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Lazy Sunshine Salad


I told you I had gotten the bug… The second installment of my love for "Verrines" is inspired by this cool little book and my never dying love for blood oranges. When I see them in the store around December-January I tend to buy several bags at a time, that and kumquats…I currently have 8 pounds of the gorgeous beauties sitting on my counter and ideas flying through my mind every minute.

We had company for dinner the other night and flipping through the pages of the book I noticed a recipe for an apple crumble in a "verrine". Just the sight of those juicy cooked apples topped with a cinnamon crumble was enough to make my stomach growl. But I was in the middle of juicing blood oranges, not slicing apples. I did not have the desire to crank the oven on either as it was still pretty warm outside. I started this dessert by thinking "well, I’ll just make a fruit salad and layer it with Greek yogurt and crushed ginger cookies"…but I was lusting after that picture, those nice juicy fruits….and then the Kitchen Fairy kissed me on the forehead and I started whisking some blood orange curd, caramelizing some kumquats…and oops….there you have it.

The blood orange curd is from Sara’s Kitchen, and her blood orange sauce. Thank you Sara!

Layered Fruit Salad, Greek Yogurt, Blood Orange Curd and Caramelized Kumquats, aka Lazy Sunshine Salad :

Serves 4

Fruit Salad:
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 banana, peeled and diced
1 blood orange, peeled and diced
zest of 1/2 a lime + juice
1 Tb honey

Blood Orange Sauce:
¼ cup sugar
1 T grated blood orange zest
2 large eggs
2/3 cup blood orange juice

Combine sugar, orange zest, orange juice and eggs in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens. Let cool to room temperature.

For the cookies: I had a stash of these in the freezer especially to be used crumbled on top of mousses or other creamy desserts, so it was perfect timing, but here is the recipe again:

Double Ginger Cookies, adapted from Cooking Light
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (I use 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (flours through ground ginger); stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine 1 cup sugar, applesauce, and next 4 ingredients (applesauce through vanilla). Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist; cover and chill dough at least 1 hour. I skip this step and add 1 Tb of water to the dough.

Preheat oven to 350°.Lightly coat hands with flour. Shape dough into 24 balls (about 2 tablespoons each; dough will be sticky). Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on pan. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire racks.Note: These freeze well. Place cooled cookies in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; store in freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.
I usually get more cookies, 30 – 32.

Caramelized Kumquats:
Wash and cut in half a pint of kumquats (except the ones I popped in my mouth while cooking)and put them in a heavy saucepan with 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and all the kumquats are nicely coated with the syrup.

Last step: have fun layering everything in the order you want with some Greek yogurt or fromage blanc or any of your avorite creamy concoctions and top with a layer or blood orange sauce and a few caramelized kumquats.

Sugar High Friday 27: Chocolate By Brand

…or in my case "A Tale of Two Michels":

When I read about the chosen theme for this month SHF on David Lebovitz’s blog I let out a little sigh…chocolate? again? Unbelievable as it seems, even I, the chocolate lover, was starting to gravitate towards more fruit based desserts after my chocolate filled holidays. But I kept on reading because after all, once you fall for chocolate you just keep on reading and eating and baking,…. The idea for this month was to pick a brand, any brand of chocolate and cook/bake with it.

I have to admit that although I do not consider myself a chocolate snob, I tend to buy higher end chocolate bars and blocks rather than store bought for some of my baking. The results are incomparable, and so are the textures and flavors. I have bought evey brands out there I could find in hope that even a cheap bar could taste as good but most of the time I have been disappointed. If I am going to include chocolate in a cake I choose Callebaut or Schockinag. They melt well, the chocolate retains its flavor through high temperature baking and I still have connections to get some big slabs at a moderate price. I use Valhrona if I make ganaches, creams and custards because the flavor really comes through and your palate can really tastes the chocolate.

