Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old Chocolate and a New Restaurant ...

by Ann

Wow!  What a week I had last week...  On Monday I had bunion surgery which was a bit more extreme than I had anticipated.   I am telling you this in case today's post seems a bit disjointed. (No pun intended ;-) My post Friday will give a few more details on the ordeal.)  I have not been up and around as much as usual, nor have I been in true cooking mode, so I am combining two seemingly unrelated topics, but the good news is that they are both dealing with food.

First, the Old Chocolate!  For those of you who are loyal readers, you may have read my Clean Out the Spice Cupboard post closely enough to have caught that I came across some unsweetened chocolate squares that expired in 2009.  Yesterday I whipped up a decadent batch of brownies using the chocolate, with the goal being to see if the chocolate still tasted good.  You'll have to take my word for it that it did not taste "off" at all.  

The recipe is one that my mom made often when we were growing up.  I can't remember a boxed brownie mix in our house. When you see how few ingredients there are in this recipe and the simplicity of putting it together, you'll understand that there isn't much more to putting them together from scratch than making a batch from a box would be. The only down side is that it makes a small batch, but it wouldn't be too tough to double it!  

For printable recipe click here.

Fudge Brownies
½ c butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c sugar
2 eggs
½ c flour
pinch of salt
½ c chopped nuts (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Melt butter and chocolate over medium-low heat in saucepan.  Allow to cool a bit (to avoid scrambled egg pieces in the mixture when combined).
  • In a separate medium sized bowl beat eggs until very frothy with an electric mixer.
  • Add sugar to the pan with the melted chocolate and butter.  Stir well using a wooden spoon.
  • Gradually add sugar mixture to the bowl of beaten eggs stirring gently with a wooden spoon. 
  • Fold in flour and salt until thoroughly incorporated.  Add nuts if desired.
  • Spread into prepared 8 x 8” pan*.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Do not over bake.  When first taken from the oven brownies will still appear soft.
  • Cool completely before cutting.  These are decadently rich as is, or can be frosted or rolled in powdered sugar.

*I sprayed the bottom and sides of the pan with vegetable spray and then placed an 8” wide strip of heavy duty foil over the bottom and two sides of the pan leaving the overhang as “handles” to lift the brownies out of the pan.
Super-simple ingredients (including the offending box of old chocolate!)
The air whipped into the eggs is the only leavening agent, so this is an important step.  Add remaining ingredients gently to maintain as much volume as possible.
The foil lining makes the removal and cutting process much easier and more attractive.  Hey -- what happened to that lower left corner?  ;-)
Now to the "New Restaurant" part of this post...

Just because I couldn't drive didn't mean that I couldn't go out to dinner with some friends that I hadn't seen in many, many years!  On one of Sheila's sailing adventures in San Diego she ran into a former friend and colleague who shares her love of sailing.  The two of them reconnected, and decided that they'd pull together a night of reminiscing, eating, and of course, having a glass or two of wine.  (Thanks, Kathy, for making the plans and Sheila, for being my chauffeur!)

The Phoenix metropolitan area is relatively large, so we had to find a mid-way spot to meet. Gertrude's, a somewhat new restaurant at the amazingly beautiful Desert Botanical Gardens became our rendezvous spot.  The weather was perfect, and not surprisingly, the restaurant, has more outdoor seating than tables inside.

Our blog posts intentionally don't focus on local attractions since we have readers from all over the world, but for those of you who live in the Phoenix area, Gertrude's is worth checking out.  We ordered several appetizers and small plates to share, which is how we best enjoy eating out -- especially at new places.  The service was excellent.  We even got a visit from Chef Stephen Eldridge, who is being credited for overseeing a seasonal "modern Arizona" menu that uses as much produce as possible from what is grown at the gardens, and procured locally for what isn't available.

See below for the beautiful presentation of a couple of the dishes.  I should have taken more pics, but didn't plan to blog about this until we bragged to Chef Eldridge that we were food bloggers (was that the wine talking?).  You'll get the idea of the beautiful presentation of dishes from what I did snap.  Our order included Brussels and breakfast, a wonderful dish of brioche, egg, Brussels sprouts, bacon and onion jam that is suitable to eat any time of the day; house-made burrata (similar to mozarella cheese) served with thin strips of duck prosciutto and a fruit relish; focaccia bread with grapes; a beet salad; and the "crudo of the moment" which was raw tuna with ginger.  

You can see that this is not your burger and fries sort of place.  The wonderful thing about sharing is that if something doesn't hit your fancy, you aren't committed to a plate of it!  Life is more interesting when you're open to new experiences, and this was truly a great dining adventure!
Chef Eldridge, the man behind the creative dishes!


  1. looks like a super fun place! love a new recipe! ill have to try it out!

  2. Thanks for checking out our blog. If you live in the Phoenix area, Gertrude's is definitely worth checking out. Great food and perfect for a night you can sit outside.

  3. I will definitely have to check out Gertrude's. Those plates are beautiful.