Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chickie's Birthday Bash!

I know I promised to share my recipe for Umbrian Lentils, but in the meantime, two very important things have happened.
#1. This past weekend I made my sister-in-law, Chickie an over-the-top Birthday dinner...and #2. I just found out this afternoon that I am one of the top 50 candidates for the position of Chief World Explorer for Jauntaroo. Umbrian Lentils coming soon...
First, Jauntaroo's Chief World Explorer...out of 3000 candidates, I was selected in the top 100. Thanks for voting for me!! Next assignment was to create a 3 minute webisode about your home-town. From there, Jauntaroo selected 50 candidates to move forward. Next, I ask your help in again viewing and 'LIKING' my 3 minute video to get me into the final 5. We will have about a month to vote. Here is the link. I cannot thank you enough for your support. I am very excited about this opportunity! I'll keep you posted...

Now on to the Birthday Bash! I'm going to start with Chickie's dessert...DOUBLE FUDGE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES with HOMEMADE ORANGE SHERBET and RICH CHOCOLATE SAUCE.

1 stick unsalted butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8" baking pan with parchment, leaving overhang on all sides. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Melt butter and chocolate over very low heat. Place the chocolate squares on top of the stick of butter and let it melt and drip into the butter. Stir from time to time until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt (I sifted my cocoa as it had gotten kind of lumpy). Fold in flour until combined.

Pour batter into pan. Bake until set and a toothpick comes out clean-about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan on a rack-about 15 minutes. Gently lift brownies by parchment out of pan and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely. Cut into 9 squares.

These may be the best brownies I have ever eaten; delicious with a delicate crust and moist, rich interior. Very easy to make.

For our Birthday Bash dinner, I made an orange sherbet to go with the brownies. Note the color of the sherbet. No food coloring so it is not bright orange, but very flavorful. Both the sherbet base and brownies can be made in the morning. Churn the sherbet about 2 hours before you want to serve.

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I used prepared juice from the store.)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups whole milk

In a blender, add sugar, vanilla, orange zest, salt, orange juice and lemon juice. Pulse until the sugar is dissolved, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until very cold, about 2 hours.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and proceed according to directions of your ice cream maker. For me, that was about 22-25 minutes of churning.

Transfer the sherbet to a tupperware type container and freeze for 2-3 hours. The longer you freeze, the harder it gets. I thought the consistency best at 2 1/2 hours.

Top this scrumptuos brownie with the orange sherbet and the best chocolate sauce you will ever taste. I first experienced this sublime sauce at a dinner party. It's our neighbor Karen's specialty sauce and is great on just about everything or anything. She has given me a double recipe, but it freezes very well so it makes sense to make a double batch so you always have it on hand. I think what sets it apart is the use of evaporated milk, rather than heavy cream as most ganaches call for.

2 sticks butter
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 (14 oz.) cans evaporated milk; 21 oz. all together
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter, chocolate over low heat stirring occasionally until combined. Add evaporated milk, sugar, and vanilla. Stir until all ingredients are shiny and thoroughly blended.

I am going to close with the full menu and promise I will share the Butternut Bisque, which was super yummy and Umbrian Lentils next time.

Starter:                        Butternut Bisque with Ginger and Orange Zest
Main:                          Shrimp and Mushroom Risotto
Accompaniments:       Steamed Asparagus
                                    Roasted Red Peppers with lots of garlic
Finale:                         Double Fudge Brownies with Orange Sherbet and
                                    Hot Chocolate Ganache

I had so much fun putting this meal together for Chickie. What a fabulous birthday celebration we had. Happy Birthday Chick!

As always, thanks for sharing my passion for cooking.


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