Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Triple Chocolate Passover Brownies

Passover brownies! These aren't your sickly sweet squares from a Manischewitz box. They're moist, dense as earth, and sophisticated. Loaded with unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate chips, and cocoa powder, they'll have you swearing off macaroons for a long time to come. I based the recipe on Engel's Passover Brownies, but with a few Toppled Chef twists.


makes 32 brownies

for a 9 x 13 baking pan: The Tipsy Crumpet doesn't bake brownies for just herself.

Ingredients

 

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of rum 3 Tbsp sour cream or Tofutti substitute
1/3 cup and 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup Passover cake meal
pinch salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Process

 

Preheat the oven to 325.

Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Obtain a double boiler or make one by filling a pan one-third of the way with water, heating the water, and setting a small pan on top.

With your double boiler nice and hot, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. I like to wait until there are only a few lumps left and remove the mixture from the heat. Don't these two ingredients get along well together? Your kitchen smells intoxicating.

Remove your nose from the chocolate-butter elixir and obtain a large bowl. Crack the eggs in the bowl, check for shell shards, muddle the eggs a bit with a fork, add the sugar, and mix until these ingredients are getting along in the creamiest fashion. (Note: I don't like to beat the eggs and sugar using an electric mixer until they're pale because I find that this makes the brownies less gorgeously dense and more light and chewy. Just my preference.)

Add the vanilla and rum and stir in the molten ecstasy you created with the double boiler. It doesn't have to be room temperature, but it shouldn't be too hot. You don't want scrambled eggs in your batter. Stir in the sour cream. You may have to whisk it so that it yields to its surroundings and dissolves.

In another bowl, sift the cocoa powder, cake meal, and salt.  Carefully stir these into the wet mixture.

Make it rain chocolate chips into the bowl. Give a few more cautious stirs.

Pour the batter into your pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes and cool before cutting on a wire rack or just your stove.

Notes

  • You can add a swirl of raspberry jam after you've poured the batter into the pan. You can also add dried cherries or walnuts or, for even more sophistication, blackberry jam. To add a jam swirl, pile a hefty amount onto a knife and swirl the knife through the batter. You may repeat a few times, with a clean knife each time.
  • Be prepared for non-kosher-keeping people--even non-Jewish people--to widen their eyes upon tasting these brownies and lunge for more.
  • You can put in more than a cup of chocolate chips.
  • some espresso powder might be nice--maybe a Tbsp mixed into the sour cream

 

Verdict

 

5 stars. I've made this for my colleagues three years in a row, and it's a huge success each time. It's probably why I'm still employed.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Nefarious Breadstick Beast


The Toppled Chef was in her kitchen one day making Smitten Kitchen pumpernickel grissini. Smitten Kitchen, as you can see, shows a smooth dough, like a sheet of vellum, lying obediently on the counter to be sliced into perfect thin strips. 



The Toppled Chef was having no such luck with her chemistry experiment. The "craggy mass of dough" was more like a loose collection of caraway filaments, and, when finally squished into the shape of a ball and set to rise, did not yield a matzoh-shaped mat of floppy gluten when rolled. This is what happened.



A gerrymandered island of dough took shape, impossible to force back into geometric uniformity. Also, the flour used to keep it on the silicon mat and not clinging stickily to the rolling pin gave it a pallid, unappetizing look.

The results, however, probably tasted just as good as the original.



You may wonder how exhibit A turned into exhibit B. The Toppled Chef wonders this, too. What does it matter, though, when delectable, crunchy snacks are the result? However, has anyone successfully managed to roll dough into a perfect rectangle? The Toppled Chef has never accomplished this and welcomes all suggestions.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tempeh Hot Wings with Dipping Sauce

It was the Super Bowl. And I would ten times rather cook than watch sports. So I went full gender-stereotype, donned an apron, and created some addictively delicious snacks. These are based on the recipe here, with some tweaks. You don't have to be vegetarian, vegan, or a barnyard fowl to love these wings.

