Tag-Archive for ◊ tea the meal ◊

10 Feb 2011 Symphony Brownies

Who bothers making brownies from scratch any more?  Bargain hunters pick up boxes of brownie mix for a dollar. Brownie gourmets with no budget constraints are picking up  boxes of Ghiradelli Double Fudge Brownies.  Either choice is cheaper than making a batch of brownies from scratch.  If you are happy in your box brownie life, read no more.  If you dare to dream of something beyond box brownies, read on. I have something special to share…

I’ve  set a boxed brownie next to a home made brownie.   I know the difference.  It’s huge.  Boxed brownies are dark, oily cakes. By no stretch of the imagination can they be called brownies. Scratch brownies are intense.  Fudgey.  Crackly on top.  Rich.  Pure chocolate. Buttery.  So I bother to make brownies from scratch.  Once you set your box brownie down next to your made from scratch one, I think you will too.

My daughter Abby made four types of from scratch brownies recently, and experimented a bit with the method.  The tip for mixing brownies from this month’s Good Housekeeping magazine proved to be a winner.  You know that melt-in-your-mouth, skinny meringue, crackly top on top of a really good brownie?  The secret is to beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is a very pale yellow and almost tripled in volume!  This means beating the eggs and sugar for up to ten minutes with an electric mixer! So, not only is making making brownies from scratch more expensive than buying a box of brownie mix, it also takes a bit longer to mix up. Are you turning back to your boxed brownie?  I didn’t think so!

Here’s a great recipe to get you started baking brownies from scratch.  This recipe has a long pedigree.  Abby found it at My Baking Addiction and that website specified that the recipe was inspired by Paula Deen and adapted from Allrecipes.com.  The recipe gets it’s name from the Hershey Symphony Bars, which are layered in the middle of the brownie.  Abby made hers with a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar (her favorite).  I am sure you can use any chocolate bar in the middle.  The name of the brownie is kind of cool though, so I kept it 🙂

The original recipe specified baking this in a 8×8 inch pan, which Abby did.  I found the brownies to be too thick and rich, and a bit too gooey, too.  The third batch found it’s way into a 9×13 inch pan and we were much happier with the results.

Symphony Brownies

1 ½ cups white sugar
3 eggs
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate; coarsely chopped
¾ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 (4.5 ounce) Symphony Chocolate bars; broken into squares (then I cut each square into thirds)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. With an electric mixer beat the sugar and eggs for ten minutes.
  3. Microwave chopped unsweetened chocolate and butter large bowl at 50% power for 3-4 minutes or until butter is melted, stir after every minute.
  4. With the mixer still going, stir the melted chocolate into the beaten eggs and sugar.  Stir in the vanilla and salt. Gradually add in flour and stir until just combined.
  5. Spread ½ the batter (about 2 cups) into the prepared pan.
  6. Evenly space the pieces of  Symphony chocolate over the batter in the pan.
  7. Add the remaining  brownie batter over the Symphony chocolate pieces.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes; do not over bake.
  9. Cool brownies in pan.  Allow to cool completely before cutting. Another hint, cut brownies with a plastic knife!  Really!  You’ll be amazed how nicely plastic knives cut brownies!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Here’s hoping that you make some brownies–from scratch–for Valentine’s Day <3

31 Jan 2011 Strawberry Sandwiches

I have never seen a recipe published for this sandwich, but it’s one of my favorites (probably because it’s more like dessert than a sandwich.  I have my demons, and all of them are sweet…).  I first encountered this sandwich on the campus of San Diego State University, in the late 1970’s, then I never saw it anywhere else, except in my own kitchen. I’ve made my version a lot over the years, usually for tea (tea-the-meal, the one with finger sandwiches, scones, little cakes, and  served on fancy china).  I love tea-the-meal.  It’s a grazers delight; little bits of everything, and everything tasty and pretty. But I digress, back to the Strawberry Sandwich.  (I have never been able to spell “sandwich” without spell check…, it just doesn’t look right without another “h” in there. And I digress yet again…) With strawberries now showing up in our farmer’s markets (yes, in January!) I had a hankering for this sandwich, so I made one, or two.

Like I said, this s-a-n-d-w-h-i-c-h is a great addition to any tea, but it’s a good treat to serve at play dates (PB&J for the kids, SBS for the moms), pack for a walk or a picnic, or to pull together if someone stops by and you want to keep them around for awhile.  The trick to pulling these together at the last minute?  Keep a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer!  Pull out 2 or 4 slices when needed, by the time you get the honey and cream cheese out, the strawberries sliced, and the tea brewing, the bread will be defrosted and ready to use.  These sandwiches would also be good for a Valentine’s Day treat, or a special Mother’s Day event. My daughter had a catering gig on Sunday and I suggested this sandwich to round out a fabulous spread of finger sandwiches. This sandwich could fit in anywhere!  I really can’t understand why no one else makes it.

