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Iced Lemon Bars

When you think of lemon bars, you probably picture the lemon curd-topped treats that make citrus-lovers’ mouths water. I love a good lemon bar – and I have a recipe for perfect ones – but that’s not the only lemon dessert out there when you’re in the mood for a little citrus. These Iced Lemon Bars are dense, tender cakes that are topped with a lemon icing. They’re bursting with lemon flavor, though you’ll probably only need a single lemon to make a batch, and they’ll satisfy a citrus craving every time.

The cake bars start with a batter that is flavored generously with lemon zest. The zest of a lemon is the colorful outer peel of the citrus fruit and it contains lots of lemon oil, which has a very concentrated lemon flavor. The best way to get the zest from your lemon is by using a microplane, which will get the zest off of one lemon in just a few seconds. It is possible to zest a lemon without using a microplane, but it takes a bit more time. One large lemon should provide enough zest for this recipe. Though there is no lemon juice in the cake batter, the icing is flavored using lemon juice, so just set the zested lemon aside after you use it for the cake batter to use when you’re ready to make the icing.

This cake almost has a pound cake-like texture to it and, though it is quite a bit lighter in texture than most pound cakes, it still uses quite a bit of butter. The batter will not rise as high as some other styles of cake, yielding a denser bar that is still very tender. It’s firm enough that you can pick up a slice and eat it out of hand, even though it can also be served with a fork.

The cake is baked in a 9×13-inch pan and should be cut into about 20 squares, but you can make them larger or smaller depending on the number of people you need to serve. The icing should be poured over the cake once it has cooled and spread into an even layer on top of the cake, which should be relatively flat after baking. I added a little sprinkle of lemon zest to the top of my cake to hint at the flavor, but feel free to dress it up by adding sprinkes, colored icing or even some edible flowers!

Iced Lemon Bars
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tbsp lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)

Icing
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, yogurt and lemon zest, then gradually stir in the flour mixture until the batter comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before topping with the icing.

To make the icing: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, 2 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Gradually add in additional lemon juice, if needed, to thin the icing to a pourable consistency. Pour over cooled cake and spread into an even layer. Allow icing to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The post Iced Lemon Bars appeared first on Baking Bites.


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Chili Con Carne

This version of chili con carne is made with chunks of beef, a homemade chili paste, and a couple secret ingredients. A great change of pace from chili made with ground beef!

A bowl of chili con carne topped with sour cream, shredded cheese and cilantro.

Behold the absolute, without question, best bowl of chili I have ever had.

I first came across this recipe seven or eight years ago in Cook’s Illustrated and although it seemed like a lot of work (it IS labor-intensive), it produced one of the most amazing chilis I had ever eaten. In fact, I think I ended up making it at least three times over the course of a month because my husband and I loved it so much.

This is certainly not your average chili… it includes a few “secret” ingredients like cocoa powder, molasses and beer. It uses dried chiles ground down to make a chili powder and paste instead of the typical chili powder. And it used chunks of beef instead of ground meat. At the time, this was all very unfamiliar ground to my chili palate, but it all sounded so irresistible.

I’m so glad I tried it all those years ago because it really is the most flavorful chili I’ve ever eaten. It’s bursting with flavor, and the meat becomes so tender that it melts in your mouth.

Chili con carne in a pot, with a ladle scooping some out.

What Is the Definition of Chili Con Carne?

You will likely find as many definitions for chili con carne as there are people living in Texas. If you look at the Wikipedia page for chili con carne, it sums it up as a spicy stew containing chili peppers and meat, and sometimes tomatoes and beans. If you do a little more digging, you’ll find that people have very strong feelings about their chili con carne, with some proclaiming that it must always include tomatoes and/or beans, and some proclaiming that it cannot include either to be authentic.

Then there’s the question of ground beef versus a cut of beef… since the technical definition is a “stew” I always err on the side of using a cut of beef cut into chunks, and I LOVE it this way!

Bags of dried ancho and dried arbol chiles.

