Saturday, July 17, 2010


It is sweet indulgence time! Is there a better time to satisfy your sweet tooth than celebrating a girl's night in? (Well I can break anytime for anything chocolate!)

This week's theme at IHCC is Girl's Night In. Time to bring out the chocolate! I choose Brownies by Mark Bittman.

The recipe was quick and only called for 7 ingredients. Waiting for the brownies to cool was a real test of patience. I did use parchment paper to line my baking pan. I confess I have never thought about that when baking brownies. They turned out of the pan rather nicely. This will be a recipe I will prepare again. I wish I had added pecans or walnuts. Oh another reason to make another batch!

~ I did use the vanilla extract. It didn't make it into the picture. I also sprinkled some shaved chocolate and powdered sugar on top of the brownies.


Yield About 1 dozen brownies

Mark Bittman

As long as you keep the flour to a minimum and don\'t add chemical leavening like baking powder, you will produce a true and beautiful brownie.

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt if you use unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is just about melted, remove from heat, and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Meanwhile, grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. If you like, also line it with waxed or parchment paper and grease that.
  • 2. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and stir in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour (and salt and vanilla if you are using them), and stir to incorporate. Stop stirring when no traces of flour remain.
  • 3. Pour into pan, and bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until set and barely firm in the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pasta with Bacon, Spinach and Breadcrumbs

Bacon...Bacon...Bacon can be crispy, chewy, fried, broiled and oh my even deep fried. Bacon can be sweet,smokey, salty and peppery. One thing for sure bacon is one of the palate's pleasures.

This week at IHCC we are bringing home the bacon and oh Yes, it's frying in my skillet! Pasta with Bacon,Spinach, and Breadcrumbs is the Mark Bittman recipe I chose to prepare this week.

I found the recipe online. Mr. Bittman was preparing pasta dishes! YUM. Here is the link:

This was a very quick and easy recipe.However, I prepared the spinach differently than the recipe. I fried the bacon while the pasta water heated. As the pasta cooked, I added the garlic and spinach to a very small amount of the bacon drippings. The spinach cooked pretty fast and also cooked down in amount as well. The bacon was snipped into bite size pieces and mixed into the pasta/spinach mixture.

I did not add any olive oil. I felt there was "enough" added oil by using the bacon drippings. I did use Parmesan cheese to top off the dish. The pepper flakes gave a hint of a kick, not a hard "kick". Spinach goes so well with bacon, or should I say bacon goes so well with spinach?

My house smelled delicious! I forgot to add the breadcrumbs. No time was wasted as we were ready to sit down and eat. I plan on preparing this dish again. It was a quick,delicious, comfort dish.

I am also sending this in to which is being hosted this week by Pam at

Pasta with Bacon,Spinach,and Breadcrumbs (oops I forgot the breadcrumbs)
Adapted from Mark Bittman

  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and slivered
  • 1 cup of homemade breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt
  • Remaining spinach (about 3/4 pound), washed and trimmed
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Baking Directions


1. Put the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until it begins to brown and renders fat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add the garlic to the bacon fat, and cook, stirring occasionally until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes, if using, and continue cooking and stirring until the garlic is lightly crisp and the breadcrumbs are just golden. Remove the garlic and breadcrumbs from the pan and set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the spinach until it's soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan with a slotted spoon or small strainer, drain well, chop, and set aside. Using the same pot of boiling water, cook the pasta.

4. While the pasta cooks, add the oil to the skillet and warm over medium-low heat. Add the drained spinach and toss well with the oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the spinach is warm add the bacon, garlic, and breadcrumbs back to the pan and mix well.

5. When the pasta is done, drain it, and add it to the skillet with the spinach, bacon, garlic, and breadcrumbs; toss until well combined. If the mixture is dry, drizzle with a bit of olive oil; adjust the seasonings, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chorizo, Bruschetta, Tapenade, Chicken Curry Salad

The July 4th holiday is this weekend. The fireworks will be blasting right along with the heat here in the south. It is Picnic week at IHCC!

