yet another brownie recipe: Tartine bakery style brownies

I saw this recipe and I had to try it. I used Trader Joe's 72% dark pound chocolate pound plus bar.  (Some reading suggested that there is not a formal difference between "dark" and "bittersweet."

I had to beat the egg/sugar mixture for quite a while, and it never really reached the color/texture combo described. Perhaps the eggs were too old, but colorwise I'm no sure how brown sugar would ever let this be pale yellow.

Anyway. The results were good, but kind of too fudgelike for me. Very dense, but almost too dense, if that makes sense. I would prefer a little moist and cakey, perhaps, rather than simply solid.  But perhaps they are so solid because the eggs didn't go as planned. Hard to know.  I think, overall, I prefer cocoa-based brownies. They are less work, too.

Pumpkin waffles

I made these:

They are awesome. I had a container of pumpkin that was about 1.5 cups, so I multiplied the recipe by 1.5. I also didn't grease the waffle iron because mine doesn't seem to need it. And we added some chopped walnuts. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. They were spicy and not too sweet, which was nice.

very fast stir-fry

This is like, not even a recipe because it's 4 ingredients and one of them comes pre-seasoned. But anyway, it was tasty and took me like 10 minutes to make.

package of Hodo Spicy Yuba Strips
half a medium-large onion, sliced relatively small
about half a red pepper, sliced
small crown of broccoli broken into small florets.

I sauteed the onion in my cast iron skillet on fairly high heat, with oil. (I think I also added some chili flakes, just a few.) Then added the red peppers, and some soy sauce. And then the broccoli - cooked it just enough to make it change color to bright green, really. And then I added the spicy tofu strip things and mostly turned off the heat and just tried to heat the strips through. The spice of the strips basically flavored the whole thing, so it was a fast colorful stir-fry situation.  Unfortunately the yuba strips are pricy though - I only bought them because they were on sale.


I found a Vitantonio brand belgian wafflemaker on the street, so naturally I had to try it out.

I used this recipe, which someone on the internets said came with their Vitantonio waffle iron.

I used 1/2 cup of batter for each side of the waffle iron (i.e. for each waffle) and that seemed just about right. I believe this made 8 waffles.

"Quick Waffles"
3 Eggs
1 C Milk
1/2 C Melted Butter or Margarine
1 Tbsp Vanilla
2 C Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Baking Power
2 tsp Sugar

Beat whole eggs in a bowl until thick *I used a fork*
Beat in milk and melted butter and vanilla
Combine remaining ingredients. Sift into egg mixture (I just added it slowly) and beat well (I stirred and allowed some lumps for fear it'd get too tough.) Bake and serve.

I made them on the second to highest setting for my iron and that worked well. I did not grease the iron at all.

Zucchini Ginger Soup


I used 4 smallish zucchinis, so perhaps 1 pound or a bit more, but stuck to the whole 4 cloves of garlic and the half an onion. I used low sodium packaged chicken broth from a carton, probably closer to 3 cups (or less.) Partly pulverized the zucchini with an immersion blender when I was done.

So, basically:

4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 an onion, chopped

Sauteed in oil til soft but not browned much

Add 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger, some salt, and some black pepper
Add 4 zucchini, sliced.
Saute for 5-10 minutes

Add 3ish cups of chicken stock

Cook til zucchini is soft

puree with immersion blender.

Verdict: It's pretty good for how simple it is, and it has a nice mouthfeel - pretty creamy for something without cheese or a whole lot of fat.

Yellow sheet cake

I don't usually make sheet cakes because in the faraway past my 9x13 cakes used to sink the middle. So I switched to making bundt cakes instead. They're beautiful and there's no middle TO sink.

And I'm not a frosting person, either.

BUT. I wanted to make a birthday cake for my friend, who asked for yellow cake with chocolate frosting. You can't really do that with a bundt cake. Drizzle, sure, but that's not the same.

So I made this recipe, which promises to be pretty foolproof:

And you know what? It seems to be foolproof indeed.

I did not use cake flour; I sifted regular flour, then measured it, added the salt and leavening, and sifted again.

