Monthly Archive for September, 2009

The Ultimate Cappuccino Brownie

My triumvirate post in honor of BlogHer Food09 – I am excited for the festivities and the conference and to finally meet my friends behind the icons- fellow Foodies. Since I have yet to make my own champagne (or as we say in the Napa Valley ‘sparkling wine’ — since the laws in Europe and other countries reserve the word Champagne for a specific type of wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy from the Champagne region of France) I went for the next best celebratory item for the palate – dessert. This concoction is ridiculous – brownie, espresso, butter bliss. Take a good long gander at the drool-some photo and then wash those digits, roll up your sleeves and get ready to lick your fingers as each sugary bite reveals its flavors. I DO want to know when you make it and I am betting against you. I think once you read this over, even the kitchen weary will jump in to make this dream a reality.

Hold onto your taste buds, it’s an explosion!

(Note: Be sure to read over the entire recipe as there are three ingredients lists and three sets of directions.)

The Brownie


1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp instant espresso coffee powder
1 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 square baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, espresso powder, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix and set aside.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and butter. It is important not to burn the chocolate chips – I recommend setting the microwave on medium power in 30-40 second intervals and stirring in between until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Mixture should be warm.

Add in sugars and vanilla until completely combined. The mixture should be room temperature. Add in the eggs one, one at a time, whisking lightly after each addition.

Using a spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Do not over beat!
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake in the center of the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on rack.



2 1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
1 – 2 TBS milk or cream
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 cup butter, softened


In a bowl, combine espresso powder and 1 TBS of milk or cream, stirring to dissolve.

Add in butter and sugar.

Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed to blend then on medium speed until creamy, adding more milk, if necessary to make a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread evenly over the brownie.

Chill to harden, about 1 hour.



1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup whipping cream


Put the chocolate chips in a medium size bowl and melt on medium heat in 30 second internals stirring regularly. When melted, add in heavy whip cream. Stir until well combined.

Let cool to lukewarm.

Spread over frosting.

Chill until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Cut into bars or squares.

Hearty Cabbage Salad & Turkey Panini al Fresco

With BlogHer Food around the corner, my mind is reeling with visions of food recipes dancing in my head. It may sound like Tech-no-geek girl has lost her other edge but in effect this is the other side of my duality- my passion for food. So to help celebrate I am doing some additional late night food posts….I’ve been DM with the Foodies that I am eager to meet and I can’t wait to talk dish!

Now, back to dinner- the weather is hot and there is no sense in turning on the stove but that doesn’t mean dinner has to be compromised. Tonight I indulged in a great Middle Eastern salad with an open faced turkey sandwich. Yes, I’ll share!

Three Recipes:
– Hearty Middle Eastern Cabbage Salad
– Salad Vinaigrette
– Turkey Panini al Fresco

The salad recipe is compliments of with a few slight modifications. The result – RAVE REVIEWS! And if you are interested in another great recipe on Bowl Licker from Sue Barkett Zumout please take a look at Lebanese Stuffed Artichokes.

Hearty Middle Eastern Cabbage Salad


1 head red cabbage, medium chop or shredded
3 tomatoes (Shady Lady if available), diced
1 English cucumber, diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 can (15 oz) dark kidney beans, rinsed
2 cans (4 oz) oil packed tuna, drained
1 container (5 oz) crumbled Feta


Wash and dry all vegetables.

For the onion, consider quartering and soaking it in ice water in the refrigerator for at least two hours. This will cut the sting and leave only the sweetness.

In a large salad bowl, add all of the ingredients in this order: cabbage, cucumber, beans, tomoatoes, onion, mint, tuna and cheese.

Salad Vinaigrette


2 small cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
2 tsps coarse salt
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar


Add salt and garlic to a mortar. Mash them together with a pestle. (If you don’t have a mortar/pestle it’s not a problem, press the garlic, add the salt and mix together.)

In a small high sided bowl, add lemon juice, black pepper, olive oil and vinegar. Transfer garlic mixture to measuring cup and whisk until blended well.

Pour over salad and gently toss.

Turkey Panini al Fesco


1 loaf cranberry walnut bread *
1 container (4 oz) cream cheese
2 oz cranberry chutney*
8 slices honey roasted turkey


Slice bread thin. Spread cream cheese over bread and then a light layer of the cranberry chutney. Top with a think slice of honey roasted turkey.

