Friday, March 26, 2010

Time and Energy

A couple of days off work, along with strong urges for particular foods, accompanied by the energy to be productive: Dinner.

Oh my goodness. It was all amazing, if I do say so myself. And I didn't even throw it up.

I did a lot of improvising, which I always seem to do when I cook or bake. I looked at about a dozen recipes for the Shrimp Bisque, and wound up piecing together what looked good to me.

Bread Bowls

2 packages (or 4 ½ tsp) active dry yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees F)
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
7 cups flour (I used half bread flour and half all-purpose)

1 egg white
1 tbsp water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in flour,
½ cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition; knead in remaining flour when dough is too thick for mixing. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Punch dough down, and divide into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 or 5 inch round loaf. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets, cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water. Lightly brush dough with half of the egg wash. Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes, remove, and brush with remaining egg white mixture. Return to oven, bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
To make bowls: Cut a
½ inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving ¾ inch thick shells. Fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately.
Shrimp Bisque

(I could not find seafood stock anywhere in WinCo, so I resorted to chicken stock with a few teaspoons of fish sauce. And finally, we didn't have any brandy in our liquor cabinet, so I resorted to whiskey, but couldn't get it to light on fire after I stirred it in. Oh right.)

1 cup butter, divided
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
3 quarts seafood stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ to 2 pounds medium shrimp - peeled, deveined
1 large sweet onion, minced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
¼ cup tomato paste
3 fluid ounces brandy
1 quart heavy cream (or half-and-half), heated
¼ tsp of cayenne
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
½ - ¾ cup dry sherry
In a large stock pan over medium heat, combine ¾ cup butter and flour. Cook, stirring, until flour taste disappears, about 7 minutes. Stir in seafood stock and season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaves. Simmer 15 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook red pepper and onion in
¼ cup butter until onion is translucent. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook until brown. Stir in brandy and light it on fire. Let it simmer until reduced and thickened. Stir it into reserved stock, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.
Remove bay leaves. Pour in cream.

Dice shrimp and cook until opaque in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir into soup and simmer 5 minutes. Season with pepper sauce, Worcestershire. For a creamer soup, remove about half of the soup and blend in a food processor or emulsion blender, and return to stock pot. Stir in sherry just before serving.

Guinness and Baily's Brownies

1 cup Guinness
1 stick Butter
¾ cups Cocoa Powder
2 whole Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 ⅓ cup all-purpose Flour
1 ½ cup Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda

4 ounces Cream Cheese (soften to room temp)
2 Tbsp Milk
¼ cup Bailey's Irish Creme
¾ cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tbsp Flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Simmer beer and butter in large saucepan. Once butter has melted, add cocoa and mix until smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Once beer mixture has cooled a bit, beat eggs and add them and the vanilla to the beer mixture. Then add the flour mixture and mix well. Pour into an 8×12 inch pan.
For the swirl:
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, milk, Bailey’s, flour and powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon mixture in horizontal lines over brownie batter. Use a knife and swirl mixture into batter.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let brownies completely cool before cutting into them.

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