Month: June 2019

Brownie Bark!

Brownie Bark!
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Brownie Bark!
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°. Generously butter an 18x13 rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in microwave or on stovetop.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously until batter is thick, shiny and smooth. I like to use a heavy wooden spoon. Stir in the flour until well blended then beat vigorously, another 30-40 strokes
  4. Spread batter evenly onto baking sheet in thin, even layer. Push it all the way to the corners. It will seem too thin but the batter will rise. Add your toppings, pressing in firmly. I used about 1/2 cup peanut butter and swirled it through the batter and then pressing lightly with wet hands. I also used mini marshmallows and walnuts for a rocky road as well as dried cherries and almonds. You can get as creative as you want. This is a great activity for a kids or teens party.
  5. Bake until firm to the touch and tester comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely then cut into pieces and serve. I did one batch and divided it into thirds to try different toppings. Have fun!
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Ahhh… Fresh Bay Leaves.

I recently came across a small blurb about buying fresh bay leaves from a French purveyor. It caught my eye because the photo made it appear that you could tie some kitchen twine around the stems and hang this aromatic in your kitchen. I wanted to learn more about this ubiquitous herb, that I use but don’t much about. Here’s what I learned.

Apparently there is “good” bay laurel from Turkey and Central America and then there is the bay laurel from California. The California version is more minty, a little oilier and can be bitter. If you are allergic to bay leaves, or have had allergic like symptoms, it is the California version. Bay Leaves are native to the Mediterranean and have a natural oil that has a similar nose to eucalyptus or clove but a lot more mellow. When you do start to cook with either the fresh or dried versions, remember you don’t need much to reap all the benefits.

Typically, bay leaves are used in vegetarian stocks, brines, and longer cooking dishes like soups and stews. I was intrigued with the idea of adding them to your coals for barbecue like you mesquite wood chips. You can also light a couple on fire and toss them into a covered dish, right before serving, to impart a smoky, aromatic flavor. Bay leaves pair well with anise, lemon, onion, oregano and white pepper. As a matter of fact you can grind dried bay leaves with any of these and make your own spice blend. Stay tuned. When I try this I will let you know.

Fresh bay leaves are usually available in the produce section of your local market or can be found at your farmer’s market. I even found a link to buy them from Amazon, of course. When buying fresh make sure they are Laurel.

Here’s a couple of fun facts about bay leaves. They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, C and iron. They are great for digestion and are a natural anti-inflammatory. Food with benefits.  I love it!

Here are a few recipes that use bay leaves in a more forward way.

Bay Leaf Roasted Chicken
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Bay Leaf Roasted Chicken
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° Remove giblets and such from cavity of bird and discard. Rinse inside cavity and let dry completely.
  2. Loosen skin on breasts and legs with fingers. Rub salt and pepper all over the chicken and under skin on breasts and legs. Arrange 3 bay leaves under the skin on one breasts, in a decorative design. Repeat on other side and under the skin of legs. Place remaining leaves in cavity of chicken.
  3. Tie legs with twine and tuck wings under chicken. Arrange celery, carrots and onions in roasting pan in a single layer so that chicken can roast on them.
  4. Place chicken breasts side down on vegetables and bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Turn chicken breasts side up. Increase heat to 450° and cook for 25 minutes longer. Watch that chicken doesn't burn. Check internal temperature to 170°.
  5. Remove chicken to cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. You can serve chicken with the carrots and onions or discard all vegetables. I think this chicken will be juicy and flavorful without a gravy. However, if you want a gravy; bring pan drippings to a simmer in a saucepan. Make a slurry of 2Tbs. flour and 3 Tbs. water. Stir slurry into simmering drippings until clear and thickened.
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Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Bay Leaves
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A fresh way to prepare potatoes. Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe.
Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Bay Leaves
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A fresh way to prepare potatoes. Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In an enameled cast iron pot or large saucepan, arrange potatoes in a single layer and pour chicken broth over. place bay leaves, garlic and olive oil also in pot. Before covering, give a good sprinkle of salt.
  2. Cover and cook over a low heat until potatoes are tender. This really depends on size of potato, but think 30-40 minutes. Check occasionally on broth. You can add more if needed.
  3. When cooked tender place in a serving bowl and give another sprinkle of salt. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

One great thing about this really flavorful potato dish is leftovers. I made a potato salad the next day by simply adding some dijon mustard and a little celery for some crunch.  Wow! it was great.

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You can serve these together. I think the bay leaf flavors show up very differently. But you can also dip your toe in slowly with one or the other. As always please let me know what you think of these recipes or how you are using bay leaves other than in soups and stews.

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