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Our Last Meal

thomas-and-jake-farewell

Some meals you just don’t want to end. The ambiance is perfect, the company lively and welcoming and, most importantly, the food is fantastic. But eventually the check arrives, or your hosts shoo you out, or you get tired and start doing dishes in the hopes your guests will get the point. The time has come dear friends for us to start doing the dishes. After 4 years, hundreds of recipes published (and even more left in the test kitchen), and some great and not-so-great dishes we regret to tell you that we’ve served our last course. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. To quote the great Alice Cooper, school’s…out…for…ever.

We’d like to thank our parents for giving us a taste for adventure (and hot dish), and teaching us that vacations are to be planned around what meal or snack we can have next. To our friends and greatest fans: thanks for anticipating our next post, for coming to us for advice on cooking (it made us feel important), and for always eagerly volunteering to try our latest concoctions, good or bad. We couldn’t have done it without all of you.

If you can’t quit us you can head on over to Adventures in Red and Brown,
where Jake is continuing with cooking and expanding into cocktails, beers, housewares, travel, basically anything that suits him and his fiancee’s fancy. You’ll get your fix of Thomas too; he’s the resident graphic designer and contributor. Thanks again for all of your support.

— Jake & Thomas Brown —

It’s Valentine’s Day (but you already knew that)

Whether you're hoping to get hit with an arrow or running away from this little bastard, we've got you covered.

Whether you’re hoping to get hit with an arrow or running away from this little bastard, we’ve got you covered.

You started seeing cards and heart-laden decorations in stores before the Christmas trees were even down. You’ve read every listicle from every publisher about what to get your sweetheart, where to eat, what to say, what to cook, or how to celebrate anti-Valentine’s day but here you are. It’s noon, you’re trolling the Interwebs and realize you’ve read about being prepared but haven’t actually prepared anything. Fear not—just like we saved your ass for the Super Bowl, we’re gonna do the same for V-Day. Whether you’re celebrating with that special someone, mocking the day with others, or cooking happily by yourself we’ve put together some simple meal ideas to keep the effort minimal and the results maximal.

Dining Solo: the company’s good and you don’t have to argue over what to eat.

Anti-Valentine’s Dinner: fu*k you, Hallmark. Work on making Grandparent’s Day a bigger thing.

The Lovers’ Meal: gaze amorously into each others eyes and eat these heartwarming classics

Dessert: whether you’re hating or participating there’s no reason not to make the Elvis Pie.

  • To make things quicker, get a store-bought graham cracker crust.
  • You can also save time by using raw bananas and not baking them
  • You can save even more time by slicing and frying the bacon, then tossing it in maple syrup before mixing it in the pie

Roasted Broccoli & Irish Cheddar Soup

A thick, rich and comforting bowl. Like a velour track suit for your tongue.

Broccoli and cheese soup is a pretty solid standby in our humble opinion but (to borrow from Swingers) it’s the PG-13 guy of the soup world; you’re really hoping it does the trick but if you want something exciting you want the rated R guy. Not sure if roasting the vegetables will make a difference? Poppycock. Apprehensive about the strength of the Irish cheddar’s brogue? Balderdash. Pumpernickel croutons? Nerts to you. Work with us here, people; you know the drill by now.

Equipment Needed: 2  Baking Sheets, 5 QT Pot, Immersion Blender or Food Processor, Wooden Spoon, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board

Serving Suggestion: Individual Plating

Servings: 8

Suggested Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Suggested Beer Pairing: Dunkelwiess, Lager, Medium-bodied Ales

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs broccoli ($2.99/lb)
  • 1 QT chicken stock ($3.29/32 oz)
  • 1 PT heavy cream ($2.99/PT)
  • 2 medium onions ($0.99/lb)
  • 6 cloves garlic ($2.99/lb)
  • 1/3 C flour ($1.89/2 lbs)
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter ($4.99/lb)
  • 4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil ($9.99/32 oz)
  • 1 lb Irish cheddar cheese ($11.99/lb)
  • 1 loaf fresh pumpernickel bread (about $3/loaf)
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder ($2/2.5 oz jar)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Crouton Preparation:

You can do this before, during or after you make your soup. It takes about 10 minutes so do whatever works best for you.

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Take your loaf of pumpernickel and cut it into 1 inch cubes. Throw them in a mixing bowl and toss them with a solid drizzle of olive oil, garlic powder and salt.

Be careful not to over-oil the bread or it won't crisp up nicely.

  • Spread the croutons out evenly on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for about 5 minutes, then check to see if they’re crunchy. If not, five them another few minutes but be careful not to leave them in too long. Burnt croutons don’t party well with soup.

Soup Preparation:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Wash the broccoli and remove the majority of the stems. Cut them into medium-sized florets and put them on your baking sheets.

Keep the broccoli in decent sized pieces, smaller chunks tend to burn when you roast them.

  • Peel and quarter your onions and place them on the backing sheets along with your broccoli. Mince your garlic cloves and spread evenly over the veggies on both sheets. Drizzle a healthy dose of olive oil over the whole lot, sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the veggies are nicely roasted.
  • While your broccoli is doing its thing, shred the cheese and set it aside for later.

