Cherry and Chocolate Brownies | Katie's Kitchen NotesWell hello there! I’ve missed my semi regular posting schedule, mostly because I went on vacation and didn’t tell any one. Oops. My apologies. Worry not, dear readers! I soon intend to regale with tales of said adventure and perhaps a post featuring delicious, wonderful, fresh Colorado peaches and plums.

Until then, all you get is this recipe: dark chocolate and cherry brownies. Such a hardship, I know.

A few posts ago, while writing about my Omi and her cherry jam, I couldn’t help but enjoy the tasty remembrances of (one of) my favorite cakes growing up: Black Forest Cake. There’s something about an intense chocolatey cake, cherries, kirsch, and freshly whipped cream that transports me.

Which got me to thinking, how can I get many of those same flavors with more ease? Here’s my solution for that. You’ll notice something different here: the brownies are made from a box mix. It’s not typical of me, as I do like bake my own sweets. But for brownies, often times a box is just as tasty (and helpful when you don’t have cocoa powder hanging out in the house).

Chocolate and Cherries | Katie's Kitchen Notes

Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies

  • 1 box of Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix (standard size; not 13×9)
  • 1 cup or there a bouts (more won’t hurt) of pitted red cherries
  • 8 ounces of mascarpone cheese
  • A dash of whipping cream

Heat the oven to the temperature indicated on the box. Prep your brownie container. I used an 8×8 ceramic pan.

Pit your cherries using a cherry pitter. You can also do this by hand with a small knife. Neither process is short – so enjoy some music or a tv show (er…House of Cards at the moment) while you’re pitting.

Mix together the brownie mix according to the directions on the box. Add the cherries. Bake according to the directions. I did not have to add additional time.

Allow the brownies to cool fully before serving. Once the brownies are cool, mix together the mascarpone cheese, a dash or two of heavy whipping cream in an electric mixer. For a more rustic appeal, you can also whip these two ingredients together by hand. Serve the slightly thick whipped cream on the side of the brownies.

For a full Black Forest Cake effect, I bet you could enjoy these brownies with a thimble of kirsch. Only if you wanted though.

Cherries and Chocolate | Katie's Kitchen Notes

Chocolate and Cherry Brownies | Katie's Kitchen Notes

I don’t always web binge on the best articles or ones that have a bigger purpose (like last week’s web find). I did find this mildly entertaining and worth the two minute read. It even struck a cord for me, because kinder überraschung (Kinder Surprise) are a favorite childhood goodie.

10 Banned Foods

This is me, pouting about the ban on kinder überraschung. Kidding. It is really me, but that’s not why I’m pouting.

Family Pictures

Blueberry Galette | Kitchen Notes

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that I cannot make a pie crust. Given this truth, I almost thought this recipe was going to be a kitchen fail. It involved me rolling out dough – always a scary site. Me not having the exact ingredients for a baking recipe and substituting – iffy with baking, but my forte in cooking. The saving grace of these two potentially disastrous truths: a galette looks perfectly beautiful with a more rustic aesthetic.

The other saving graces involved here: lovely, fresh, ripe, and delicious blueberries. Freshly whipped cream to enjoy the galette with. And family to share it with. Families are generally so forgiving when you bake them something.

If pie crusts or rolled doughs aren’t your thing: I get it. Really…I get it. I still recall Thanksgivings at my mom’s where I put Casey in charge of making the crust for pecan and pumpkin pies. That’s how deep my aversion to rolled doughs goes. For giggles though, and because it’s the weekend…I encourage you to give this a shot. You’ll see in the recipe below where I made substitutions and how my rolling didn’t go exactly as the recipe stated.

Bottom line: the galette still turned out delicious. I’m not so concerned with technique here; I just want to eat delicious food!

Blueberry Galette | Kitchen Notes

I’m sharing this recipe as it was written, with my substitutions in (parenthesis). 

Blueberry Galette, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butters. Cut into pieces.
  • 1/4 cup ricotta, yogurt or sour cream (1/4 + a little more cup of milk)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of cold water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and zest. With a pastry blender, word the butter into the mixture, until it resembles a meal; you’re looking for the smallest bits of butter to be about pea sized. Stir in the ricotta (or milk in my substitute) and the water together in a separate dish. Knead the liquids into the flour mixture, forming a rough ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten disc. Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

  • 2 cups of blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 egg yolk – for the glaze
  • Coarse sugar (such as turbinado) – for the glaze

Combine blueberries, sugar, corn starch and lemon juice together. Allow to sit. I like to mash a few of the blueberries, so that the sugar and blueberries begin to combine more quickly.

Putting it all together:

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Flour your work service and roll our the galette to the best looking circle you can form. The original recipe stated a 13-15 diameter circle. I was lucky if I got 10 inches in diameter. Transfer this circle to a parchment lined backing sheet.

Add the blueberry filling, leaving enough room for a border (about 2 inches). Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edges here and there to make it fit.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk. Using a brush, brush the whisked yolk over the exposed crust. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over.

Bake from 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. We waited until dinner that evening and serve the galette with freshly whipped cream.

Have a barbecue this weekend, serve this for dessert. Or skip the barbecue and just make this for dessert. Breakfast. Just because.

Blueberry Galette

This recent video is making the rounds on social networks. I watched it just this week, and its message definitely sticks with me. Do I believe this is a panacea for food waste? No, of course not. There’s more to food waste than just buying the “ugly potatoes” and “failed lemons” of the world. Do I believe this is a marketing and promotion campaign with some altruistic downstream impact? Yes. And it’s highly clever. My one hope in posting this is that it also makes you stop and think about the food you’re potentially wasting.

