Coffee BlondiesHow does a “blondie” fit into your paradigm of desserts? I’ve always defined it as a brownie that’s not a brownie -- meaning it’s not made with cocoa. And since I have a kid who’s not really into brownies, well, here’s my chance to make a sweet dessert bar that uses lots of butter and light brown sugar.

The “Coffee Blondies,” from the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Fine Cooking, are too easy to assemble. No mixer is necessary. One-and-a-half sticks of butter feels like a lot: a decadent trip. Two tablespoons of strong coffee are easy to come by in my world. I actually keep a bottle of cold brew concentrate in my fridge, so I poured some of this into my recipe.

I baked my batter for 22 and 1/2 minutes.

Taste that butter! And the chocolate chips! These are special, wild. Be careful.

PREP TIME: casually assemble, bake for less than 23 minutes, cool, eat
TASTE: butter and chocolate chips (and pecans!)

Next time, I’ll dare myself to make the “Red Wine Risotto with Beans,” from the January/February 2018 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below). Come back to my site next week, to explore the magnitude of funky, greasy, magic.

Red Wine Risotto with Beans
Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2018
Serves 6 to 8

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
6 oz. salami, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 small head green cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
1 (15-oa.) can pinto beans, rinsed
1 cup hot tap water, plus extra as needed
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup), plus extra for serving
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add rice and salami and cook, stirring frequently, until rice grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in broth, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through simmering.

Stir in cabbage and continue to cook, covered, until almost all liquid has been absorbed and rice is just al dente, 6 to 9 minutes longer. (I had to cook an additional 4 minutes here.)

Add beans and hot water and stir gently and constantly until risotto is creamy, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and butter. If desired, add up to 1 cup extra hot water to create fluid, pourable consistency. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, passing extra Parmesan separately.