Brownie recipe

A recipe's provenance is sometimes as interesting as the recipe itself. No doubt your recipe box contains stories galore. I have the chili recipe my mother clipped from a magazine in the  1970s, my German grandmother's chicken fricassee instructions, a coffee cake Mammaw made for church functions, Roxanne's Chomboth, recipes from one of the Garlic Queen's mysteries and countless others.

The brownies, however, came from a funeral.

We were at a memorial party, munching on the food and chatting about the deceased when we happened upon this tray of brownies. They were phenomenal--moist, but dense and cakey, larded with nuts. Given the setting we were a bit unseemly in our enthusiasm for the above. A gentleman with whom we had been talking, indicated proudly that he was the author of the brownie recipe in question. "I have copies of the recipe out in my car."

We stood there nonplussed while he trotted out to his car. Herewith JR's Brownies, as amended by yours truly:

1 1/2 cups unsifted flour (bread flour,  if possible)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 cups chocolate chips

2 cups walnuts, chopped

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In small saucepan, combine butter, sugar and water; bring just to a boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla; stir until morsels melt and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gradually blend in flour mixture with spoon. Stir in nuts. Spread into a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. (Test at 35-40 minutes to ensure you don't over cook.)

Eat with relish.

Fast Food Thursday: Make-do Moussaka

Profile of an eggplant, incinerated

Yesterday buried deep in online mah jong work, I neglected the eggplant I had placed on the grill. These are the eggplants I grew from tiny seedlings. Tucked into the earth with my bare hands. Tender, perfectly formed, succulent aubergines. Burned to a crisp.

Though somewhat disturbed by my callous disregard for our purple babies, I nonetheless sauteed up some of the ubiquitous summer squash to fill in. The result: A tastey, not-too-time-consuming casserole.

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbs olive oil

1 lb ground beef

1 14-ounce can tomatoes

1/4 cup red wine

1 Tbs cinnamon

1 Tbs oregano

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup bread crumbs

grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper


Grill eggplant until tender (not blistered). Sautee and season onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add ground beef and cook until just browned. Add tomatoes, wine and spices and simmer until sauce is thick. Add raisins. Line greased casserole dish with eggplant. Top with spicey meat mixture, bread crumbs and cheese. Bake covered at 400 degrees until heated through. Uncover to brown cheese.

Serve with pita bread and salad.

*Note: If you're light on eggplant, you can fill in with sauteed or grilled summer squash or fresh spinach.


Fast Food Thursday: Tofu Jerky

Would it be more appetizing to call it, braised tofu?

Though it requires some time in the oven, this dish takes minimal preparation, allowing plenty of time to play online mah jong knit, write or improve one's mind while it cooks. The tofu comes out kinda rubbery--think salty eraser--the ideal consistency for toting along on a hike or brown bagging to work. Serve it with a savory brown rice and wilted greens for a tastey weeknight vegetarian meal.

(This recipe comes from our buddy Brett via somebody else with whom we have no acquaintance, so we're giving the credit to Brett.)

2 lbs extra firm tofu

2 tsp garlic powder

1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Bragg Liquid Aminos

Instructions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice tofu in 1/4-inch cutlets and place in large baking dish. Dust lightly with garllic powder and even more lightly with the cayenne pepper. Squirt cutlets with Bragg Liquid Aminos (not too much or they'll end up really salty). Bake for 30 minutes.

Lower oven heat to 400. Remove baking dish, flip cutlets and repeat the above instructions with the garlic-cayenne-Bragg's mixture. Return baking dish to oven and bake for another 40 minutes or until golden brown and nice and rubbery.

I swear, this tastes really good.

Fast Food Thursday: Baba ganoush

Every Sunday Ferris pitches his awning in Westcliffe on Highway 96 next to Western Auto to sell fruits and vegetables mostly from Pueblo. His farm stand produce is gorgeous and he keeps a nice patter up with customers. We've been buying from him for years. This Sunday we came away with a huge bucket of beets--much to Mitch's dismay--two fat eggplants and a basket of peaches from Palisade.

We both adore eggplant, so last night I consulted a cookbook or two and a few Internet sites for a solid baba ganoush recipe. Overall, they are pretty consistent:

1 eggplant, grilled and peeled

3 Tbs tahini

1/2 - 1 tsp salt

the juice of one lemon

2 cloves garlic, minched

Instructions: Whip it in your food processor until the ingredients are unrecognizable and garnish with something, cumin, paprika or chopped flat-leaf parsley. Chow. (Great on pita bread, pita chips, baby carrots, your finger.)

I'd show a picture, but as delicious as this combination is, it really does look like moth-colored glop garnished with something. 

