There are brownies, and there are HEAVY DUTY brownies like these. The kind of brownies that discourage driving or operating complicated machinery, immediately afterward. Brownies that make your primary care physician gasp in horror at the blood test results.
Heavy. Duty. Brownies.
Not only intensely decadent and fudgy, these also have a hit of espresso. [Ed. note: WAIT A MINUTE YOU DIDN'T TELL ME THAT BEFOREHAND WHY AM I FLYING DID YOU SEE THAT ROLLER-SKATING ELEPHANT IS THIS MUCH FUN LEGAL]
However the most important aspect of this dessert is the frosting-to-brownie ratio, which you can properly see in the photo below. Am all about the frosting. As far as I'm concerned there can never be enough, and if you're the same these won't disappoint.
You could wait until Halloween to treat yourself to this, but if you make it now I won't tell. (It actually freezes very well, if you want to put some of it away for later.)
All of the usual "healthy" disclaimers, well, yeah. Kind of out the window. But you knew that at the title, right?
Look at that frosting, and check out the chocolate chips in there. [Ed. note: WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE]
The recipe was adapted from Thalia's blog Butter & Brioche. Didn't really change a thing. And I even kept her measurements in grams, as you really want to be extra careful of amounts. If you over-measure the flour, you will have a disappointingly dry brownie. If you're serious about baking, I strongly recommend buying a kitchen scale (have a Oxo digital food scale that kicks ass).
PS: Because we can't be all sweets all the time, last year's countdown to Halloween included a vegan garam masala carrot soup (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/vegan-garam-masala-carrot-soup).
Adapted from: Butter & Brioche
Number of servings: Makes one 8 x 8" pan
We're getting deeper and deeper into October (don't know about you, but did this past week feel like a month or what?), which doesn't just bring us closer to my favorite holiday, Halloween, but all the signs are pointing to another very busy Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season. Meaning, with all of the impending insanity, it's always a good idea to have a few "make-ahead meals" on hand to save time on the off nights. Off nights that are better spent curled up with the BF watching a favorite show like Better Call Saul, or the World Series where his team the San Francisc—oh. Sorry. [Ed. note: Twist the knife, why don't you.]
This Moroccan stew is delicous the night it's made, and reheats well for lunches or make-ahead dinners, without losing any of its vibrant cumin, cinnamon and saffron flavors. Colorful and brothy, light and healthy, it's filling without being heavy.
It's also vegetarian, but can easily be made vegan by replacing butter with olive oil and skipping the yogurt (see note).
Changes made to the original Smitten Kitchen recipe: substituted yams for the plain potatoes (I recommend the dark red Garnet yam variety), and left out the preserved lemon.
The BF loves it over couscous, but I love it on its own. My dinner guests love all the toppings. A supremely versatile dish you can whip out while you prepare for the costumed kids soon to run amok. Amok! Amok! Amok!
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 6-8
NOTE: To veganize this, replace the butter with additional olive oil, use vegetable broth and skip the yogurt.
PS: Sweet tooth? Did you miss a year ago when I whipped out the caramel apple cheesecake that destroyed the BF? [Ed. note: And no, she's not kidding.] (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/caramel-apple-cheesecake)
PPS: Amok! Amok! Amok!
"Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin."
It's here. October. My favorite month of the year. The month where the BF hangs on for dear life, as I vortex all things pumpkin. [Ed. note: I'm worried about you, man. Seriously.] Pumpkin items I adore: bread, muffins, donuts, cakes, cookies, popovers (coming soon to the blog), ice cream, mousse, cheesecake, soups, curries, pancakes, french toast, scones, cinnamon rolls, trifle and candles. Lots and lots of candles.
Most unnecessary pumpkin-spice products that I've seen? Pringles, vodka, body lotion, kale chips, salsa, salmon and bagels (the BF had a bite and requested that I never, ever, pinkie-swear-on-penalty-of-death buy that again). [Ed. note: Can confirm.]
