Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet Tea and Bluebonnets


Around this time of year in Texas, the wildflowers, including the beautiful bluebonnets, start popping up everywhere. The fragrant blossoms are a sign that Easter is just around the corner. On this particular day, I decided to capture the beauty of the flowers while enjoying some sweet tea, of course! :)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Job Security for Your Dentist


Last weekend, I found myself craving chocolate and had the overwhelming urge to bake; Those who know me are probably not the least bit surprised by that, and know that when the urge hits, look out! I had been wanting to try a new brownie recipe I'd found recently while reading one of my favorite food blogs by famed chef and cookbook author, David Lebovitz. I enjoy reading his humorous postings about "living the sweet life" in Paris (France, not Texas), where he currently resides. This is the first recipe of his I have ever tried, and it certainly won't be the last, based on how this one turned out. These things are dangerously sweet and cannot be left unattended in my home, so I made some little packets of love for my neighbors and coworkers. Lucky them!


Here's David's recipe (you can also go to David's site to view his brownies):

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter (oops! I just realized I only used 1 stick -- 8 oz. is 2 sticks, but they turned out fine)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cup sifted flour (I used cake flour, which is a bit finer, and supposedly makes for fluffier baked goods)
about 2 pounds chocolate-covered thin mints (I used York peppermint patties)

Optional: 1 1/2 cup (150g) walnuts, pecans, or almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped


(see note in ingredients regarding amount of butter required-- 1 stick worked for me, but maybe 2 sticks is better!)

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF

2. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil, shiny side down. Smooth the foil then butter it lightly or coat it with nonstick spray.

3. Chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes, then warm them together in a medium bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat as soon as both are melted and smooth.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or by hand, whip the eggs, vanilla, salt, instant coffee, and sugar on high speed for about ten minutes until foamy and stiff.

5. By hand, stir in the chocolate mixture, then the flour followed by the nuts, if using.

6. Smooth half of the batter into the pan. Place a layer of thin mints over the chocolate, breaking the mints into pieces to fill in any large gaps.

7. Pour the rest of the batter over the mints and smooth the top.

8. Bake the brownies for 35 minutes, rotating the brownies midway during baking.

When the brownies are done, they will have a firm crust on top but a toothpick inserted into the center should come out wet. Do not overbake the brownies.

9. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan and slice into rectangles.

Storage: The brownies will keep at room temperature for up to three days. They can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to two months.

This recipe is versatile in the fact that if you don't like peppermint patties, you could sub in another favorite mini-sized candy bar (I'm thinking peanut butter cups may be the next things to try).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yumberry Bellini Tea

I apologize to my loyal reader (hi, Mom) for the long blogging absence. That's right, I'm fairly sure I only have one reader at this point, since all others have given up on me. Well, maybe not everyone (hi, Nick). I will attempt to rectify this situation by making a little tea. I have found that a good glass of sweet iced tea will bring peace and harmony to the world.

With that, I bring you Yumberry Bellini Tea. Yesterday, while grocery shopping, I was wandering down the juice aisle looking for a mixer for my latest tea find, Berry Bellini tea. Don't get me wrong, this tea blend by itself is great, with a breezy peach flavor and a hint of sweet raspberry. However, I'm always looking for a way to jazz things up, so I usually mix in one of the good old standbys - lemon or lime juice, or some crushed mint. This time, I was looking for something different, something more wild and exotic and I stumbled upon just that - Yumberry Juice. I read the list of ingredients and found that one of the ingredients was actually "Yumberry Puree", so I decided to give it a whirl.

I found this site that gives more information about the Yumberry. It's origins are from China, where it is known as the Yang Mei fruit. It is a red, dimpled fruit, with tangy sweet flesh.

Here is my recipe:
1 1/2 Cups hot water
1/2 Cup sugar
5 Zhena's Gypsy Tea Berry Bellini tea sachets (found at Central Market)
1 Cup Yumberry juice
6 Cups cold water



1. Boil 1 1/2 cups water and mix in 1/2 cup sugar to dissolve.

2. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 4-5 minutes.

3. In large pitcher, add tea, Yumberry juice and cold water.

4. Pour over ice and serve.

Serves 4.