Friday, September 15, 2017

Birthday Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

We celebrated Todd's birthday this past Tuesday.  He doesn't get into celebrating his birthday the same way I like to celebrate mine.  I plan my birthday celebration a couple weeks before my actual birthday and Todd is the opposite....no planning...zip, zilch, nada.  We had burgers for dinner (a bacon blue cheese for the birthday boy) and then continued the celebration at the golf course.  Preston made me hit a few shots just so he could get a good laugh and Noah is certain that he only needs his 5 and 7 iron to play the game.  Stella was driving the cart with me riding shotgun and Todd riding on the back of the cart.  She took a really sharp turn that nearly tipped the cart on its side and left Stella swinging out the side of the cart hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life.  After we stopped and the cart was still in an upright position, I started laughing and couldn't stop.  I just kept seeing Stella in my mind swinging outside of the cart.  Poor Stella on the other hand was in tears.  We finished the night off brownie ice cream sandwiches, a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday, and an episode of Last Man Standing.  Happy Birthday Toddy boy!  We love you!!


Birthday Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Filling

3 cups of ice cream (more or less depending on how thick you want the ice cream layer)

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter 2 8-inch square pans.  Line the bottom and sides of the baking pans with parchment paper with the parchment overhanging opposite sides a bit.  Lightly grease the parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until full melted.  Remove pan from the heat.  Add the sugar and stir well.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder, whisk until blended.  Whisk in the salt and flour until batter is smooth.  Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and spread it evenly.  Give the pans a few quick bangs on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Place pans in oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  This will take about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Once cool, remove the brownies from pan and chill on wire rack in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with plastic wrap. Next, line the bottom (again) and the sides that aren't covered with another piece of plastic wrap.  You are essentially making a plastic wrap sling.  This will make it easier to wrap up the brownie and ice cream.

Place one of the cooled 8-in brownies, top side facing down, in the bottom of the plastic wrap lined pan.  Working quickly, cover with ice cream.  Use a spatula to smoosh down the ice cream and smooth it out on top.  Place the second 8-inch brownie top side up on the ice cream and press down a little (not too much or the ice cream will squish out).  Leaving the giant ice cream sandwich in the pan, wrap the ice cream sandwich up with the plastic wrap sling and place in freezer to freeze until firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Remove ice cream sandwich from pan and place on cutting board.  Remove plastic wrap and cut into quarters.  Cut quarters into strips or squares.  Serve immediately.  (Oh and a little ganache and flaky salt never hurts!)

I have two favorite brownies and these are one of them.  I have yet to do a side by side taste test to determine if there is a clear winner.  I make these most often because they are so quick to make.

Brownie recipe slightly adapted (and doubled) from Delancey: A Man, a Women, a Restaurant, a Marriage

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My Beehive Pizza

I'd probably say that my two favorite foods are pizza and hamburgers.  (I kind of feel like a little kid when I say that. Haha!)  If I'm going out for pizza, my favorite place is Pizzeria 712.  Todd and I usually share the sausage pizza with roasted peppers, but right now they have a corn pizza with leek soubise, bacon, and ricotta that is definitely one of my seasonal favorites.  I also love their speck pizza and I always order a side of arugula to pile on top.  For a burger, hands down, Habit Grill.  It's cheap and it's the burger I always crave.  An added bonus is that Habit fries are always hot (the sweet potato ones are my favorite).  When you have the choice between ketchup or fry sauce for your fries, which one would you choose?  I like ketchup for regular fries and fry sauce for sweet potato. Picky, picky.

This summer we've eaten pizza a lot, A LOT.  Todd and I went to Pizza Nono in Salt Lake a few month back and ordered a pizza called the Beehive.  This pizza is my version of the Beehive.  It's topped with Calabrese, pickled jalapenos, and a drizzle of honey that makes it just about perfect.  Someday in my dream backyard, I will have a pizza oven, but until then, a pizza stone on my grill and a quick trip under the broiler before serving makes my pizza dreams come true.  (Oh and I've been using Alexandra Cooks peasant pizza dough recipe from her cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs.  The dough comes together in minutes and makes having pizza for dinner a cinch.)