* while I have good recipes for these items, let’s keep this post simple, after all it is hot out!

Fondue Pasta (AKA Gina’s Killer Mac ‘n Cheese)

Bonus post- so in my quest to mend and feel just a little bit better I mustered up enough energy to comfort my inner kitchen chi. The result? Carb-a-docious. Oh yeah, I looked in the fridge and pulled out the maximum carb/cardiac-attack menu I could hone in on. After nearly two weeks of not being able to taste food – I said to myself, “Go big, eat big or go back to bed.” (You guessed it, I was done with the latter.)

fondue pasta is served

fondue pasta is served

Fondue Pasta


1 lb elbow macaroni or small shells
4 1/2 (18 oz) cups sharp cheddar, grated
1 1/2 (6 oz) cups Gruyere or Jarlesberg cheese, grated
1 cup Pecorino, grated
1 cube butter (6 TBS + 2 TBS)
5 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsps salt
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
6 slices white bread, crusts removed & cut into small piece (can also substitue 2 cups stuffing bread crumbs)


Prepare pasta 2-3 minutes less than package directions. Drain in colander, do not rinse in water. (Hint: If you add a bit of vegetable oil to the boiling water before you add the pasta, the pasta will be easier to separate once cooled.)

Shred cheese and cut bread in preparation of the upcoming steps. Set aside.

In medium sauce pan melt 2 TBS butter. Add in bread or breadcrumbs and stir until butter has been absorbed. Set aside.

In small pot, warm milk and set aside.

In a large pot, melt 6 TBS butter over medium-high heat. When butter bubbles add flour. Cook, wisking for one minute. Continue to wisk while slowly add in warm milk and cook until mixture bubbles and becomes thick. (DO NOT STOP stirring or the milk will burn on the bottom of the pot.)

Take 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 Gruyere and set aside.

Turn heat down to simmer and add in black pepper, cayanne pepper, nutmeg and salt, mix well. Then add worcestershire sauce, 3 cups of cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese and Pecorino and mix well. Stir pasta into warm cheese sauce.

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Spray non-stick cooking spray into a high-sided casserole dish approximately 8″x12″. Sprinkle remaining cheeses and top with breadcrumbs. Bake approximately 30 minutes until brown on top. Allow to cool 10 minutes.

mac 'n cheese

mac 'n cheese

Serving suggestions: This is a heavy meal best balanced with a nice crisp salad. I made a cucumber, tomato and marinated artichoke heart salad….. and then I completely contradicted that thought and baked a cake. Why? Because I needed to locate every pound I may have lost while sick and I DIDN’T go back to bed.

It’s A Pisco Party

A delightful alternative pisco beverage

A dlightful alternative pisco beverage

I have the honor of being the celebratory guest blogger for my good Twitter pal and birthday gal Iliana Ewen. That in mind, this drink comes with wishes for another great year ahead. Should she wish to hide from her special day, this tasty beverage is certain to erase her memory when combined with laughter, friends, family and a bit of cake!

Three years ago, I met a young gal from Peru named Rosa. We became friends and through that friendship she introduced me to all things Peruvian. While the cuisine is amongst my favorites I must also confess that I have often indulged in the native alcohol — pisco [prounced PEES-KO]. You should know, I have a soft spot for both Rosa and pisco. These two key instigators blended with my Italian heritage are responsible for this seemingly innocent concoction.

But like all bar drinks, this one must have an interesting story and that story is rooted in the origins of pisco.

Pisco- Drinkology 101- facts to impress your friends while under the influence:
– Pisco is both a city and an important port on the Peruvian coast.
– The name originates from the Inca word for a ‘bird’
– Pisco is made from a special grape in the Andes Mountains and dates back to the 1500s
– It is a South American brandy-like liqueur distilled from grapes and is 45% alcohol
– Both Chile and Peru claim pisco as their national drink and are still fighting over who has sole ownership (Rosa says it is Peru that owns it!)
– Most common pisco drink is a pisco sour (but that’s a whole ‘nother story!)

In conclusion, pisco is some serious stuff.

Lemon-Aid Blur
Note Secret Measurement: 2 parts liquid K.O. Be sure to read over both ingredients lists.

