Category Archives: brownies

What to do With Mascarpone

This week mascarpone cheese was on sale and I knew that it must come home with me.  My mother fostered in me a love very deep for mascarpone whether sweet or savory.  It makes the simplest desserts with just some sugar and lemon zest sandwiched with Nilla wafers, or the moist decadent cheese cake.  

Enough with the dessert tangent.

I knew that I could purchase a tub and be able to use it for both a main dish and a tempting dessert.  So here is how I choose to use my cheese.

Chicken thighs were the meat of choice for my client’s dinner.  She really enjoys the flavor of dark meat and I enjoy the forgiveness it has toward me – sometimes I get distracted and a breast may not retain the same level of juiciness or tenderness that thigh meat can. 

I decided that I wanted to make a rich and silky chicken with vegetables that could be served alongside or on top of a starch.  At first egg noodles crossed my mind but the soft texture would offer no contrast in textural context so I decided on couscous – smaller than rice but same multi piece action. 

I went toward flavors my client likes and that I know meld with chicken, fresh rosemary, the trinity of carrots, celery, and onion, and I used red wine to draw out the depth of the meat flavor in the dark meat, and the mascarpone went in at the end to help finish the dish and give it its silky texture.

 

When it was all done I was proud of my humble dish.  It made me think of a simple supper my grandmother might have made in my youth.  When Amanda tasted it she remarked that it was great and tasted like the inside of a chicken pot pie – not what I was aiming for but from her it was high praise.

So here is my recipe for today.  I call it Rich Chicken, but Amanda calls it Inside Out Chicken Pie

Ingredients

 

1 Chopped Spanish Onion

1 Carrot Peeled and Diced

1 Stalk of Celery Diced

1 Pepper Diced

5 Cloves of Garlic Minced

1-2 Teaspoon(s) of Fresh Rosemary (depending on your taste preference)

2 Tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley Chopped

¼ Cup Cubed (small) Pancetta

3 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (breast meat could be used if you prefer a lighter flavor)

1 cup Mascarpone Cheese

2 tbsp Olive Oil

¾ cup Red Wine

¾ Cup Chicken Stock

Flour to Dredge Chicken

1 pinch of Red and Pepper Flakes

¼ Tsp Sugar

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions 

In a large pan (I prefer a heavy Le Creuset) heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and render for 4-5 minutes till they are browned and crispy.  Remove the pancetta from the pan and hold. 

Salt and pepper the thigh meat and dredge in flour while the pancetta is rendering.  Add the meat to the pan after pancetta removal and brown for a few minutes a side.  Move the cooking chicken to the sides of the pan and add the carrots, celery, onion, peppers, and mushrooms to the middle of the pan with a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Cook two minutes add garlic and rosemary, sauté over medium-low heat for approximately five minutes.  Add salt and pepper and mix all together.

  

Add ¾ cup red wine to pan and stir the bottom of the pan for brow bits.  Reduce the wine in half.  Add chicken stock, and stir to combine all together.  Bring the liquid to a boil and drop heat to a simmer for ten minutes to condense liquid.  Stir in 1 cup of mascarpone the parsley, and sugar.  Simmer 4-5 minutes.

Season to taste.

Reintroduce the pancetta.

I also know that it reheats well because Amanda ate it for supper last night – that’s always important in today’s world.

PS I even incorporated the marscarpone into my “Blondies” that I made yesterday.  So I got to use it for both of my fav ways. 

Happy Blonde Brownie Day!

Happy Blonde Brownie Day!

Blonde brownie up close

Did you know that there was a blonde brownie day?

 

Neither did I, but there it is and it happens to fall on today – January 22.

 

I found this tid bit of info out while surfing around the web looking for random food intell.  While it is not a national holiday I thought celebration of the brownie in either form to be wonderful inspiration for a morning of baking and a chance to learn some food history. 

 

“Blondies” are thought to have been baked and enjoyed before the brownies full of chocolate flavor we love today.  Food historians believe this based on cookbooks.  I bet you have never considered your collection of cookbooks to be a contemporary historical of the gastronomical enjoyments of our time – but it truly is. 

 

These aged cookbooks show the major ingredients of “blondies” were butter, and brown sugar – like the components of butterscotch candies which were well enjoyed in the mid nineteenth century.  There were cookbooks whose directions showed a mixture of butterscotch candy ingredients mixed with flour and a leavening agent.

 

Historians seem to agree that chocolate flavored brownies came into popularity in the twentieth century’s start when mass production of cocoa and chocolate became widely available and much more affordable. 

 

Knowing all of this I sat down this morning and wrote a recipe for Blonde Brownies that I really like.  The smell was delicious in the house and the taste was fantastic. 

Blonde brownie1

Blonde Brownie Day Brownies 

Ingredients

6 Tbsps of Unsalted Butter

2 Tbsps of Mascarpone Cheese

1 Tbsp of Milk (I used Skim)

1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar

1 Egg Beaten

1 Cup of Sifted Flour + 1 Tbsp (I used All Purpose)

½ Tsp Baking Powder

2 Tsps of Vanilla

½ Cup of Finely Chopped Walnuts

1/8 Tsp Salt

4 Tbsps Chopped Hershey’s Chocolate Bar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Butter and flour (I use the Crisco + flour spray) an 8×8 cake pan and set aside.

 

Combine the butter, mascarpone, and milk in a sauce pan over low heat (I use a heat diffuser to ensure that the dairy products won’t scorch) till butter and mascarpone melts.  Once this happens remove from heat.

 

Add the light brown sugar (you can use dark but I enjoy the light color maintained by the light color of the sugar), beaten egg, and vanilla until combined thoroughly. 

 

Combine the flour (minus the one extra tablespoon), baking powder, and salt into the now wet sugar mixture.

 

Take the extra tablespoon of flour and toss with the walnuts (I picked this up from Ina Garten that this will help suspend the nuts or chocolate evenly throughout).  Now incorporate the nuts and flour into the mixture.  Stir well.

 

Pour into the 8×8. 

 

In half of my brownies I placed the chopped chocolate on the top of the brownie for my friend who enjoys chocolate mixed into her “blondies” as many people do.  I wanted mine “pure”.

 

Bake for 25-29 minutes based on your oven – of course check for a clean toothpick or knife.

 

Let the pan cool and then slice into bars or 2x2s.

Blonde brownie 2

So make brownies blonde or otherwise and enjoy – after all it is a holiday.

 

Thanks to http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq.html#blondies – for the history facts.