By Jenny McCoy — Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor

It’s hard to truly determine who ought to be credited for the first brownie. One version of history credits Bertha Palmer, a Chicago businesswoman and socialite, for inspiring the sweet that is about as American as apple pie. On a recent visit to Chicago, I took a walk down one of the brownie’s memory lanes.

Bertha was the wife of Potter Palmer, a wealthy businessman who was very much involved in the development of downtown Chicago. They were introduced by a mutual friend and Potter’s former business partner, Marshall Field (whose department store acquired and popularized Frango chocolate truffles, by the way). As a wedding gift to his bride, Potter gave Bertha an extraordinary gift — The Palmer House hotel. Under the couples’ ownership, largely directly by Bertha, The Palmer House became the epicenter for entertainment amongst socialites in Chicago and well-heeled travelers worldwide. In 1893, for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, an event that would draw influential people from around the globe, Bertha entertained the notion of creating a small confection that has since become beloved all the world over.

Palmer House brownieStorytellers say that for the World’s Fair, Bertha asked The Palmer House pastry chef to create a small cake or confection that could be included in boxed lunches for ladies visiting the fair. The pastry chef developed a thick, dense, fudgy chocolate bar, covered in walnuts and a sweet apricot glaze. It was unlike any other confection and became incredibly popular. Though it still wasn’t called a “brownie,” as similar versions of the dessert later appeared in the Sears Roebuck catalog and in cookbooks by Fannie Farmer and others, its name was given. More than a century later, you can still enjoy a square of warm chocolate goodness topped with ice cream made with the same recipe used in 1893 at The Palmer House. Or, if you can’t make it to Chicago anytime soon, you can create a batch of brownies yourself using the recipe below, adapted from the original.

The Palmer House Brownie
Adapted from the original recipe found here

Ingredients:

14 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 pound unsalted butter
12 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces all-purpose flour
8 whole eggs
12 ounces crushed walnuts
Vanilla extract
Apricot Glaze (recipe below)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 300° F.
  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter.
  • In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients except walnuts.
  • Pour chocolate into dry ingredients and mix with a spatula for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Pour into a 9”x 12” baking sheet, sprinkle walnuts on top and use your fingers to press walnuts down slightly into mixture.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When finished baking, the brownies will have risen about ¼ inch and the edges should be a little crispy. Note: Even when properly baked, brownies will test “gooey” with a toothpick in the center due to the richness of the mixture. Remove brownies from oven and allow brownies to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • While brownies cool, work on your Apricot Glaze (recipe below). Once brownies cool, use a brush to spread a thin layer of the Apricot Glaze on top. Cut into squares and serve (highly recommended with a scoop of ice cream).

Pro Tip: The brownies are easier to cut if you place in the freezer for about 3-4 hours after glazing.

Palmer House brownies

For the Apricot Glaze

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup apricot preserves
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together water, preserves and unflavored gelatin.
  • Bring to a boil for two minutes. Use hot.

Want to master brownies and more with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program. 

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By Robert Ramsey ­— Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor 

With the heat of August ushering in peak tomato harvest, I came up with a few recipes to get creative with summer’s favorite fruit, beginning with a rich, creamy cold soup from the Andalusia region of Spain called salmorejo. Everyone has heard of Spain’s most famous soup — the cold, refreshing gazpacho. Think of salmorejo as gazpacho’s velvety cousin: it’s rich with tasty Spanish olive oil, thickened with a bit of bread and as smooth as a perfect flan.

salmorejo

Ingredients:

2 pounds tomatoes, quartered (look for the best you can find at the market)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped
12 ounces (1 small can) low-sodium tomato juice
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
4 ounces white bread, torn or cubed and crust removed
⅓ cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ cup good quality Spanish olive oil
Serrano ham, hard-boiled egg and chives for garnish (optional)

salmorejo soup

Preparation:

  • In a large, non-reactive vessel, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or preferably overnight for maximum flavor.
  • Working in batches, place the mixture in a Vitamix blender and slowly adjust the speed from the lowest to the highest setting. While the blender is running, slowly stream in the olive oil to emulsify. The color will change to a beautiful orange and the texture will become smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  • Return mixture to the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving in chilled bowls. Top with chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped Serrano ham, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of freshly chopped chives (if desired).

tomato Vitamix

Master recipes for all seasons with Chef Robert — click here to learn about our culinary arts career program. 

Vitamix is now offering our readers special discounts on their popular Vitamix models: C- and G- Series, Certified Reconditioned S30, and Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs Machine. Use the URL and discount code below and find your culinary voice with Vitamix. 

www.vitamix.com/CSP
Promotion Code: ICEVitamix21216
Expires: December 31, 2017

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By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts

If you are not familiar with clafoutis, please make yourself acquainted. It is one of the easiest desserts to make, not to mention an absolute showstopper.

Like a soufflé, this dessert puffs to great heights and begins to deflate moments after being removed from the oven. However, unlike a soufflé, clafoutis batter is super simple to make — just whisk the ingredients together and voila! There is no need to fret over under-whipped egg whites or over-folded batter. Clafoutis is made with whole eggs and yolks, plus some flour to bind the batter, making it foolproof to execute.

summer fruit clafoutis

Summer is the perfect season for tucking into a freshly baked clafoutis. Many clafoutis recipes, particularly at this time of year, highlight cherries. This is because the clafoutis was first created in Limousin, France, a region celebrated for its black cherries. While I do love the classic cherry clafoutis, I find that clafoutis is even better suited for fruits with more tart and acidic qualities, like raspberries, blackberries, plums and apricots. I also enjoy topping it with chopped nuts and turbinado sugar, to give it a crunch to contrast its soft and delicate texture.