I lined my 9x13 with parchment paper and then sprayed with with flour-oil spray just to be sure. I baked it for somewhere around 43-45 minutes and let it cool for 10 on a rack and then inverted it onto a cookie sheet, where it currently awaits its fate (frosting, then being eaten.) It came out of the pan beautifully and while it got a bit domed in the oven, it fell just enough to be pretty flat and smooth as it was cooling - perfect.

I made this frosting recipe:

but using better millk chocolate than Hershey's, and using half and half instead of heavy whipping cream because that's what I had around and I don't think it will affect the consistency.

 VERDICT: quite excellent for a yellow cake. Quite good for a not super chocolate-y frosting (which is what my friend wanted.) Also? If you cut raspberries along their equator, they look like flowers. Nice for simple cake decorating for people that don't like wacky colors of icing. (I decorated the cake with melted chocolate chips in a piping bag...well, ok, in a ziploc bag with a tiny corner cut off. Bonus is that the chocolate hardens so the writing won't smear when you're transporting the cake.)

(crock) pot roast

2.4 lbs of chuck roast, rubbed with garlic powder, salt (not kosher salt, we didn't have any), pepper

browned on both sides in a hot cast iron pan (heated it up, then put in a good amount of coconut oil. Almost burnt on one side really.

1 medium onion, sliced about in 8ths, on the bottom of a preheated 6-qt crock pot on low.

chuck roast into pan. ~4 sliced carrots, 2 small sliced peeled potatoes (because they weren't in good shape, the peels were icky), 1 stalk of celery, another sliced onion place around it.

deglazed the pan with a bit over a 1/2 cup of mushroom stock (it's what I had), dumped that over the meat in the crockpot. Added two sprigs of fresh rosemary from outside because why not.

Covered. we'll see what's up in ~8 hours...I've never done anything like this before.

VERDICT: 8-9 hours smells and tastes awesome and the meat seems tender. The chunk I picked off was tasty.

Also I did not know there was a string around the whole piece of meat...whoops. But I assume it was food-safe/heat-safe string. 

I definitely need to make this more often. Next I'd like to experiment with whether I can put more vegetables in without compromising anything. Because oh man, carrots and potatoes cooked with beef are tasty.

Cauliflower casserole

Currently in the oven, an adaptation of this recipe:

I used 2lbs of packaged cauliflower florets (thank you Grocery Outlet bargains), which I steamed in water

I ground them with an immersion blender and a bit over a cup of buttermilk. Seasoned with salt, pepper, a clove of garlic run through a press, some nutmeg, some paprika, and about a TBS of prepared mustard. (Couldn't find powdered mustard here where I'm dogsitting.) Then I blended in 3 eggs (I don't really need souffle-type texture and I suspect I'll eat most of this as leftovers) and stirred in maybe a cup and a half of grated cheddar.

Currently baking at 400 degrees in a large cast iron skillet which had been pre-heated in oven with some oil in it, which I spread around the pan and up the sides before dumping in the cauliflower mixture. And now we wait!

Verdict: not great. It never quite firmed up, probably because it was about 2" high in the pan I used. The flavors were good together but I'd do something different with the texture if I do it again. Which, to be honest, is unlikely. It's a lot of effort for something kind of boring - why not just eat steamed cauliflower and a cheese omelet instead? 

What not to do: roasted vegetables

I wanted to make something like this soup because I had a whole cauliflower and 3 peeled sweet potatoes sitting in my fridge that needed to be used up, pronto. The soup sounded good.

I roasted the vegetables as directed, not thinking too much. They smelled great. Then I tasted them. Holy crap. Ridiculously salty (and I do enjoy salt.) Unbearably salty. So salty, in fact, that I didn't think it would be a good idea to try to make soup because even if hte other soup ingredients cut the salt a bit, I'd either have to use broth (which would be salty, and thus add more salt) or use water, which might not lend enough flavor.

So instead I microwaved a potato and mashed it up with some of the sweet potato-cauliflower mixture and some sour cream. It's still really salty.

Lesson learned. 2 TBS salt to one cauliflower + 3 large sweet potatoes is too much. I could have guessed that. Bigger lesson, I guess, is to pay attention and trust your gut.