Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ten questions for Sandy Pujji

I recently got the chance to review The Curry Leaf restaurant in Camarillo for the VC Reporter and the owner, Sandy Pujji, really made an impression on me. I guess I'm kinda nerdy and always interested in what drives chefs and business owners, so I followed up with a few questions. Here is what Sandy had to say:

1. Three adjectives that describe your cooking style? "Indian food served on our plates are the same you would find in any Indian restaurant back home in England. Simple blend of spices. And we listen to our customers as we are here for them."

2. Favorite food when you're at home? "Simple things like fried egg on toast and lamb biriyani"

3. Least favorite food? "Not a big fan of raw fish on rice"

4. Food that makes you swoon? "Cheesecake"

5. Food that takes you back to your childhood? "My mums cooking of course, but she rarely cooks now, owning 4 restaurants"

6. Any food that you are horrible at making? "No. Try, try, and try again and when that fails, try again."

7. Why did you get into the restaurant business? "My mums had tried to get me to America for 20 years and I told her and my brother 8 years ago [that I would] only if we could open an Indian restaurant . So we opened Spice avenue in Santa Barbara. Because America needed a decent Indian restaurant like we have back home in England."

8. Where do you get your inspiration? "I'm inspired by everything around me. Trends change so should you."

9. Favorite local restaurant? "Charm Thai Cuisine and P6 in Westlake"

10. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? "No idea , hopefully we are looking to open a THE CURRY LEAF in Thousand Oaks next year if things go good, full bar and lounge with restaurant, more up market." 25 years from now? "In good health"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Caramelized Onion and Hazelnut Salad

This one comes from dear Rachael Ray and her cookbook "2,4,6,8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds." I have Rachael and her TV shows to thank for getting me through lots and lots of feedings when my kids were infants and for teaching me that its okay to wing it and improvise in the kitchen sometimes. Watching her cook has given me the confidence to build recipes on my own, and has supplied me with an endless list of yummy recipes I'm still dying to try. This is one of my faves...perfect as a side or a main dish when topped with some chicken.
  • 1/2 cup whole peeled hazelnuts
  • 6 TBL extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 TBL balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 TBL Dijon mustard
  • 3 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 large cups baby spinach or another green of your choice
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 325. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes; your nose will know when they are done. Remove them from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. When cool, run your knife through them once to coarsely chop them.

While the nuts are toasting up, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 TBL olive oil. Add the onions, season with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Add 1 TBL of the balsamic vinegar and a big splash of water. Continue to cook about 1 minute, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove the onions from the pan and transfer to a bowl; stir in the remaining vinegar and the mustard. In a slow, steady stream, which the remaining 4 TBL olive oil into the onion dressing.

In a salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, baby spinach, chopped hazelnuts, and the blue cheese crumbles. Pour the caramelized onion dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 2.

Notes: This salad becomes a delicious meal when topped with grilled, sliced chicken breast. You can also substitute pecans or walnuts, if you can't find hazelnuts. And if you're feeding any more than a few people, I would suggest doubling the recipe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Follow up to Sandwiches Galore

Okay, so I got a little excited to create some of my own recipes for the Trader Joe's recipe contest. On two different evenings I pretended I was in some fancy food magazine test kitchen and played around with lots of different melty grilled sandwich creations. The kitchen was a mess, as was my apron, and the cleanup was overwhelming. But there was something fun and satisfying about it, like I was in the cooking Olympics (only I was alone and not exercising and there was bacon involved). Anyway, I submitted two recipes to the contest because I loved them both too much to show favoritism. The grilled bacon and brie with apples and brown sugar is gooey and sweet....the smokiness of the bacon and the caramel vibe from the brown sugar perfectly balance one another. In contrast, the "carnitas pannino" has the moist shredded pork, perfectly paired with the spiciness of the jalapeno bread and green salsa.

Sweet and Smokey Grilled Cheese
  • One package Trader Joe’s Naan
  • One package TJ's Apple Smoked Bacon, cooked until crisp and brown
  • One wedge of TJ's double or triple crème brie, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch slices
  • One Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • Brown sugar
Brush the outside of each piece of naan with a bit of olive oil. To layer sandwich: start with a piece of naan and top with a few slices of brie. Then add 3-4 slices of bacon (enough to cover the length and width of bread), a few apple slices (enough to cover the length and width of bread), sprinkle with approximately 2 TBL brown sugar, and then top with a few more slices of brie and then the remaining piece of naan. Cook in a big skillet over medium heat, approximately 3-5 minutes per side, pressing down with spatula or by placing a heavy pan on top, compressing the whole sandwich and sealing all the yummy ingredients in with the cheese. Once cheese is melted and bread is nicely browned, remove from heat and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes, cut and serve.