And don’t desert this fruity dessert after summer passes — it’s glorious at any time of year, particularly in the autumn when baked with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples or cranberries. 

Summer Fruit Clafoutis
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Softened unsalted butter and sugar (for the ramekins)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh fruit, such as berries or sliced stone fruit
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
¼ cup chopped pistachios, optional

summer fruit clafoutis

Preparation:

  • Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Lightly butter and sugar eight ramekins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the eggs, yolks, cream and lemon zest and continue to whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the melted butter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins, evenly scatter the fruit over the top of the batter, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and pistachios.
  • Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until puffed, set in the center and light golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). Serve warm, and with ice cream if desired.

Want to master seasonal desserts and more with Chef Jenny? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

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You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a steaming bowl of moules marinières — with ample crusty bread for soaking up every last drop of the garlicky broth. Lucky for you, Chef Sabrina Sexton shared with us her recipe for preparing this classic, French dish. These simple mussels steamed in white wine make the perfect, easy weeknight dinner.

mussels

Moules Marinières
Servings: makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

64 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
16 fluid ounces dry white wine
2 ounces shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce parsley, minced
2 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 ounces butter

Preparation:

  • Combine the white wine, shallots, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper and butter in a large, tall pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 5 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  • Uncover the pot, return to boil and add the mussels. Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, stirring once.
  • Serve in bowls and spoon a generous amount of broth into each bowl.

Ready to launch a rewarding career in the culinary arts? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs. 

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By James Briscione — Director of Culinary Research

The fried chicken sandwich, by law, may only contain bread, chicken, pickles and sauce. Never mind which law that is — the point is this: if you try to put anything more on my sandwich, we are going to have problems. With just four components to build it out, this sandwich is perfect in its simplicity, so each ingredient that goes into it better be perfect, too. Any missteps or half measures are going to stand out big time and completely throw off your chicken sandwich mojo.

Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe Video - Institute of Culinary Education

Now don’t worry, you have me to take you through it step by step. First, the sandwich components:

  1. The bun: Only a soft potato roll will do. Period.
  2. The pickles: Dill chips are really the way to go (but if you have another preference I won’t fight you on this one).
  3. The chicken: Fried, of course — but also brined.
  4. The sauce: It’s gotta be special.

Now, let’s get to the meat of the sandwich: fried chicken. Two important things need to happen: first brine, then fry. Brining — the process of soaking your chicken in a solution of salt and sugar — is an essential step that helps the meat retain moisture and stay juicy throughout the cooking process. Proper frying at home is easier than you might think. For starters, you don’t need as much oil as you think you do. If the chicken has been butterflied or properly pounded out, you’ll need the oil to be no more than an inch and a half deep in the pot.

And what about that special sauce? Mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich is great. Umami mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich will change your life. Umami — known as the fifth taste (after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter) — is what we think of when something is savory and gives food a rich and satisfying taste. Umami is found naturally in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce and meats. For our chicken sandwich sauce, we build layers of umami with roasted shallots, garlic, shrimp paste (optional) and fish sauce. Trust me: once you have this condiment in your arsenal, you’ll find many more uses for it beyond your chicken sandwich. There’s no law for that.

Pro tips:

  1. The umami mayo can be made in batches and keeps for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
  2. Frying temperature is crucial: 350˚F is your ideal cooking temperature — if things dip below 300˚F, the chicken ends up a bit greasy. The best way to avoid this is to begin with oil hotter than you need it, around 370˚F; that way when the temp drops after adding your chicken, you’ll land right at your ideal cooking temperature.
  3. After cooking, rest the chicken on a rack, not paper towels. The rack will allow oil to drip away and keep the chicken from getting soggy on the bottom.

The Perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich with Umami Mayo
Makes 4 sandwiches

For the Fried Chicken

Brined Chicken

Ingredients:

1 quart water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast filets

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, combine the water, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until dissolved.
  • Butterfly each of the chicken breast filets. Add chicken filets to the brine and leave to brine for at least two hours, or let it brine overnight.

Flour Mixture

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preparation:

  • Add the flour, salt, granulated garlic, black pepper and cayenne together in a large bowl, and whisk to combine.

Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

Brined Chicken
Flour Mixture
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for frying

Preparation:

  • Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Season each piece lightly with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken breast into the flour mixture and press to coat well on both sides. Remove the floured pieces to a pan and rest briefly before frying.
  • Heat a pot of oil to 370˚F. Add chicken, working in batches of two pieces at a time, and cook until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a rack to rest and season immediately with salt.

For the Sandwiches

Ingredients:

4 potato rolls
Umami Mayonnaise (recipe below)
16 slices dill pickle or more as desired
Fried chicken

Preparation:

  • Split each roll, spread the bun with umami mayonnaise, add pickle slices and top with fried chicken.

For the Umami Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

1 shallot, cut in half, peeled, root removed
1 head garlic, top trimmed, root intact
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon shrimp paste, with chiles (optional)
Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
2 egg yolks
1 cup vegetable or canola oil

Preparation:

  • Place the shallot, garlic and olive oil in a small pan and cover with foil. Roast in a 350˚F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, add the shallot and garlic to a blender, squeezing the roasted garlic cloves from the skin, and reserving the oil from the pan for later.
  • Add the fish sauce, Sriracha, shrimp paste (if using) and egg yolks to the blender and process until smooth. Turn the blender to low and slowly drizzle in the canola oil and reserved olive oil until the mixture has emulsified.
  • Umami mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

To learn how you can study with Chef James, click here.

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