Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fred's brownies

When I was working in Amsterdam at the local television station, I had a sweet colleague from the US. Once he treated the whole floor to brownies and a huge New York cheesecake. Both were delicious. On request he gave me the recipes, and just now (years later) I finally made the brownies. Why did I wait that long? They were yummy yummy yummy. So please try them if you are in the mood for something very chocolaty, fudgy, smeary and yet crunchy.

Fred's brownies

230 g butter
225 g dark chocolate (70% cacao), roughly chopped
125 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
380 g sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
140 g walnuts, roughly chopped

* preheat the oven to 175 C
* grease a baking pan that is around 25x30 cm (or a little bit bigger or smaller) and then line it with two sheets of baking paper. also grease the top layer of baking paper. the paper can stick out some centimeters on the top to prevent the brownie mixture to overflow
* melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave at 350 watt, stirring each 30 seconds until completely melted
* in a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt
* in another, large bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs and vanilla extract until fluffy and white
* pour in the melted chocolate/butter mixture while stirring, and then add the flour mixture. continue stirring from the edges of the bowl to prevent lumps
* when all is mixed, stir in the chopped walnuts
* pour the mixture into the baking pan and place in the oven for around 40 minutes, the top should be shiny and edges should curl up a little
* let it cool down completely on a rack (yes, this is the hard part!), be patient.
* flip it over carefully and remove the paper. cut into squares and enjoy.

The brownies will taste even better the day after, so make them in advance, or try to save some for the next day.

Thanks Fred!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ratatouille - French zucchini and tomato stew

Excuses, excuses. Plenty of those. I do apologise for my absence the last month. I will not bore you with the reasons, but instead treat you to a new recipe. A very summery dish this is, and while eating you will think you are somewhere in France. I do anyway.
You can eat ratatouille, of course, the day you make it. I usually eat it with some wild rice.
But make sure to make some extra ratatouille and eat that the next day. Preferably lukewarm on a piece of French bread (baguette). Let it stand for 10 minutes and enjoy. I read this tip on another blog somewhere and I can really recommend it.
By the way: buy your zucchini on the small side. They usually have more flavour than the larger ones.
The recipe for this ratatouille is without aubergine. My man doesn't like it, and I'm not too fond of it either, so I skip it even though it's quite a traditional ingredient for a ratatouille. If you do like to put in some, well, then be my guest.

Ratatouille (serves 4, or two times two)

olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped or finely sliced
3-4 zucchini (NL: courgette), halved and cut in 1-cm slices
10 tomatoes, coarsely chopped or 2 cans of tomatoes
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 glass of white wine
2 bay leaves (NL: laurier, S: lagerblad)
1 teaspoon of dried French herbs
salt and pepper

* heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots
* let this soften up for 10 minutes - it should not get brown, just soft
* add the zucchini and fry for 2 minutes
* add the tomatoes and sugar and turn the heat up
* break the tomatoes by cooking them on a high heat while stirring often
* after 5 minutes you can lower the heat and add the wine, bay leaves and herbs
* leave to simmer for 30 minutes or longer, with the lid of the pan halfway

Another serving alternative: add some fried sausages, cut in slices and boiled potatoes to turn it into a more meaty and hearty stew (S: Fransk korvgryta).