Changes: I'd cut way back on the garlic, maybe half a clove. (My breath today would fell a stegasaurus.) Also, I recommend grilling the eggplant as opposed to roasting. Imparts a nice, smokey flavor.

Also makes great finger food for convention watching. Cheers!

Fast-Food Thursday: Squash-Buster Curry

In the continuing quest to expedite dinner and get on with the knitting, I've been experimenting in the kitchen. Because we are the beneficiaries of a bumper crop of yellow squash (we are awash in squash, crowded by cucurbits, gorged by gourds and generally at our wits end as to how to process these saffron-colored beauties), much of what I've been cooking lately features the oh-so-common yellow crookneck.

Happily Mitch is not one of those fellows who's averse to a vegetarian dish now and again. And he doesn't get all squeamish and fussy when presented with an unusual spice or food stuff. Let's give him a round of applause, shall we?

What follows is not a traditional curry, but a lady-with-stuff-on-hand curry. Note: You may need to adjust the amount of curry based on your own preferences and the heat-factor of your spices. 

We both enjoyed the above rendering of the latest harvest, a quick vegan curry with homegrown tomatoes.

1 large yellow crookneck squash, cubed

2 tomatoes, cubed

1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 Tbs of your favorite yellow curry spice (I used the Medium Yellow Curry from the Savory Spice Shop) mixed into a paste with an equal amount of water

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs soy sauce

Crushed peanuts, raisins and chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Saute garlic and ginger in olive oil until soft. Incorporate curry paste. Add squash and cook until tender, then add tomatoes and cook until hot. Season with soy sauce. And garnish with crushed peanuts, raisins and cilantro.

Achieve samadhi. Go knit.

Fast Food Thursday: Squash-Buster Salad

OK, my food styling makes it look like compost, but this salad is wicked good. Even my dear husband, who has come to fear my culinary experiments (ask him about Soba-Noodle-Goat-Cheese-Tomato Surprise), said, "This is good enough to feed company!"

And it kills off two squash.

Squash-Buster Salad


2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano

salt and fresh ground pepper


1 small head Romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 yellow crook-necked squash, sliced lengthwise

1 boneless chicken breast

4 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese

2 tsp lemon pepper

1 Tbs dried oregano

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

salt and fresh ground pepper

Croutons (optional)

Dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in sealed container and shake like crazy. Set aside.

Salad: Prepare grill. Sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper and brush squash with olive oil and dust with oregano, salt and pepper. Grill chicken until thoroughly cooked and the squash until its soft and tender. Allow to cool briefly.

In the meantime combine vegetables and cheese in a salad bowl. Add grilled chicken and squash and toss with dressing.

Serve with pinot grigio and dine al fresco.

Bon appetit!

Fast Food Thursday: Grilled Potato Salad

If you're a weather watcher, you know temps in the Mile High City have sent the mercury to historic heights. Certainly not the time to roast potatoes, bake a cake or do much besides lie on the sofa and sigh, like a Tennessee Williams' heroine.

When having guests or faced with the salad assignment for a potluck, I go with this, which takes most of the cooking outdoors: 

The No-Mayo, No-Fail Potato Salad


2-3 lbs mixed potatoes (I used red and Yukon Gold)

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup green beans, cooked and cooled (I used frozen and nuked them)

4 scallions chopped

1-2 Tbs chopped Italian parsley

1 Tbs fresh chopped basil

Your favorite vinaigrette dressing

1 Tbs olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Chop and microwave potatoes until barely tender. Brush potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in grill basket and grill over medium heat until the outsides are crispy brown and insides are deliciously smooshy. Cool. Combine with vegetables and herbs. Toss with vinaigrette just before serving.

Enjoy. Then put your feet up and knit.

Fast Food Thursday: Make It Work

With Project Runway starting at 7 p.m. MST--and me determined to have butt-on-sofa-needles-in-hand precisely on time--dinner last night was a hasty enterprise. With some spousal grilling assistance, we enjoyed Teriyaki Chicken Salad ala Project Runway.

Two boneless chicken breasts, marinated in the medium hot Yakitori sauce from Wok & Roll (Soy Vay Very Very Teriyaki would also work)

1-2 cups chopped pineapple (happened to have some in the fridge)

2-3 Tbs chopped scallions (happend to have those in the fridge, as well)

4 cups baby spinach or mixed greens

Rikki's Gourmet Miso Dressing

Grill and slice chicken.  Toss with fruit, vegetables and dressing. Enjoy. Turn on TV.

Dedicated to Roxanne, who introduced me to the addiction that is Wok & Roll.