Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My lifelong quest for the ultimate Brownie







I began making brownies long before I was of legal drinking age. I'm not going to tell you how many years ago that was, let's just say '21' has come and gone several times since I came into this world. I don't know when or why brownies became an obsession of mine, maybe because they're easy to make, they usually taste pretty darn good no matter who's recipe you use, and you're bound to make new friends if you show up at the party bearing a platter of gooey, cakey, chocolaty, nutty goodness. I've tried 100's of recipes searching for the ultimate brownie where the first bite would say to me, 'Eureka! You Hold In Your Hands The Ultimate Badass Brownie!' 
Well folks, I think I found it. Actually, Bossy found it and said "We should try these, they sound good." (Translation: I want these, will you make them for me please?)  Always in pursuit of the perfect chocolaty square, I said, "I'm on it Boss" and immediately dove into making my first batch of Stella Parks' Glossy Fudge Brownies. 
First, a little about Stella Parks. She's a CIA trained pastry chef, food writer, and all around pastry wizard. Her bio states that she once cashed out her savings in order to attend language school in Tokyo just so she could read the menu at her favorite sushi restaurant, my kinda girl. She also claims in her brownie video that she thinks about brownies more than anyone else. Um, I think I could give her a run for her money on that one. At any rate, she's funny, super talented, and I'm ordering her cookbook BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts  right now ($23.79 on Amazon).



What makes these brownies stand out are a couple of things: Instead of just melting the butter she browns the butter. Then she uses both cocoa powder and chopped dark chocolate, along with a combination of white and brown sugar. When I read the recipe it made so much sense to brown the butter. Why had I not thought of that?  I liken it to toasting nuts before adding them to whatever you're making, it brings out the rich goodness of the nuts. The depth of flavor that browned butter brings to the batter along with using cocoa powder and brown sugar, is pure genius.  
Technique also plays an important role. The eggs and sugar are whipped until thick and frothy to lighten the batter instead of it being overly dense. Stella doesn't include nuts in her recipe but I love 'em so I added about a cup of toasted chopped pecans. One other change that I made, I used the standard 9x9x2 inch brownie pan which made for taller, thicker brownies. They needed to cook about 10- 15 min longer than the recipe stated, but they turned out amazing.

Click on the link below for the recipe and a video with complete 'how to' information and step by step directions to brownie nirvana. Make a batch and let me know if these aren't the best you've ever had! 

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2018/02/bravetart-glossy-fudge-brownies.html


Cooking and baking in our new kitchen has been more fun than we ever imagined. Not to mention that it added tremendous value to our home. Well worth the temporary inconvenience of cooking in a makeshift kitchen and washing dishes outside in bus tubs for 3 months! If you've been wondering whether a kitchen or bath remodel is worth the time, money, and disruption for you and your family,  give me a call. It would be my pleasure to discuss the pros and cons and possible financial gains that a major remodel can do for you. 
And if you have other real estate questions or needs please keep me in mind, I am always available to help.

Happy Eating!

Becky Goldsmith


Equity Colorado Real Estate
7887 E. Belleview Ave Suite 175
Denver, Co. 80111
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com
720-979-3184







Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Perfect polenta, every time





Rich, creamy, versatile, and highly addictive. Polenta done right, will become your new favorite comfort food for those nights when you want to spoil yourself and those around you. One of the great qualities of polenta is that it goes with just about everything; chicken, beef, lamb, pork, fish, and all by itself for a fantastic vegetarian meal. Polenta is something you can play with and make it your own. Keep it simple as side, or dress it up and make it the star of the plate. It can be baked, fried, cut into crispy little cakes or served smooth and creamy. You can sauce it, stuff it, layer it, sandwich it, serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch. It's the Forest Gump of corn! Limited only by your imagination, creativity, and what you have in your fridge and pantry, polenta will be your new best friend in the kitchen. And did I mention that it is really easy to make? Well it is, it's super cinchy once you learn a few tricks. The one thing to remember is that it takes time to do it right. It's not something you can whip up in five or ten minutes, unless of course you're using the instant variety, but I haven't found any of those that are worth the calories so I don't mess with them.