The sauce is more than enough for the wings. I made extra to accommodate cut radishes, celery, carrots, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. You won't be sorry if you have leftovers.




makes 16 wings

Ingredients


Wings

8-oz package of tempeh: don't go for anything fancy. We're talking full rectangle.
1 cup panko
1/2 cup Frank's RedHot buffalo wing sauce (you MUST use this sauce: don't choose another)
2 Tbsp melted Earth Balance
olive, canola, or grapeseed oil

Dipping Sauce

1 cup vegan mayo
3 Tbsp water
juice from half a lemon
hefty shake or two of garlic powder
hefty shake of dried dill
hefty shake of onion powder
hefty shake of paprika
some chipotle powder couldn't hurt
salt and pepper
shake or three of smoked paprika, or pimentón--this is the secret ingredient that will elevate your dip to greatness. Don't dare to dip without it!

Process

You'll want to make your sauce first.

Dipping Sauce

Mix all the ingredients together. 

Taste, then add more seasonings and/or lemon juice as needed.

Cut up some vegetables.

Wings

Set a pot of water to boil.

Cut the tempeh in half along its side so that you have two flat rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 8 triangles.

Boil the tempeh for 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.

In a bowl, mix the panko, buffalo wing sauce, and melted Earth Balance.

Dredge each tempeh wedge into the mixture. Actually, don't: your tempeh will crumble. Do what I did and awkwardly pat the mixture onto each side of the wedge. I'm too impatient to try to make anything look perfect, but if you were working more slowly, you'd probably be able to completely cover each wedge.

Heat a Tbsp or two of oil in a nonstick frying pan (two pans if you want to pamper each wing with personal space). When the oil is hot, put the wings in the pan. Keep the heat on medium-high to achieve a crispy exterior. Flip the wings after a few minutes: cook until browned on both sides.

You can drain the wings on paper towels, but you probably won't need to.

Serve with the sauce. Hot wing heaven!



Notes


  • I used flax tempeh. The flaxseeds added some extra chewiness and volume to the wings.
  • I was afraid of cooking with tempeh at first, having the notion that it tastes somehow bland and bitter at the same time. But it's fantastic here. Perhaps it's the boiling.
  • These wings will go QUICKLY. If you have a party greater than two, make a double or triple batch.

Verdict

5 stars. You'll miss them once they're gone.


Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Breakfast Cookies

These cookies are a morning treat: plump, rich in color, redolent with oats, and filled with exciting nuggets of chocolate, ginger, and walnut. You'll enjoy them, but you won't experience a sugar crash and burn after eating. Think of them as craggy condensed muffins.


makes about two dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened (one cup)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 dash whiskey or rum
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
showering of ground flax
4 tsp baking powder
few hearty shakes of cinnamon
dash of ginger
dash of salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp milk or almond milk
whopping shake of dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced
whopping shake of walnut pieces

Process

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a few baking pans with parchment paper.

Combine butter and sugars. Whisk until they form one silken ball, or mush together with your hands like I do.

Add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and whiskey or rum. Inhale--yum. Don't forget to give the chef a tipple.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, flax, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

Gingerly (har!) mix dry and wet together.

In a separate dish, stir the baking soda into the milk. Add to the batter.

Toss in the chocolate chunks, ginger, and walnut pieces. Mix with your bare hands.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator for half an hour or so to firm up the batter.

Using a cookie scoop, an ice-cream scoop, or your hands, form ping-pong ball-sized rounds of batter and plop them on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look slightly underdone and liquidy in the centers, but they'll slide around the baking sheet intact when prodded with a spatula. My oven is built such that it take only about 6 minutes for the cookies to bake, but I think it's a freak oven.

If you overbake these, they'll still be soft and delectable because of the pumpkin content.



Notes


  • These would be great with raisins, cranberries, or dried cherries.
  • You don't really need three kinds of sugars. I used all three because I don't like just relying on white sugar, but any kind will do.
  • Oat flour instead of oats would give you a smooth texture with just as much fiber.
  • Perfect with a cup of black tea. I enjoyed some with Palais des Thés' Margaret Hope.


Verdict


5 stars. Wholesome and decadent: Tipsy Crumpet heaven!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Heavenly Chocolate-Chip Pumpkin Muffins

It sounds like bragging, but it's true. These velvety cakes not only use a whole can of pumpkin (no annoying half-cup), but they're silky-soft due to the addition of sour cream (I use vegan) and the Tipsy Crumpet's favorite mystery ingredient, RUM. Showers of dark chocolate chips send the mid-afternoon snacker into the stratosphere of ecstasy.