Side note: The Huffington Post "reports that their taste testers were struck with a variety of reactions to Pringles’ new line of potato chips, ranging from 'surprisingly not revolted' to a 'horrible abomination to humanity.'"
October is also the month to make a mean pumpkin lasagna, crispy pumpkin and sage cannelloni (coming to the blog close to Thanksgiving) and pumpkin gnocchi. Seriously, I feel like there are not enough days in October for everything I want to make with pumpkin. [Ed. note: So this is why you were pining for them in February.]
This pumpkin bread is moist, tender and plush on the inside, with a sumptuous cinnamon-sugar craggy lid. One of my biggest pet peeves when baking pumpkin bread are the recipes that use 1 cup of pumpkin puree out of a can that holds 1 ¾ cup. That leftover puree drives me bat-shit crazy. [Ed. note: Can confirm.] Fear not, this recipe utilizes every last drop of that canned pumpkin and it only takes one bowl to make.
Very key here is the size of your loaf pan, as this will fill out every inch of it. Mine holds 6 liquid cups; it’s 8 × 4 inches on the bottom and 9 × 5 inches on the top. If yours is even slightly smaller or you’re nervous, go ahead and scoop out a little to make a muffin or two.
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen says, "Finally, I know someone is going to say 'that’s way too much sugar!' but please keep in mind this loaf is gigantic, easily 1.5x a normal one and the sugar is scaled accordingly. You can decrease it if you wish but we have made this now several times and many people have commented about how in-check the sugar level tastes, not over the top at all."
PS: Can't forget last year's pumpkin challah (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/pumpkin-challah), and mini pumpkin whoopie pies with apple cider filling (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mini-pumpkin-whoopie-pies-with-apple-cider-cream-cheese-filling), which were client and reader favorites.
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 8-10
"Autumn has caught us in our summer wear."
–Philip Larkin, British poet (1922–86)
Sans takeout, there is not an easier meal than this. [Ed. note: Well dang, woman, why not open up a bigger can of whoop ass for the lede, I'll tell you what.] Took some inspiration from a recipe in the now defunct Donna Hay Magazine (sniff). Please note, you can sub ground beef or turkey if you don't eat pork. If you don't want the carbs, throw this over shredded cabbage.
In other news, the BF alerted me The Old Farmer's Almanac states Saturday, September 22 was the first day of fall, or the autumnal equinox, also called September equinox. [Ed. note: Oh did I now, he queried while injecting Buffalo Trace directly into his veins.] Mornings and evenings have definitely been crisper, but the days are still pretty darn warm, unlike our dear friend in Washington State who is already harvesting apples and pears from her orchard. Alas, I'm counting down the days until sweater weather.
Until then, our Marlowe wishes everyone a Happy Fall, y'all.
PS: One year ago, the BF delved into his past life as a music journalist, and somehow we worked Alien Ant Farm into a recipe for Peanut Butter Scotcheroos...
Adapted from : Donna Hay, Issue 97, Feb/Mar 2018
Number of servings: 4
Tonight at sundown begins Yom Kippur. For 25 hours we will fast. [Ed. note: A WHOLE DAY AND AN HOUR DEATH WHERE IS THY STING?] This “Day of Atonement” (English translation) isn't Hanukkah, but it's the holiest day of the year, and a day to begin the new year with a fresh start.
When I was young, my mamala used to make her famous roast chicken before the fast and another one to break fast. We lived in a small town about 200 miles (round trip) from the nearest synagogue in Portland, Oregon. By the time services were over, and it was past sundown, we made it home around 8:00pm and started roasting a chicken we didn't actually eat until 10:00pm. It was a long day and we were all pretty hangry [Ed. note: A technical term.] by that point!
Although hardly traditional Jewish fare, this Mexican-marinated roast chicken is the perfect way to start the fast and it will be an easy and equally delicious meal to break fast. Best of all, I prepared everything ahead of time, so I didn't have to start the process after work.
