Monday, February 27, 2012

Oven Puffed Pancake

I asked for a cast iron skillet for Christmas this past year, and Santa delivered! I know a few people that rave about cast iron cookware, and I decided to make an oven puffed pancake in it. I used a recipe similar to this one from Cooking Light. I was quite impressed with how it puffed up, and it wasn't too heavy. I definitely want to make this again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Super Bowl Ultimate Brownie Fail

I found this recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie and Oreo Brownie Bars, and I thought I would give them a try for a Super Bowl Party I was going to. Well, mine did not quite turn out like the recipe described. They started out amazing:

You really can't go wrong with chocolate chip cookies using Ghiradelli Chocolate chips:

 Then came the Oreo layer on top:

Baked with the brownie mix on top:
Looking good...but I hadn't cut into them yet and realized they were no good...

Once it was baked and cooled, that was when I realized there was a problem. I decided to sneak a tiny corner to taste test, and I realized the waxed paper that was called for to line the pan wasn't going to come off the sides. I then decided to see if I could salvage everything else but cutting the brownies into squares and throwing away the sides with the waxed paper stuck to them. That's when I realized they didn't cook through:
Fudgy gooiness is normally delicious...but raw gooiness...not so much.
 I had extended the baking time by at least 15 minutes, but the cookie bottom never quite cooked through and the waxed paper wasn't coming off the middle brownies either. I ended up tossing the whole thing. I cried a little inside. I tried one of the cooked sides, and they were kind of overwhelming. I didn't think this would be too much of a good thing, but it was. I think if I did try to make these again, I would bake the cookie bottom first and then add the brownie top after the cookie bottom baked for 15-20 minutes.
Hello unbaked cookie. I couldn't risk people getting sick...
Since I needed to make some sort of dessert for the party I was going to, I decided to make something with puff pastry since I had a box of it in the freezer. Enter fudgy brownie cups:
Not that attractive looking, but still good. At least the one, front/center, looked the way it was supposed to.

I found this particular recipe from, and they were a hit. They were really easy to make-- unsweetened chocolate and butter are melted in the microwave, and then eggs, vanilla, and sugar are added. I need to improve my cutting and measuring skills since I ended up cutting 24 abstract squares instead of 20 perfect squares. They still tasted fine, but they looked a little unfortunate.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brined and Roasted Chicken

I've made roasted chicken before, but I have never brined a chicken. I found a recipe for a brined and roasted chicken in my new Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. After making this chicken, I don't think I will ever make another roasted chicken that isn't brined--it was so good. This recipe requires the chicken to be rotated 3 times while cooking. This may seem like a pain, but it is worth it. You don't need very many ingredients for this:

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1- 3 1b. chicken (discard giblets)
 2 tablespoons softened butter
 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. To brine the chicken, dissolve the sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water. I used a large glass bowl, submerged the chicken, and placed a heavy dinner plate on top to keep the chicken submerged. Brine for one hour. After an hour, remove the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; and while the oven preheats, place a roasting pan in the oven. The oven rack should be adjusted to the lower middle position.
  3. While the roasting pan and oven preheat, gently loosen the skin covering each breast, and spread the butter under the skin with your fingers directly on the breast meat. Tuck the wings behind the back, and rub the skin with oil. Pepper the chicken.
  4. Place the chicken in the preheated roasting pan on its side. One wing should be facing up. Use wads of foil to keep chicken propped on its side in the pan. You can also use a v-rack to keep the chicken propped on its side. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, rotate chicken to its other side with the opposite wing facing up. Wads of paper towels may be helpful for rotating the chicken. Roast for another 15 minutes.
  6. After the second 15 minutes, rotate chicken so the breast side faces up, and roast the chicken until the breast registers 160 degrees and the thighs register 175 degrees. This should take around 20-30 minutes. 
  7. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan and let it rest on a carving board for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to stay in the meat.