My Beehive Pizza

Dough: (This recipe (I doubled it) is the best and comes from the cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford)

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cup lukewarm water

Toppings:

Tomato sauce
Calabrese
Fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks
Pickled jalapenos
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
Honey

In large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast.  Add the water.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky ball.  If the dough seems dry, add water a teaspoon or two at a time (you want it to be sticky).  Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has nearly doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center.  Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the dough into a round ball.

Once the dough has risen, using two forks divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  Spread flour on a clean surface.  Using the forks lift (or just kind of scoop out) each portion of dough onto the floured surface.  With floured hands, shape each dough portion into a ball, using the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath the ball. Let the dough balls rest for at least 20 minutes without touching.

Place a baking stone on a 4-burner gas grill right in the middle.  Turn the grill on and heat on high (all burners) for 20 minutes with the lid closed.  Once the grill has preheated for 20 minutes, turn the two middle burners to low.

While the grill is heating, place a piece of parchment paper on an upside down baking sheet (I use 3 baking sheets with a piece of parchment on each upside baking sheet, one baking sheet for each dough ball.)  With floured hands, gently stretch outward.  Then with the back of your hands, stretch the round more, using additional flour if needed.  Be careful to preserve the pockets of air trapped in the dough.  Place dough on parchment-lined baking sheet and stretch more if necessary (this is always necessary for me).  Repeat with the remaining dough balls.  (I like to trim some of the excess parchment around each pizza before I put it on the grill.)

Spread each pizza with a thin layer of sauce, calabrese, fresh mozzarella, pickled jalapenos, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt (if you want).  Slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto the grill.  The parchment paper makes it easy to get the pizza on and off the baking stone.  Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown on the bottom. 

Ok, here's my trick (It's actually not really a trick, but I think it makes the pizza extra delicious by giving the air bubbles on the crust and the cheese some good char marks).  Before you start cooking your pizza, preheat your broiler.  Once the pizza is nearly finished on the grill (it's ok if the cheese hasn't reached it's full melty goodness potential, the broiler will take care of that) pull it back onto the upside down baking sheet and slide the parchment paper out from underneath the pizza (you don't want it to catch on fire under the broiler....not good).  Place pizza under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbly and the crust has some char marks.  Remove from oven and sprinkle pizza liberally with grated parmesan and a drizzle of honey over the entire pizza.  Slice and Serve.

I know this may seem a bit lengthy, but I promise once you do it a couple times, you'll be a pizza grilling pro.  You'll learn how your grill heats and whether or not you need to adjust the grill temperature.  Have fun with the toppings and remember that more toppings isn't necessarily better.  Go for simple!

Oh and here's the recipe for my favorite tomato sauce.  It takes just a few minutes to throw together and always makes more than I need so I freeze the extra in 1/2 cup portions in baggies.  This is awesome because it makes pizza night even easier.

Tomato Sauce

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

Mix the crushed tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil together.  Add salt until the sauce goes from tasting blah to good (or as good as cold tomato sauce can taste...haha).

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pickled Jalapenos

Noah loves it when I make anything pickled.  He just loves the smell of vinegar.  Bahahaha!  He actually hates it and even the pickle lover in me doesn't love the smell of vinegar fumes wafting through our house.  I of course am willing to suffer through the smell because I love all things pickle-y.  Every summer I grow jalapenos in our garden just so I can pickle them.  So here's to a smelly house and lots of pickled jalapenos.


Pickled Jalapenos

15 jalapenos, stemmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3-4 pieces orange zest cut from stem to end of orange. (If I can get a strip that long, it's a miracle.)
1 cup distilled vinegar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Pack the jalapenos tightly in jar(s) adding pieces of the orange zest between the layers of the jalapenos.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and kosher salt in a small saucepan. Drop in the garlic.  Heat over medium heat until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Pour the pickling liquid over jalapenos until covered.  Let cool to room temperature, then seal and refrigerate.

I like to use a little of the pickling liquid in salad dressings and will often add a splash when I make refried beans.