El Grande Carnitas Pannino
  • 1 loaf TJ's jalapeno cheddar bread
  • 1 package TJ's carnitas, heated according to package directions, shredded
  • ½ of a 8 oz. block Monterey jack cheese, shredded (should be around 2 cups)
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Piquillo peppers
  • Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde
Slice loaf in half cross-wise, creating a top and bottom of your giant sandwich. Brush the outside of each piece with a bit of olive oil. To layer sandwich, start by spreading half of the shredded cheese on the bottom. Top with the shredded carnitas – as much as you can squeeze on there without it toppling off (about half of the meat). Cut the roasted peppers in half or thirds, and lay those pieces on top of the carnitas. Sprinkle with the rest of the shredded cheese and then top with the other half of the bread loaf. Press down. Cook in a big skillet over medium heat, approximately 3-5 minutes per side, pressing down with spatula or by placing a heavy pan on top, compressing the whole sandwich and sealing all the yummy ingredients in with the cheese. Once cheese is melted and bread is nicely browned, remove from heat and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. Cut and serve with green salsa to enhance its deliciousness.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A new place to become a regular

Well, after a long wait, we've finally got a new restaurant in downtown Ventura, Sicily by Gino. After months of preparation and anticipation, owner Gino Milano finally took town the butcher paper covering the windows and opened the doors on Friday. To see more about the process and what drove him to open a restaurant in this economy, check out the article I wrote for the Ventura County Star.

He will be running this latest creation alongside his wife, Connie Milano. While Gino has been working hard to get Sicily opened, Connie has been overseeing all the daily operations at their other restaurant, Cucina Isabella, in Camarillo. Perhaps it is their warmth, their wonderful European accents, or their business smarts, but it is clear that people are drawn to the Milanos and to their restaurants. Their passion for food and business is both palpable and contagious.

As for the food, their pizzas will be simple and fresh, utilizing the family pizza dough recipe they use in all their restaurants: water, yeast, flour, and a little oil and salt. They will serve pannini, Sicilian style pizza by the slice, homemade tiramisu and cannoli. One of the house specialties will be a Sicilian stuffed pizza called Scacciata. The unique fluffy dough, made with milk and a touch of sugar, will be filled with goodies like ricotta and spinach and other fresh ingredients.

Gino envisions a place where he will know his customers and prepare the foods they ask for. It will be a place where Connie will entertain children and hold babies so parents can have a moment’s peace. And if it is anything like Cucina Isabella, it will be a place where their customers are like family. And, I, personally, hope to become a regular.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chef's Corner: Nancy Michali

Owner, Ojai Culinary Studio
315 N.Montgomery Street

Urban design to menu design. Subways to souffles. Los Angeles to Ojai. Nancy Michali has moved from one world to another and is pretty much loving every minute of it.

Ten years ago, Nancy Michali probably wouldn't have envisioned herself doing what she's doing now: running the quaint, adorable, and successful Ojai Culinary Studio. Yet after 20 years of working as an urban designer in Los Angeles, Michali was looking for a change. Having grown up around food in a Pennsylvania Dutch family and entertaining friends on a regular basis in LA, going to culinary school and moving to Ojai to open her own cooking school were somehow the logical next steps for her.

Open since 2006, Michali's business continues to evolve as she learns more about what her clients want and as the times change. She offers a variety of fun cooking classes to the community, from "Wine and Tapas," to "Italian Quick Gourmet," to ""Cooking with Trader Joe's." The cost of most of her classes is $45, and she usually has space for 12 students. For these classes, she draws clients from Ojai, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and even tourists visiting Ojai for the weekend.

The other chunk of her business comes from custom parties. Michali loves these because she knows exactly what the client wants and can perfectly tailor her class to that end goal. She provides a different type of party experience- one where a small group gathers to both socialize and learn new skills. She's done a class for a group that wanted to learn about souffles, another class on cooking with figs, and even done classes for corporate groups looking for a unique teambuilding experience. On the day I visited with her, Michali had just finished a party for a group of 22 women, a send off for their dear friend, Patti, who was moving away. They talked, learned a few things, prepared a few dishes, talked some more, drank some wine, and enjoyed a nice lunch and got to bask in the fruits of their labor.

