Saturday, May 14, 2022

Maxine's Birthday Brownies.


Every year for my friend Maxine's birthday, I make her something chocolate.  I've done several different brownie and fudge recipes and for this birthday I'm going with a fudgy brownie that's sandwiched with caramel, then has more caramel poured over top. 

 Heat 'em up a bit, give 'em a scoop (or 3 or 4) of ice cream, drizzle on some more hot caramel sauce ... well, you get the idea.

For the Brownies:
2 sticks butter, unsalted
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 TB vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 325°.
Lightly butter a 9 x 13 baking pan.
In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the two sticks of butter.  Add in the chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, and salt and whisk until smooth.  Remove bowl from heat and whisk in eggs.  Add flour, stirring until just incorporated.  Pour into buttered pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs on it.  Transfer pan to rack and let cool completely.

For the step-by-steps:

Melt butter.

Melt chocolate.

Add sugar.

Add cocoa.

Vanilla in.
Stir until smooth.

Whisk in eggs.

Stir flour until just combined.

 Pour into prepared pan.

 Ready to bake.

 Let cool completely.

Invert onto rack.
Then slice into two rectangles.

For the caramel:

Caramel ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 TB unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat, swirling pan frequently, until you the mixture develops a deep amber color.  Slowly drizzle in the cream. Mixture will spit, sputter, and steam. All normal.  Whisk in butter and salt.  Refrigerate caramel until thickened, about 2 hours.

For the step-by-steps:

Combine sugar and water.

Cook over medium heat, swirling.

You want a dark amber color.

Add in cream.

Bubble and steam.

Add in butter.

Swirl it around to melt.

Add in salt. 

Pour into bowl and refrigerate to thicken.

To assemble:
Invert brownies onto a cutting board and cut in half to form two rectangles.  Spread chilled caramel over one rectangle, then top with the other rectangle, pouring more caramel over top.  Cut into bars or squares.


Friday, April 15, 2022

Rosie Makes Oyster Stew.



It’s springtime on the Outer Banks.  That means the weather could be sunny with temps in the high 70s or 80s  OR it can be windy and rainy with temps hovering in the 40s.  You just never know down here.  As it turned out, Plan B - the cold scenario - was in effect last week.  And I had a hankering for soup.


  We’re working on our last bushel of oysters for this season, so I started out with oyster stew.  But you know how Rosie rolls.  Oyster stew can easily turn into a seafood mélange.  Which it did.

First, I needed a base for the stew so I’m making shrimp stock.
Here’s how:

I always have bags of shrimp in the freezer, so I pulled one out, thawed out the shrimp, and saved the shells.  Coarsely chop up an onion (Don’t bother to peel; skin goes into the pot too.).  And chop some celery stalks and a couple carrots.
Now you’ve got the makings for your stock.

Heat a little oil in your pot over medium heat and add in the shells, stirring and cooking for a few minutes, until the shells turn pink and you’ve got that lovely, shrimpy fragrance wafting about.











Add in a handful of peppercorns.
Add in the onion, carrots, celery.

Stir it around and cook a few minutes.

And pour in about 5 cups water to cover.

Add a little salt.
Bare simmer for about 45 minutes.

Discard the shells and the vegetables and you have a lovely, aromatic, flavorful shrimp stock.
Now let’s get the fixin’s for the oyster stew.

Gather ye ingredients:
1 pint oysters and their liquor
2 TB butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 large mushrooms, sliced
juice 1 lemon
2 TB flour
1 1/2 cups shrimp stock
1/3 - 1/2 cup cream sherry  (to taste)
3 oz. Brie cheese, cubed (rind removed)
1/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup cream
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
parsley and celery leaves and/or chives or scallions for garnish

Melt butter over medium heat in medium-sized soup pot.
Stir in onion, celery, and mushrooms and cook about 2 minutes, stirring.
Sprinkle in flour and cook and stir another minute.
Slowly pour in lemon juice, shrimp stock, and sherry.  Stir and let thicken. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and bare-simmer about 15 minutes.
Add in diced Brie; stir to melt.
Stir in oyster liquor, milk, and cream.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat to hot but not boiling. 
Remove from heat.
Drop in oysters.  Give it a stir and let oysters sit for about 1 minute, then serve.
Garnish with chopped parsley, celery leaves, chives, and/or scallions.

Now, for the step-by-steps:

Have your vegetables sliced and chopped, ready to go.

Diced Brie.

Melt butter over medium heat in soup pot.
Add in onions.


Stir around.
Add flour
and cook a minute,

Stir in lemon juice.

stir in shrimp stock.

Add sherry.
Let thicken.
Cook over low
for about 15 minutes.
Add Brie.

Stir until melted.

Pour in oyster liquor.
Milk and cream in.
Let it get hot.
Add in oysters.

Ready to serve.

Alternative serving suggestions:
I like a little greenery to go with my stew, so I chopped up some parsley from the garden along with some celery leaves.  Chopped chives and/or scallions would work here too.
If you like, take the shrimp you peeled and used the shells for in the stock, either sear them or boil them, and use them for another surprise seafood in the stew.

Serve with Saltines, oyster crackers, or croutons for a nice crunch.
Now, I also had some scallops, so I decided to add a few of them into the my cup o' soup.
To prepare the scallops, pull off that little tough side muscle and pat them dry.  Heat your skillet over medium-high and add butter.  When the butter gets hot and foamy, place the scallops in.  These were large scallops, so maybe 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on the first side and  30-60 seconds on the second side.  Depends on how hot your pan is and how many scallops you have in the pan.
You want the pan plenty hot, so you can sear your scallops, but not so hot that the butter burns.  And whenever you're searing or frying anything, don't crowd the pan.  Crowding drops the temperature and you won't get that nice brown sear you're looking for.  After the scallops are seared, simply drop them into your soup bowls.