Through trial and error and experimenting with countless recipes I now make perfect polenta every time. I'll share with you two techniques that although very different will achieve the same delicious results. The first is the traditional long, slow cooked method, it takes at least an hour, requires frequent stirring and makes a sticky mess in the pot. The second version gets it's start in the morning before you head out for work then takes about 15 minutes to finish up when you get home. It's from Maria Speck and found in the Food 52 Genius Recipes Cookbook. The secret is that you 'pre-soak' the polenta for at least 8 hours, (overnight or before you leave for work) which shortens the actual cooking time to about 15 minutes. You'll have amazing slow cooked, traditional polenta in a fraction of the time, it's Genius!



Starting with the polenta itself, for everyday cooking I like Bob's Red Mill Polenta (Also known as Grits). Americans call it grits, Italians call it polenta. Bob's is easy to find in most supermarkets and I think its a good product for the $$. There are gourmet brands such as Anson Mills and Moretti, they're wonderful but you'll probably have to order them online and they can be a lot pricier.



I prefer a medium to coarse ground for basic polenta, there is also a fine grind which is great for cakes, and there are yellow and white varieties as well.

A few tips:

1. Maybe because Colorado is so dry, but I increase the amount of liquid  by at least a cup or more. The worst that can happen is that the polenta will need to cook a little longer, which won't hurt it at all. Most polenta recipes are a ratio of 1 cup of polenta to 4 cups liquid, I find the polenta becomes firm long before the grains have fully cooked and the flavor has not developed. I use at least 5 cups of liquid sometimes more depending on how much time I have. With Bob's polenta I always need more liquid, other brands may not be the same. But the longer it cooks the more flavorful it becomes so it's more of a time issue rather than a quality issue.
2. I like to use a ratio of 1 cup polenta, 3 cups water, 1 cup good quality chicken broth and one cup milk, you can also use heavy cream if you like it really rich. (Don't be afraid to add more liquid if needed!)
3. If you're using the traditional long slow cooking method, once you've whisked the polenta into the boiling liquids turn the heat way down, so low that the polenta simmers like an old volcano, one or two bubbles at a time, then stir occasionally. I use a cooking spray which helps with clean up because the polenta does make a sticky mess in the pan.
4. You'll know if your polenta hasn't cooked long enough if you add butter and cheese at the end and it becomes runny and soupy, it means the grains have not soaked up enough liquid.
If this happens the fix is to let the polenta continue cooking until it's reached the desired consistency. (If you use the Genius method this won't happen).

Experiment and have fun, there are so many ways to enjoy this wonderful comforting food and I'm sure you'll create a favorite go to version that will become a staple in your kitchen just as we have in ours.


Click on or copy and paste the links below to your browser for printable pdf recipes for each cooking method.

Basic Polenta: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/81103778/Blogs/Basic%20Polenta.pdf

Genius Method: 
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/81103778/Blogs/Maria%20Speck's%20Shortcut%20Polenta%20by%20Genius%20Recipes%20-%20Recipe%20Print%20View.pdf



The spring buying and selling season is just around the corner, are you thinking about buying or selling your home this year? Call or email me with your Real Estate questions. I promise, no one will work harder for you than I will and I would love to help you.


Becky Goldsmith - Broker, GRI, CNE
720-979-3184
www.Becky-EquityColorado.com
Selling Colorado Real Estate since 2001














Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yankee or Southerner? How you like your cornbread tells all.




"Them's Fightin' Words Son"

 No self respectin' Southern cook worth their grits would consider adding sugar or wheat flour to a batch of cornbread. Over 150 years ago the Civil War split this country in half because of the attempted secession of eleven southern states from the Union and the issue of slavery. The battle to preserve authentic Southern cooking is not quite as contentious but is still fought to this day. Arguments are heated over what defines true southern BBQ, fried chicken, pies, cakes, cobblers, and yes, cornbread. The sweet cake-like cornbread confection that many of us are familiar with has nothing in common with the coarse, cracklin' savory cornbread made without wheat flour and sweetener but with tangy buttermilk, bacon, and cornmeal that you will find in many a southern kitchen. If you're a fan of one kind, it's a pretty good bet you won't like the other.