A word about the marinade: you're probably thinking mayonnaise is an odd choice, but it's not. It works. The Best of Fine Cooking explains, "Mayonnaise is the perfect base for marinade as it takes the place of oil and keeps the marinade ingredients suspended. The lime juice cuts through the richness of the smoky chipotle and the beer adds depth of flavor."
The spice level is relatively mild, for my taste. If you like a bit more kick, like the BF and I do, add an additional ¼ - ⅓ cup of purée to the mayo.
Serve this chicken with anything! We made burrito bowls, but it's perfect served in a tortilla as a burrito or taco. Our side dishes included saffron rice, black beans, pickled red onions, avocados and a delectable cilantro vinaigrette that was so good, it will have its own blog entry very soon.
To all of my tribe, wishing you a meaningful Yom Kippur and an easy fast.
Adapted from: The Best of Fine Cooking, Mexican, 2018
Number of servings: 4-6
NOTE: You can make the marinade ahead of time. Tightly covered, the marinade (with mayo) will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.
So. We missed a week. Let me explain.
If there is one thing that can throw a serious monkey wrench into a personal-chef business, it's a broken refrigerator. Three weeks of no working fridge in the house, so to the rescue come three friends and their three fridges. (You know who you are and I love you dearly.) The BF and I are driving all over town to these different locations, then out to fulfill all the client orders. Extra time, extra hassle, and then of course problems with new-fridge delivery and oy...
Then, a bonus: jury duty. [Ed. note: #@%$#^&*] I was called to attend, but luckily was dismissed on the second day. A side note: in 1993 I served for four weeks during procedures that were deciding whether or not a serial killer was competent enough to stand trial. We determined that he was.
So, with all apologies, am late in getting into the Rosh Hashanah spirit. Even though it started on Sunday and ends today, Tuesday, it's not too late to make this lovely apple cake. This will work throughout the rest of fall and winter, and really, the last three weeks have had a "better late than never" kind of mantra.
Many years ago I made this for my Momala, and it was an instant favorite (and she is a woman who knows her coffee cakes). The BF enjoyed it for his birthday last year, and of course it was brought out again for this Rosh Hashanah. It doesn't skimp on the apples, the entire house smells like apples, cinnamon, and fall.
The BF and I want to wish all our Jewish family and friends a healthy and happy Shana Tova!
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 12-16
For the apples
DO AHEAD: This cake is awesome on the first day but absolutely glorious and pudding-like on the days that follow, so feel free to get an early start on it. I keep it at room temperature covered with foil.
* NOTE: The apples love to hide uncooked pockets of batter, especially near the top. Make sure your testing skewer or toothpick goes not just all the way down to the bottom, but does a shallow dip below the top layer of apples, and make sure it comes out batter-free. Should your cake be browning too fast, before the center is baked through, cover it with foil for all but the last few minutes, while in the oven.
Labor Day weekend. The end of summer. [Ed. note: Fact check = BOO] Baseball pennant races and the beginning of football season. [Ed. note: Fact check = YAY] During my childhood it was family gatherings, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon [Ed. note: Fact check = LADY], and literally the next day, the beginning of school. [Ed. note: Fact check = BOO REDEUX] A time many of you fire up the grill, and yet maybe some of you are looking for a healthy alternative.
It's not that I actively solicit requests (although to be clear, please never be afraid to reach out!), but for years this healthy chicken parmesan has been a hit with clients, friends, and family, and they all demand the recipe. The common comment usually revolves around how deceptively healthy this is. Sporting unbreaded chicken and loaded with vegetables, even the BF has said it feels like a pasta-inspired "cheat" that…really isn't. [Ed. note: Fact check = TRUE]
The dish is tasty any time of year. In summer, you can't beat a vegetable medley of zucchini, yellow zucchini, carrots and parsnips. In winter, instead of zucchini I substitute rutabaga, kohlrabi, butternut squash or celery root. Bonus: it's low carb, gluten free, grain free, and ready in under an hour. Perfect for weeknights, and if you are tending a summer garden as we approach Labor Day, this is a wonderful way to utilize those vegetables.