So, How Do You Make Chili Con Carne?

It probably won’t come as a surprise that there are literally thousands, maybe millions, of variations and recipes that you can find out there… ground beef, chuck roast, tomatoes, no tomatoes, beans, no beans, etc.

THIS recipe starts by soaking dried pinto beans, and although I think they certainly hold up better than canned, in a pinch you could certainly substitute canned beans. Next is a homemade chili paste using the dried chiles and additional seasonings (including cocoa powder!), pureed together with some chicken broth.

The first time that I made this recipe was my first time ever working with dried chiles, and I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to find them, but was pleasantly surprised when I found them at my regular supermarket. They were located in the international aisle, under the Hispanic foods.

Using the dried chiles to make a homemade chili powder and paste is one of the things that really sets this recipe apart from many of the other chili recipes I have ever tried.

After toasting the ancho chiles, you toss them into a food processor with the arbol chiles, salt, cornmeal, oregano, cocoa powder, and cumin… voila! Chili powder!

Then you slowly drizzle in a little chicken broth, and… voila! Chili paste!

Ingredients in food processor.

Homemade chili spice powder in food processor.

Homemade chili paste in food processor.

The rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward – the chunks of meat are seared and added to the chili paste, beans, onions and jalapeños, along with additional chicken broth, beer and diced tomatoes. It is cooked in the oven for a couple of hours, and then you’re ready to dig in!

I realize that this recipe is a far cry from the supremely easy classic beef chili that is my personal chili go-to because it’s so simple, so I have a bunch of notes that may help you out…

Tips for Making Chili Con Carne

  • If you are in a pinch for time, you can substitute two cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed.
  • The recipe calls for blade steak, but I always use chuck roast when I make this; for me, it’s always the winner when making stew-like dishes because it holds up so well to long cooking times.
  • You can also substitute regular chili powder and ground cayenne pepper in place of the dried chilies (quantities in the recipe notes below), but the consistency and texture of the chili will be slightly different.
  • While the recipe calls for cooking this in the oven, you can do a low simmer on the stove until the beef is totally tender, at least 2 hours.
  • I have not attempted to adapt this to a slow cooker, but if you want to go that route, assemble it as you would according to the recipe and instead of placing it in the oven, stir everything together in the slow cooker. Low for 6 to 8 hours should work, although you may want to crank it up to high and take the lid off to let it thicken a bit at the end.
  • You can make this chili up to 3 days in advance of serving it (many chili con carne connoisseurs swear by cooking the chili and then letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavors can intensify). Re-warm on the stovetop over low heat before serving. If the chili appears to thick, you can thin it out to the desired consistency with some additional chicken broth.
  • The recipe calls for using 2 to 4 arbol chiles; I used two and I think it gave the chili a medium level of heat. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, you may opt with one, and if you like things really, REALLY spicy, then you can up the amount!

What To Serve with Chili Con Carne

Garnishments and side dish possibilities are truly limitless, but when I make this, these are the toppings I put out for people to choose from:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Diced red onion
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • And of course, cornbread on the side!

A close up shot of a bowl of chili con carne with sour cream, shredded cheese and cilantro on top.

This certainly is not a fast, whip-it-up-when-I-get-home-from-work type of chili. This is a hunker down on a rainy or snowy Saturday and make this for a cozy night in. It’s time-consuming, but if you can make the time for it, it’s absolutely worth every minute. Plus, you could make a big pot over the weekend and then freeze it in portions for a rainy day, so to speak.

Although I don’t make this chili recipe as I do others, it’s by far one of my two favorites and has an unbelievable amount of texture and flavor in every bite. These cold winter days are a perfect opportunity to give it a try!

A big spoonful of chili con carne taken from the bowl.

Crazy For Chili? More Favorite Chili Recipes:

One year ago: Cheesy Chicken with Mushrooms
Six years ago: Goody Goody Bars

Did you make this recipe?
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Chili Con Carne

This version of chili con carne is made with chunks of beef and a homemade chili paste. A great change of pace from chili made with ground beef!