Everybody has a different opinion about what kind and what brand of chocolate tastes better to them. I believe that one has to try as many different kinds of choclate brands and cocoa percentages to know what appeals to them. There is no shame in proclaiming loud and clear your love for a particular kind, whether it be dark, milk or white (not really chocolate I know but good anyhow). I confess that I am a milk chocolate fanatic, and dark chocolate higher than 65% does not appeal to me. For some reason it coats the back of my throat and leaves a very acidic tastes on my tongue. I am always in search a good quality milk chocolate, not one over saturated with cream, but one that is one molecule removed from a very smooth dark chocolate.

While at the Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche, I was lucky enough to find 2 really interesting (to me) chocolate bars. In my pursuit to like darker chocolate I bought a bar from Michel Chaudun via Weiss chocolatier, 70% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. The second one was a milk chocolate bar from Michel Cluizel, "1er Cru de Plantation ‘Mangaro’ Milk Chocolate ".

I had a nibble of each the other day, and then I stacked one square of each and popped them in my mouth…and then I repeated this last bit by stacking them on top of a shortbread cookie…and then I wished I had a dozen or so of them…! But they were not easy to eat like that, if only I could melt them and serve them in a little shortbread crust… The solution was very easy: a chocolate ganache tart, and because I would melt the milk chocolate with an equal amount of dark chocolate the cream would not overpower the object of my desire.

Thank you to the two Michel for allowing me to create what is to me the best chocolate ganache tart I have had so far.

If you want to make this, use what your tastebuds qualify to be the best chocolate. Tastes is as subjective as love so use what you enjoy best.

Chocolate Ganache Tart, adapted from my head and Doris Greenspan (crust).

For 3 (4 inch) tarts

Crust:
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup powder sugar
1Tb cocoa powder

In a food processor, pulse all the crust ingredients. Empty in a bowl and knead until the dough comes together. The butter will warm up when in contact with your hands and will allow you to form the dough unto small disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the ganache.

Ganache filling:
5 oz dark chocolate
5 oz milk chocolate
1/2 cup + 2 Tb. heavy cream

Heat the cream over medium heat. When hot, remove from the stove and throw in the chocolates, let stand for a minute. Gently stir to incorporate all the chocolate. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the tartlett crusts.

For the tart shells:
I used 4 inch round tartlet molds but you can use smaller ones if desired, I got 3 filled tart with the quantity of chocolate I had melted. That point is really make and bake as you go.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Fit the dough into the tartket molds, prick with a fork and refrigerate while you heat up the oven to 350 degrees. Pre bake until done. Let the shells cool completely.
Remove from the molds and fill with the ganache. Refrigerate until the ganache is completely set.

For the decor, I melted 1/2 cup of sugar woth 2 Tb of water until golden brown and spoon shapes and lines onto parchment paper. I let the caramel cooled completely,cut out stands and branches and stuck them in the tart.
Et Voila!

Ok, this was a rare splurge, combining 2 great names into one little tart, but hey it felt really good and the world around me almost stopped for a few minutes!

Chestnut Bavarois

I love many things in life, and this dessert sprung out of a an old love I have for chestnut puree and a new addiction my awesome aunt Agnes nourished this Christmas by giving me a really cool little book.

Everytime I go home, I ask my mom for a few favorites: boudin noir, blanquette de veau, viande des grisons, creme Danette or Mont Blanc, and "creme de marrons". On its own, it is just allright but when used in custards, cakes and mousses its flavor really shines through and the cream takes on a velvety smooth, somewhat chocolatey taste. We did not eat it in great quantity in our house thus it truly felt felt special when I could have some.
This Christmas, I dragged B. into the Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche where we stocked up on fine chocolate, Mariage Freres tea, jams and syrups and of course a jar of chesnut cream.

It had to be kismet or fate because while I was perousing a couple of French magazines on the plane home, looking for ideas for an upcoming dinner party I found a promising recipe for a "bavarois" using the chestnust. The picture looked nice enough, but after reading the above mentionned book I could not stop thinking about using glasses as a plating and serving medium.
They turned out perfect. The flavors were great and "grown up", the presentation allowed me to let the kid in me play around a little. "Verrines" are great for layering but the different types of glasses you can use really help support your imagination and creativity.

I have to warn you that you might see a lot more of this type of dessert on this blog because I have caught the bug! I have to mention Mercotte for starting this! Her blog is full of delectable creations!

