Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gluten Free Brownies

Last night was movie night at some friends' house.  There were gluten intolerant people there; they made Trader Joe's gluten-free brownies.  The batter needed to be patted into the pan instead of being poured.  It smelled like rice instead of chocolate.  The result was not completely inedible - we ate occasional spoonfuls in a meditative way and said "This isn't terrible?" and "You can really taste the rice.  Yes." while waiting for the movie to be less horrifying.  Then we went out for ice cream.

I looked up the mix on the internet: the reviews are "not great and I wish I could eat gluten" and "pretty good if you replace the oil with applesauce - no pictures included." Well.

So today I made gluten free brownies because I was certain I could do better.  You guys know about me feeling certain - you usually hear about it under the heading "Bad Idea Fridays".  (Spoilers: look up at the title.  This turned out to not be a bad idea.)

You should make these!  Gluten intolerant people are nice, and if you're going to trick them into becoming your friends you'll need something other than creme anglaise and fruit for dessert.  Also they are damn good brownies, thank you, I am a genius, make the brownies.  Look at the recipe and say "no, actually, that looks pretty good" and then make them and serve them with whipped cream.  If people are allergic to something besides gluten, well, there are eggs and milk and tree nuts in here, so be careful.  I'm sure you could replace the milk products - and maybe the tree nuts, somehow - but the eggs are essential.

Melt 5 ounces of good dark chocolate - I use the microwave in ten second bursts punctuated by brisk stirring.  If you don't stir, it may burn.  There is no recovering from burned chocolate.

Once it's 75% melted and very very stirred, add a stick of butter and continue brief microwaving punctuated by lots of stirring.  You'll end up with a bowl full of glossy chocolate.  It's beautiful.  It's worth eating on its own.

If you don't have almond flour or other nut flours on hand, dump about a cup and a half of almonds or hazelnuts into a food processor and reduce them to cous-cous sized bits or smaller.  You'll need one cup of nut flour, loosely packed.

Break four cold eggs into a big bowl and add a generous pinch of salt.  Whip these eggs without mercy for A MILLION YEARS.  Whip them until they are foamy and pale - at least a full five minutes of staring into space, holding a whisking machine or whisking madly.

Add one and a half cups of sugar - whisk until combined.  Add the now cool-enough-to-not-cook-the-eggs butter and chocolate mixture - and a teaspoon of vanilla - whisk, damn you, whisk like the wind! Add one cup of nut flour.  Whisk until combined.  Pour into a 9x9 buttered pan.  Sprinkle the surface with kosher salt.

Throw that into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Is the center still liquid?  Does it rock when you tilt the pan?  Give it another ten minutes.  Foam from the eggs and chocolate form a high pale crust - don't listen to that when it says the brownies are done, pay attention to how the weight shifts in the pan - you're waiting for the moment when the weight doesn't shift. When that moment comes, take it out of the oven.  If it turns out to still be liquid, put it back in for a while.  It's fine.

If you let it cool, you'll be able to slice it neatly.  I did not let it cool because I wanted to know if it was terrible.  It was not.  It was quite good.  The high pale crust? It's brittle and crunchy and amazing, and the brownies are dense and fudgey and amazing, and I am brilliant.  Yes.


I've been eating a lot of parsley.

"Oh" you say, "Parsley is technically a food, I guess.  Parsley, huh?"

I have!  It's good!  You get a great crisp bunch and pick off about a cup of the best leaves.  You mix those leaves with your best oils and some very finely chopped onion or shallot and maybe a bit of orange or pear or sugar pea or artichoke heart and a dash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper and probably some cilantro or mint or shiso leaves: parsley salad.  Absurdly good.

Two days later it's too limp for salads, so you chop it finely with onion and lemon and oil and salt and pepper and actual peppers, perhaps, and probably whatever other herbs you used two days ago and you have a gremolata which is a nice thing to put on your avocado salad, your avocados on toast, your poached eggs on toast, or your poached eggs on lentils.  All of them are things I eat when I'm too tired to really cook - but this is a fancy dinner, don't you see the gremolata?

At the end of the parsley lifespan, you have several choices.  You can make more pesto, if your husband didn't ask you to stop making pesto, please, let's just eat all the pesto in the freezer first.  You can chop it and flick it over things to give them visual appeal.  You can substitute parsley for celery in mire poix because you aren't buying celery for a while since the time you found five rotting heads of celery in your fridge.  You can chop it up and make tabouli and then forget to photograph it until you're almost done eating because tabouli is delicious.  Parsley is delicious.  It tastes great.

Or you could throw it out.  Parsley is like a dollar.

2:4:1 Soup

We accidentally joined a CSA because the salesperson was very polite - and it isn't like I'm going to go to fewer farmers' markets - so there is a surfeit of produce around.  Produce is like colostrum - you end up using the freshest stuff first - so the old stuff was starting to get disreputable.

But then I found this blog post!  One takes two cups of broth, four cups of chopped raw vegetable, and one cup of dairy.  One simmers the vegetable in the broth, purees it, and then stirs in the dairy product.  It sounds good, right?  And it's technically a lunch if it's soup.

So I made my first soup - something I like to call "Ahahaha, hahahaha, mwahahaha, Vitamin A!" soup.  I like vitamin A.  Vitamin A makes you pretty: science agrees. (PLOS ONE, I know, I know, how the mighty have sunk.)

I used;
Two cups of chicken broth
One cup of roasted bell peppers that were hanging around the fridge
One cup of carrots, also mouldering in the fridge
One and a half cups of sweet potato - both orange and purple, because that is what was in the fridge.
One half cup of roasted garlic, because it was adjacent to the roasted peppers.

I cooked the carrots and sweet potatoes until soft first, and then added the garlic and peppers.  I threw the resulting mess into a food processor with some vandouvan - about a teaspoon - and pureed it.  (I think an immersion blender or a potato ricer would have been a better idea.)  I threw it back into the pan and added 2/3 cup milk and 1/3 cup yogurt, because I realized I had some yogurt that had not yet gone bad.

See how slapdash that is?  It's ridiculous.  AND IT'S AMAZING.  I have been eating it for every reasonable meal since.

Being that the first soup worked out so well, I sauteed two cups of chopped onion until a bit caramelized, and then added broth and two cups of broccoli.  I cooked that until the broccoli was tender - which honestly would be a lot easier had the broccoli not been sad, dessicated and wilted broccoli, contemplating its salad days in the bottom of the badly-named crisper.  I also added a half cup of cooked brown rice in a generous "this needs eating" spirit.  Puree with a generous spoonful of mustard - because I like mustard - and add basically all yogurt, where was all this yogurt hiding?

And that is also very good.  It could be sourer.

My next plans are tomato and onion, leek and parsley, maybe kale and potato - I will be eating soups until it is completely unseasonable.