You've Gotta Have Heart

Salted Fudge Brownies

Salted Fudge Brownies

I realize I haven’t written a blog for Sal del Mar since November (actually Thanksgiving) and here it is February ... almost Valentine’s Day. I sat at my computer almost every morning trying to decide where I should start. I’d think about grand ideas of something to make in the kitchen and and even visualize how I would stylize it,  but then I would think about other things to do and off I’d go to the market or to make a phone call.  I just kept putting it off. I’m pretty sure that I was suffering from some type of writing block.

Then several days ago I received an email from my friend and foodie, Vivian Bennett, who sent me her recipe for Salted Fudge Brownies.   I have sampled her delectable candies and pastries and also know her talent for the artistic ways she presents them (she has some of Martha in her.)  Because I am in Mexico and she is in Tucson, I re-made her recipe and photographed it. And voila, I have a blog!

I’ve missed writing and photographing and now have broken the writers block (or whatever it was).

Thanks Vivian!  And let’s collaborate more.

Salted Fudge Brownies

By Vivian Bennett (adapted from Food & Wine/Kate Krader)

“They are a fudgey, sweet-salty brownie.  The sea salt is recommended because it is less harsh and melts so nicely into the batter, accentuating the chocolatey sweetness.  I cut them into little hearts for a sweet Valentines Day surprise.”

1  ½ sticks unsalted butter

2 ounces bitter chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3 large eggs

1  ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Sal Del Mar sea salt or more to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 inch square metal cake pan with foil, draping the foil over the edges.  Lightly butter the foil.

2.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the bitter chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Whisking them in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, add the cocoa, sugars, eggs, vanilla and flour.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.  Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter.  Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.

3.  Bake the fudge brownies in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter.  Let the brownies cool at room temperature in the pan for 1 hour. Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan.  Cut into hearts if desired or refrigerate until firm, about one hour then lift the brownies and cut into 16 squares.  Serve at room temperature.

Make ahead  The salted fudge brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to one month.

A Toast to Sal del Mar

Toast, honey and sea salt

Toast, honey and sea salt

I feel that I’ve been "living under a rock” as my friend Muriel (owner of The Hair Company in Chatham, MA)  would say, because as obsessed as I am with using Sal del Mar on everything from Bloody Marys to making meringue with it, it NEVER  occurred to me to use it on toast.

My revelation came recently in an editorial I read in Food and Wine that their features editor waited in-line for 20 minutes at a bake shop in San Francisco “just to pay $3.50 for a slice of sesame whole-wheat toast with local butter, honey and sea salt.”  It went on to say that even though it was inconvenient and expensive and a bit mockable, he was still talking about it five months later.

Pain D'Avignon, Hyannis

Pain D'Avignon, Hyannis

Thus I began my quest to pair bread, butter, honey and Sal del Mar for myself.  It began with a trip from Chatham, where I have spent the summer, to Hyannis to a bakery my husband and I discovered awhile ago.

Can you smell the bread?

Can you smell the bread?

Pain D’Avignon had the perfect bread that fit the Food & Wine description and was highly recommended to me by Andrew who waited on me.  When I told him that I wanted a bread to make the perfect toast, he sold me on their multigrain bread. It is rustic in appearance with a deep brown crust and is sprinked with seeds. 

Andrew

Andrew

Andrew told me that he personally recommended it for toast and that he has it all the time toasted with olive oil and sea salt! (I am taking him a Sal del Mar bag on our next trip to Hyannis). I definitely have been “living under a rock.”

Yum!

Yum!

So a toast to Sal del Mar...and toast!  Try it: Bread, Butter, Honey and Sal del Mar.

Simple is Sometimes Better

Radishes with Sal del Mar sea salt

Radishes with Sal del Mar sea salt

I have been thinking for days about what to post for a 4th of July picnic recipe. I finally had an idea flash... a crudités...something I always love to serve with barbecue picnics of hot dogs, hamburgers and corn-on-the cob.

Radishes are my favorite crudités. They are best served ice-cold and on warm summer evenings (I sometimes serve them on ice).  I use a variety of radishes, if available, especially French breakfast and baby Easter Egg radishes.

The classic way to serve them is with soft unsalted butter and, of course, Sal del Mar gourmet sea salt. Eating them with butter and Sal del Mar is absolutely decadent. (Use the European style of unsalted butter).