Chestnut Bavarois, adapted from Avantages magazine:

Serves 6. Prepare it the day before so that it has time to set and allow the flavors to develop.

2 egg yolks
200 ml milk (about 3/4 cup)
30 gr. sugar (1 oz)
1 packet gelatine
200 gr. chestnut puree
2 Tb. cognac
200 ml. heavy cream

Sprinkle the gelatin over some cold water (I used 1/2 cup). Set aside.

Make a creme anglaise: Heat the milk until very hot. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. When the milk is hot, slowly but steadily pour it over the egg yolks and continue to stir until well incorporated. Put the mixture back on the stove over medium low heat and continue to cook and stir until the cream coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin and the cognac. Mix well, add the chestnut puree and let cool to room temperature.

Whip the heavy cream to a stiff mousse and when the chesnut cream mixture is cool but not yet set, fold the whipped cream carefully.

At this point you can line indivual molds with plastic wrap and divide the mixture among them, refrigerate and when the mixture is set, inver the molds and remove the plastic, decorate and serve.

I took six small glasses and divide the mouse among those. I topped each with slightly sweetened whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon, a couple of chocolate cookie sticks and star fruit.

One of our guest could not make it to the party, so B. and I shared the extra one the night after. When I say share, I mean I let him have a spoonful and the rest was for me…he is the one who did not want to put the jar of chestnut puree in the suitcase in the first place (was getting heavy…but what’s one more jar?) but now could not stop wanting more…

Simple Creme Caramel

What to do when you just got back from vacation and the only things in the fridge are eggs and milk, and sugar in the pantry? This is what happened to us last week when we got home and my mother in law had nicely provided us with some essentials: eggs, milk and bread. We feasted on an omelette and grilled bread the next morning and after filling up on groceries, my brain was still foggy and jetlagged so I settled for a very simple, but yet very comforting creme caramel for dessert.

I can’t tell you where the recipe came from as it is the one I used everyday at the restaurant for years and found it in the giant recipe box the various chefs on duty had created decades ago. What I like about it is the way it lends itself to many variations. Extracts, liquors, syrups, fruit purees, nuts and such can be added to the custard base and one can really let his/her imagination run wild.

Creme Caramel, source unknown:
Serves 4

For the custard base:
4 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar

For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
1 Tb lemon juice

Prepare the base a couple of hours ahead:
Heat the milk until very hot. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and well blended. Slowly pour the milk over the eggs/sugar mixture and whisk until well incorporated.
Let cool to room temperature and pass through a sieve or colander.

Prepare the caramel:
In a heavy saucepan, melt the sugar with the lemon juice until you reach a nice deep golden color. Be careful as the caramel will continue to darken once removed from the heat and you ccan end up with a very bitter and very dark caramel.
Carefully divide it among 4 ramequins. Let the caramel cool and harden for a few minutes.

In the meantime, prepare your water bath: in a deep baking pan, pour some hot water to about an inch deep and set your oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the egg custard mixture on top of the caramel and set your ramequins into the baking pan. Add more water if necessary, the water bath should come to about half way up the sides of the dishes.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the middle still giggles a bit when shaken as the mixture will ontinue to cook and set when refrigerate.
Let the water bath cool off for a few minutes and remove the ramequins. Let them cool off to room temperature. Refrigerate a couple of hours before serving.

To serve, run a knife along the side of the ramequins, invert them on the plates and giggles them a bit to help the custard fall down.
Decorate to your own taste and enjoy!

This is one of my to go desserts, complementing a heavy dinner but a light note, crisp in flavor yet so simple. Just like with creme brulee or cheesecakes, the flavors can be changed at will. I like infusing the milk with bergamot or Earl Grey tea leaves, lavender buds, citrus and fruit peels during the summer. Pumpkin is great added to the base during fall, and I sometimes replace the whole milk with soy or coconut milks for a different flavor during the winter.