Lemon Simple Syrup Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 strips of lemon zest (approx 2 lemons)

Lemon Simple Syrup Directions

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest (or peel) off of lemons before juicing them as directed in the remainder of the drink recipe (called The Blur- see below).
In small saucepan, on medium-high heat mix together sugar, water and zest. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Let stand 20 minutes, until cool. Syrup can be refrigerated up to one week – and is also good over berry flavored sorbets.

The Blur Ingredients

¾ cup lemon simple syrup
¼ cup pisco (or ouzo), chilled
½ cup + 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
4 lemons
6 sprigs basil (or mint for the less adventurous)
ice, crushed

The Blur Directions

Stir together the simple syrup, pisco (or ouzo), and the fresh lemon juice.
Fill six small glasses with ice, fill to the brim and add a sprig of basil.

Spitting the Dummy

Oh not so long ago, in a land seemingly far away, this story begins. (Foodie Hint: this post is not a cooking post so either honker down or give me hell.) Spitting the dummy is an expression commonly used when I lived in New Zealand working on the America’s Cup project – it was generally used in reference to one, very unkind sailor who constantly threw a tantrum A.K.A. spit the dummy.

Definition from Free Medical Dictionary: a sudden outburst or violent display of rage, frustration, and bad temper, usually occurring in a maladjusted child or immature or disturbed adult- is used primarily as a device for attempting to control others and the surroundings. It most commonly occurs at age 2 to 2-½ years. Also called temper tantrum.

Definition from Reference to an infant spitting out their dummy (or pacifier) in order to cry.

Cellifier: the PDA pacifier

Cellifier: the PDA pacifier

When I think of the ‘dummy’ aside from this athlete’s poor behavior (definition #1), I think of the term pacifier (definition #2) and the pacifier du monde on a global scale is the PDA.

I am no different, I am addicted to my PDA pacifer, and I wish that admitting it was half the way to solving the problem but really admitting it hasn’t helped me to cure the problem whatsoever. It has however encouraged me to try to get those closest to me addicted to a device of their own. Yes, I can be convincing on occasion and no addict wants to enjoy their addiction in an isolated environment especially when the ‘drug’ is legal. There is no denying it – PDA’s are legal and they are only gaining momentum, while far more prominent in Europe they are soon to take on an entirely new purpose — contactless payment. It is true and it is exciting to me in my geek-a-fied world. To be able to pay for a movie, buy a soft drink, or pay for meal all by your phone. Not to mention all that we can currently do with our phones – surf the internet, text, tweet, facebook, send emails/photos/videos. Let’s face it, for those that aren’t addicted it is only due to lack of knowing how to harness these tools and well the rest of us are simply ADDICTED.

The ramifications? Well, when your PDA becomes your new BFF then what happens to your current BFF? I’ve pondered the question for weeks. When we sacrifice the relationships with those closest to us to communicate with those we may or may not have ever spoken to, has there been a significant social change brought about by social media? I think the answer is yes. I don’t think that will change anytime soon but it should be noted. Is communicating that new selfish frontier that pushes all else aside? Will a new soc-equette evolve as a result? Despite my clear love for all of the new media tools at my disposal I can’t help but want to flip it all on its head and try to understand where it is headed. What are the rules? How should we play? What is the tipping point for the intersections between work and personal and how much should our real social lives sacrifice for our new BFFs? What may be the ‘right’ way to curtail the addiction is certainly not going to be popular or fun. I assure you that I am not ready to leave my pacifier behind, I have a revived thirst for knowledge, I have always been curious but now I have an unquenchable thirst to know as much as possible immediately. I have access to more online articles globally then ever imaginable and I do passionately follow the story trends and bends in perceptions. I am *THAT PERSON* that should tone down my addiction but my rekindled passion for the here and now is all consuming and all empowering at the same time. I don’t know where we go from here but I can’t wait to watch this movie as it unfolds in real time. I can’t seem to loose the pacifier or spit the dummy and I love that those around me find me interesting enough to tolerate me for who I am evolving to be.

Note: Recipe: 50% baby pacifier with 50% cell phone = cellifier. Where ever you are you can now reduce your chances of human contact, and boost the electronical oblivion factor 24/7.

An excerpt from an interesting article in GIGAOM: Shut Up and Drive! How to Identify — and Deal With — Cell Phone Abuse by Blake Snow.