I was searching Mark Bittman recipes one evening and found 101 simple appetizers in 20 minutes on Bittman’s minimalist column.

There are some quick and tasty ideas there for appetizers.

I chose to prepare:
# 11. Tapenade Tapenade: Combine about 1 pound pitted black olives in food processor with 1/4 cup drained capers, at least 5 anchovies, 2 garlic cloves, black pepper and olive oil as necessary to make a coarse paste. Can also be a dip. Use sparingly; it’s strong.

#18. Bruschetta Bruschetta is the basis for so many good things. Don’t make it too crisp, and start with good country bread. Brush thick slices with olive oil. Broil until toasted on both sides. While it’s still hot, rub with cut clove of garlic on one side (optional). Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and serve, or top with prosciutto or tapenade.

#23. Chorizo chunks on a toothpick Cut chorizo into chunks. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet until nicely browned. Kielbasa is equally good (or better), if not as hip.
I used Mexican chorizo, fresh basil and grape tomatoes on a toothpick!

To round out the picnic I also used Bittman’s Chicken Curry Salad and added a few of my own additions. I added carrots, celery, raisins and a small amount of chopped tomato. I omitted the apple. This is a wonderful, light, spicy and fresh chicken salad served wrapped up in crisp lettuce leaves.

Chicken curry salad: Adapted from Mark Bittman

Makes 4 Servings Time: About 30 minutes
Poaching chicken in chicken stock improves both stock and chicken; you'll get delicious chicken for this salad, and great stock for the next time you need it. A delightful change from traditional chicken salad.
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, storebought broth, or water, preferably warmed
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (leftover chicken is fine; don't recook it), rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plain yogurt (or use more mayonnaise)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon curry powder or garam masala or to taste
1/2 cup peeled and diced apple or 1/2 cup lightly toasted blanched slivered almonds
1. Place the stock in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the chicken breast. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken breast is cooked through. Remove the meat; strain and reserve the stock for another use.
2. Cool the chicken, cut it into small pieces, and toss it with the remaining ingredients. Taste, correct seasoning, and serve

The verdict: All the recipes were quick,easy and delicious. Each dish fits wonderfully in my picnic basket. One thing I would have done differently: I would have added just two anchovies to the tapenade. A small amount of the tapenade does go a long way! Now who wants to go on a picnic?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Southern Delicacy: Fried Okra and Green Tomatoes

I picked up some fresh okra and green tomatoes at our local trade day. Trade day here is held every Tuesday and Saturday morning. It is a local flea market where folks sell odds and ends, fresh, plants, anything you can imagine and Yes, fresh locally grown veggies.

I decided to fry up the okra and green tomatoes southern style!

The okra was crispy and the green tomatoes were crispy, tangy and creamy.

I remember visiting my relatives once that live above the "Mason Dixon" line. They looked at me strangely when I mention fried okra and green tomatoes. They had never tasted this southern delicacy! I searched the local markets and it was a real hunt in the north for fresh okra!
I pulled out an Aunt's iron skillet and fried my relatives up a batch. They really enjoyed the new way to eat okra.

I am also sending this one in for the side dish showdown over at Cinnamon Spice.

Side Dish Showdown Blogger Event

My recipe is easy.
1-2 pounds green tomatoes
1 1/2 - 2 pounds fresh okra
2-3 cups of oil
3 cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
salt, pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
paper towels for draining.

Wash and dry the okra and tomatoes thoroughly.
Slice the okra in half inch bites and the tomatoes in wedges.
soak the okra and tomatoes in buttermilk while your oil is heating
preheat oil to 375. Canola or vegetable oil (in a skillet, an iron skillet gives the best scald (southern term)
Add 3 cups of yellow cornmeal and 2 cups of flour to a ziploc bag
Add salt, pepper and a small amount of cayenne pepper if you would like some kick to flour
Take a handful or so of soaked okra and tomatoes add to bag, coat and drop into heated oil.
Fry until they turn a nice golden brown and begins to float.
Fry in small batches
Drain on paper towels, season to taste

voila a soothing southern delicacy!

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