If you can't find Irish cheddar, a nice English, Australian or just plain aged cheddar will do just fine.

  • Next it’s time to get started on your roux. Put the pot over low heat and add in the butter. Once it’s melted slowly stir in the flour a little at a time so it makes a paste then cook this until it’s a rich bronze color.  Pour in the cream and stir everything together. Bring the burner up to medium heat and stir relatively constantly if your veggies haven’t finished. You don’t want the cream to scald.

Use low heat and be patient with the roux; burnt flour doesn't help anything.

  • Once the veggies are done, throw them in the pot and add the chicken stock. Let everyone get friendly until the mixture comes to a boil. Once this happens remove it from the heat and get to work with your immersion blender (or food processor). You want to grind everything down to a consistent puree so don’t rush through this part.

Blend thoroughly. No one likes surprise chunks of stuff in an otherwise creamy soup.

  • Once you’ve got it to the consistency you want, put it back on the stove over low heat. Stir in the cheddar a small handful at a time until you’ve gotten through it all. Once the cheese has completely melted in dish it up and go to town. For bonus points drizzle a little walnut or truffle oil on top of each bowl.

Turkey Meatballs and Pasta

Meatballs that don't neccesitate wearing track pants.

Your nonna may frown on this non-traditional twist, but your taste buds will scream mama mia! Take your meatballs on a healthy and tasty trip by using ground turkey instead of beef. Finish things off with some homemade marinara and your favorite pasta to turn any night into a red-checkered tablecloth event.

Equipment Needed: Frying Pan, 3 QT pot, 5 QT pot, Large Bowl, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Colander, Cheese Grater, Wooden Spoon

Serving Suggestion: Individual Plating

Servings: 4

Suggested Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Chianti, Tempranillo, Malbec

Suggested Beer Pairing: Peroni, Light Ales

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (about $5.99)
  • 1/4 C Italian style breadcrumbs ($2.99/24 oz package)
  • 1/8 C parmagiana cheese ($6/8oz)
  • 1 egg ($2.50/dozen)
  • 2 medium yellow onions ($.99/lb )
  • 6 cloves garlic ($2.99/lb)
  • 1 lb dry pasta (we like penne or rotini for this one) ($1.49/package)
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes ($2.99)
  • 8-10 leaves of fresh basil (about $4/package)
  • 1 TBSP crushed red pepper (about $2/jar)
  • 1 TBSP sugar ($1/lb)
  • 4 TBSP Italian seasoning (about $4/jar)
  • Extra virgin olive oil ($9.99/34 oz bottle)
  • Balsamic vinegar (about $6/8 0z)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preparation

  • Mince three garlic cloves and set aside, then mince the other three and set those aside as well (half will go in the meatballs and half in the sauce).
Ok, seriously, this might be the last garlic-mincing picture we show. Just cut it into small pieces and call it a day.

Ok, seriously, this might be the last garlic mincing pic we post. Just cut it small and call it a day.

  • Put your pot over medium heat and pour in about 4 TBSP of olive oil. Dice 1 1/2 onions and set aside the remaining half. Throw half of the garlic cloves and the diced onions into the pot and stir regularly until softened (about 5-10 minutes).

Stir your onions and garlic until soft and aromatic.

  • Put the ground turkey in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, 2TSBP of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic. Take your cheese grater and grate the remaining onion into the mixture.

Grating the onions make the pieces unobtrusive and release more flavor.

  • Now comes the fun part. Get your hands in there and mix everything together until it’s evenly dispersed (we recommend a squeeze and twist approach). Wash your hands thoroughly before proceeding (raw poultry can make you much sicko, so you want to make sure you’re constantly cleaning your hands and other surfaces).

Squeeze your meat (yes, it's a double entendre).

  • In the pot with your onions and garlic, add the tomatoes, about 3 TBSP of balsamic vinegar, a few pinches of salt and pepper, sugar and the crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer your sauce as you prepare to roll your meatballs.
  • Put your frying pan over lower-medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Make your meatballs by taking about a palm’s worth of the meat mixture and rolling your hands in opposite directions until spherical (think making snowballs). Put the meatballs into the pan and brown on all sides. [Brother’s Note: Traditional Italian meatball recipes often tell you to put them into the sauce raw and simmer until cooked. Since we’re using turkey in this case we want to be sure that things are cooked through. As we’ve harped on before, undercooked poultry is a mistake you only make once.]
  • Once nicely browned, slowly slip the meatballs into the sauce and simmer everything away for another 20 minutes or so to cook fully. Stir occasionally and slowly, making sure not to break your balls (sorry, we had to). About 10 minutes into simmering, fill your other pot about 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add your pasta and cook for about 5-8 minutes. Drain, add sauce and meatballs, and go mmmmmmmm.

Lower the meatballs into your sauce and simmer away.

School Will Soon Be in Session

Welcome to the Brothers Brown School of Cooking. Prepare to get an education in culinary awesomeness.