Just a nerd who likes to cook

Cooking with Awesome

Cooking with Awesome: Tartine’s fudgy brownies

I absolutely adore Tartine. Ever since I got their cookbook the flaky pie crust has become a standard in my house hold – I even went out and got a food processor JUST to make pie crust. I’m insane, but you knew that.

What were we talking about? Oh! BROWNIES. I blame Jeannette for the recent craving. So, I started flipping through my cookbook and found what has to be the most intense chocolate experience ever. I’m dead serious. Make sure you eat these warmed up topped with ice cream or a big glass of milk. INSTENSE LIKE WHOA.


  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 eggs
  • 2c brown sugar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 oz of sifted AP flour
  • 3/4c of chocolate chips or nuts (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Melt butter over low heat
  3. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stir to coat all the chocolate in the melted butter. Let sit for 5 minutes then stir until all the chunks of chocolate have melted.
  4. Place eggs, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract into a stand mixer or a medium mixing bowl and mix on high for 5 minutes so that the sugar dissolves and the eggs become aerated.
  5. Gently fold in the chocolate butter mixture with a spatula
  6. Fold in the flour in 3 batches
  7. If you’d like to add nuts or chocolate chips, do so at this time
  8. Pour the brownie mix into a greased 9×13 baking dish
  9. Bake for 25 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and once they’ve cooled significantly, cut and serve

Cooking with Awesome: Chocolate Mousse

If you’ve got a date you’re looking to impress, make this dish. Few things are as romantic as chocolate mousse! It’s easy and fast to make, and the texture is incredible. It’s also incredibly versatile – you can serve it alone, toss it into a pie crust for chocolate cream pie, line a mold with ladyfingers and use it as filling, or fill small pots and top with whipped cream for petits Pots de Crème. You could even put it between too cookies and make a cookie sandwich – let your imagination be your guide!


  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4c bakers sugar
  • 1/4c Grand Marnier
  • 6oz chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tbsp strong coffee
  • 1 1/2 stick of butter
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  1. Separated the eggs yolks and the egg whites. Be sure to separated the white from the yolk in a small bowl first and if you’re sure there’s absolutely no yolk in the white, transfer the white to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and add the bakers sugar. Beat with a whisk for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture falls into ribbons on itself.
  3. Add in the Grand Marnier and beat for another minute.
  4. Place the yoke and sugar mixture over a large pot of simmering water. Beat constantly for 4 minutes or until the mixture is hot to the touch. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
  5. Immediately place over a large bowl with ice and water and beat for another 4 minutes. Set aside.
  6. In a small sauce pan, add the coffee to the chocolate and mix for about a minute
  7. Turn the burner onto very low heat and start to add the butter 1tbsp at a time. Be sure to periodically remove the chocolate from the burner to allow the heat from the pan to melt the butter. This will ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  8. Add the chocolate to the egg yoke mixture in three batches. Set aside.
  9. In a large mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt to the 6 egg whites and beat until soft peaks form.
  10. Add the tablespoon of sugar and beat for another 30 seconds until stiff peaks form.
  11. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate yolk mixture and beat with a whisk. Incorporate the remaining 2/3 in two installments, folding them in with a spatula. Be careful not to over mix.
  12. Chill for 2 hours then serve.

Cooking with Awesome: Sautéed Onions and Mushroom Alfredo over Fresh Fettuccine

I love making this dish. It’s just so good. It’s actually been dubbed “crack pasta” by some of my friends because once you start eating it it’s hard to stop! I made a variation of this for the Real Women of Philadelphia challenge, and that sauce turned out really well too – the cream cheese made the alfredo rich and thick.


  • 1 pound fresh fettuccini (if you use dried pasta for this… the dish will suffer greatly)
  • 1 large sweet onion, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Shitake mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • White truffle oil (optional)


  1. Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat and add onions and salt to sweat.
  2. Caramelize onions by stirring once every 10 minutes for 40 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minute.
  4. Add mushrooms, sage and cumin. Cook until mushrooms become tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour cheese over the veggies until it’s melted, then add the half and half to create the sauce. Add pepper to taste.
  6. Pour olive oil over freshly boiled fettuccine and toss. Plate noodles and add alfredo sauce. Top with white truffle oil and some grated parmesan. Enjoy with a good white wine.

