Friday, 12 July 2013

(Frosty) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

So dudes and dudettes I have been mentally prepping myself to make these babies all year. I came across the recipe on Joanne's blog Eats Well With Others at some point in September and felt like I needed more experience before I attempt at making them.

Now the end of the academic year and my university studies altogether have arrived and so has the time to pick out that recipe from my delicious account. (At the time of its creation in 2005 little did I know I will end up using it mainly for food - fitting much? Its methuselahian age is also the reason why I won't share my profile with you - who knows what atrocities saved by my fourteen-year-old self you would find? *shudder*)

Indeed, we still have leftover food from our housemates who had moved out circa two weeks ago. Housemate Anthony suggested the other day for me to bake something in order to use up the available baking ingredients. By that time he had already made Madeira cake and flapjacks so I could not fall behind too much!
We had everything we needed for Chocolate Chip Brownies in the house apart from chocolate (obvs doesn't last long in my possession) and butter. I would have preferred to alter some ingredients of the original recipe (such as spelt flour for wheat as in my oatmeal pancakes), but the working conditions were clear: Use what the house gives you! (to paraphrase the Czech idiom co dům dal)

I will not bother rewriting the full instructions as you can easily check them out on the original post (with insanely delicious photography, might I add). However, I will point out a couple of things.
As a European born and bred I am easily confused by cups and ounces (happens often). For people like me I posted the converted measurements below. (I find The Metric Kitchen as probably the most useful website for these situations. Do you know any other good conversion websites? Or perhaps a tool, mnemonic device, to remember the system?)

I was surprised to learn that chocolate chip cookie dough does not require any eggs. All you need is a bit of milk to achieve the sticky texture.
Has my whole life been a lie? I've always made my CCC with eggs which prevented me from licking my hands because (in my eyes) raw eggs equals salmonellosis. I know some people do it anyway, but that goes against my upbringing. So, my dear reader, note that this was the first time in my life I actually tasted CCC dough. I guess there's a first time for everything...

If you're familiar with Joanne's recipe, you will notice a small change in the title - chilled. 
The brownies ended up being surprisingly heavy. I ate one half of my first brownie and had to take a break before getting back to the other. I certainly wasn't expecting this outcome! I started questioning my one-brownie-a-day eating plan. In order to preserve their freshness, I froze the rest of the batch in a food container. And that's when the magic happened.
Of course the next day I got my usual sugar cravings. Instead of turning to my usual grapes, raisins or white yogurt I took out a frozen brownie. I could not wait for too long though and nibbled at it still cold. *drum roll* It was wonderful! Kinda crunchy, less sticky on the fingers in the current British heat, and it reminded me of ice cream!

Therefore I recommend to all of you to serve the brownies chilled, approximately five minutes after taking it out of the freezer. It is so worth the wait.

Ha! I did not forget to include anything this time!

(Frosty) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

70g flour
120g brown sugar
80g unsalted butter
100g chocolate
2 eggs
1tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp salt

@ 180 ºC

90g flour
90g brown sugar
50g caster sugar
120g unsalted butter
80g chocolate chips
2 tbs hemp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt (Do people actually measure this? Or do you use your instinct like me?)

2 tbs unsalted butter
100g chocolate


Mixing flour with cocoa and salt.

I love how easy it is to measure butter due to the design of the packing! Also note how hot it was during the day. 

I first melted the butter and then added blocks of chocolate. 

Flour + cocoa + salt followed by butter + chocolate + eggs + vanilla extract in one bowl. Brown sugar in the other.

Brownie dough ready for the oven! I used an aluminium pan for its shape and easy brownie removal. 

Mixing chocolate chip cookie dough with hands as tradition. I was getting worried there is not enough to fill the pan, but it worked out well. 

Making chocolate chips. I don't buy manufactured ones as it takes away from the homemade feel. This method is also cheaper and presents a good practice in patience. I recommend to warm up the chocolate a little (takes place naturally in hot weather or bring close to the stove) and tilt the bar sideways (as pictured) for easy cutting. 

Brownie base is done!

Layers from bottom to top: brownies, chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate glaze.

Refrigerated sufficiently :)

Om nom nom nom nom!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

It's Going Like Spaghetti Carbonara

A post at last! I've become fairly lazy the past couple of days when it comes to eating. Many of my housemates had gone home (I miss you already!) and left quite a substantial amount of food in the house. Therefore I ended up making the strangest food combos, many of them involving crispbread.
However, I soon had come to crave proper food and decided to make some spaghetti carbonara utilising left over eggs.