So, a big Thank You to the cafeteria ladies of San Diego State University for this lovely sandwich.  I hope you get your day in the sun 🙂

Strawberry Sandwich

For each sandwich:

2 slices of good quality raisin bread or cinnamon-raisin bread

approx 1T cream cheese (whatever kind you like, full fat, low fat, no fat…)

approx 1 teaspoon honey (or a little less)

3-4 strawberries, thickly sliced, rounded edges set aside for another use.

Thinly spread the cream cheese on both sides of the raisin bread.  On one side, drizzle the honey and spread evenly over the cream cheese.  On the other slice, lay thick, flat slices of strawberry.  It’s bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get them all to fit without leaving too much space between the slices, but it’s only a small puzzle, nothing intimidating.  Put the bread with honey on top of the bread with the strawberries.  For easiest slicing, flip the sandwich over.  Cut off all the crusts, and then slice as desired.  I usually get three rectangular shaped finger sandwiches from each, but in the picture above I cut in half on the diagonal.  Eat within a few hours.  The sandwich does not keep long, and definitely not overnight.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you are looking for a more savory sandwich to serve with this, check out the post for Smoked Chicken & Almond Sandwiches!

02 Feb 2010 Bacon Asparagus Rolls

I found this recipe on the Internet this morning. I ran out to buy some asparagus to try it…, then hemmed and hawed about posting the link, the recipe, and my pictures. I wasn’t sure the recipe was “all that”, so I kept tasting and trying to figure it out. Post? Don’t post? Bacon and Asparagus? Is that going to be a hit? Is this a GREAT recipe? Taste, think, taste some more, mmm, one more taste, maybe, let me try that again. It slowly dawned on me, I was positively addicted to these. I was guilty of over thinking the post!
This recipe is from Anamaris on her blog “Chef it Yourself“.

Bacon Asparagus Rolls

For each roll you’ll need:
1 slice of thick bacon (I used applewood smoked)
4 asparagus spears

Trim the bottom of the asparagus spears so all four are of equal length. Peel the lower part of the stem, optional, but no one is going to want to bite into a stringy piece of asparagus–use a potato peeler. Roll, yes, roll (with a rolling pin) the slice of bacon until it is at 50% – 75% longer than it was before you started. Gather the four asparagus spears together. Starting at the tip end, tightly wrap the bacon around all four spears. Season generously with freshly grated black pepper. Place bundle in frying pan. Cook over medium high heat, turning often, until bacon is well browned and crisp, and the asparagus is cooked. (See picture below.) Remove bundle from the pan, and slice into bite-sized pieces.(See picture above) Discard any bottom stems not covered with bacon. Each bundle will result in 3 or 4 bite-sized sushi-like pieces. Serve warm, but good at room temperature, too.

Thanks for coming by,

02 Feb 2010 Meatballs-on-Toast

Just what you need for the Super Bowl party at the neighbors’ house…, a yummy, quick and easy appetizer to take with you. You’ll need a pound of ground beef, a bit of onion (any kind), soy sauce, a bit of brown sugar a sliced baguette, and nothing else! These are so easy to make that your kids could prepare them while you’re in the shower. Meat eaters and teenage boys will fall over themselves getting to the platter. This recipe is from “The 150 Best American Recipes“.

Meatballs on Toast

1 sliced baguette (Le Boulanger has the best)
1 lb ground chuck (nothing leaner than 85/15, or this recipe won’t work)
1/4 cup regular soy sauce* (don’t use low sodium)
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
4 green onions, minced (or similar quantity of sauteed onion or shallot)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix meat, soy sauce, brown sugar and onions together with your hands until the mixture resembles a fine paste. Pinch a piece of the meat mixture and press smoothly onto a baguette slice, smoothing to all edges. Continue making flat meatballs until all the meat mixture has been used up–you’ll be able to make about 3 dozen. Bake for 8 or 9 minutes at 450. Serve hot.

Thanks for stopping by the kitchen!


*My friend used a couple dashes of Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce in place of the soy sauce. I am going to try that next time.

Polly’s Points This is great to have on hand for after school snacks. Keep the meat in a covered container in the refrigerator. Have the bread sliced and in another covered container. The kids can mix up a tray of these meatballs-on-toast for themselves when the get home. I always got an “Awwwww, Mommmmm!” from my son when I did this. (His highest words of thanks and appreciation!)