Memories of France…continued

Our 4 day trip to Paris was indeed filled with sugar and chocolate treats but I did make it to 2 of my "must see" "boulangeries"…my list was close to 5 pages long so I went for efficiency (it was cold) and locations (did I mention it was cold?). I took B. for quite a hike looking for 140 Boulangerie as we got of the subway 2 stops too early and walked the rue de Belleville all the way up to the pastry shop. It helped us locate a great little Thai restaurant for lunch and kept us kind of warm while getting there.

I stood in front of the shop’s array of bread (not me in the picture) for ages trying to decide what to get and finally decided on an almond croissant. The hike had burnt a whole in my stomach and I figured we could have the rest of it for an afternoon snack. It was hands down the best almond croissant I have ever had in my life (and believe me I have had my share). The dough was flaky and buttery in every bite, the filling was plenty enough to fill every mouthful with a smooth almond taste and the best part was how it had caramelized at the bottom of the croissant adding a bit of a crunch which I always favor. I have to admit that I don’t recall B. having much of it…bad me…!

The other boulangerie I absolutely could not miss was that of Eric Kayser where I knew exactly what to purchase: a baguette Monge which I had tried to recreate a while back and still make once in a while but never mine tasted as good as this one!(duh) This time I did not forget my sweet-seaking companion and got a couple of chocolate chip brioches for breakfast. Funny how no crumbs could be found anywhere…..!

You know how much I enjoy making macarons but the truth is is that I don’t eat that many. I enjoy one bite and then I am done. I still wanted to see, touch and try plenty of them and did so by purchasing a sampler in 3 different places. Unfortunately I only got pictures of one set, so you will just have to rely on websites and my descriptions for the others.
I realised one morning walking to the subway station that one of the shops on my list was staring at me while I was looking up at the sky. After 3 days of this, B. commented that it was interesting how my obsessions would materialize "on the way to…" well, what can I say, Paris is not that big after all and if you lift your nose you find out plenty of cool little places.

What happiness to stumble upon "Cacao et Chocolate" like we did! We purchased a dozen of "classic" chocolates (by the form, although there was nothing classic in the taste) and a box of Szechuan Pepper ones which turned out to be a innovative and tasty creation. I also added a sampler bag of macarons to my order and off we went to the next sweet stop. We shared a few and found them well executed and tasty but nothing to make me go "these are the best".

I believe the shop is great for its interesting choice of ganache but there were 2 masters I really wanted to visit. We stop by Pierre Marcolini store (0nce again conveniently located on the way to somewhere…), where I purchased a chocolate Christmas tree. We did not have a "need" for it, (absurd word when it comes to chocolate), but figured we could give it as a hostess gift somewhere long our travel…. it is funny how quickly we came up with the fact that nobody would really enjoy this masterpiece and so we found a little bench and opened up the box as if a treasure was inside…and gold we hit indeed! I don’t recall ever tasting something as fine and smooth as this.

We had made reservations that evening at L’Ami Jean which held the promise of great Basque food and unforgettable atmosphere and service. Dang! How do we do this, Michel Chaudun’s shop was on the way! I am telling you the sweets Gods were on our side, not the fitness ones…. and at that point we had blown every bit of reason to the wind! Unfortunately we arrived a few minutes after closing time and were left to admire the window display..if his chocolates taste as good as they taste you are in for an adventure! Well, now we have a reason for another trip!

Dinner at L’Ami Jean was truly spetacular. The restaurant is small but the plates are giant and the portions just as big. We dinned on a true basque veal Axoa, foie gras and desserts were a basque yogurt topped with pistachios and sour cherries. B. even had his first taste of absinthe and we elbowed with a couple of French celebrities.

I had built up a year’s long worth of expectations about Sadaharu Aoiki and this trip filled every one of them. Everything about the pastries swept me away: their design, their flavors, their presentation and their taste. I had never felt that torn looking at a pastry case…how many can I purchase and eat given that the holes left on my belt were disappearing day after day….how many more days here do we have left? how many miles can I walk to work them off? maybe of I skip breakfast, and have a light lunch…Oh forget it! Live large (and get large) for a while, it’s not everyday I get to do this! After much discussion with the little voices in my head…(B. at that point was feeling like I was: up for everything!), we decided upon a sampler of macarons, a chocolate chip kugelhopf, mini matcha tea financiers (which I love), and the "piece de resistance" a Yuzu tart. We had the financiers with coffee one day, the kugloff for breakfast, the tart for dessert one night and we nibbled on the macarons while queuing at the Opera….Life is good!! It was difficult to pick the tart among the array of amazing looking pastries but we did not regret our choice. Smooth like a mango and tart like a lemon, the curd was set on a perfectly sandy shorbread base and was the perfect end to a dinner in Montmartre.