If you own one, you can use a Spiralizer, but I actually found it much easier to simply use a hand-held julienne peeler (see photo below). Last September, I used the same inexpensive tool to whip up the Vegetable Noodle Nest with Soft Boiled Egg. www.moveablefeast.me/blog/vegetable-noodle-nest-with-soft-boiled-egg
Of note, almost all Spiralized or juilienned vegetables (especially root varieties) hold well for several days in the fridge, with the exception of zucchini, which tends to get a little limp and watery after a day. After Spiralizing the veggies, wrap them in a paper towel and place in a Ziplock bag. Get all the air out of the bag, and presto, you're done. For myself and the BF, the meal prep occurs at the beginning of the week, and all I have to do is sauté the veggies when dinner time comes around. To quote the immortal words of my spirit animal Ina Garten, "How easy is that?"
Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend, and repeating: if you see anything on the other sections of my web site (i.e., photos) that you'd like to see a recipe blog post for, let me know in the comments below or reach out on any of the social media platforms listed. [Ed. note: We also accept e-mail, snail mail, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, drums, etc.]
Inspired by: Giada De Laurentiis, FoodNetwork.com
Number of servings: 4
Vegetables (While the chicken is in the oven...)
"Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."
My siblings and I did not grow up with macaroni and cheese. I know. It's like I have to turn in my "kid" card or something.
You see, Momala and Dad didn't exactly grow up with it either, so it never made an appearance on our dinner table. Not sorry at all, as she made the best spaghetti sauce I have ever had in my life. It took ten hours of cooking and, although it sounds odd, her secret ingredient was a cup of brewed coffee. It had a deeply exotic flavor and, as much as I have tried...never been able to replicate it.
This particular recipe is a mac-and-cheese lover's dream. Four cheeses. [Ed. note: Turns up the porn music.] Over the years, I have made a metric ton of mac and cheese for my clients, and have over a dozen different varieties on my menus. Typically, after trying a recipe for the first time, notes sprout around the margins with any changes I personally make to the original script, i.e., "Do again," "awesome," "needs tweaking," "BF likes it," "add to client menu," or the killer "do NOT make again." On this recipe, well...
"Holy Shit! Great!!!!" [Ed. note: Take it from a guy who wrote and edited for a magazine that literally had its name, with one exclamation point, trademarked: Four exclamation points is serious.]
Ooeey, gooey, stringy, melty goodness, with a crusty golden top and phenomenal flavor that both kids and adults adore. In fact, on my menu it's called "Adult Mac & Cheese." [Ed. note: Porn music continues.]
This recipe comes from the late Anthony Bourdain's Appetites. The BF and I are longtme fans of his books and television shows, and for me, personally, he had a monumental impact, instilling a great respect for food, the animals themselves, the restaurant business, and the people behind every aspect of meal creation.
A quick aside: two years ago Bourdain was on a spoken-word tour in San Francisco. On previous tours, I had tried to get tickets for the BF and I, but they had always sold out too quickly. This time, I was a redailing machine and scored the tickets. Excited as I was, my personal-chef schedule was so busy that I couldn't adjust my client for the night of the show, so the tickets ended up being given to my dear friend Maria, who of course loved it. Was disappointed that I didn't get to see him, but I assured myself Bourdain would come back to San Francisco again on a future tour.
Of course, that will not happen.
At the show, Maria was kind enough to buy me a copy of Appetites as a gift. Very thoughtful gesture at the time, but now, considering his passing, I cherish it more than ever. If you look at the picture below, you can see the ragged bookmarks and Post-It tabs demarking the dishes I have made and have yet to try. When I open it up now, I feel like hugging my loved ones a little tighter, for a little longer.
