciki

bought some chrusciki – a deep fried dough covered in powdered sugar. There are lots of breads and pastries for sale as well, but it’s hard to maneuver with the lines and crowds of people to get to the counter and place your order.Breads

We also usually buy some local specialties, such as Crystal Beach sugar

Crystal Beach sucker

waffles and suckers. Crystal Beach was an amusement park across the border in Canada (now closed) and my dad’s family spent summers there and most people of his age have fond memories of it.  They were also famous for their loganberry drink.

Crystal Beach sugar wafflesThe market is also famous for its holiday meats. Polish sausage is a popular item, as well as hams. Another food you can find everywhere is pierogis – dumplings stuffed with potato, cheese, onion, or other combinations. I have to admit I’m not a fan of the pierogi, mostly because I find it weird to have a dumpling filled with potato ( I don’t like knishes for the same reason).

Smoked and regular Polish sausage

It wouldn’t be Easter without candy, so there are lots of candy bunnies for sale, as well as jelly beans, chocolate bark, chocolate covered apples, and more.

While the food that is available is pretty amazing, the market also has lots of Easter eggs for sale, many made in Poland, Russian, or Austria. They come in every design imaginable, as well as every color. For about $10 each, they are a nice souvenir to take home. If you’re ever in Buffalo at Easter, I urge you to visit this landmark market.

Candy

Easter eggs

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Bean and Cheese Burrito

March 26, 2010

I must admit I don’t know the difference between burritos, enchiladas, etc. I’ve made a variety of these things, tossing different ingredients into tortillas, but never thinking about what they are. April Everyday Food has a recipe for a Bean and Cheese Burrito. The recipe called for refried beans. I’ve never bought these before. In the past when I’ve wanted to use beans in Mexican food, I take a can of kidney beans, add some water and cook it down till it is mushy. Then I add whatever seasoning I want to it and cook it to the right consistency, so this was new for me. This is also the first time I’ve put rice in a burrito. I’ve always concentrated more on adding veggies and wouldn’t have thought to add more starch to it. The recipe also calls for lettuce, cheese, salsa and sour cream. I added some avocado I wanted to use up. This was good, but I would like it with more veggies – some tomato and maybe some shredded carrot. While this isn’t a recipe I would want to rip out and keep, it was good inspiration to make my own burritos in the future.

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Pea Pesto

March 25, 2010

Pea pesto? Seriously? Seriously. This recipe was in March Everyday Food. I’m a sucker for pasta and for pesto and was intrigued by the idea. It sounds weird, but it actually was pretty good. Here’s the deal. Cook one cup frozen peas then whiz them in the Cuisinart with one cup parsley, 1/2 walnuts (I used pine nuts), 2/3 cup Parmesan and 3 cloves of garlic. Add a little water and then slowly add 1/3 cup olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook linguine (I used whole wheat spaghetti) and at the very end toss in another cup of peas. Drain it and mix it with the pesto.

I thought this was actually pretty darn good and a good cheap, quick substitute for real pesto. I liked the garlicky-ness of it but needed to add a little cheese on top.  It was something different, which I always appreciate.

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