My mother and father grew up during the great depression. Mom on a dairy farm in rural New Mexico and dad in a small town in east Texas. My Southern roots run deep. Bossy on the other hand hails from upstate N.Y. and as Yankee as they come. When I want down home soul food I boot his uppity Northern butt out of the kitchen. "The North thinks it knows how to make cornbread, but this is a gross superstition," Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography. Bossy can whip up a lovely bernaise or bordelaise all day long but get him outta the way when there's Southern food to be cooked.

There are three key components to making great cornbread:
1. Cornmeal
2. Cast iron skillet
3. Cooking method

1. Cornmeal, the single most important component of the three. Today, good cornmeal is as hard to find as a family run farm. In the early part of the 20th century a huge shift occurred in the cornmeal industry, one that changed the very nature of cornmeal and forced cooks to alter their cornbread recipes. During the 19th century, toll milling was the way most farm families got the meal for their cornbread. Farmers took their own corn to the local mill and had it ground into enough cornmeal for their families, leaving some behind as a toll to pay the miller.
The mills were typically water-powered and used large millstones to grind the corn. Starting around 1900, however, new "roller mills" using cylindrical steel rollers began to be introduced in the South. Unlike stone mills, steel roller mills eliminate much of the corn kernel, including the germ; doing so makes the corn shelf stable but also robs it of much flavor and nutrition. The friction of steel rolling generates a lot of heat, too, which  further erodes corn's natural flavor. The most significant difference, though, is the size of the resulting meal. With stone milling you get a diverse particle size. Steel roller milling creates a finer meal with all of the particles being the same size. When cornmeal's taste and texture changed, cooks had to adjust their recipes. Hence, the addition of sugar and flour.

To the rescue:  Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina.


 Beginning in the 1990's, Roberts embarked on a mission to revive and rediscover the heritage grains that were all but lost since the advent of the industrialization of agriculture and food production that we have today. He's developed a network of farmers to grow heirloom corn, rice, and other grains and he built Anson Mills to mill them in the traditional ways and distributes them to restaurant chefs and home cooks. To order products or read more about what they're doing go to: www.ansonmills.com

If ordering Anson Mills products is not practical, seek out the best stone ground cornmeal that you can find, as it will have the single biggest impact on the final cornbread.

2. Cast iron skillet. This is non-negotiable, it's what cornbread is cooked in, just get one. Period.

3. Cooking Method:  To get the outside golden and crunchy and inside moist and crumbly, you have to pre-heat the skillet so that it is screeching hot, (450 degree oven) then pour about a tablespoon of fat into the hot pan, either bacon drippings, butter or oil, get that hot, then you pour in the cornbread batter and send it all into the oven to bake.





James Beard award winning chef Sean Brock, owner of three acclaimed Southern restaurants grew up in the coalfields of Virginia not far from Kentucky. His obsession for exploring Southern foods and preserving and restoring heirloom ingredients are legendary. He admits that he's a cornbread snob, and believes that the muffin-like cornbread served in most restaurants isn't worth eating, he won't touch the stuff. His cornbread is savory, crunchy, a little smokey from bacon and very dense, no sugar, no wheat flour. He's a huge fan of Anson Mills products.

I have to admit, as Southern as my roots are, I do like a little sweetener and touch of flour in my cornbread. Not so much that I'm having dessert alongside my dinner, but just a little to mellow out the savoriness of hard core Southern cornbread. Like Goldilocks, not too sweet, not too savory, juuuust right!

I'm going to share three recipes with you. The first is Sean Brock's Cracklin' Cornbread, from his cookbook 'Heritage'. The second is the sweet, cake like type that kids love, our granddaughter Macy will eat it all day long. And the third is a recipe that I've adapted to make a cornbread that is somewhere in between.

Copy and paste the link below into your web browser to access the recipes in PDF form

https://db.tt/Ig8Pttyi

I hope you enjoy these, cornbread is very forgiving so feel free to adjust the cornmeal / flour ratio as well as the honey / sugar ratio to your liking.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share with your friends and family if you think they would enjoy this blog. If there are any special food topics you would like to see let me know!

Lastly, if you have any real estate needs or questions please give me a call, I would love to help and be your Realtor of choice!