To be fair, we purchased another dozen macarons from Gerard Mulot, as we figured one could not judge on two shops only….I have to say his creations were pretty great: pear-ginger, basil-lemon, nougat, coconut, salted caramel, violet…but this trip Aoiki won our vote.

I could not leave you without a few pictures of my dream kitchen: the one in the castle of Chenonceau which we visited after New Year’s Eve on our way back from Tours.

Memories Of France

You probably have wondered where I have been hiding since we came back last week. Truth is, I have started this post a million times and erased it just as many. I never thought it would be so difficult to jump back into blogging after three weeks off. Between bad internet connections and entertaining friends and family since our coming back, it has been difficult to sit and write for more than a couple of minutes at times.

I have to say that this is the first time that I experienced culture shock "the other way". Up until this year, I still felt that things were familiar to me and I was just away for long periods of time but having culture shock moments as a French in America. Well, this year felt very different and I think that because I am fully at ease with my new country and adopted people that I experienced the opposite kind of "moments", you know, when you pause and scratch your head, curious to know whys, whos and wheres…Funny how life is…

I have to apologize for the poor quality of the pictures accompanying this post, but most shots were done on the spot, either in a hotel room (sometimes bathroom) or on the dining room table. No time to stage and plan!

We have had the most wonderful time in France. It was a true blessing to see as much of my family as we did. Every minute of every day was filled with things to do, people to see and places to visit. We were lucky to be staying with my parents in Le Mesnil Saint Denis, not far from Versailles and being so close to the things we had planned to visit.
We started by an amazing show in Paris, Le Quatuor, where both B. and I laughed our heart out.
The next day, we were leaving for Normandy where we saw the Mont Saint Michel, the beaches of D-Day, the American cemetery, the Bayeux Tapestry, the Memorial of Caen, and dined on fine foods and wine.

We returned home to prepare Christmas and welcome my brother and his family. Words fall short to express the joy it was to see my nieces Lea (6 years old) and Camille (4 months). Each day was filled with laughs, games and pranks!

Food wise, I have to say "hats off" to my mom who had prepared great food ahead of time and who nicely gave her kitchen to her son for the main course of Christmas dinner, a capon with a white boudin and truffled stuffing, and her daughter for dessert, a traditional praline filled Yule Log and a Nougat & Rapberry ice cream one (sorry no pic of that one).

Being the good sister than I am , I made sure he had a bowl of his favorite treats, "chouquettes"

while I snacked on the biggest meringue I had ever had from the patisserie next to our house.

Right after Christmas, B. and I eloped to Paris for a 8 years- late honeymoon during 4 days. We did not rest much during this time as we had paln to alternate visits of museums and pastry shops in a mini 4 day marathon, an Amazing Race of food and knowledge if you will. We stayed in Saint Germain des Pres in a quaint little hotel and made "Neo Cafe" our after dinner, late night spot. Our heads are filled with sculptures from Rodin, relics and gold from Cluny, found treasures from Alexandria at the Grand Palais, Mozart at the Opera. I admit we gave up waiting in line for the Doisneau exhibition at the Hotel de Ville when we were told the wait was 2 hours…outside…and it was freezing cold!

I had told B. about all the pastry and chocolate shops I wanted to see but I did not want to make these 4 days just about what I wanted. I knew there were museums and places he wanted to see no matter how much he also likes macarons! However I did not expect him to get caught in the game of finding these places and some were wuite out of the way! It had been 10 years since my last stay in Paris and I found myself looking at maps and bus stops just like any tourist! Except for the language, everything was just as different to me.

