Anyway. It seems quite logical that one might pick out a fabulous recipe, go shopping for the ingredients and then cook or bake. My method is often less romantic and more pragmatic. Food wastage makes me feel wretched, so I poke around the fridge and look for ingredients that must be used before I go hunting for recipes.
Several weeks ago, I stocked the fridge with Everything Possible for my guests and found myself with leftover cream cheese and sour cream. Yesterday came the opportunity to dispatch the cream cheese by making quick and easy cheesecake brownies- a little treat to celebrate a happy event: Neighbor Girl getting the job of her dreams.
Two bowls, pantry ingredients + cream cheese, 5 minutes of mixing and 30-40 minutes in the oven, and you have yourself a pan of swirly brownies.
(adapted from this recipe from delish)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment and grease lightly.
2. This is the cream cheese portion. In a medium bowl, beat together
- 6 oz. cream cheese (3/4 of a standard slab), softened
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
3. This is the brownie portion. In a large bowl, beat together
- 7 tbsp. melted butter (the rest of the stick after removing a tbsp. for the cream cheese portion)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4. Layer most of the brownie portion in the prepared pan. Pour the cream cheese portion on it. Dollop on the rest of the brownie portion. Run a knife tip through the dollops to create pretty swirls.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester comes clean (with only some crumbs attached). Cool for an hour, then slice into 16 squares. Stand back and let your family and friends fight over how to divide up the squares.
The sour cream and a partial bag of frozen blueberries went into this quick bread from King Arthur. I can't seem to make enough quick breads, they are very popular around here.
On The Bookshelf
When I mention books in this space, it is because I enjoyed them and want to recommend them. But here is a book that I really looked forward to reading, where I loved the premise of the novel but was utterly disappointed with the book when I was done reading it.
They say to not judge a book by its cover, but look at that inviting slice of cake- I had to read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. The concept of the book is a young girl who can taste the emotions of the person who has prepared the food she is eating. For instance, her mother is outwardly cheerful but a taste of her chocolate-frosted lemon cake fills the girl's mouth with the horrid taste of sadness and dissatisfaction. She finds herself having to eat packaged snacks made in gigantic factories, untouched by human hands, because everything else is brimming with the darkest emotions and secrets of the person who made it. In the end, the story fizzled out and made no sense to me and the book left me with a deep sense of dissatisfaction, probably tainting the dinner I made that evening ;)
On some level, I believe that the emotions of the cook certainly have an effect on the food. "Made with love" is more than a tired cliche. Mostly because I am in a good mood, I am more likely to focus on the process (whether cooking or something else), take my time and produce higher quality results. This is why I am utterly mortified when I see chefs in food-oriented TV reality shows shouting expletives, throwing things around and arguing violently in the kitchen- the food they make feels toxic to me, in spite of the high end ingredients and fancy presentation. Give me some rice and beans that have been cooked with love and respect instead, chefs. Hold the drama, please.
Have a lovely weekend; I'll be back early next week with a post brimming with vegetables and grains and other good things, plus the latest tales of one Mr. Dale.