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  1. Friday, April 2, 2010

    Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (And a Giveaway! And Recipes!)

    This giveaway is now closed. But please read the post anyway….it’s a goodun.

    (Hey friends. This is a long post. Please stick with it. It’s a good one. Plus, there’s a giveaway tucked in there you don’t want to miss!)

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    When Nate and I were newlyweds, we loved watching The Naked Chef. (Now that is a good opening line for a post, no?) The Naked Chef was Chef Jamie Oliver’s first T.V. show. We loved it…the whole idea was to get the food naked, strip it down to the essentials. Jamie has stayed true to that philosophy over the years and has taken it to a whole new level, a “revolution” if you will. Have you heard about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? In Jamie’s own words, this is what it’s all about: “I believe that every child in America has the right to fresh, nutritious school meals, and that every family deserves real, honest, wholesome food.” That’s it folks. Simple, right? Nope. Unfortunately, it’s unbelievably complicated.

    If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC, you can watch the full episodes on the website. So, get yourself caught up and make sure to tune in tonight for Episode 3. I love this show. It’s eye-opening. It’s frustrating. It’s inspiring. It’s touching. It’s downright awesome. I think what got to me most were the USDA regulations governing what food has to be served in the schools. The “health” guidelines are so misguided, and the red tape is stifling for administrators. Simply put, the system’s a mess. It all makes me a little crazy.

    I received an email from Jamie’s PR firm a few months ago about the Food Revolution. Since I was a fan of Jamie, I actually read the email and then I hopped over to Jamie’s website, signed his petition and called it a day. Then I saw the premiere of the program on ABC two weeks ago and decided this was something I really wanted to share with all of you. So here we are!

    jamie's food revolution book cover smIf you’d like to sign the petition, which Jamie will take to the White House, click here! And please spread the word to get others to sign as well! Jamie was the catalyst for some great changes in the U.K. school lunch program. There’s no reason we can’t do the same thing here in America!

    Oh! And I do have a giveaway for you! Leave a comment on this post to be entered for your chance to win a copy of Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals. Post your comment by Midnight PT, Wednesday April 7. One randomly-selected winner will be announced on April 8. (Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address, thanks!) Big thanks to Jamie’s PR firm for the giveaway!

    And, because this post just simply is not long enough (ha!), click ‘more’ for some simple & healthy salad dressing recipes from Jamie’s book!

    (>> Find out more…)

  2. Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Julia Child’s Best-Ever Brownies

    First off, I think I might need to change the name of my blog to This Week for Dessert. Goodness, ‘someone’ has a sweet tooth lately. I recently made Julia Child’s Best-Ever Brownies from Baking with Julia.

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    I know the question on all your minds….are these brownies really the best ever? If you like rich chocolate desserts, then they are. I am warning you, though – these brownies are not for the faint of chocolate heart. They’re hard core, gooey, rich. But in the best way possible.

    When I first read through the recipe, I almost didn’t make them. A self-professed gooey brownie is tasty enough, but most often those recipes taste underbaked more than anything. Not so with Julia’s recipe. These brownies are gooey, but on a different level – a completely intentional, delicious-hot-or-cold level. The recipe is very similar in composition to the mini molten chocolate cake recipe I love so much, and these brownies are quite reminiscent of the flavors in that recipe.

    Bottom line, I love these brownies. They were amazing hot out of the oven, and they were amazing cold the next day. They also have a great crusty top that stays that way over time. The recipe is a bit labor intensive, but I think worth it. Kind of what I expected, honestly, with Julia.

    Remember, I do have an otherworldly tolerance for chocolate, so keep that in mind when considering my recommendation. Nate liked the brownies too, so you can probably trust me. 😉

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    Julia Child's Best-Ever Brownies
    From Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and Julia Child Excerpt from the book, by Julia Child: Those who are passionate about brownies argue in defense of their favorite type, cakey or fudgey. If you’re a cakey fan, go on to another recipe. These are the epitome of soft, dark, “baked just until barely set” brownies. Their creamy texture makes them seem wildly luxurious and very much a treat to be metered out in small servings (just small enough for a scoop of ice cream and some chocolate sauce). The mixing method is unorthodox for a brownie. Half of an egg-sugar mixture is stirred into the melted chocolate and butter, while the other half is whipped until it thickens and doubles in volume. The lightened eggs are folded into the chocolate with a delicate touch, as are the dry ingredients–tricks that enhance the brownies’ lovely texture.”
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 8 ounces unsalted butter
    • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 4 large eggs
    1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
    2. Sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
    3. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently and keeping a watchful eye on the pot to make certain the chocolate doesn’t scorch (Alternatively, you can melt the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over, not touching, simmering water.) Add 1 cup of the sugar to the mixture and stir for half a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
    4. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
    5. Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs into a bowl and mix or whisk by hand just to combine.
    6. Little by little, pour half of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula so that the eggs don’t set from the heat.
    7. Fit the whisk attachment to the mixer and whip the remaining sugar and eggs until they are thick, pale, and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. (Jane note: I let it go for about 5 minutes)
    8. Using the rubber spatula, delicately fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture.
    9. When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients.
    10. Pour and scrape the batter in to an unbuttered 9-inch square pan. (Jane note: I did use an UNbuttered pan. It was actually kind of hard to get the brownies out. I have no idea if using a butter pan will change the way they cook or not. I just trusted Julia and went with it.)
    11. Bake the brownies for 25-28 minutes, during which time they will rise a little and the top will turn dark and dry.
    12. Cut into the center at about the 23-minute mark to see how the brownies are progressing: they’ll be perfect if they’re just barely set and still pretty gooey. They’re still awfully good on the other side of set, so don’t worry if you miss the moment on your first try.
    13. The brownies will keep, covered, for 2 to 3 days at room temperature and can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature. These never freeze solid, so you might want to think about using them as a mix-in for ice cream.
    14. In the words of Julia”¦Bon Appétit!