Cooking with Awesome: Beer Pancakes

Yes, you heard me right: BEER pancakes. The thing here is the carbonation in the beer makes for an incredibly light and fluffy pancake. I remember last year I visited my friend Jarett in Chicago, and we hit up Drinks over Dearborn. They had an amazing selection of beer, one of which was banana flavored beer. Let me tell you, that made one tasty pancake!

“Instant” pancake mix
Prep time: 5 mins
Sift together:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

I normally mix this together just before making pancakes, but if you prefer to store it (so it’s ready whenever), times recipe by 6 and stored for up to 3 months depending on how fresh your baking soda is. TIP: Baking soda starts to lose its punch after 3 months, so make sure you check when you bought it!


  • 1 cup “instant” pancakes mix
  • 1 1/4 cup beer
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted, cooled unsalted butter
  • 1 stick butter (for greasing the pan)


  1. Heat electric skillet or large pan to 350 degrees. TIP: Test the heat by dropping some water on the surface – if they dance around, that’s perfect. If they fry and disappear, turn the heat down.
  2. Place pancake mix in large bowl, set aside
  3. In a small bowl, beat egg into butter. MAKE SURE to butter has cooled to room temp before mixing otherwise you’ll heat the yoke and wide up with clumps
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix for 10 seconds ONLY. Over mixing will create gluten, and result in a chewy pancake, not a light fluffy one. There will be some small clumps, but those will cook out.
  5. When bubbles start to form in the batter (hooray for fresh baking soda!), ladle batter onto pan.  When bubbles start to set around the edges (about 2 minutes), it’s time to flip.
  6. To test when they’re done, touch the top of one of the pancakes. If it bounces back a little, then they’re done.

TIP: If you’re making a large batch of pancakes, place a baking sheet with a teatowel in an 200 degree oven and just store the pancakes there until you’re ready to eat. They will keep for up to 30 minutes.

Have leftovers? Stick them in an air tight container and freeze. When you’re ready to eat just pop them in the toaster.

Cooking with Awesome: Chili

Hello little chefs!

My friends agree, this chili is pretty damn amazing. The first batch I ever made was dubbed “Farmers Market Chili” due to the fact that I bought all the ingredients, chili power and all, at the Ferry Building famers market. I’d like to think that the thing that sets this chili apart from other chili’s I’ve tried is that fact that it contains copious amount of actual chili’s. Well, and the huge bottle of Chimay. I will never forget that day – my friends Eris and I spend most of the afternoon drinking mimosa’s and roasting peppers over my gas stove. And that’s how I’d recommend making this batch – with an awesome friend, drinking, and giggling.

The more I cook, the more I realize all my recipes include booze. I swear to god I’m not an alcoholic.


  • 3 pounds of top sirloin beef, chopped into cubs and dried with a paper towel
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 4 colves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 bell peppers
  • 6 mild chili peppers, like Poblano’s, Hatch’s and Anaheim’s.
  • 1 can of beans (Kindey, black, or pinto)
  • 1 large can stewed tomatos, diced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 20oz of high quality beer (Chimay recommended)
  • 1 packet of chili power

The heat – leave out for a mild chili

  • 2-5 Jalapenos or Chipotle peppers
  • 2-5 Serrano peppers
  • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper


  1. Cut the beef into bite size cubes then pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a large soup pot, add a tablespoon of oil and brown the meat in batches. Set aside.
  3. Chop the sweet onion and place in the soup pot over med-low heat. Add a large pinch of salt, and stir once every 10 minutes for 40 minutes to caramelize the onions
  4. In a large skillet, add a tablespoon of oil and pan fry all the peppers in batches until they are darkened. Chop (leave out the seeds for a milder chili) and set aside.
  5. Once the onions are done, add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes
  6. Then add the meat, chili’s, and all the spices. Stir well.
  7. Add in the canned tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, chocolate, chili powder and beer. Stir well. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 2 hours.
  8. If you are making the spicy version, add the jalapenos, chipotle’s, serrano’s and cayenne pepper 30 minutes before serving.
  9. Top with a dolop of sour cream, cheese, cilantro and avocado. Serve with a nice, cold beer and enjoy!