The Violet Butterscotch Blondie

from The Violet Bakery Cookbook, by Claire Ptak

The original version of the recipe calls for milk chocolate. I used 55%, which is technically semisweet, but it’s what I had. I liked it a lot. And as always, the kosher salt I use is Diamond Crystal brand.

250 grams (1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
300 grams (1 ¾ cups) golden brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
240 grams (1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
125 grams (4 ½ ounces) chocolate (see note above), chopped
75 grams (2 ½ ounces) caramel shards (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 320°F. Grease a 9-x-13-inch (or thereabouts) baking pan, and line it with parchment.

In a small, heavy pan, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until frothy. Whisk in the melted butter.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg-and-butter mixture, along with the chocolate. Mix until just combined.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Sprinkle the caramel shards over the top of the batter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is puffed and looks set. Mine take a bit longer than 30 minutes – maybe more like 35 – and mostly, I’m looking for setness.

Leave to cool completely in the pan. Then cut into squares or rectangles of whatever size you’d like.

Store the blondies in an airtight container at room temperature. They’re best within three days.

Yield: 12 to 16 blondies, depending on how you cut them


Chicken Cutlets Smothered in Peas

Inspired by Canal House Cooking, Vol. 6: The Grocery Store

June didn’t like the scallion flavor in the peas, so next time, I’ll be leaving the scallions out. I like it either way.

All-purpose flour
1 large egg
6 (boneless, skinless) chicken cutlets
Kosher salt
Peanut oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces (half a standard-sized bag) frozen peas
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced into rounds

Set out three shallow bowls. Put a large, heaping spoonful of flour in the first, the egg in the second, and a large, heaping spoonful of panko in the third. I didn’t measure the flour or panko, and I think you can safely eyeball it. Beat the egg well with a fork.

Season the cutlets with kosher salt.

Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour with one hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to the egg dish, turning the cutlet with your other hand to coat both sides. Lift, allowing excess egg to drain off. Transfer to the panko bowl. With your first hand, scoop panko on top of the cutlet and gently press to adhere, taking care that the whole thing is coated. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with remaining cutlets. If this is done properly, your first hand should touch only dry ingredients, while your second hand should touch only wet, and ideally it’s not too messy. If it is, oh well.

Pour oil into a 10-inch skillet to a depth of  ¼ to 1/3 inch. Place over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers and runs loosely around the pan when you tilt it (around 350°F), gently lower the cutlets into the pan, laying them down away from you to prevent splashes of hot fat. Don’t crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary. Cook cutlets until the bottom side is set, and then flip and fry until the second side is set. Continue cooking, flipping occasionally for even browning, until the cutlets are golden brown – fried-chicken color – and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. I use a Thermapen to test for doneness, pulling cutlets from the pan around 155°F. They will rise to 165°F (the USDA safe temperature) as they rest. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the peas and scallions and a generous dash of salt, stir to coat, cover, and cook until tender. I didn’t time this. Maybe 10 minutes?

Serve everything hot, the buttery peas spooned over the cutlets.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings