Friday, January 27, 2012

Update on the Brussels Sprouts Entry - We Have a Winner!

A few weeks ago I published a recipe for Brussels Sprouts as part of a submission to a local cooking contest sponsored by Center City Cooks and  Well, the results are in, and the Brussels Sprouts have won! I can't even believe it! The finalists and winning entry are posted on  How exciting!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Restaurant-Style Pad Thai

I used to be intimidated by Thai food thinking that it was all explosively curried or insanely spicy. Then one night Ryan took me to a Thai restaurant in Manayunk (Philadelphia), and my entire view changed. Since then we've found what we consider to be the best Thai in the area a little farther up the Schuykill Expressway at a place called Chiang-mai. I highly recommend going there if you like Thai food. It's reasonably priced,  fantastically delicious, and it inspired me to come up with a Chicken Pad Thai recipe of my own. I don't think it will ever beat theirs, but we love it just the same. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cake

I realize that "Chocolate Stout Cake" is an obvious contradiction to my New Year's resolution of eating healthier, but this is so delicious that I couldn't resist writing about it now.  After all, even the best of healthy eaters deserve a treat once in a while.  

Last night while Ryan and I were watching an episode of our current TV series addiction, "Breaking Bad", I received a text message from my brother:  "Made a stout chocolate cake tonight!".  

"A what?", I thought, "That sounds amazing!".

So needless to say this idea and recipe comes via my brother whose main hobby for the past year and a half has been Battery Brewing, run by him and his buddy. Photos are courtesy of his girlfriend Alexa.  For a full description complete with photos click here.

Ingredients (Yields 1 9x13 inch cake)

1 c. stout (they used Dominion Oak Barrel Stout)
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 c. unsweetened Dark cocoa powder
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 c. sour cream

1 c. whipping cream
1/2 lb. semisweet chocolate chips

For cake:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter one 9x13 inch rectangular cake pan.  Line with parchment or waxed paper. Butter paper. 
2.  Bring the stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. 

3.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. 
4.  Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. 
5.  Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. 
6.  Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed until completely combined. 
7.  Pour the batter in to the prepared cake pan.
8.  Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
9.  Remove cake from pan, peel off parchment and allow it to continue to cool.

For icing:
1. Bring cream to just before boiling in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. 
2.  Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. 
3.  Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours.

4.  Spread icing over cake.  To make a layer cake, cut the 9x13 cake in half and stack the layers, spreading the icing in between.

Note:  This recipe is an adaptation of one found on

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts seem to be all the rage lately. Have you noticed this? They're something I rarely think of, but my mom served them with Thanksgiving dinner, and they've been on my mind ever since. The other day while perusing  for various ideas I came across the following link: "New cookbook and a contest". I immediately clicked. Who can resist a cooking contest!?  Not me. After all, it could be the gateway to increasing readership!  Or at least something really delicious I didn't know about before! So I read the details which went a little something like this:

"Center City Cooks is a compilation of recipes from Philadelphia's Restaurant Week chefs.  Choose your favorite recipe from the Fall or Winter edition, prepare the dish, take a photo and submit via email.  Beverage recipe submissions are not permitted." 

I was immediately drawn to the recipe for "Brussels Sprouts" from Square 1682 so I scurried off to my local produce store and snatched up some fresh sprouts (on sale!).  Back to the kitchen I went, overly aware and slightly frightened by two sentences in the recipe:  "Do not overcook!  Overcooked brussels sprouts are bitter and are the main reason why some people don't like them.".  No pressure...

They turned out extremely well, and I served them with a steak and some potato slices sauteed with Old Bay as shown below.  I would definitely recommend this recipe and certainly will be making them again.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Holiday Hangover

I'm not talking about the booze-induced kind. I'm talking about the post-Christmas haze devoid of anticipation of impending parties and celebrations, the dark empty space in my living room where my Christmas tree gleamed brightly a mere four days ago, and the fact that there are now 3 cold, gray months of winter ahead with no holidays in sight. And, please, don't tell me that the Superbowl is a holiday. 

What's a girl to do? I could live in denial and perpetuate the holiday season, but I think my fiance has that covered for both of us...he insisted that we listen to Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas album one last time during dinner last night. As much as I love it, it just didn't sound the same.

Instead, I think it's time to move on and kick off the New Year in an extremely stereotypical way:  by eating healthier. Before you stop reading allow me to clarify that I did not say that ugly four letter word "diet", I'm not about to do a juice cleanse and you won't find any recipes on here sans carbs, but let's face it eating around the holidays gets out of control. For the past month you've been at parties downing wine and beer and eating appetizers and desserts that put your daily caloric intake on overload. And don't tell me "Yeah but I work out so it's fine." or "I'll spend some extra time at the gym.".  There's not enough hours in a week to permit the gym time required to burn that excess. Now is the perfect time to get back on track and be a little more aware of our intake.