Monday, March 9, 2009

Mini Smoker

I got a mini stovetop smoker for my birthday and we decided to try it out the other night.

Our menu consisted of pork tenderloin with sweet turnips and baby carrots smoked over hickory chips. For seasoning, I stuck with a little salt and pepper because I wanted to experience the unadulterated smoked taste. The items being smoked sit on a rack over a drip tray. Under the tray you place about 1 Tbsp of the wood chips, then you place it on a burner set to medium heat. Surprisingly, it only takes about 30-45 minutes of cooking time and a few minutes under the broiler to brown things a little if you want. There was also very little smoke... just a few wisps escaping from time to time - the smell is quite strong though, so it's probably wise to use the oven exhaust fan while you're cooking.
Personally, I found the meat to be a little dry. I can see why they recommend using barbecue sauce for most meats - next time I think I'll just use the drippings to make a nice smoky gravy. The vegetables, however, were divine! They were nice and tender and had a wonderful smoky flavor that just made them stand out - esp. the turnips.

Next time we're going try fish with radishes and fennel smoked over alder chips!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Birthday Brownies

For my birthday, I decided I wanted to have brownies rather than a cake - and I found this recipe that was really intriguing so I decided I'd give it a try. It was the challenge recipe from Wondertime (sort of a my brownies are better than your brownies thing).
I have to say, they were really good. But I don't think I'd really call them brownies - they were more like fudge. I guess I like my brownies to have a bit more cake texture to them while still being fudgy. These are better when chilled but while not overly sweet, they are super rich... so have a glass of cold milk at the ready! They haven't posted the recipe online yet, so I'll print it here and update with the link when they have it ready.

Layered Brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla


1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

Brownies: Heat oven to 300. Butter a 9x13 pan. Melt the stick of butter and chocolate in a small pan over very low heat or in a double boiler. Remove from heat. While the mixture cools, beat together the sugar, eggs, and salt for 8 minutes. Fold in the chocolate mixture, then the flour and vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until it pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly, about an hour and a half.
Frosting: After the brownies have cooled for an hour, melt the butter over low heat until it's medium brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately beat in the confectioners sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla. Frost the brownies with this mixture while it's still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Glaze: While the frosting cools, melt together the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a small pan over very low heat or in a double boiler. Pour over the white icing. (The best way to do this is to pour the chocolate on and tilt the pan back and forth until covered.) When the glaze has hardened - it will take an hour or two - cut the brownies into squares. Chill thoroughly before eating.

The next time I'm craving brownies, I think I'll try the ones my friend Tara has been raving about here...