Sunday, March 17, 2013

Donna Hay's Chocolate brownies

I have been super absent lately but coping with my first pregnancy has been very tough. Food - everything about food - has really turned me off. In the first trimester I couldn't even talk about food let alone cook, blog or watch my beloved reality cooking shows. Second trimester it eased up a bit and now that I'm in the third trimester I feel like I'm back in the first just a lot bigger and more uncomfortable. With 4 weeks left until B day, and more time on my hands now I've finished up at work, I thought I would attempt some baking (much easier on my tummy than dealing with raw meats!).

I love most of Donna Hay's recipes and her simple chocolate brownie is no exception, it's probably one my favourite recipes. It only takes about an hour to make (not including cooling time) and can be frozen so you don't have to scoff the entire tray in one hit, unless you want to. This is the first time I've ever frozen brownies but I want to have a few treats at the ready for when family and friends come by to meet our newest addition in a few weeks. 

What you will need:
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped 
  • 250g butter, chopped
  • 1¾ cups (310g) brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ⅓ cup (35g) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1¼ cups (185g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 160°C (325ºF). Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat. 

Stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly.

Place the sugar, eggs, cocoa, flour and baking powder in a bowl

Add the chocolate mixture.

Mix until combined.

Pour into a  lined 20cm-square slice tin 

Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer withdraws clean (mine didn't take this long so be sure to check it regularly. Mine took about 35 minutes. It it will depend on your oven).

Allow to cool slightly in the tin before slicing

Serve warm or cold. How many pieces you get will depend on how big or small you cut them. This time around I did them small so they are bit size treats for visitors. 

Can be served with ice cream and raspberry sauce for a yummy dessert, or sprinkle over some icing sugar for a delicious afternoon snack.

To freeze them, once they were cool cut them into desired size pieces, wrapped them twice in cling wrap and once in foil, put them in a sealable container and popped them in the freezer. They will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. 

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

When I saw the movie Julie and Julia and instantly went out and purchased Julie Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" thinking that I would make all the recipes and have a great time with them, just like in the movie. Boy, was I wrong. There are about a million recipes in the two volume set and some of them are just plain disgusting (terrine anyone?). But one recipe I had to try was the famous Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon. If you want a quick recipe this is not it, nor is it a recipe to make during the week unless you have the entire day off or don't work. 

There are three "stages" in the recipe. I started with the "extras" - the sautéed mushrooms and braised onions. You can make both of these in the 3 hours you have when the beef is cooking in the oven. To get them out of the way, I did the first and then set the aside. 

Stage One: Sautéed Mushrooms (simplified) 
What you will need:
225g Mushrooms, left whole if small or halved/quartered if large (I sliced mine, I prefer it)
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive OIl
2 Tablespoons Butter

What to do:
Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms. 

Cook until lightly browned. 

Take off the heat and set aside. If you have the recipe book the above recipe is located on page 513. 

Stage Two: Braised Onions 
What you will need: 
18-24 White Onions, peeled
1 1/2 Tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Beef Stock 
A Herb Bouquet - e.g. parsley sprigs, bay leaf, thyme

What to do: 
Heat the butter and oil together in a saucepan. Add the onions and stir around to coat all ides of the onions. 

Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions start to brown. Ensure that you stir them around the saucepan regularly to avoid browning in one spot. 

Add the beef stock and herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until the onions are tender. 

Set aside until needed.  If you have the recipe book the above recipe is located on page 483.

Stage Three: Beef Bourguignon
What you will need: 
170g Chunk of bacon (for this recipe I used regular bacon) 
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive OIl 
1.3kg Chuck/Stewing Steak, cut into 2" chunks 
1 Carrot, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
2 Tablespoons Plain Flour 
3 Cups Red Wine 
3 Cups Beef Stock 
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1 Bay Leaf, crumpled

What to do: 

Remove the rind from the bacon and cut bacon into chunks. Simmer the rind and bacon in water for 10 minutes. 

Drain the bacon and rind and dry with paper towelling. 

Preheat the oven to 232Deg C. Saute the bacon in the oil for 2-3 minutes or until moderately browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Dry the beef chunks with paper towelling. In the same fat that cooked the fat, brown the beef in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the bacon. 

Cook the onion and carrot in the same fat until browned. 

Return the bacon and beef to the casserole dish. 

Sprinkle over salt, pepper and the flour and toss to coat. Cook in the 

Cook the beef in the oven for 4 minutes, uncovered. Toss the beef and return to the oven uncovered for another 4 minutes. Remove the casserole dish from the oven Reduce the oven heat to 160Deg C. 

Return the casserole dish to the stove top on moderate heat. Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, herbs and bacon rind to the dish. Allow to simmer on the stove for a few minutes. 

Return to the oven, covered, and allow to cook for at least 3 hours. Stir occasionally. The meat is done when a fork slices through it easily and the liquid will have reduced drastically. 

Once the meat is cooked, pour the contents through a sieve over a saucepan. 

Return the beef casserole to the casserole dish. 

Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. 

Heat the saucepan of sauce over moderate heat and skim the fat off the sauce as it rises to the surface. Allow the sauce to thicken until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. 

Pour the sauce over the meat. 

To serve immediately: Simmer the casserole of moderate heat for 2-3 minutes. 

Serve with your choice of vegies and potatoes. 

To serve later: When cold, cover and refridgerate. About 15-20 minutes before serving, bring the casserole to  simmer on the stovetop, covered. Simmer for about 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Serve with your choice of vegies and potatoes. 

If you have the recipe book the above recipe is located on page 315-317

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