I know there are various ways of making carbonara. I used to make the amazing traditional version with bacon back before I became a vegetarian. It was an intensely caloric dish as well and made me feel fatter the very next day! Nevertheless, people change and I decided to try my first veggie carbonara. No recipe, just common sense cooking.

What do I need?

Whole wheat spaghetti ... I always buy whole wheat products (pasta, bread) for extra nutrients (Vitamin B 1-3) and the om nom taste. It's come so far that I don't actually like white bread anymore. I find it too sweet.

Eggs ... Thanks, Chris! They actually passed their expiration date 1 1/2 weeks ago, but I employed the ancient water test. And they seem fine!

There's less water in the second pic because Archimedes.

Mushrooms ... are an indispensable part of my pasta dishes as they go extremely well with cheese. I remember being fairly confused about mushrooms when I first arrived in the UK. They are all called... mushrooms! In the Czech Republic, many families engage in the traditional mushroom picking which requires knowledge of their individual names, forms, toxicity and place of growth. The term houby refers to the group itself, not a specific type. I've never been a big mushroom lover, but luckily it's fairly easy to identify Tesco's mushrooms as žampióny

Gorgonzola ... My usual choice for carbonara is good old cheddar as it blends well with sauce when heated. However, Ms. G does feature in one of the best cheese memories of my life: One Venetian evening in August 2012, I ordered gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce. Mind was blown on that day, I tell ya. (Note to self: Must re-create soonish.) In hopes of experiencing the pure awesomeness once again, I picked gorgonzola to be my cheese base for today. 

Broccoli ... I was a die hard spinach fan for most of my veggie life, but I knew the day will come when I had to learn to accept broccoli into my life. I started slowly - boiling it and mixing it into sauces to the point where I cannot tell it is actually there. Like baby food. 
This is one of the recipes. 

Arugula ... I basically put arugula into everything I eat. I love its peppery taste, so unusual for a green. One week I tried substituting it with watercress, but nevermore. Watercress may have a nutritional advantage in many ways, but I shall remain an arugula woman. 

Garlic ... is one my favourite foods on this planet. The more, the better. I have yet to eat a dish with too much garlic in it. I actually think that relationships work on a garlic compatibility. What can be sexier than garlic breath (or a person who accepts you the way you are: with constant garlic breath)? 
Although Daria makes a fair point as well. 

Black olives ... Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Black olives. The Charlie's Angels of my food world. 

Um okay, this post is becoming worryingly intimate. This is the reason I need a blog. So I don't end up talking like this in front of people. 
Here are the instructions. 

Let's play "Spot the ingredient Kristina forgot to include in the pre-cooking pic" game. The first one to comment accurately wins... a cookie.

Spaghetti Carbonara

2 eggs
3 closed cup mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
3 medium-sized broccoli florets
Whole wheat spaghetti
Black olives
Coconut oil
Hemp milk
Basil, nutmeg, white pepper, salt

1) Cook spaghetti. I usually boil the water in an electric kettle for time-saving purposes. I used to break the sticks in halves to fit them in the pot, but waiting for the lower half to soften and then pushing the rest inside is waaay more fun. And you get full-sized spaghetti.
Add a pinch of salt for taste.

2) Dice mushrooms and fry them up on coconut oil until soft. You can tell they are ready when you are able to cut them in half with a wooden (plastic) spoon. 

3) Cook broccoli. I recommend purchasing it frozen as the majority of the nutrients are not lost and you can store more for later!

Why do I keep seeing humanoid figures in my meals? Have I been watching too much Hannibal

4) Mash garlic. The garlic press is probably my second favourite kitchen appliance, right after the god-almighty blender of course! (How is there no hilarious blender-related Futurama pic anywhere on Google? I am disappointed. And inspired.)

5) Crack eggs into a bowl and mix with a fork. Cut the gorgonzola and boiled broccoli into small pieces. Add both into the bowl followed by mushrooms, mashed garlic, arugula (torn into small pieces) and spices. Dilute with a bit of hemp milk if you wish.

6) Rinse spaghetti under cold water to prevent stickiness.

7) Place spaghetti on the frying pan and pour the carbonara mixture on top. Mix well with wooden spoon under medium heat until sauce solidifies. 

8) Decorate with black olives for extra om nominess! :) 

Yummy meal, but the G-magic did not happen. I guess we'll always have Venice... 

Illustrative recipe TBC!