Real world example: this morning, as I packed my lunch to go to work, I made use of some older, slightly softening at the ends carrots that had been languishing in my fridge. I peeled them, chopped off the slightly soften bits, and ate the rest with hummus for a mid afternoon snack.

 

Cherry Butter | Kitchen Notes

Summer in full swing means berries and stone fruit in full swing. I’ve had some haphazard experiences with canning: there was the blueberry jam which turned gummy and grainy; the Rainer Cherry jam which was hard as a rock; a lovely lower sugar Raspberry that delighted us for months; most recently a horrid quince jelly fiasco. All this precipitates an ecstatic outcome with some sweet cherries.

The market is over flowing with cherries at the moment, all ridiculously priced and all incredible delicious. And as we all know, cherries are only with us for a short season, making them perfect “can”didates for canning. No pun intended.

Cherry jam holds a special memory for me. My Omi in Germany made the best cherry jam. I remember slathering it on laugenbroetchen (pretzel rolls), it sweet red-black color contrast to the creamy European butter it rested on. I revere that memory so fully that I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy when, a few years back, my sister returned from a trip abroad with some of Omi’s homemade jelly. Omi doesn’t produce the cherry jam in the quantities she used to, but I sure did think of her as pitted three pounds of cherries and watched them turn into utter deliciousness.

Cherry Butter, adapted from Food in Jars

  • 6 cups of pitted cherries (about 3 lbs of cherries)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Pit the cherries and add them to a non-reactive pot. Add 1 and 1/2 cups sugar. Heat over medium heat until the cherries and sugar start to bubble. Cook the cherries and sugar over low heat for roughly 1 hour, until the cherries have cooked down. Allow to cool slightly.

With an immersion blender, puree the fruit. Taste to see if the remaining sugar is needed — I have made this recipe twice. Both times I have not added the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.

Test the consistency of the butter. If the fruit is think and seems spreadable, the butter is done. If the fruit mixture is still water, cook on low heat until it takes on a thicker consistency. The butter will thicken as it cools.

Prepare canning jars, as indicated by Food in Jars. Ladle the butter into the prepared jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Enjoy your cherry butter for up to 6 months. Cherry Butter | Kitchen Notes

 

Turkey Burgers | Kitchen Notes

We do enjoy a good burger in our house…and it’s usually not a traditional burger with cheese either! In fact, I can’t remember the last time we made classic cheeseburgers. Not that a good one isn’t tasty, but it occurs to me that burgers are perfect experimental slates. Endless adaptability in a defined form.

So here is a burger for you. I give you endless permission to adapt it, tweak it, make it your own. Be forewarned, the measurements on this are haphazard. When the weather’s hot and the sun is shining, who needs exact measurements. So, I give you exact-ish measurements. 

And really,you should try it un-tweaked first. Just to give it a go. Then you can adapt as needed. 

 

Turkey Burger with Saint Andre Brie, Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, and Alfalfa Sprouts, on a sprouted grain bun

  • 1lb lean ground turkey breast
  • Freshly ground black pepper – a few generous turns of the pepper mill (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Shallot pepper, about 1 tablespoon
  • Dash of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • Panko bread crumbs – start with 1/4 cup and add in 1/4 cup increments if needed
  • A wedge of brie 
  • Raspberry chipotle sauce, about 1 teaspoon per burger
  • One carton of alfalfa sprouts
  • One avocado, sliced.
  • Four burger buns (we’ve been loving sprouted grain buns)

In mixing bowl, combine the turkey breast, black pepper, shallot pepper, salt, egg, and panko breadcrumbs. Combine until the turkey mixture comes together, but is still moist. If the mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs a little at a time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

Remove bowl from fridge. Heat a sauté pan and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. While the pan warms up, form the turkey mixture into 4-5 patties, depending on the size of burger you want. Pan fry the burgers, until crisped on the outside, about 4-5 minutes per side on medium to medium high heat. Please make sure your burgers are cooked through before serving. 

Once the burgers are finished, prep your hamburger buns. I like to toast mine, then spread the raspberry chipotle sauce on the lower bun. Add a slice of the brie, followed by the turkey burger patty. Top off with a few avocado slices and a good pinch of alfalfa sprouts. 

Recharging | Kitchen Notes

 

I’ve been silent in the blogosphere for longer than intended. Last week, I took a trip for work suburban Philadelphia. The work part of the trip was great, but my favorite part is seeing the vastly different landscape, vibrant and green from summer rain. I’ve taken leisure trips to PA in the past, as my dearest friend has called the city home for almost 10 years. Overall, the food was delicious, and the company was better. Not only did I get to meet up with friend in the city, but I spend time with good friends who I work with as well. My “favorite Pennsylvania foodies” as they dub themselves showed me around Phoenixville and explained the blobfest to me (behind the times, I am!). We also ate some pretty fantastic food, of which I have no pictures (for shame, I know!).  Sometimes, it’s better to focus on the company and the conversation than try to capture the right shot in dimly lit restaurant lighting! Life’s about people, you know. Food is the icing on the cake. And food shared with favorite people is like the sprinkles on top!

So back to reality. And back to cooking, which I did in fury this weekend. But to fully recharge, it’s great to take a night off, throw together a lovely combination of assorted goodies, and kick back with Casey. This dinner was low effort before and after, and allowed us to just be…you know, like the sprinkles on top.

To make something similar at home, bring together your favorite cold appetizers into a tapas or mezze platter. Serve with a cold drink – maybe some lime and mint infused sparkling water – and enjoy. Take a break from cooking. You deserve it.

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