Ingredients:

  • Table salt
  • ½ pound dried pinto beans (about 1 cup), rinsed and picked over
  • 6 dried ancho chiles (about 1¾ ounces), stems and seeds removed, and flesh torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2-4 dried árbol chiles, stems removed, pods split, seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2½ cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 medium onions, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons light molasses
  • 3½ pounds blade steak, trimmed of gristle and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle mild lager, such as Budweiser

Directions:

  1. Combine 3 tablespoons salt, 4 quarts (16 cups) water, and beans in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans well. Rinse out Dutch oven.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place ancho chiles in a 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until flesh is fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if chiles begin to smoke. Transfer to bowl of a food processor and cool. Do not wash out skillet.
  3. Add árbol chiles, cornmeal, oregano, cumin, cocoa, and ½ teaspoon salt to food processor with toasted ancho chiles; process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. With the processor running, very slowly add ½ cup broth until a smooth paste forms, about 45 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer the paste to a small bowl. Place the onions in the now-empty processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped, about four 1-second pulses. Add the jalapeños and pulse until the consistency of chunky salsa, about four 1-second pulses, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has evaporated and the vegetables are softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chili paste, tomatoes, and molasses; stir until chili paste is thoroughly combined. Add the remaining 2 cups chicken broth and the drained beans; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in the 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Add half of the beef to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the Dutch oven. Pour off any liquid in the skillet into the sink and return to the heat. Add ½ of the bottle of lager to the skillet, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits, and bring to a simmer. Transfer the lager to the Dutch oven. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil, steak, and lager. Once the last addition of lager has been added to the Dutch oven, stir to combine and return the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat and beans are fully tender, 1½ to 2 hours. Let the chili stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir well and season to taste with salt.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can substitute a 4-pound chuck-eye roast, well trimmed of fat, for the steak.
  • I recommend wearing gloves when working with the dried chiles; if you don’t be sure to wash your hands well immediately after.
  • If you don’t want to use dried chiles, the anchos and árbols can be replaced with ½ cup chili powder and ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, although the texture of the chili will be slightly compromised.
  • Condiment ideas: diced avocado, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream, and shredded cheese.
  • You can make this up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate covered and re-warm over low heat, adding chicken broth to loosen the mixture if necessary.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

(Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated)

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

This recipe was originally published on October 27, 2011.

The post Chili Con Carne appeared first on Brown Eyed Baker.


Creamy Mushroom Soup by The Pioneer Woman


Miyagi Oyster Mushroom Bisque Recipe

A few weeks ago I received a dozen and a half miyagi oysters from Real Good Fish as part of my my seafood subscription. Because miyagi oysters are delicate and small, I generally just serve them on the half shell, but this time I decided to make bisque. Bisque is a creamy soup traditionally made from seafood and in particular broth from seafood shells. 

