Friday, July 23, 2010

Egg and Grilled Tomato Open Face English Muffin Sandwich

Ok, so this isn't a sweet like my other posts, but it's still a very nice "treat" I make myself when I have the luxury of sleeping in and want to spend a little extra time on my first meal of the day. Not a huge sandwich, but just filling enough :)

Egg and Tomato Open Face English Muffin Sandwich

Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are.

Two eggs
One English muffin
5-6 small chunks of cheddar cheese
One small tomato, sliced into round slices

1. Scramble the eggs in a small pan with a little butter.
2. While the eggs are scrambling, lightly toast the English muffin in the toaster.
3. Divide the scrambled eggs evenly amongst the two slices of the English muffin.
4. In the same pan where you scrambled the eggs, grill the tomato slices on each side.
5. Arrange tomato slices evenly ontop of the eggs.
6. Arrange the cheese chunks throughout the top of the eggs and the tomato.
7. Microwave for ~60 seconds or until cheese is just melted.

It's simple, but amazing. I just love the contrast of the tangy cheese and the slightly sourdough flavor of the English muffin, mixed with the slightly smoky, yet sweet juiciness of the grilled tomato slices. This goes great with a fruit smoothie, for a filling and refreshing brunch!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From smitten kitchen: bittersweet chocolate and pear cake

This is one of my favorite cakes. I've made it twice now, and a good friend of mine told me after trying this cake that while he likes almost no cakes, he loved this one. It was a welcome challenge to my baking skills, as it's a bit complicated at times, but well worth the effort. Smitten kitchen features some amazing cakes, I can't wait to make even more of them.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake

Serves 9 or 10.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks (or just bittersweet chocolate broken up into smallish pieces amounting to about 3/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside.
Break the eggs into a kitchen aid mixer (or in a bowl) and whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)
While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and cook until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes).
Scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
After a few minutes, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter alternatingly (one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour).
Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter just until the ingredients are combined, so the batter won't lose volume.
Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes or a tester comes out clean.

 To be honest, the first time I made this cake I slipped up a bit on the instructions-- I mixed the batter too much, I mixed the pear and chocolate into the batter rather than simply sprinkling it over the top and letting it nestle in on its own while baking (because it does), but it did not come out ruined. It was just a little denser than intended. This second time I followed the instructions perfectly, and I have to say I like it even better. Fresh out of the oven, the melty chocolate and warm pear tastes amazing... but it's also very good after being chilled, which gives the flavors even more time to mingle a bit.