Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winter Comforts-Mushroom Barley Soup

I'm sitting here rewriting this entry I wrote only two short days ago. Seriously, two days ago my baby, dressed in a t-shirt, khaki shorts and sandals was romping through the park as if it were any other warm spring day. It was in the high 70's-and for those of you who have been experiencing a hard winter, I realize your body is probably aching for the warmth, but I am missing winter. I miss the Northwest (OK, technically I lived in the Intermountain West-but whatever!) I miss all of the small winter comforts that seem to lend a warm touch on a cold snowy day.

Fast forward to present. It is 37 degrees and snowing. In Texas the chance of snow makes people go crazy. Crazy, as in excited. Crazy, as in "can't drive because the precipitation is white" kind of crazy. The smallest trace (even sleet) can make a Texan giddy. I though, living in the north for a few years have a different perspective of what snow really is. And to tell you the truth, I was pretty skeptical about this "hill country snow." Then I looked outside. Big, chunky flakes of the white stuff falling gently to the earth making this skeptic's heart go aflutter.

Happily, I will take my one day of winter. I am going to relax and watch the gentle snowfall and remember all of those little winter comforts that I enjoyed and now miss. My winter comforts:
  1. A well used, warm quilt that feels soft against the skin
  2. Knitting a scarf and hat made from the softest merino wool-and then wearing it.
  3. Decadent and rich hot chocolate.
  4. Sipping chamomile tea before bed time.
  5. The sound of a gas heater lighting.
  6. Warm oatmeal with cream, maple syrup, brown sugar, studded with raisins.
  7. The comfort and security of a heavy winter coat.
  8. Becoming entranced by a crackling fire.
  9. Snuggling in my cozy bed watching the snow fall through the window.
  10. A big bowl of steamy soup-just like this one!
What is your favorite winter comfort??? Please share!

Mushroom Barley Soup
serves: 8
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • one package of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Reserved porcini broth and canned vegetable broth equaling 8 cups
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Melt butter in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, reconstitute the porcini mushrooms according to package directions, reserving liquid. Add cremini and porcini mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion and barley. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add flour to pot and stir 5 minutes. Gradually mix in reserved porcini broth and vegetable broth. Bring soup to boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until barley is tender and soup is beginning to thicken, about 40 minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Decadent Double-Chocolate Brownie Torte

Hello, Lover! And yes, I'm talking about chocolate. I really didn't give props to my chocolate sauce in my last post, so let me do it now. If you haven't found a chocolate sauce that you love-you've got to adopt this one. It is delicious, easy to make, stores well and would make a great gift to give. Chocolate sauce is such a versatile little accompaniment. Drizzled over ice cream, poured into milk, spooned over strawberries...and so I've heard (made up), a spoonful of this elixir will cheer you up in a jiffy.

I made this brownie torte last weekend for my husband's birthday. It would also be perfect for a Valentine's Day dessert. Serve it warm with a nice soft dollop of sweetened whipped cream and berries atop it or, like me, ice cream and chocolate sauce (of course it would come back to the sauce!)

This torte is so easy and quick to prepare, about 15 minutes to put together and 30 minutes to bake off-which also makes for a great last minute dessert. I'll reiterate-serve it warm and gooey! Because who doesn't love the contrast of warm cake and cold ice cream??? And if you couldn't tell by the picture-I love my sauce!!!

Decadent Double-Chocolate Brownie Torte

adapted from Caprial's Bistro Style Cuisine
  • 5 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 ounces white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in a bowl over a double boiler.
  3. Place sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and mix on high until it is pale yellow and thick.
  4. Decrease mixer speed and add the melted butter/chocolate mixture. Scrape down sides of the bowl and gradually add the flour until the batter just comes together. Set aside and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Fold in bittersweet and white chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve warm or at room temperature-but preferably warm!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate For My Pity Party

I'm back...I've been having a love/hate relationship (solely in my head) with this blog. The initial reason I started a food blog was to document (mostly images) of the food I make. I had an amazing portfolio a few years back and before we moved back home-it was deleted from our computer. Everything lost. A shot in the heart.

I began Baking For The Boys a little over a year ago while I was struggling with a colicky three month old-it kinda took my mind off of things. My writing and photos really suffered. I could tell in the writing-I had "Mommy Brain" and to tell of the truth, I was a moron. So I could honestly say that I've been happy with only a few (yes, a few) posts.

And just as I sat down and logged in today, I noticed that I had lost a follower. Ouch...Not that I'm taking it personal but is that the equivalent of being defriended on FB??? Just a question. I have a feeling this person has given up on the blogging world entirely. She hasn't posted in several months.

In this community where you can find thousands upon thousands of food blogs (many very much alike), the tiny and insignificant Baking For The Boys will still be trekking on. I have a new look (thanks to my sister-in-law) and still look forward to hearing from readers and making new friends along the way.

So...enough with this pity party! I need something to make me feel better...something like chocolate!!!
Chocolate Sauce
Yield: approx. 2 1/2 cups

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it's just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.
3. Let the Chocolate Sauce stand for a few hours to thicken

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days