Searching around online I found a recipe for oyster bisque from Chef Greg Atkinson in Seattle that called for cooking the oysters in the shells. While I have gotten better at shucking oysters with practice, this appealed to me greatly! It’s a stunning recipe but I only had half the amount of oysters required so I could only make a half batch. The second time around I was inspired to make a bisque with both oysters and oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms look a bit like oysters in color and shape. They have a very mild earthy flavor that reminds me of oysters as well. 
My recipe uses less heavy cream than the original and I puree the mushrooms as well as the bits of onion along with the oysters. The resulting soup is rich and complex and the luxurious topping of whipped cream really takes it over the top. This is a soup worthy of a special occasion. Maybe New Year’s Eve? Next time you find yourself wiht some oysters, I hope you’ll give it a try. 
Miyagi Oyster Mushroom Bisque
Adapted from a recipe by Greg Atkinson
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 1/2 dozen live miyagi oysters 
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup minced white onion
1/2 pound chopped oyster mushrooms
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 cup dry sherry 
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped herbs such as parsley, chives or tarragon
Instructions
Scrub the oysters to clean off any mud or shell chips. Bring 2 cups of water to a full rolling boil in a 1-gallon Dutch oven or pot over high heat. Put the oysters in the pot, cover, reduce the heat to medium and let them steam until they open or become very easy to pry open with an oyster knife, about 8 minutes. 
Remove the steamed oysters from their shells and put them and their liquor in a blender. Strain the liquid in which the oysters were steamed into the blender as well.
Rinse or wipe the Dutch oven and add the butter, heat over medium-high heat and add the onions, Cook for about 2 minutes or until softened then add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to dry then add the sherry. pepper and nutmeg and cook until the sherry has evaporated and the mixtures sizzles in the pan. Add 1/4 cup cream and bring this mixture to a boil. 
Transfer the mushroom mixture into the blender with the oysters and blend to make a very smooth purée. Return the mixture to the pot, add the milk and heat through. 
Whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Garnish each serving of soup with a dollop of whipped cream and chopped herbs.
Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I received the oysters from Real Good Fish I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

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Chocolate-Ribboned Peppermint Ice Cream by Bridget


How to Make a Caramelized White Chocolate Mocha

I love to work with good quality white chocolate. Though it is sweeter and contains more sugar than its darker counterparts, the vanilla and dairy flavors of a high quality, ultra-creamy white chocolate are hard to beat and work exceptionally well in many recipes. White chocolate is also unusual in that it can be caramelized quite easily. Since it contains more sugar than most other forms of chocolate and has no cocoa solids, those sugars can be caramelized to deepen the flavor of the white chocolate and create something exceptionally delicious – even if you’re not usually a white chocolate fan.

This Caramelized White Chocolate Mocha is one of the easiest treats that you can make with caramelized white chocolate, though I recommend my Caramelized White Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream when you’re ready to take your white chocolate cookery to the next level.

How to Caramelize White Chocolate

Start with good quality white chocolate that is made with pure cocoa butter, not other vegetable fats. High quality white chocolate is easy to work with and will always have the best flavor.

Place the white chocolate in a nonstick skillet and melt it over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until it begins to turn a golden color. Continue stirring until the chocolate is almost the color of peanut butter. If it appears to sieze up a bit as you cook it, don’t worry because it will smooth out again as it sits. The finished chocolate will be almost the color of peanut butter.

Assemble the Drink

Once you have your caramelized white chocolate, all you need to do is combine it with hot milk and coffee to make the mocha. I typically use espresso for this drink, but strong coffee will work, too. All the sweetness of the drink comes from the caramelized white chocolate, which has a wonderful caramel flavor and subtle dairy sweetness that reminds me a bit of sweetened condensed milk – but far more delicious.

The drink is quite rich and the recipe below makes two smaller servings. If you’re feeling indulgent, feel free to pour everything into a big mug and treat yourself! I topped mine with whipped cream, but the drink is just as good without anything on top.

Caramelized White Chocolate Mocha
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips*
3/4 cup milk (pref. whole)
1/3 cup strong coffee or 2 oz espresso

In a nonstick skillet, melt the white chocolate over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the chocolate begins to turn a golden color. Cook until chocolate is golden and resembles peanut butter.
In the microwave, heat up the milk for about 60 seconds (just below a simmer). Pour milk and espresso into the skillet with the white chocolate and cook over medium heat, whisking until the chocolate has completely dissolved. Divide into two mugs to serve.
Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 2

*You must use real white chocolate, made with only cocoa butter and not other vegetable fats.

The post How to Make a Caramelized White Chocolate Mocha appeared first on Baking Bites.


