Showing posts with label Cristeta Comerford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cristeta Comerford. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brownie Bites and Contest Update

"Eggstra" Contest update...

I've received quite a few emails from readers who have spotted Eggsecutive Orders at bookstores. These, of course, are the early appearances.

Today is the book's official release date (woo-hoo!!) and your last week to enter the "Spot the Book" contest! I'm hoping to hear that it's everywhere -- please let me know! If you email me with where and when you spotted the book, you could be entered to win a $25 bookstore gift certificate. Details on this contest (and more about our Secret Ingredient contest) by clicking here.

And, while you're reading Eggsecutive Orders (how's that for a segue? Almost as good as Avery's yesterday) you may want to have a sweet snack.

Today's recipe is Brownie Bites featured in the second White House Chef mystery - Hail to the Chef.

Here's one issue I have with that recipe - in the book, it appears on pages 323 and 324. I don't like having the ingredient list split up like that. I much prefer having a recipe per page. Hoping to ensure that going forward...

These are *delicious* and very easy to make. One of my readers and friends (Hi, Cathy!!) told me she served them at her book discussion group with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center. Chocolate or fudge drizzled on top and you have a dessert fit for fancy!

I made these twice over the holidays - once for Christmas, once for New Year's. I didn't serve them with ice cream, but used Hershey Hugs to top them. I also tried crushed peppermint sticks on top - these originally looked fabulous, but I probably should have waited until the bites were completely cooled. The peppermint pieces melted, just a little bit. Not so fabulous looking. Word to the wise - wait ;-)

Brownie Bites
(all on one page!)

3/4 cup good quality cocoa (I used Hershey's)
3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa
1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk (don't add all at once)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the cocoa, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl stir until the cocoa is fully incorporated, and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Add dry ingredients all at once and gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together. Stir only until the ingredients are mixed. Too much stirring makes the brownies tough.

Place foil (paper cups will shred, so using foil is important) baking cups into 2 12 cup muffin tins. Spray with cooking spray or grease with shortening. Fill the cups 2/3 full with the brownie mixture.

Place in oven and bake until the mixture is just set and lovely cracks appear on the surface of the brownie bites—about 15-20 minutes. Remove cups from tins and let brownie bites cool.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla, and blend until the mixture is fully mixed. Add the milk, a tablespoonful at a time, and continue beating the frosting. When the frosting looks glossy and forms soft peaks, it’s ready to use.

Frost the brownies in their foil cups.

Garnish with pecan halves, or the garnish of your choice.

(Other options for garnishes include everything from mini-chocolate chips to a sprinkle of coconut to a fan of candy corn –cute in the fall—to white chocolate curls to chocolate covered coffee beans to peanut butter cups to peppermint patties to other chocolates. Tailor your garnish to your anticipated diners. If you’re feeding mostly adults, go for sophistication. If you’re feeding lots of kids, raid the candy store. The pecan halves are a compromise—both adults and kids like them, and the people who don’t like nuts can easily remove them. But the sky’s the limit as far as garnishing these goes.)

I love these... so pretty, so delicious.

Hope you enjoy!


Hey, by the way, did anyone watch IRON CHEF on Sunday? Was that fun, or what? To me it felt like I was watching my character, Ollie, up there competing with all the "big names" in the culinary world. First female White House Executive Chef. You go, Cristeta!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pumpkin Spread and Pumpkin LaFourche

What do you think Iron Chefs do when the revealed ingredient is one they’ve never used before?

As one of the “Iron Chefs” on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, I got to figure out that answer firsthand! Every Thanksgiving, when the table is cleared after dinner and turkey and stuffing have been put away, out comes the traditional dessert -- pumpkin pie. Plates are passed, loaded, and passed back.

And I just keep on passing. My family loves the dessert. I do not. Give me more stuffing, with a huge ladle-ful of gravy and I’ll be content.

But pumpkin is our Iron Chef ingredient this week. Although I've never used it before, I was determined to come up with something original and unique. I knew better than to try to work with fresh pumpkin, so I bought myself a couple of cans. And I began to experiment.

Some of my concoctions are better left unmentioned… but one, finally, made the cut. It’s quick and simple and not very fancy – Pumpkin spread for crackers. Yep, pretty basic.

Realizing I wouldn’t come up with anything truly great with my pumpkin experiments, I called for help. My brother made Pumpkin LaFourche for Thanksgiving one year. It’s served hot at dinner (not a dessert, although it is plenty sweet), and everyone raved. It’s not my original recipe, of course. It comes from the Madewood Plantation in Napoleonville, Louisiana, where my brother once stayed. Check out the Madewood website. I would *love* to spend a weekend there!

The recipe is involved, but delicious. I had some when my brother made it and I even enjoyed it—despite the fact that it had pumpkin as an ingredient ;-)

You can find the recipe for Pumpkin LaFourche here.

Now, for my feeble attempt at pumpkin spread…

8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup Fluff
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
Graham Crackers

Soften cream cheese and mix all ingredients well. Spread on graham crackers and enjoy.
(My family liked them and I even had some… my reaction? “Not bad.”)

That's a photo of a cracker and spread moments before being consumed....

As Avery announced yesterday, we want to congratulate our first Iron Chef Week WINNER! It's MOLLY EBERT. She's won a $25 gift card to Williams-Sonoma. Molly gave us a terrific secret ingredient. Tune in, in December, to find out what it is and how we will use it when we have our NEXT Iron Chef Week.

I want to shout out to some of our other “secret ingredient” submitters -- JANEL who suggested quinoa (I had to look that one up. The Wikipedia article describing it is here.) And shout-outs to WENDY who suggested smoked paprika and SUZANNE who suggested pomegranate. Lots of great ideas from all of you! Stay tuned for when our new secret Iron Chef ingredient is announced!

Hope you enjoy the *real* recipe of Pumpkin LaFourche!


Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, and Hail to the Chef

Eggsecutive Orders comes out January 5, 2010 Just 2 days after
How cool is that!! ;-)

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