 

makes 6 large or 12-14 medium muffins


Ingredients 

 

1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
dash salt
a few hearty shakes of cinnamon
a flurry of freshly grated nutmeg 
a cautious tap of allspice
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sour cream (or a few healthy tablespoons, if you don't like measuring)
1 long pour of rum
as many chocolate chips as you can handle--I really like Whole Foods' dark chocolate chips


Process


Preheat the oven to 350.

Did you let your stick of butter soften for a few hours? No? Microwave it for about 30 seconds.

Did you remove the wrapper first? I hope you did. Use it to grease your muffin tins.

Cream the butter and sugars together. 

Beat in eggs.

Stir in vanilla. Whisk the ingredients until they are relatively smooth.

Sift in flours, baking powder, and baking soda. Include the salt and spices. 

Add the pumpkin and sour cream. Mix gently. If your batter is a little dry, good. Add the rum.

Pour in as many chocolate chips as seems reasonable.

Spoon the batter into the tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes if you're using medium tins, and 22-25 minutes if you're using big tins. (Note: my oven runs hot and tends to bake quickly, so use your discretion. Basically, when they smell done, they're probably done. An inserted knife will be mostly clean, with a few fluffy orange crumbs.)


Notes



  • As always, I like to use half whole-grain flour, and oat flour is healthy without making the muffins taste too virtuous for their own good. It does, though, add to their density (or their destiny, as the case may be).
  • You can play around with spices, adding as much or as little as you want. Why not go wild and incorporate some clove? Ginger might also be tasty.
  • Speaking of which, candied ginger instead of chocolate chips would be divine.
  • I like Tofutti sour cream. Unlike other vegan products, it really tastes like what it is replacing and is just fine for this kind of application (as well as being a great topping for quesadillas, soups, etc.)
  • You can use all white sugar, too. I just like the earthiness of brown.

 

Verdict

 

5 stars. 5 is the maximum number of stars.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Piquant Caesar Salad with Seared Tofu

This is adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe. You massage mustard greens in a creamy, pungent dressing redolent of capers, garlic, and lemon, add some blackened tofu rectangles, croutons, and flame-red tomatoes, and pretty soon even your salad-averse boyfriend is clamoring for more.

This is a vegan Caesar (unless your croutons have some milk product), but it's just as zesty and potentially obnoxious as if it were filled with anchovies.



for a hungry crowd of people desperate for something green

Ingredients

 

Dressing


2 Tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
juice from one lemon
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
squeeze or two of Dijon mustard
salt
black pepper
white pepper

 

Main Players

 

2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
6-oz package baked tofu: Italian, smoked, or savory
one head of mustard greens
handfuls of croutons (I used Caesar salad croutons, but any type will do)
1 carton cherry tomatoes, heirloom or otherwise
two juicy sundried tomatoes that have been packed in oil

 

Process

 

First, slice the tofu into thin rectangles.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. You may need more than one pan, as you'll want each tofu slice to have full-body contact with the metal.

When the oil starts to protest, place the tofu slices on the pan(s). After two or three minutes, flip them with a spatula. Sear them so that each side has crusty, blackened patches, like so. It's even better if the edges start curling like one of those mood-detector fish.



No squishy, flavorless soy cubes here. Set the tofu aside to cool when it has been sufficiently punished.

Now, put your capers and garlic into a food-processor. Blend. Add the tahini, water, lemon, nutritional yeast, and mustard. Whizz until you have a smooth paste.

Rinse your mustard greens and chop finely. Soak up excess water with paper towels.

Place the greens in a bowl and massage in the dressing. Add salt, black pepper, and white pepper and massage some more.

Chop your sundried tomatoes and add those, too.

Add the tofu.

If serving right away, mix in the croutons and as many cherry tomatoes as you like. 

 

Notes

 

  • I bet this would taste just as good with kale or some other sturdy green.
  • A few handfuls of crisp red pepper slivers would be a nice addition.
  • This makes a good lunchbox option for work or school, as the mustard greens are hardy enough to withstand the pressure of the dressing, as opposed to a flimsier leaf, such as arugula, which would curl up and turn into a lifeless piece of mulch.

 Getting ready for a nutritious workday

 

Verdict

 

4 stars. You may not want to breathe on anyone afterward.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blackberry Pie Bars