Bay Area Chocolate Gifts

The Bay Area is a wonderful place for chocolate. We have bean to bar manufacturers as well as talented confectioners and pastry chefs all crafting wonderful treats. Today is the deadline for 2 day delivery, so if you’re looking for gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, here are some of my top picks: 
Recchiuti is famous for their burnt caramel truffle, fleur de sel caramels and their wonderful s’mores kit. This year I got a chance to try their Dark Hot Chocolate. Please note, this is not cocoa, it’s real chocolate pistoles, made with a custom South American blend. What are pistoles? It’s the French name for a Spanish coin; the chocolate coins melt into a rich, yet mellow and smooth drink when dissolved with water or milk (or a combination). Or you can add some to your coffee, as my mother-in-law likes to do. It’s won raves from many publications and is a great winter time treat for kids or adults, just under $20.
One of my favorite local confectioners is Charles Chocolate. I’m crazy about their triple chocolate coated almonds and their sweet salty cashew bar, this year I tried two more recent additions to line of chocolate bars, the Toffee Coffee dark milk chocolate bar and the Caramelized Crisped Rice bittersweet chocolate bar. The Toffee Coffee bar has chunks of almond toffee and coffee beans in it, the toffee flavor really comes through deliciously. The Crisped Rice bar has caramelized crisped brown rice that might remind you of a Nestle Cunch bar but it’s much darker and with just a light crunch.The bars are available in mini versions for about $3 each. 
Kika’s Treats makes all kinds of things, including outstanding Salted Crunch Caramels and Salted Nutty Caramels. They also make a line of chocolate covered cookies including different flavors of shortbread and graham crackers. The Caramelized Graham Crackers coated in chocolate are a favorite of mine and you can get them coated in dark chocolate, milk chocolate or 70% Dandelion chocolate. You’ve never had graham crackers like these before, they are thick, crisp and crunchy, and positively irresistible. Each box is $8-10.
Earlier this year I got a chance to try the chocolate panettone From Roy studded with Guittard chocolate. I had never had a panettone as luxuriously airy yet moist, rich and delicious. From Roy recently received an investment in cash and is expanding, offering panettone year round and in a variety of different flavors. It’s made with an Italian starter made from wild yeast and takes 40 hours to make! Last week I ordered one for a friend, but I’m sorry to say they are now sold out. The cakes are $50, but lofty and worth every penny.
Another choice for chocolate lovers would be a book on chocolate, and this year there are two I strongly recommend, neither are cookbooks per se, but both include some recipes.
Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution this compact volume starts by explaining just what bean to bar means and how chocolate is made. It has a lot of Bay Area connections including pages devoted to Scharffen Berger and Guittard, both “chocolate pioneers” and a profile of Dandelion Chocolate.

Along the way there are wonderful features on pairing chocolate with cheese, tea, spirits and more plus recipes including a few from locals Michael Recchiuti and Alice Medrich.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves chocolate and wants to know more about the American chocolate makers, and is looking for new ways to enjoy chocolate. 

Making Chocolate from Bean to Bar to S’more, written by Todd Masonis, founder and CEO of Dandelion Chocolate. It’s a gorgeous coffee table volume that covers everything form how to temper chocolate, how to source cacao and even the equipment used to process chocolate.

The recipes come from Dandelion’s in-house pastry chef, Lisa Vega. Vega gives away the secrets to recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes, drinks and more.

This book is for chocolate aficionados, especially those who want to try their hand at making it or just want to learn more about it. It’s also good for those who want to use different percentage chocolate in recipes. The recipes don’t call out specific brands. 

Disclaimer: I purchased each of the items featured in this post, with the exception of the hot chocolate. The books were review copies and this post includes affiliate links. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate (Video)

All photos by Greg Seber

Pomegranates are one of the best parts of fall and winter months. Won’t you agree? Love the fruit!

Recently, at a private cuisine and culture presentation and lunch event I did for a group of home economists in our house, I was asked if  there was any special technique I used to cut and de-seed a pomegranate. Well, of course there is! I am a pomegranataholic and I better know how to get those ruby red arils out of the fruit as quickly as possible!

How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranat | AZCookbook.com by Feride Buyuran continue reading

The post How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate (Video) appeared first on AZ Cookbook.