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Chocolate Orange Granita

9 Mar

Granita, a delicious, shaved coffee icy of sorts, is commonplace in Italy – you see it in every gelato bar – but hard to find here in the States.  The good news is that, with few ingredients (coffee, sugar, water), it’s super easy to make.

The other day I was watching Food Network and Ina Garten made a chocolate sorbet that looked rich and amazing.  Somehow, despite the many random things we put on our registry, we didn’t register for an ice cream maker, so I couldn’t make that.  But, I figured I could make a chocolate granita, which would serve basically the same purpose.

This dessert takes two seconds to make (with some patience required for the mixture to freeze).  It’s light, where desserts are concerned, anyway, and super satisfying.  This is my chocolate orange granita, a twist on both traditional coffee granita and chocolate sorbet.

Chocolate Orange Granita

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of cocoa powder

2 cups of water

2-3 tablespoons of 2% milk

1 tablespoon of vanilla (homemade by msupermom, if you’re lucky!)

1-2 tablespoons of orange zest

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Directions:

Add sugar, cocoa powder, and water to a pot.  Turn heat to medium high.  Add milk, vanilla, orange, and cinnamon.  Stir until ingredients are melted (if the mixture is thick, add a touch more water or milk – it should be liquid).

Pour mixture into a baking dish.  

(You can see the orange zest and specs of cinnamon in it – yum.)  Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer.  Check periodically (every two hours or so).

As soon as it begins to freeze, take a spoon or ice cream scoop and scrape the mixture.  

Continue to do this as it freezes (it take about a day to freeze solid).  The end result should be a complete shaved ice consistency.

With this recipe, you will be surprised how rich the chocolate tastes and how pronounced the orange zest is.  It feels so much more special than you would think.  (For a traditional topping, add real whipped cream.)

Enjoy!  And let me know what you think!  Have a great weekend!

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Orecchiette With Fresh Tomato Sauce – Bonus Post

27 Feb

It feels like a pasta kind of week.  And even though this is more of a summer dish, it is one of my favorite go-to’s all year.  The sauce is easy to make.  Orecchiette feels like an occasion pasta (even though it cooks pretty much just like the other types!).  The addition of the spinach makes it a good excuse for a one dish meal, especially on those days when that’s all you have time for.  And maybe, if we make it often enough, we can wish away the winter.  We’ve done a decent job of that so far this winter, anyway.

Orecchiette with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Olive oil

1 garlic clove, whole

2-3 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

2-3 cups of spinach

1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock (optional)

1-2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite-sized pieces

2-3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper

3/4 pounds of orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente (Generally speaking, you should not stir pasta too much as it cooks because it brings out the starch and makes it chewy.  One good stir at the beginning is enough.  But, orecchiette tend to stick together.  So, stir a few times throughout to be sure the pasta is not sticking.)

Directions:

Heat a skillet to medium heat.  Coat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sauté garlic clove, 2-3 minutes (if the garlic starts to brown, lower the heat).  Add tomatoes.  Sauté until tomatoes soften and skin starts to break.  The tomatoes will naturally make a sauce.Add spinach.  Stir in spinach until wilted.  

If the sauce is dry, add stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove and discard garlic.  Add pasta, basil, and mozzarella cheese.

Toss.  Add to bowls.  Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Simple.  Easy.  Delicious.  Have a great week!

Valentine’s Day Love

13 Feb

Valentine’s Day bonus post!

Abe and I will both be out of town (on different coasts) this week, so we made some impromptu Valentine’s Day plans on Saturday night at Keefers with Adam and Jen.  (If you are looking for a proper steak and some great sides (frites, au gratin potatoes, grilled asparagus), Keefers is among the best I’ve had in Chicago.  Nice ambiance in there, too.  Fireplace, big bar.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day.)

Then on Sunday, which was decidedly lazy, we thought we’d spend the evening preparing a low key Valentine’s dinner.  The main meal is such a side note in this case, because, while it was good, it had nothing on dessert.  So, here we go: butternut squash ravioli with tomato sauce (traditionally you will see butternut squash ravioli with a butter sage sauce, but I like how the sweetness of the butternut squash works with the tart tomato sauce – with a healthy addition of fresh chopped basil and parmesan cheese, this is a cleaner, more complex way  to enjoy this dish (and red sauce is nice for Valentine’s Day, anyway)) and Brussels sprouts with (turkey) bacon.  In all, a satisfying meal.

The highlight, by far, was the dessert.  Earlier in the day I recalled a goat cheese and chocolate dessert I had seen Bobby Flay make on FoodNetwork years ago.  Instead of searching for that dessert, specifically, I searched goat cheese and chocolate and found the most amazing thing you could ever imagine.  Goat cheese and chocolate chunk blondies!  Beyond delicious.  We ate a significant amount of batter – super tangy with the goat cheese – yum – and seriously contemplated whether we should bake the blondies at all.

The recipe can be found here and below.  Please make these on Valentine’s day for maximum love!