I may or may not be traveling to parts unknown anytime soon, with or without reservations, but hopefully channeling his spirit I will continue to share my table and break bread with people I love. Old friends and new. People who look, talk, dress, or vote differently than I. Am not one to want to sound as if on a soapbox, but I believe food brings people together in spite of any differences, and think Bourdain believed that, too.
Going to miss you, Chef.
Adapted from: Anthony Bourdain, Appetites: A Cookbook
Number of servings: 8-10
NOTE: This makes a large amount of mac & cheese, but it's easy to cut the recipe in half for four servings.
"More people will come if they think we have punch and pie!"
~ Eric Theodore Cartman
Twenty-one years ago, four crudely animated foul-mouthed boys began their seemingly endless journey through grade school in the quaint, cozy mountain town of South Park. Through alien abductions, soul-singing chefs, cannabis-drenched towels, and commentary covering all possible levels of political incorrectness, one thing has been perpetually certain: Eric Cartman loves pie. Loves all desserts, actually.
Growing up, my siblings and I would ask my Mom, "Can we have dessert?" Her reply would often be, "Yes, you can have a piece of fruit." As if channeling Cartman, we would all bellow in unison, "But Mom, fruit is not a dessert."
Honestly, in this form, it really is.
Whenever I bake a pie, especially a blackberry pie, I recall the mother of my best childhood friend (Mrs. C). A master pie maker. She taught me how to make a pie from scratch.
We picked wild blackberries from her daughter's back yard. The berries were so plump, we filled the huge plastic bucket within 15 minutes. Of all the priceless baking tips Mrs. C gave, I'm most thankful for her method of thickening a pie filling with tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch) instead of cornstarch or all-purpose flour. Tapioca flour makes the filling bright and clear, whereas cornstarch or A.P. flour can give the filling a cloudy look and chalky taste.
This recipe is adapted from Julia Frey's blog Vikalinka. Besides some general streamlining, my changes include adding a bit of cinnamon to the filling, upping the amount of blackberries, and subbing tapioca flour in place of A.P. flour. I love her idea of topping the pie with honeyed creme fraiche (a favorite that really complements the blackberries well).
One note, if you're lucky enough to have wild blackberries in your backyard, use them (and I'm envious). If not, store bought will do just fine. If you're short on time, you can also use your favorite store-bought pie crust. Just don't forget the honeyed creme fraiche. More people will come if they think you have honeyed creme fraiche.
Adapted from: Vikalinka
Number of servings; 8
Today we're going to get saucy. [Ed. note: OH YEAH.] Not that kind of saucy. Simmer down, BF.
What is coulis? A coulis is a sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits. I personally prefer a very smooth sauce, so I strain it after blending. You don't need to do this. Notice the top photo with scallops, I strained that sauce. The bottom photo with halibut I did not. Notice the difference in texture. It's delicious either way.
Around this time of year many of my friends have an abundance of bell peppers in their gardens. So much so, they're giving them away as fast as they can.
This Moveable-Feast-original yellow bell pepper coulis is one of my favorite dishes to make because it's easy to prepare, healthy (fat free) and very versatile. I can make a big batch at the beginning of the week (it keeps well in the fridge for days) and use it for three or four different meals, throughout. The sauce works well as a base for chicken, shrimp, scallops, halibut, any fish, pork, black bean cakes, mushroom meatballs, crispy tofu, anything. You can even serve it as soup.
Made the halibut meal (below) for the BF and he loved it. Made the scallop meal (above) as a special dinner for a friend celebrating her recent Life Coach certification, and her mother. Whether the meal was for two (former) or four (latter), the process was simple.
The zucchini roses might seem a bit labor intensive, but honestly they're not, and they add a distinctive flair to the dish. Enjoy this one while the bell peppers are still in season!
Number of servings: 4
Yellow Bell Pepper Coulis
Yellow Bell Pepper Coulis
NOTE: I have cooked a batch of Trader Joe's frozen scallops (defrosted), and fresh scallops from my favorite excellent local fish monger, and everyone liked Trader Joe's the best.
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.