Friday, September 24, 2010

3 C's (chili, cayenne, cocoa) for the Colwin-Hepburn Brownie

Although I respectfully revised it in a 2007 blog post, I stand second to none in my admiration for Laurie Colwin's  version of Kathryn Hepburn's iconic from More Home Cooking. (pages 75-80)

Now inspired by a throw-away line about chili and chocolate in the first episode of Top Chef Desserts, I have made the Colwin-Hepburn brownie faster and easier, and with a kick for 2010.  It has one bowl and the three C's: chili, cayenne, and cocoa.

Note on pan size:  I use an 9-inch round which makes a very short (1/2 to 3/4") brownie.  Baked in a smaller round or square, the brownie will be taller.  Take your pick, decide on whether you like under-or-over-baked brownies, and check the oven after 30 minutes of baking. Use a toothpick or skewer to check for doneness. "Done" means that you see crumbs and not liquid gunk on the toothpick, and that the brownie is beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan.

A Brownie With Affection for Laurie, Kathryn and the Three C's

1 stick plus 2 T butter
6 T Penzey's Dutch Process or other high butter-fat cocoa
1 tsp Penzey's ancho or other red chili
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 325. Spray your pan.
2.  Use the microwave: In a medium bowl, melt the butter, cocoa, chili, and cayenne.  Stir after 20 seconds on high and continue in 10 second increments. Your goal is to melt not boil this mixture.
3.  Add the sugar. Mix well.  Do not be tempted to add the eggs before the sugar. If your butter mixture is too hot, you will have scrambled eggs.
4.  Add the eggs. Mix well.
5.  Add the flour and salt. Mix gently.
6.  Spread in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes and check it with a toothpick (as above) every five minutes after that. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SweeTango, An Apple Lifelist Challenge and My Hot Dog Lifelist

Had my first SweeTango apple this morning. It was very good -- crisp, bright, and with a clearly identifiable and sweet flavor. It is not, however, a Honeycrisp, which remains a favorite, along with Gala, Pink Lady, Jazz Apple and, to give body to some Very Important Apple Crisps, the Granny Smith.

As someone with more than a quarter of century of concern for The Employment of Lawyers, I must report that SweeTango is the subject of litigation about its commercialization. As Ed Lotterman in the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, it is also at the center of a public policy controversy that "...has important implications for the way we pay for and perform research and disseminate new technology in an era where taxpayers are less willing to foot the bill."

While waiting for this dispute to be resolved -- which could take a lifetime -- why not take up a Real Apple Challenge? Check out the All About Apples Variety List and set up an Apple Lifelist. Our friends who are serious Birders chart all of the birds that they have identified.

It is a modest and pleasant obsession, which I has taken me to Los Angeles (Pinks), Chicago (too many to report here), New York (Nathan's, Gray's Papaya and many pushcarts), Atlanta (The Varsity), Pennsylvania (A Chili Dog from "The O" in Pittsburgh is at right), Macon (the excellent Nu-Way), Minnesota (Chris & Rob's), and, my personal favorite, for the adventure and for the taste -- to Reindeer Sausage with Mike Anderson at the start of the 2003 Itiderod.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Tiny Peugeot Pepper Mill Ends Traveler's Tasteless Black Pepper Dust Misery

Tasteless Black Pepper Dust is one of the lesser miseries of a frequent traveler.  On a room service breakfast before the caffeine kicks in, or in an airport where flavor is hard to find, Black Pepper Dust is one more reminder that you are away from the comforts of home.

For me, the Last Black Pepper Dust was on an otherwise excellent Southwestern Omelet at the San Pedro (CA) Crowne Plaza. While I am sure that one of the helpful servers would have found a pepper mill, I was not sufficiently caffeinated to make the request. 

Problem Solved:  I am now the proud owner of a Peugeot Reims 4-inch Pocket Stainless Steel Pepper Mill. It comes with a pouch. It will travel with me tomorrow as I head out to the U of Iowa College of Law for a Pass the Baton "Professionalism Has Attached" presentation.