Ingredients:

8 T unsalted butter, cold plus a bit more for the baking dish

8 oz fresh, young goat cheese (we assumed this just meant fresh goat cheese – not aged – and it seemed to work fine)

1 c granulated sugar

1 c light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 T vanilla

2 c all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

0.5 t kosher salt

1.5 c bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (we used chunks!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the chilled goat cheese, chilled butter and both sugars on medium-high speed for 6 minutes. Starting with cold ingredients builds structure and allows you to beat in a lot of air. So run the machine the full 6 minutes.

In the meantime mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

Once the butter and cheese are fully creamed they will be light in color with a slightly broken appearance. This is good, the air I mentioned has transformed the sugars. At this point lower the speed and beat in eggs, egg yolk and vanilla until just combined. Turn the machine off and scrape the sides of the bowl.

Fold in the flour mixture in three divisions.  Followed by the chocolate chunks. 

Spread the thick batter into an even layer across the prepared dish.

Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on rack, then cut into 18 squares. May be store covered up to 4 days.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  What are your plans this week?!

(Last year around this time we were enjoying a super underground vegan supper club and a chocolate Nutella cake from msupermom on a perfect day in San Diego!)

Ridiculous Super Bowl Burgers

2 Feb

We’ve done a fancy burger on Professional Chicks before.  (And, actually, as I look back at that post I see that it’s titled “You’ve never had a burger like this before.”  Too bad.  Because that was exactly what I was going to say about this burger.  Word for word.  I guess it will just have to be true for both.)

Here we go: good quality hamburger topped with Saint Andre cheese, mashed avocado, almond slivers, and honey.  Seriously.  And just in time for the Super Bowl.

Ingredients:

1 pound of 85% lean ground beef;

4 oz or so of Saint Andre cheese, sliced (This cheese is the most delightful thing, by the way – it is a rich cow’s milk cheese (similar to a Camembert) but whipped with sweet cream.  Love.);

1 avocado, mashed;

1/4 cup of slivered almonds (you can toast these for a nutty flavor – I like them pure);

A drizzle of honey for each burger;

Wheat toast

Directions:

Heat pan (or grill, if you live somewhere where that is a reasonable thing to do in February) to medium high heat.  Generously salt and pepper the ground beef.  Form 2 large or 3 medium-sized patties.  Cook to desired temperature (if you are brave, medium rare is really good when you’re using good quality meat).  (Side note: I have to admit, we cooked our burgers in the coconut spread.  Weird, definitely, but we are determined to use it at whatever cost.) 

Toast bread (I always double them up so they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside). 

Assemble burgers on toast with cheese, avocado, almonds, and honey.  Side of broccolini.  Eat.

Delicious.

If you try this recipe, or any variation, let me know what you think!

Happy Super Bowl!

The Week In Review – My Apologies & Other Stories

27 Jan

I’ve missed my blog.  The new, once-a-week posting schedule is going to be difficult.  But good for (my other, real life) business.  Sigh.

So I owe this post an apology.  The coconut spread not only came in handy when we didn’t have any real butter (obviously we did not) and Abe wanted chocolate chip cookies, but it gave the cookies (and batter!) a subtle, delicious hint of coconut.  I bet you didn’t see that coming.

We’ve not done a beet salad in a few months (or maybe weeks, but it feels like a long time).  So here’s a simple one, with porcini olive oil from Baker & Olive and some fresh basil.  

Finally, Steven Tyler was in amazing form the other night.  Ah how I love him.  And TV.  I no longer even feel the need to make this argument in support of good and bad TV.  It’s all therapeutic, for better or worse.  

Are you watching Idol?  Are you compelled to buy coconut spread?  Talk to me people.  xoxo

Recipe In Motion

10 Jan

From Andrew Sullivan’s Mental Health Break segment.  And I thought I was diligent about breaking down recipes with photos!

How delightful is this?  Leave your comments below and let me know what you think this recipe makes.  I was too mesmerized to focus on what was being prepared.

Dry Shampoo

9 Jan

So, a few months ago, I bought this horrible aerosol (sorry!) dry shampoo spray.  I swear, it was this thick, white spray that made my hair gray and dirtier than it was before.  And the spray smelled bad, too.  Gross.

Not knowing any of this, my dear friend Lorin had us over for brunch around the holidays and, as a gift, she gave me homemade dry shampoo.  I’m obsessed!  This is nothing like the crazy aerosol situation.  This is a light powder that absorbs oil and smells good.  The recipe is fairly simple and inexpensive.  Makes such a cute gift, too.  Love!

  • 5 teaspoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 5 drops of your favorite essential oil (I used eucalyptus)
To use, sprinkle into the roots of your hair, rub it in, and you’re done.
This recipe is great for brunettes, but blondes could swap out cocoa powder for additional corn starch so their roots stay light!
Lorin used a salt shaker to dispense the shampoo – I think this works great but she was concerned that the oils made the mixture a little moist, thus making it clump up a bit and hard to get out of the shaker.  If you can think of a better way, leave it in the comments below!
(By the way, this is a super low comment blog.  I read recently that the best way to get comments on your blog is to ask for them.  In the final weeks of the blog, I’ll have to implement this.  Please send us your thoughts on this amazing, homemade dry shampoo!)
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