Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Red Chili Brownies July 29, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Events,Home Made,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 6:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am currently in the depths of catering hell. Well, not quite, but I can pretend in the hopes of getting sympathy right? Suffice it to say that while I am actually making a bunch of food for an event, it is generally going smoothly so the h-double-hockey-sticks is a bit of an exaggeration. I have successfully finished four deserts and am currently taking a short break from prep work for tomorrow’s breakfast. I figured what better time than now to share with you, my readers, the most excellent creation I conjured forth – Red Chili Brownies.

Now, I realize that this is not an entirely unique creation. In fact, chocolate and spice seems to be the thing these days, but I am proud of myself for the original recipe nonetheless and am hoping that some of you might enjoy nibbling on a few of these while imaging yourself in the Land of Enchantment.

For those of you familiar with the local fare, Red Chili is a staple in northern New Mexican food. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to prepare it and while I do not purport to be an expert, I certainly have my own preferences. I tend to buy red chili powder, rather than pods, and use it as a seasoning for sauces and other savory dishes. This was my first foray into spicey-sweet.

I wish my camera was working because these things are beautiful. Basically I started with pan of brownies, which I then cut into circles with a biscuit cutter and topped with a thick bittersweet ganache and a dash of red chili powder. They are bite sized pieces of marvelosity. Which I realize isn’t a word but it certainly describes these little morsels!

Red Chili Brownie

10 TBSP organic unsalted butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate of your choice
1 3/4 c organic cane sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP vanilla
1 c flour
1 – 2 TBSP red chili powder from New Mexico red chili (if available)*
1 tsp cinnamon

*Depending on how hot you like it! I use about 1 TBSP because I am a whimp!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9×13 baking dish.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Whisk the flour, red chili and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside. While waiting for the chocolate to cool, beat the eggs and salt until light and foamy. Add the sugar and beat until mixed. Slowly add the cooled chocolate to the egg mixture, stirring while you do so in order to incorporate the chocolate fully. Fold the flour and chili mixture into the batter until just combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake until just set, so that a toothpick stuck in the center comes out somewhat cakey, about 18 minutes.

For the ganache:

Heat 1 c heavy cream over a low heat until it just starts to simmer at the edges and begins to form a skin. Pour an 8 oz bag of bittersweet chocolate chips into a heat proof bowl and then pour the hot cream over them, stirring until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Spread over the cooled brownies and sprinkle lightly with red chili powder.

Happy Eating! (and lets hope I can my camera up and running so I can have pics of these!)


Delicious Ricotta and Peach Tart May 29, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cheese making,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 1:51 pm
Tags: , , ,

Now that my goat is back in milk, I am back to my cheese making rituals. The girl I have in milk at the moment is giving me nearly a gallon a day already, and will probably give me more in the next month or so. One of my favorite cheeses to have on hand is ricotta. Ricotta is really a by-product of other cheese making, as it is made by reheating the whey left over from the drained curds of any other cheese. The actual ricotta itself is the small pieces of protein, known as albumin, and when the whey is recooked the proteins denature and if you have fine cheesecloth on hand you can strain it and get ricotta!

There are many uses for this cheese, but my favorite use is in baking. Ricotta can be used to make cheesecake like tarts, adds great flavor and texture to baked goods such as cakes and muffins, and of course is used frequently in baked pasta dishes such as lasagne. I like to experiment with it as it is very forgiving and last night in an effort to make some room in my fridge, I came up with this fabulous recipe.

Ricotta and Peach Tart

3-4 medium peaches
2 c ricotta cheese
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c cane sugar
1/2 c hazelnut flour

For the pastry

1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

Begin by making the pastry. You can use a food processor to speed this up. If you are going to mix it by hand, it is helpful to have the butter softened. Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the butter and combine, with the processor or a hand held pastry blender, until you have the appearance of coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix until it just comes together. Pour into a 9 inch tart pan and shape with your hands. Prick holes in the tart shell with a fork (or use pie weights to keep it from bubbling) and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until it just starts to brown.

While the pastry is blind baking, make the filling. Mix the ricotta with the egg white, whole egg, vanilla, sugar and hazelnut flour. Whisk until well mixed. Remove the tart shell from the oven and add the mixture. Return the filled shell to the oven, lower the oven temperature to 375 and bake until the tart sets, This should take about 35-45 minutes depending on the texture of the ricotta. Home-made ricotta tends to have more liquid in it than store bought and will take longer to set.

While the tart is baking, slice the peaches in half and remove the pits. Thinly slice the peaches, keeping the skin on, and place in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of sugar. When the tart is set, remove it from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Arrange the peaches on top in whatever pattern you want, being sure to include any juices that have accumulated while the peaches were macerating. Let cool and serve.

Enjoy and Happy Eating!


Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble April 25, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Farmer's Market,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:42 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Rhubarb and StrawberriesI love spring. Not only are the birds singing, the flowers blooming and the sun shining, but foods much missed over the winter are making a comeback. And the very best thing, in my mind, is the reappearance of strawberries and rhubarb – one of my favorite combos.

So this evening I decided to make an easy dessert. A simple crumble that has just enough good things in it to make it seem nearly like health food.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

1 pint organic strawberries – sliced
3 large stalks of fresh rhubarb – sliced
1/4 c sugar, approximately

for topping:

1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c rolled oats
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c what germ
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP butter

I like to cook my rhubarb and strawberries before making something like this. The primary reason is to avoid over sweetening, or worse under sweetening, your filling. If you cook them together with the sugar on the stove top first, just until they soften, you can gauge whether or not you need to add more sugar before the final baking.

Once this has been done, go ahead and mix up your crumble topping. Place the flour, sugar, salt, oats and wheat germ in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Using a pastry blender, add the butter and mix until you get a coarse crumb.

Pour the strawberry and rhubarb mixture into an 8×4 bread pan and cover with the crumble topping. Bake at 350 degrees until the filling bubbles and the topping mixture just begins to brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!



Figgy pudding and a variety of other baking woes January 1, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:48 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This years holiday season is upon us (boy is that an understatement) and I am so far behind on baking that I am almost ready to throw my hands up in the air and force people to make themselves sandwiches for dinner until 2010. It hasn’t helped that I was horribly ill over the weekend, meaning that the two days I was to spend making biscotti and minced beef suet were instead spent in bed or on the couch under copious blankets, desperately trying to keep my, also sick, two year old entertained without actually expending any energy.

I am sufficiently recovered at this point to get moving on this holiday thing, however, and while I am still hovering alarmingly close to the box of tissue in the dining room, I suspect that by tomorrow things will be in full swing. A batch of shortbread has already been made and consumed and I am moving on to the rest of my list. Most importantly will be the plum pudding attempt.

Traditional Christmas puddings (and by traditional I mean British) don’t actually have any plums in them. They are in fact mostly raisins and beef fat. I have been looking forward to trying beef suet ever since my first successful use of home rendered lard. The only thing I have been lacking was a good recipe in which to use it. But no longer!

I took the recipe right out of the Joy, modifying it only slightly, and was met with great success. A full days worth of effort went into the production, but the results were more than worth it. Additionally, thanks to a large quantity of spirits, all leftovers will leave over until well into the new year.

The process for making a steamed pudding is more time consuming than labor intensive and while a pudding mold does make the end result quite pretty, it is not necessary. A glass bowl will do just as well as long as you have aluminum foil with which to cover it. You will also need a large pot with a rack in order to steam the pudding. I used my pressure canner and it performed fabulously.

Plum Pudding

2 2/3 c raisins
1 1/2 c dried currants
1/2 c dried figs, diced
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
8 oz finely chopped or ground beef suet
1 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 c Cognac
1/3 c cream sherry

Begin by chopping coarsely 1/2 of the raisins. Combine the remainder of the raisins, the currants and figs with 2 c water. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes then uncover and let simmer until the remainder of the water boils away. Set aside and let cool until room temp – about 2 hours.

Frozen Beef SuetWhile you are waiting for the fruit mixture to cool, you can work on your beef suet. Beef fat is unlike leaf lard (pig fat) in that it has parchment like layers which need to be removed. The easiest way to do this is to freeze the suet prior to working with it and prepare it while it is still cold. The fat will simply crumble in your hands, having a very wax like consistency, and you can pull the parchment-like sections away. Once you have culled the fat thusly, simply use your best chef’s knife to mince it until it looks a bit like sand.

Minced SuetCombine the flour and minced beef suet in a bowl, rubbing it together with your hands until the fat particles are just separated. Add the sugar and spices and mix until just blended.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and the spirits, then add this to the flour mixture. Stir in the cooled fruit and pour the batter into a well greased mold. I used lard to grease the pudding mold, and I used a generous quantity at that. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace for the pudding to expand.

Pre-mold Pudding

Steaming away!Place the pudding in your canner (or other pot) and pour boiling water into it so it comes about 2/3 of the way up the side of your mold or bowl. For a 1 qt pudding, steam 4 to 5 hours. The above recipe makes two 1 quart desserts.

Garnish with some hard sauce (a concoction of butter, liquor and sugar) and enjoy. It should be noted this dessert is incredibly rich so proceed with caution.

Happy Holidays and enjoy 2010!


Mushroom and Thyme Tartlets December 2, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:41 am
Tags: , , , ,

Mushroom tartletWhile thinking up things to serve at my thanksgiving open house, I decided that mini mushroom tarts would be a fabulous savory option for my guests. Using a standard pie crust, two kinds of mushrooms and some beef stock, you can whip this up fairly quickly. Like my post about home made gnocchi, these tartlets do require a specific kitchen implement – i.e. mini muffin pans. They provide the perfect mold for the bite sized treats.