Of course, half the dish for me is stylizing it. Clean and trim the radishes, leaving a few pretty leaves on top. Arrange on a plate with Sal del Mar. Serve the butter in a small dish or ramekins. Simple!

!VIVA RICK BAYLESS (he recommends sal del mar)!

rick-bayless-is-top-chef-masters
rick-bayless-is-top-chef-masters

I have at least four Rick Bayless cookbooks. He is masterful at translating traditional Mexican cuisine with modern interpretations. As you may know I live in Mexico but I never get Mexican food here better than when I make a dish from one of his cookbooks. Imagine my thrill when I received word that Chef Bayless is recommending Sal del Mar to all his followers on OpenSky.

In celebration of “the thrill,” we are going to make his recipe for Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana for dinner tonight.  Here’s his recipe…perfect for a hot summer evening.

Fiesta at Rick's Cookbook Cover
Fiesta at Rick's Cookbook Cover

Avocado-Dressed Shrimp á la MexicanaCamarones a la Mexicana con Aguacate, Makes about 3 cups

This version of Camarones a la Mexicana con Aguacate uses sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh.  You'll find the original recipe in the Fiesta at Rick's cookbook.  The oil packed sun-dried tomatoes won't work well in this recipe.  Look for the recipe ready version which is usually sold in the produce section of select grocery stores.  They come in a re-sealable package.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 oz. medium cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, rinsed under cold running water and drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped recipe ready sundried tomatoes + extra for garnish
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • Hot green chiles to taste -- usually 3 serranos  or 1-2 jalapenos, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium, ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin
  • 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, thick bottom stems cut off + extra for garnish
  • Sal del Mar to taste
  • Mini baked tostadas (we like the Sanissimo brand)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, and 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes. Measure the lime juice into a food processor or blender. Cover and turn on.  Drop the chiles and when chopped, turn off and scoop in the avocado and cilantro. Process until smooth. Thin to a "creamy dressing" consistency with water, usually 2-3 tablespoons. Taste and season with Sal del Mar, usually about 1 teaspoon.  You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Mix the dressing into the shrimp mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the shrimp and refrigerate.  When you're ready to serve, scoop onto the mini tostadas and decorate with cilantro and diced sundried tomatoes.

Buen provecho!

Just in Time for Cinco de Mayo -- The Art of Salting the Glass

With Cinco del Mayo in a couple of days, there are many great margarita recipes being posted -- check out this video "How to Make a Margarita Cocktail" by one of my favorite blogs – Epicurious.

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But what’s missing is how to correctly salt the margarita glass.  We at Sal del Mar pride ourselves on how to salt a margarita correctly so that the salt enhances the flavor of the tequila and integrates the flavors. Many of you may be salt-shy due to heavy salting in your past experiences.

So, here is how Sal del Mar recommends salting your margarita glass:

1. Spread Sal del Margarita* evenly on a small plate 2. Moisten the rim of your glass — just the top edge — by running a lime slice around the rim delivering a light coating of lime juice 3. Press the rim of the glass into the salt to crust the rim 4. Tap off the excess 5. Allow the salt to air-dry before filling the glass — this ensures that the salt lightly flakes off with each sip

Other tips: •   Use a martini glass instead of the bowl-sized glasses served in some bars that are so big that they require a straw to drink the margarita because they are too heavy to lift. I call margaritas made this way the “new martini.”

•   Salt just half of the glass rim so that you don't have to have a salted rim every sip.

•   Use a cocktail shaker and mix small amounts of margaritas. The shaken method of making a margarita gives it a purer taste over the taste of sweet slushy margaritas. Shake for about 10 seconds to melt the ice into the drink. Strain into your glass.

•   Ingredients matter. Margaritas are best made with 100% pure agave blanco tequila; fresh-squeezed lime juice and the orange sweetness of Cointreau. There is a growing trend of using boutique aged tequilas.

•   Experiment with adding other flavors to the salt. For a mango margarita, I finely chop mint leaves and mix it in the Sal de Margarita.

Be sure to use Sal del Margarita and let the crisp, salty taste complement the lime and the tequila ingredients while delivering a light crunch as you sip from the glass. Notice how Sal de Margarita quickly dissolves on the palate? Be sure to see my blog archive “marvelous margaritas” for more ideas.