HAPPY EATING!!


Real Estate

Becky Goldsmith
720-979-3184
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com








Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cooking from the heart









An incredibly sweet man and the husband of one of my dearest friends recently passed. But before he left this earth, he gave me the most amazing gift. He showed me what it means to cook not just for the fun and pleasure of cooking and eating, but to cook from the heart.

During a recent visit while he was still feeling well enough for company, the three of us sat and talked about everything from the weather and politics, Rockies baseball, and of course.....food. Although Lee had not had much of an appetite during the last several days and  had eaten very little, talking about food was something he still enjoyed. Somehow we got on the subject of fried chicken. Not just fried chicken, but all of the side dishes that go with a proper fried chicken dinner; biscuits with butter and honey, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, and apple pie.  This calorie loaded, artery clogging American classic was one of his favorite meals. His smile grew as we chatted about each course, remembering a meal that had brought him great pleasure in years past.



I asked him if he thought he could eat it I would love to make him a fried chicken dinner. "YOU BET!" was his reply. We decided on an evening three days away and I began planning a fried chicken dinner that I hoped would be something he would really enjoy.

On my way home that night I called the Bossy Chef and filled him in. Of course he was on board instantly, but due to his busy work week he wasn't going to be able to help with the actual cooking. I was on my own. However, he researched fried chicken recipes from his arsenal of cookbooks helping me choose one that would be great.

Now, I've been making fried chicken just about all my life, and I've tried more recipes than you can shake a drumstick at. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty, is that if you are not frying food regularly you'll loose your touch.  I've tried to abide a healthier lifestyle for the past twenty years give or take, so I rarely fry foods these days.  But years ago while married to Cowboy Bob, I fried dinner at least 3-4 nights a week.  I was good at frying. Chicken fried steak, pork chops, chicken, vegetables, even home made donuts. Cowboy Bob loved fried food so that's what I cooked.

 It takes practice and skill to keep the temperature of the oil just right so the food browns evenly and cooks through. With chicken, this can be a challenge. If the oil is too hot, the outside will brown and darken before the meat is fully cooked. If the oil is not hot enough, the outside will be greasy, not crispy. Tricky stuff. You can follow a recipe to the letter but if you don't have a practiced touch with the oil you'll be disappointed with the results. That said, I threw myself into dinner preparations not just a little anxious about how my chicken would turn out.

I wanted everything to be special. I bought Boulder Natural chickens, I riced Yukon Gold potatoes with heavy cream and Irish butter for the mashers and made the chicken gravy from stock and a roux.  I used pastry flour for the biscuits (makes them extra light), and I made an apple pie that would make your grandmother weep. It took me three days and I had the most wonderful time.



I packed it all up and headed to their home to put it together for what I hoped would be a great dinner.

Bossy Chef, Barbara; Lee's beautiful wife, and I got everything ready. We laid dinner out on pretty trays, grabbed a lovely bottle of wine, and took everything upstairs so we could all eat together.

If I'd had any doubts as to whether Lee would be able to enjoy the food, they vanished quickly. He sat upright in his bed and proceeded to devour everything on his plate. Barbara said the she had not seen him eat like that in weeks. Too full for dessert? Not a chance. He gave me a huge smile and two very enthusiastice thumbs up for hot apple pie with burnt sugar ice cream. Dinner was a success!




That night I learned what it means to cook from the heart.  To cook for love, and why we love to cook. It was the last meal that he was able to enjoy, and it was an honor and a privilege to share it with him, his loving wife, and my wonderful husband. I will remember that dinner for many years to come. Not because of the food, but because the food brought joy and pleasure to someone who needed it. Lee doesn't know it, but he gave me a life lesson in love and a gift beyond measure. I will forever be grateful to him.

So, are you curious about how my fried chicken turned out? I have to tell the truth, the pieces that were cooked were damn good!! But because I'm out of practice, my oil was too hot and the larger pieces browned before they were done. (Yuk) Thankfully, I was the only one who had picked out one of the under done pieces that night. The remaining chicken (I had fried two whole birds) could be reheated in the oven, and finish cooking before offering to friends and family who would stop by over the next few days. Was everything cooked perfectly? Not even close. Was it a perfect meal? Yes, and so much more.


The fried chicken recipe I tried was wonderful. I've made it available for you in a printable pdf, click on the link below. Home made fried chicken is off the charts incredibly delcious, no relation to the heavily breaded, chemically pumped, industrial mystery meat found in those large paper buckets. It takes a little planning, patience and a willingness to destroy your kitchen but it is so worth it. The next time you want to show someone that you love them, make them a proper fried chicken dinner. You'll earn a special place in their heart for ever.

Copy and paste the link below for a printable pdf of Michael Ruhlman's Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dyol1f83y868az7/Rosemary-brined%20Buttermilk%20Fried%20Chicken.pdf?dl=0

Your referrals are the best compliment I can receive. Thank you for reading our blog and please keep me in mind should you or your friends and family ever need the services of a professional Realtor.


Becky Goldsmith
 Broker, GRI, CNE
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com
720-979-3184







Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sharlotka







 FALL

Yowza, where did the summer go? We had such a mild summer this year compared to the last few years that were unbearably hot for weeks on end. This year summer in Colorado was warm, beautiful and oh so lovely, and now fall is here with old man winter fast approaching.
But I will strive to practice the be present philosophy of yoga. Rather than allow my mind to dwell on thoughts of the coming snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, I will instead try to be in the moment of each and every glorious day the fall season has to offer.
Gone for now are the juicy peaches from the Western Slope, the addictive sweet corn from Olathe, Colorado, sun ripened tomatoes, and lazy summer evenings under warm, starry skies.  These fleeting pleasures are now replaced by one of  the many delicious gifts that comes with fall, apples. Apples, in their vast array of flavors and varieties become the versatile fruit that help ease our sense of loss for a summer now past.
Colorado is not typically thought of as an apple producing state as is New York or Washington, so it may come as a surprise to many that Colorado's climate is actually ideal for growing apples.
Apple trees need a combination of hot and cold weather to produce fruit, making them a natural for our state. Most apple trees like to have a minimum of 600 hours below 40 degrees during the winter to encourage them to set fruit. Then they need at least five or six hours of full sun a day once they've blossomed.
Apple trees also blossom later than some other types of fruit trees making them more likely to avoid an April killing frost. Add to that fact is that many types of apple trees are hardy to about 8,000 feet or growing zone 4 therefore most Coloradans have the perfect prescription for a bountiful apple harvest. There are several varieties that do very well, but some should be avoided as their maturity date is later and you risk loosing your crop to an early freeze. The varieties that do well in Colorado are: Red and Yellow Delicious, Mackintosh, Gala, Honey-Crisp, Cortland, Granny Smith, and Jonathan to name a few.
There are plenty of orchards in Colorado where you can pick your own apples and even press your own cider. A few top spots are YaYa Farm and Orchard, 6419 Ute Highway in Longmont. Camelot Farms, 15911 Black Bridge Road, Paonia. Happy Apple Farm, 1190 1st Street, Penrose. Delicious Orchards, 39126 Highway 133, Hotchkiss. And Apple Valley Orchard,448 K Street,
Penrose.



You'll find more than just apples at most orchards, most have country stores selling everything from fresh pressed cider to pies, berries and other seasonal treats.




So what to do with all these apples?  How about a yummy Apple Sharlotka? Apple Sharla what??  Shar-lot-ka, it's a Russian apple cake, quick, easy and delicious. Top a slice with vanilla ice cream and you have yourself a seriously delicious dessert. A girl friend gave me a sack of fresh picked apples and I made a Sharlotka this last Sunday. It was a hit, even Bossy liked it. Below is a link to the recipe from Chef Matt Danko from Cleveland's Trentina Restaurant as published in this months issue of Food and Wine.


Copy and paste the link below to your browser for a printable PDF recipe for Apple Sharlotka

https://db.tt/vtShPXG4

Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoy the changing seasons as much as we do along with all of the wonderful comfort foods that come with the cooler temperatures!

And I hope you keep me in mind when you're ready to think about selling your home or buying a new one. It would be a privilege to be your Realtor of Choice.

Happy Eating!

Becky Goldsmith

Real Estate
720-979-3184
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com