It was virtually impossible to do everything on my list in 4 days (including travelling times) so we went for what was close to us and the museums, parks and neighborhood we had planned on seeing. Literally across from our hotel was Gerard Mulot Patisserie where we filled up on pastries for breakfast, and bought desserts and macarons for my parents…well, I needed an excuse to sample more so we said we would bring desserts back!


In the background from left to right: "chausson aux pommes" (apples in puff pastry) and classic Financier. In the foreground: cannele, a specialty from Bordeaux, and "cerisai" which is to this day one of the best thing we both ever tested: a ligth cake filled with pistachio cream and sour cherries. Not bad to start the day!

The desserts we brought back included: a Troubadour (top) a shortbread base topped with a salted caramel cream, coffee mousse and topped by a thin shortbread cookie, a Milk Chocolate Ganache Tart

Or this delicious Delice de Ninon aux Peches: a thin genoise layer filled with a light peach cream with diced caramelized peaches.

To be continued…..macarons, Sadaharu Aoki, Cacao et Chocolat, 140 Boulangerie and more coming tomorrow….

Home Sweet Home…The Other One

We are back in the States. Got here late last night and although I wish I could jump right in and pick up where I left off I am allowing myself the weekend to recuperate and get our things in order….pictures, books, chocolates and memories….!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

I have just enough time to pop by and wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Tomorrow we are going to Paris and staying a couple of days, visiting museums and chocolate shops.
I am glad my parents live close by to this big city because I plan on bringing our weight back in chocolate and other delicacies!

We Made It !


Seems like we would never get to France but we finally made it, happy and safe!
The plane never left on Thursday so we left on Friday qnd got rerouted through Houston. We literally ran the whole airport to make our connecting flight for Paris where we late. We waited 2 hours at the luggage carousel to find out that one of our suitcases had not left Houston when we did…. The airline company tracked it down and the bag was finally delivered to us sunday night… we are extremely relieved because B. now has clothes to put on his back, we got shoes and all the presents we had gathered the last couple of months.
We have been touring the beaches of Normandy for the past 4 days and paying tribute to the men of D Day. Very emotional for the both of us.

We are back home, a few kilometers outside of Versailles, and we are now getting ready for Christmas. I have NO time to sit down at a computer and upload pics and blog, between visiting the family and friebds and helping my mom with all the upcoming festivities, so I think you won’t see much of me until I come back.

To leave you on a culinary note, here are some of the things being cooked from scratch in our household: foie gras terrine and pate, smoked salmon, chestnut and apple stuffed capons, duck sausages, praline and Nutella Yule Log, Nougat and passion fruit ice crea, yule log, 120 petits fours, truffles,…. 2 days in a row and most likely again for New Years Eve. Insanity now prevails!!!

Everybody, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Katherine Hepburn Brownies- Blog Party #17

I missed the last Blog Party hosted by Stephanie but I am ready to have fun this time. We are 6 hours away from departure but I figured I could not leave without one little piece of decadence.

Because I have spent the last few days running around I decided to fall back on one of my favorite books for inspiration. When I first got Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking From My Home to Yours, I bookmarked this brownie recipe right away but never got around to making it until yesterday. What a perfect fit for the party which theme was Hollywood. I was not sure what cocktail to pair it with so I went with one of my new favorites, an Apple Martini. The color always makes me giggle….!

Katherine Hepburn Brownies, adapted from Dorie Greenspan:

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp ground coffee
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1 c Sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 ts Vanilla extract
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 ts salt

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate with the butter over low heat, stirring until completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, coffee, cocoa powder and cinnamon . Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk well. Stir in the flour and salt and mix well. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Apple Martini, adapted from about.com:

2 oz gin or vodka
1 oz green-apple shnapps

Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes.
Shake well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The brownies were really moist and flavorful and the martinis went down way to easily. We gathered outside with the neighbors and enjoyes the warmth of th evening, I have the feeling this is the last time I an standing on the porch at ten o’clock at night with a skirt and a t-shirt.

Off, to finish making sure for the tenth time that we have not forgotten anything…!I will come back as soon as we are settled and as soon as my parents understand the need to spend hours on the computer looking at other people’s culinary adventures!!