Mushroom and Thyme Tartlets

8 oz crimini mushrooms
1 large portabello mushroom
1 c beef broth
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for garnish
your favorite pie crust

Begin by dicing the mushrooms very fine. I use a food processor for this as it provides the paste-like consistency I prefer, however if you have decent knife skills you can simply dice the fungi down until you achieve nearly the same fineness. Set the mushrooms aside and melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat. Once it has melted add your flour to make your roux, whisking it steadily to ensure that a) there are no lumps and b) you don’t scorch it. Add the beef broth, whisking steadily until it starts to thicken. Add the mushrooms and the thyme. Due to the high water content of the mushrooms, your broth will re-liquify pretty quickly. Turn the heat up to medium-low and cook off the water until you get a pudding like consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is now ready to go into your pastry cups. Using your favorite pie dough recipe – such as the one found here. Roll out the dough until it is fairly thin – thinner than you would use in a regular pie. I would guess we’re talking about 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch, but this is completely made up. In order to fill the mini-muffin cups, you need a 1 1/2 or 2 inch biscuit cutter or a similarly sized glass. Cut out rounds of pie crust with your selected tool and gently mold them into the mini-muffin tin. You can grease the mini muffin pans if you’d like, but due to the nature of pie crust (i.e. it’s high fat content) you probably won’t need to. It never hurts though, right?

Fill the cups with the mushrooms and then sprinkle a small amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese on each one.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry starts to brown.


Peach Medeira Crumble September 17, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 3:08 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Peach Madeira Crumble

Peach Madeira Crumble

Peach season is coming to a close here and my last hurrah was a crumble using a type of Cling peach – basically a peach that maintains its firmness even when ripe and literally clings to the pit. While this makes the preparation rather difficult, it results in an excellent texture when baked – never mushy and always nice and firm.

It has been so rainy and cold here for the last few days that I wanted to do something nice and warm, but I had just made a pie and was kind of sick of traditional cobblers. It should also be noted that I needed my buttermilk for the chicken pot pie I am making tonight so that also forced me to experiment a bit with the recipe! I usually cover my cobblers with a sweet buttermilk biscuit dough.

Peach Madeira Crumble

4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced into 1/4 thick pieces.
1/4 c Madeira
1/2 c cane sugar

Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow the peaches to soak up the flavor of the Madeira.

The Topping

1 c all purpose flour
6 TBSP butter, chilled
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c pecan pieces

Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Using a pastry blender mix the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal. Add the pecans.

Once the peach mixture is good and infused, place it into a 11×7 inch baking dish. Cover it with the crumble mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on how dark you want your topping to get.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for the ultimate dessert.

Happy Eating!


Nothing says fall like apple pie! September 14, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Garden Fresh,Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 10:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Constructing the Pie

Constructing the Pie

We planted a few apple trees this year and while we pinched back most of the buds, I decided to save enough on our Granny Smith tree to make one pie. The apples have just started falling this week and so I decided to take advantage both of their ripeness and the cooler weather to make an apple pie with them – hopefully the first of many as we will soon be going to a local orchard to do some picking.

However this pie was particularly special because it used our apples, our very own apples, and the results were absolutely fantastic. Because my boyfriend doesn’t like cinnamon, I tend to use different spices to add flavor to my apple pies, resulting in a more cider like taste. Although, it should be noted, I haven’t gotten rid of the cinnamon entirely. That would just be wrong!

Fresh From the Tree Apple Pie

10-12 medium tart apples, peeled and cored. (Approx 3 – 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup evaporated cane juice*
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

*The sugar content can be adjusted to your taste and to the tartness of your apples. Always taste your apples before applying sugar!

Cut the apples into fairly thick slices – I like them to be about 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Mix the apples with the spices and sugar and pour into your pie crust.

Below are the crust recipe and baking instructions.

Amazing Pie Crust

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c lard, chilled (learn how to render at home here)
3 TBSP butter, chilled and cut into cubes
5-6 TBSP ice water.
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar

Finished Apple Pie

Finished Apple Pie

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk several times to mix. Add the lard and the cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter, mix the lard and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs – the pastry may start to come together a bit at this point. Add the ice water one teaspoon at a time until you can pick up the pastry and it will hold its shape when squeezed. Split the pastry in half and shape into disks. Store each pastry disk in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Prior to rolling the dough out, let it warm up for about 10 minutes or so otherwise you will have a hard time. Also be sure to use a lot of flour while rolling it out!

After the pie is constructed, brush a thin layer of heavy cream over the crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle some raw sugar on the top for texture. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about an hour or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Serve drizzled with more heavy cream to bring everything together.

Happy Eating!

This post was my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.