Post courtesy of Theresa Binnings
Kirby Café Sous Chef
As I left Georgiana Bruce Kirby the other afternoon, I took with me the benevolent gift of a potted bright yellow daffodil, complete with a Thank You note from Nancy. The sweet gratitude bestowed to me in this beautiful plant carried with it the reminder of how unique and lovely of an environment I have the privilege to work in here at Kirby. It has only been a few months that I have had the honor of calling myself sous chef to Tracy Landry and Mima Lecocq, but the Kirby community has convinced me that the Kirby kitchen is a worthwhile place to call home, for many rewarding reasons—including this attention to gratitude bestowed regularly at Kirby, a precious and sometimes overlooked trait.
Beyond Nancy’s sweet note and gift, one of the things I love about our kitchen is how well my co-workers and I work together in delivering unfathomable/passionate feasts daily to students and faculty. Each of us comes to the kitchen with the shared goal to use this culinary platform to nourish the brains of brilliant individuals, expand their taste-buds, and also expose them to new ideas—lunchtime at Kirby might not be a class, but it does carry with it the ability to educate and inspire students. With our varied skills and backgrounds, I love how well we attend to these goals, much better as a complimentary team than we would be as three Mimas or three Tracys or Theresas. For as Tracy helms the menu each day creating the most mouth-watering meat dishes you have ever tasted, Mima manages to take time from teaching French in order to bring the French palate alive here at Kirby through incredible composed salads. And I make no tall order in boasting that you have not truly partook in the beauty of life until you have eaten Mima’s Caesar Salad. This semester break a jar of the dressing sits in my refrigerator and it could be the only condiment I care to consume all weekend. While most of you do not know me well at this point, these are not the type of compliments I give out freely, but these culinary women deserve them. Tracy’s awareness and knowledge of herbs, vegetables and nutrition coupled with her years of experience in creating unbelievable flavors allows Kirby to deliver food to students that will support them in accomplishing all of their various projects in the best way possible.
Along with the fortune of working with such lovely kitchen companions, I appreciate the creativity and appreciation for individuality that Georgiana Bruce Kirby fosters, which I find tends to seep from the student filled classrooms daily into our kitchen where we work preparing our masterpieces. This creative energy fueled my inspiration in creating the delicious brownies for the January Open House—the brownies that spurred Nancy’s daffodil gift.
The recipe I used was simple, as most recipes for great food are and should be, including only butter, dark chocolate, sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and vanilla, but so inspired by my own delight in food I added cinnamon and cardamom to the large batch before me. Mixing the spices in with the flour—more cardamom than cinnamon, the kitchen filled with the chai-spiced aroma. Tasting these brownies as I cut them into tiny triangles that afternoon, delight arose within me—they were sincerely the best brownies I had ever tasted (so far). The soft moist chocolate texture they embodied coupled with the unique spiced sweet flavor captured that unique, creative spirit that Georgiana Bruce Kirby fosters; they were the perfect representation to greet potential future students and parents, to give them a taste of the warmth and sweetness that lives within these walls. For those who wish to experience the delight that exists in these brownies, the recipe is below and for any who wish to experience the deliciousness that is comes out of the Kirby Kitchen we would love to have you visit us for lunch.
Cardamom Spiced Brownies (a Smitten Kitchen based recipe—one of my favorite blogs/sources!)
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
2-3 teaspoons Cardamom
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 ounces (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped roughly
1stick unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment so that the parchment extends over the sides of the pan; butter the parchment.
Mix the flour, cardamom, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or simply a heat proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Stir until just melted and remove from heat to whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs and then vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate and stir until blended. Pour the batter into a prepared pan and spread until even.
Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow brownies to cool before you cut them into squares (or triangles) and enjoy however you may wish…cold or warm with ice cream or an added dollop of homemade vanilla whipped cream.
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