My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Week 6 - Triple Chocolate Brownies

Well, what can I say? I was wrong about Georgia. It was an exciting shoot out with LSU, but they finished them off and got the win. Oh well, I’m still sticking to my *overall* stance on Georgia. The letdown is coming!

As for this week, I can’t remember a time where I’ve been so excited about a BIG TEN game! Ohio St at Northwestern should be a really good contest because these aren’t your typical power Big Ten teams. The night game in Evanston is going to be an exciting atmosphere. Both have a high powered spread attack and can score a lot of points.  Ohio State could have had a quarterback controversy, but Urban Meyer has handled it remarkably. For the most part, the Buckeyes have been the bullies of the Big Ten, while Northwestern has built a winning program under Pat Fitzgerald. I have all the respect in the world for Northwestern because they not only play, but compete AND win with high quality academic guys. I’m not a fan of the two quarterback system, but the possibility of Kain Colter lining up just about anywhere on the field is a headache for defenses. I love this guy and he’s exciting to watch.  That being said, I still like Ohio State in the matchup. Urban Meyer is one of the best, his teams are always ready to play, and I expect them to beat the Wildcats.

Speaking of being ready to play, I’m ready to make my first bold upset pick of the year. The TCU Horned Frogs head up I-35 to Norman, Oklahoma this weekend to take on the Sooners. This won’t be your typical Sooner stinker where their minds are elsewhere. They’ll be focused because everyone is in their ear about this being a “trap game” with Texas coming next week. I just have a feeling that TCU is going to shock the Sooners this week. Gary Patterson always has a good defense, and this will be the best defense OU has faced this year. TCU’s offense is very mmmeh and Trevone Boykin is a bit suspect, but somehow some way, I’m taking the Frogs in the upset!

So what do you do when you are upset? Eat chocolate! This week I’m making chocolate fudge brownies. This is my go to brownie recipe and it comes from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. If you like fluffy, cake-like brownies, you’ll want to head elsewhere. These have three different kinds of chocolate, and come out very dense and fudgy. Just to give you an idea, the book recommends that you serve them in 1 inch squares and the yield is listed at 64 servings. We certainly don’t eat them that way in MY house, but be warned: they are riii—hiiich!

Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies From The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

Let me first start out by saying that you want to use really good chocolate for this recipe. If you use store brand or cheap chocolate, you're really cheating yourself out of the experience with these. I promise - you can absolutely tell a difference in the final product. So if at all possible, ditch the Hershey's/Nestle and splurge on some high quality chocolate! You. Won't. Regret it.

Start out by melting your chocolates. Chop the bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate along with the unsweetened chocolate and heat in the microwave for 2 mins on 50 % power. Stir, add the butter and put back in at 50% for an additional minute and stir again. Repeat as necessary until its smooth. Whisk in the powdered cocoa and set aside to cool slightly.


Whisk together sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla. Then add the melted chocolate.  

Stir in flour until just combined.

Before you transfer the batter to the pan, make a foil sling by overlapping two long pieces of foil into an 8 x 8. You more or less make an "x" with the sheets, then lay them on top of each other into the pan. They should hang off the side a little bit. Press the overhanging parts as well as the corners so they are flush against the pan. Then spray or butter the foil. This process will make removing the brownies so much easier later on.
Spread the batter evenly into the pan (making sure to spread into the corners) and bake on 350 in the lower third of the oven for 35-40 minutes. I start checking them around 33 minutes. Also, rotate the pan about halfway through (16-18 minute mark).

They're done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. The way these are, you won't get a "clean" toothpick. But don't worry, they should be done by 35-36 minutes. They'll also puff up slightly and may even crack a bit.

Let them cool in the pan for probably close to two hours, then lift them right out with that sling.

Check out under my right arm. Haven't even cut the brownies yet, but we already know what time it is!

Did I say rich?


Well, what else can I say? These are my favorite brownies, and if you like fudgy brownies, I'm sure you'll love them too. If you wrap them in plastic wrap really tight, they keep their texture pretty well. Feeling adventurous? You could also whisk in 1 ½ tablespoons of instant espresso powder or instant coffee along with the cocoa for Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies. I can't say I've tried this because the way the recipe is written in the book, I always see it too late! If you try it, please let me know! It goes without saying that these go well with milk or ice cream, but the BEST way to enjoy them is with a glass of Port wine. Fonseca Bin No. 27 is one of my favorites (BTW you usually have to get Port at the liqour store because of the alcohol content). I don't know what it is, but Chocolate + Port = MAGIC. If you haven't tried it, you're missing out!

Enjoy your weekend and your chocolate decadence!
.....and don't forget to share!

Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
from The Cook's Illustrated Coobook
5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into (4) pieces
3 Tbsp cocoa
3 Large eggs
1 ¼ C sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 C all-purpose flour

1)Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350. Make a foil sling by overlapping 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so they will fit an 8 x 8 square baking pan. Lay sheets in pan perpendicular to one another, with extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Grease foil and set aside.
2)Melt Chocolates and butter.* Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

3)Whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate into mixture . Using rubber spatula, stir in flour until just combined.

4)Transfer batter to prepared pan, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 35-40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

5)Let brownies cool in pan on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove brownies from pan using foil. Cut brownies into 1 inch squares (THEIR WORDS NOT MINE!) and serve.

*To melt chocolate in microwave, heat at 50% power for 2 minutes. Stir the chocolate, add butter, and continue to heat on 50%, stopping to stir each additional minute until smooth.