Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Making Progress, and Cooking A lot...

Okay, my agenda for this blog post is ambitious. There's a lot on my calendar for today, and more over, there's been a lot happening since my last blog post. 

First things first: Happy Easter and Happy Passover. 

I hope everyone is eating a lot, enjoying the long weekend, and feeling the first waves of Spring rolling in. I think I can say with confidence that we're all very ready for Spring. 

I'm ready for growing grass, jean jackets, daffodils, and for the love of god, a little sunshine. 

So as to not overwhelm you guys, I'm going to break this post into parts. 

Part 1: Merry wishes. 

Part 2: The food. (Commencing now...)

Part 3: The house. (To follow...) 

In celebration of Passover, John and I have been cooking up a storm. John found this unbelievable barbecued brisket recipe and it's literally changed my relationship with brisket. You have to make this. Not just for passover. As John's grandfather used to say, "Take this brisket for everyday." It's crazy delicious. 

The recipe is from the guy at Serious Eats (if you don't know this guy, check out his website. He's a master...) John followed the recipe (almost) to a T, and the results were tremendous. The only difference is that we didn't let the brisket sit overnight before serving, because we just didn't have the time. (Or, more specifically, we didn't read the recipe in advance, so we didn't know we were supposed to make it the night before. Oops.) 

First Recipe: Braised Brisket in Apricot-Cranberry Sauce


  • For the Rub:
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • For the Brisket:
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 whole point-cut (also sold as "second cut") brisket, about 3 to 4 pounds total, fat cap trimmed to 1/8-inch
  • 1 1/2 cups finely sliced shallots (2 to 3 large shallots)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. 1
    For the Rub: Mix salt, pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, hot paprika, and mustard powder together in a small bowl. Coat brisket liberally with rub and let sit for at least 40 minutes and up to a day, refrigerated.
  2. 2
    Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Place brisket in Dutch oven and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer brisket to a large plate and lower heat to medium.
  3. 3
    Add shallots, garlic, and tomato paste to Dutch oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 7 minutes. Add beef broth and scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add tomato sauce, apricot preserves, cranberry sauce, dried cranberries, dried apricots, dark brown sugar, molasses, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine. Bring sauce to a boil. Nestle brisket in sauce, pouring in any accumulated juices from the plate. Cover Dutch oven and transfer to oven. Cook until brisket can be pierced with a fork with little to no resistance, about 3 hours.
  4. 4
    Transfer brisket to a large container and add sauce. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight and up to three days (see note above).
  5. 5

    To Serve:
     Preheat oven to 325°F. Spoon off any congealed fat from sauce. Remove brisket from sauce and cut into 1/4-inch slices against the grain. Place slices in a casserole dish and cover with sauce. Cover dish with foil and place in oven until brisket is warmed through, 30 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
Second recipe: Personal-Sized Flourless Chocolate Cakes

I don't know about you, but I pretty much love anything personal-sized. I think this goes back to the Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas (circa 1990) of my childhood (a luxury we were only allowed when we were at the airport) and they left such an impression on me, that essentially anytime I have the opportunity to make something single-sized, I do. So when I was asked to make a flourless chocolate cake for our passover dinner, I figured, "What the hay!" and also elected to make another six flourless chocolate mini-cakes for a dinner party we were throwing earlier in the week. The recipe I used for the mini-cakes is different from the one I used for the big one, and they actually have significantly different results. 

If you're a fudge-man, go with this version. *If you're making this version, use a spring-form pan instead of a cake pan. That way you can pop it out, and serve it out of the pan. This looks way more professional, so go the distance people! 

If you're a cakey-fudge man, go with this version.  *In John's opinion, this recipe is superior. 

The only alteration I made to the personal-pan-cake recipe was to put them into ramekins instead of glass jars. In my opinion, and in John's as well, this is the best flourless chocolate cake I've ever had. I am going to make this again soon, so if you want to try one, come on by... 

So-- needless to say-- we've eaten a lot this holiday weekend. 

I'm so full. 

Check back in tomorrow and I'll finish up "Part 3: The House". 

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