Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fresh: This Week's CSA Box

This week's box was heavy with pecans, unshelled. I guess now that I have 10 pounds of unshelled pecans, it's time to have a shelling party. I'd much rather shell field peas or snap beans, but I can't put off the pecans too much longer. I'm not sure how long unshelled pecans can sit before deterioration sets in.

Other items in this week's box: green beans, a cucumber, a cute pattypan squash, a bunch of arugula, a cantaloupe, two onions and an assortment of tomatoes -- one large heirloom type, a yellow, and a dozen or so pear tomatoes. I bought additional tomatoes at the store and I find myself listening to the voice in my head, chanting, "tomato gravy and biscuits, tomato gravy and biscuits." This weekend, I will obey the voices in my head.

The green beans were featured in tonight's menu:

Roast Chicken
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Green Beans with Country Ham
Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls

The brownies are from Everyday Food and are delicious. They may soon be my default brownies, except for the fact that the recipe dirties up four bowls (which is probably my fault, I wasn't in a streamlining mood.)
Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk flour, coca, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

2. Assemble a double boiler with a pan of simmering water and a heat-proof bowl inserted so that the bottom just touches the water. Place the stick of butter in the bowl, along with the chopped chocolate. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove bowl from pan. Add 1 1/4 cups sugar; mix to combine. Add 3 eggs and stir. Add flour mixture and stir just enough to combine.

3. Prepare cream cheese mixture: whisk cream cheese with 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg and 2 tablespoons flour.

4. Spread half of the brownie batter into bottom of prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Dollop cream cheese in 3 or 4 spoonfuls onto base. Pour remaining brownie batter in between cream cheese blobs. With the tip of a knife or the offset spatula, make several figure eights to swirl the cream cheese into the brownie batter. Don't overdo the artistry here, Rembrandt. Just 3 or 4 passes will make a lovely marble effect.

5. Bake in a 350 oven for at least 50 minutes. I used convection and it took almost an hour. Test with a toothpick -- just a crumb or two is acceptable. Fingertip test: the batter should spring back slightly when touched in the center. Cool in pan about 30 minutes, then pull out by parchment paper sling. Everyday Food says you can keep these at room temp in an airtight container for 2 days. Serve with vanilla ice cream -- you won't regret it.

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