Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

In my family, like many, we show love through food.  My dad always has big plans for dinner anytime one of us kids come home.  My sister and brother and I swap food as gifts usually.  My brother gives me  home canned tuna, frozen salmon, and elk jerky – all of which he has caught himself and done the processing.  I bring my sister gluten-free treats from Portland, and she gives me tea or apple butter or something gluten-filled that she can enjoy vicariously through me.

I’ve carried on this tradition, so that a holiday or birthday for me is about the food.  What should I make you?  Where should we go out to eat?  One of my Valentine’s traditions has become this recipe – Grace Neill’s Chocolate and Guinness Brownies.  I began making this recipe when I first started dating my fellow, after he pointed it out to me in that week’s Food Day (2003 by the way, wow, how time flies!).

What else could say love like chocolate + beer?

Wanting to please him,  I decided to surprise him with this treat one night.  After eagerly pulling them from the oven, I thought they needed a prettier presentation, so I proceeded to turn the pan out onto a plate.  Uh, yeah, I wouldn’t try that with this recipe.  The brownies split open and a thick stream of chocolate oozed over the plate, like a volcanic eruption.  Luckily my fellow pointed out they were still chocolate and still perfectly edible, despite appearances.

So, since V-Day has come and gone, I thought what could be more perfect than to share my favorite Irish-themed recipe in honor of St Patrick’s Day, the day when everyone gets to be Irish.  Who knows, maybe this weekend, you’ll find yourself with a leftover can or bottle of Guinness knocking around the fridge?

The name of this recipe, too, is a little inaccurate.  It creates what technically is a brownie, but (as my explosion incident may illustrate), they are more like a cross between fudge and a flourless chocolate cake.  Very moist, and they may still slightly quiver softly in the middle upon removal from the oven.  Don’t even start to add up how much chocolate is in this – it’s a lot.  Drown out that noise by finishing off the remainder of the bottle of Guinness (1 1/4 cups is about 1/2 a bottle).  Oh, and vanilla ice cream is highly recommended as a partner.

Grace Neill’s Chocolate and Guinness Brownies
*Adapted from Food Day in the Oregonian,Best Recipes of  2003 – a note on the recipe says the recipe comes from Grace Neill’s, listed in the Guinness (appropriately!) Book of World Records as the oldest bar in Ireland.
4 eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar (regular sugar has always worked)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cup of Guinness stout

Preheat oven to 375, and grease an 8-inch square pan.

Beat eggs and sugar with a mixer till light and fluffy.  In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt chocolates and butter, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat and beat into egg mix.

Sift flour and cocoa together, then add to chocolate mix.  Whisk in Guinness – it may look funny at first, but hang tight.

Pour into pan,  and bake 20-25 minutes (I think it’s closer to 25 min in my oven).  The recipe claims till a skewer comes out clean.  I generally go by when the center has very little wiggle left and the edges are done & pulling away.  It will firm up a teeny bit as it cools.

Sorry no photo, but they were distractedly devoured over the Valentine weekend last month in a mad rush of deliciousness.


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When I go visit my parents, I get to indulge in a few great things I don’t have at my house:

1) cable TV (gotta check out the latest crazy reality & home decor shows)

2) my Dad’s fabulous cooking

3) my Mom’s subscriptions to Real Simple and Sunset magazine

Real Simple magazine always sucks me in with its promises to make my life better and more orderly and also gives me uses for random household items like q-tips – beyond just your ears.  It’s like a bit more realistic than Martha Stewart, as I put it down thinking hey, I could actually do that.

So last year, I absconded the February 2009 issue and brought it back home with me;  my thievery brought on by the promise of healthy! comfort! food!

We don’t eat much meat at my house – probably about once every 3 months, no joke.  Both the boy and I eat pretty much vegetarian diets, with a hint of seafood and a sprinkle of white meats – we’ve both eaten this way since our early 20’s for various reasons to be discussed another time.

But every once in a while, a little turkey hits the spot.

And the ratio of spinach-to-turkey in this recipe is nearly even, so it’s a pretty good way to shovel in some veggies, too.  The mashed potatoes rely on buttermilk to replace the usual sticks of butter, and it’s a good substitution, adding a nice little tang.  But go ahead and add a little bit of butter to drizzle on top if you need it.  I won’t tell anyone.


Turkey-Spinach Meatloaf with Potatoes & Broccoli

Turkey Meat Loaf w/Mashed Potatoes – from Real Simple, Feb 2009

1.5 lbs ground turkey (I think dark may be better for this dish – less dry? but don’t ask me, the 98% vegetarian!)
1 onion, chopped finely
1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed & leaves chopped finely (about 4 cups – use a chiffonade technique for good results)
1 cup Italian parsley (flat-leaf), chopped finely
1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 Tbsps Dijon mustard
1 large egg white
1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup ketchup
marinara sauce

Heat oven to 400.  In a bowl, mix all ingredients, except ketchup.   Toss onto a baking sheet (foil-covered for easy clean-up if you roll that way), and shape into an approximately 10-inch loaf.  Top with ketchup.

Bake till done – about 45-50 minutes.  Remove from the oven carefully, as a bit of liquid comes off, and you really don’t want that in your oven!  Using a baking sheet with sides may also be good.   Serve with warm marinara sauce.

2 lbs of red or yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 cup bvttermilk
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

While the meatloaf’s cooking, start washing and chopping the potatoes.  Place in a large pot of cold water.  Simmer until tender – about 15 minutes.  Drain and mash potatoes over warm burner with buttermilk, oil, and salt/pepper.  Perhaps throw in a sprig of parsley if you feel fancy.

Serve warm with the meatloaf, and optionally a steamed veggie – broccoli or asparagus are nice – or a fresh salad.

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