If you decide you do have a problem, the best way to avoid future abuse is to plan ahead. For example, decide beforehand when and how you will use your phone, including periodic power downs. Turn off alerts for low-priority phone messages. And set limits on how often you tweet, so as not to disturb more important things in life — like true friendship, hard deadlines and (you guessed it) safe driving.

Cooking from the heart – friendship & artichokes

I think it was a chance meeting that we became friends, freshman year at college during orientation week – there were some mutual ‘friends’ involved in the introduction and there was nothing particularly poignant about our first conversation but I remember that she seemed like someone I would enjoy hanging out with – she had a great smile, perfect teeth, long dark curly hair, a contagious laugh AND she was one of the other five brunettes on the campus field that day. (Just on the merit of her undyed hair I needed to make this alliance work. If you’ve ever been to SoCal you’ll know that if you are not blond, you are an oddity.) How or when we actually became true friends happened months later, but often beginnings are simple and this one was no different except that this is our story. And of course I’ve locked many of the zesty stories in my ‘vault’ because this post is not about the lurid details of my past indiscretions with one of my dear friends (which would certainly gain a greater blog following but I refuse to sell out….just yet) but it is about how we cooked together and have shared years of food at restaurants, cafes and in our various kitchens over the years. She is an excellent cook and I treasure our weekends spent discovering what we will cook – so when I proposed that we jump into vlogging together for she surprised me and said, “Let’s do it!”

(Sorry folks, our featured cook became a bit shy and asked to have this vlog tucked back into the vault- good news is that her amazing recipe remains here and is one of my favorites.)

Lebanese Stuffed Artichokes alla Sue Barkett Zumout


4 medium-sized artichokes
1lb. ground top sirloin 90% lean
1lb. ground top sirloin 80% lean
1 cup rice
3 large red onions, 1 quartered & 2 sliced thinly
1/8 small size sweet red pepper (seeded)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed/dried & loosely packed
2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced rounds ¼ inch thick
6 cups tomato juice
1 (8 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 TBS allspice
2 tsps cumin
1 TBS Kosher Salt
2 tsp black pepper


In a food processor, add one large quartered onion, mint and red pepper. Mix until pureed. Place meat in a large mixing bowl. Add pureed mixture, uncooked rice, allspice, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well (preferably by hand.) Place in refrigerator.

To clean artichokes, start by cutting the stem off the bottom. Remove all small or dry leaves at the base of the artichoke that may be too tough to eat. To remove the sharp thorns, snip off the tips of the leaves with a pair of scissors. Use a serrated knife to cut and flatten out the top of the artichoke. To open the artichoke and make it easier to stuff, smash the top of the artichoke, top side down, against your cutting board. Wash and dry artichokes. To be certain that the water does not remain trapped in the leaves it is best to dry the artichoke upside down on a towel.

Sautée two large onions in olive oil until translucent. Salt and pepper to taste.
When stuffing the artichoke, always start from the top and work down toward the bottom. For this recipe, start ¼ of the way down from the top, otherwise there will be too much meat. Take large gumball-sized pieces of the meat mixture and gently place behind the leaves working down until all but the top ¼ of leaves are filled.

Line a large pot with olive oil. Place ¼ inch thick slices of potato at the bottom of the pot and lightly salt. This is done so that the artichokes do not burn (and they are a tasty addition to the meal.) Place the artichokes in the pot. Because of the size of the stuffed artichokes it may be difficult to fit them along the bottom of the pot and they may need to be layered against each other. It is important to keep in mind that in order for the stuffed artichokes to cook properly the lid will need to fit securely on top. Add tomato juice, diced tomatoes, ½ tsp salt and the remaining two sautéed onions over the top of the artichokes. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting every 25 minutes. When leaves can easily be pulled from the artichokes the meal is properly cooked.

Tips and Tricks:
– For large parties, consider placing artichokes in a turkey roasting pan, cooking on the stove with two burners. One turkey roaster can fit 8-10 artichokes.
– If additional meat remains after stuffing the artichokes, consider:
a) freezing it for another time as this stuffing can be used with many different vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers and potatoes (some of these vegetables need to be slightly hollowed before filling)
b) rolling meat into small rounded balls and then adding them to boiling chicken broth for a delicious meat and rice soup.

Don’t miss out on Sue’s blog or her tweets!