Michali speaks about the "Experience Economy" and the notion that in this economy customers are seeking out memorable and transformative experiences more than ever. Her clients seem to be looking for more than a typical dining out experience where the chef prepares food behind closed kitchen doors. Perhaps they are seeking opportunities to expand their horizons, get their hands dirty, or want to take a new skill or a new recipe home with them. And in these tough times, Michali explains that people have different interests and "don't want to cook gourmet." While they can't afford to dine out as much, they still want to eat well and want to make great simple fresh food at home, and she's the perfect teacher.

So why does she do it? Because of the people she gets to meet. As she explains,"Food and wine bring out the best in people." And it must be the relationships she builds, with both regular and one time clients, that keeps her going during the long hours of running her own business. She also strives to illuminate the relationship between using local ingredients and good taste. She stresses that if you start with truly fresh ingredients like broccolini from Oxnard or fruit from the produce stand on Baldwin Road, then they only need minimal preparation to taste really great because their freshness speaks for itself.

So whats ahead for Nancy Michali? She's bringing in a few local cookbook authors and their unique expertise, check them out:
  • June 14th - A cooking class with Komali Nunna, Camarillo resident and author of "Entertaining from an Ethnic Indian Kitchen"
  • June 21st- Grilling with Dad
  • June 28th-Lavender themed lunch

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I simply can't resist....

Its been a while since I've sung my usual love song for Trader Joe's, but tonight I tasted something new, and felt a kick in the pants from my tastebuds to share it with the world: their Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches. I originally bought them for my husband, trying to appease his sweet tooth and love for chocolaty treats. I didn't really even remember they were in the freezer, and didn't even feel compelled to eat one (which is very uncharacteristic for me).

Then, tonight, he let something slip....a passing comment, veiled in a goofy smile, about how I'd better not eat any of the ice cream sandwiches. Hmmmm....this piqued my interest and curiousity, like even though his conscious mind didn't want to share them with me, his subliminal mind knew I just couldn't miss out.

When I opened the clear cellophane wrapper, I was first shocked at the size of the sandwich, then thrilled by the giant chocolate chips poking out of the doughy looking cookies, and then amazed by all the little chocolate chips pressed into the vanilla ice cream. The combo of the soft cookie, the smoothness of the ice cream and the crunch of the chocolate chips is just perfect. I must have muttered "wow!" a bunch of times as I tried to eat it slowly and savor every bit. And I kept glancing over to my husband while I ate, trying to express my gratitude with my eyes and my chewing smile , for I almost missed out on this ice cream treat.

Events, changes, and more

As always, there's lots going on around here if you know where to go, what to do, and when. Check these out:

Paradise Pantry
Thursday, May 21st a tasting of wines from Paso Winery Tablas Creek. Tasting fee: $10
Thursday, June 11th- a tasting of wines from Carr Winery and the chance to Meet Ryan Carr.

Ojai Valley Lavender Festival
Saturday, June 27th, 10am-5pm
Libbey Park, Ojai

Ojai Culinary Studio
Sunday, June 28th, 1:30pm
Take a break from the festival and pop over to this lovely little cooking school for a lavender themed lunch, where you will learn, cook, and enjoy dishes infused with the joys of lavender.

The Cave at Ventura Wine Company
Lots of delicious changes going on here. They've added a patio, champagne, and beers from the Island Brewing Company. They've also made some changes to their small plates menu- and added such delights as Braised Savory Duck with Asian Stir-Fry; Crimini Mushroom, Shallot and Gruyere Pizza; and Charred Atlantic Salmon Cake with Lemon-Basil Aioli.

Bagel Rock Coffee
It appears that their second location (Telephone and Petit) has sadly gone out of business. Alas, you can still get their delicious, chewy, and perfectly gigantic bagels at their location in Midtown on Main Street. This quirky little spot has a great variety of favorite sweet one being the peanut butter and my favorite savory one is the cheese. Their sandwiches and coffee are superb as well. The owners are sweet, friendly, and accomodating and the atmosphere is super chill.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We're about to get fresh and easied

Foodies, get your shopping shoes on- soon there's going to be a new game in town. Its called Fresh and Easy.

The brain child of British company Tesco, Fresh and Easy wants to be your neighborhood market. Their stores, which are reportedly smaller than your traditional grocery store, aim to be affordable and convenient and yummy. As I perused their website, I saw a delicious-almost- homemade- looking apple pie (made without preservatives or added trans-fats) for $3.99. They also advertised a twelve-pack of Taurino Cerveza (aka twelve beers!) for $6.99 and three apples or two green peppers for 98 cents. Irresistible prices, especially if all these things are fresh and actually taste good. A review on the Los Angeles Times, praises it for its cool atmosphere, convenience, product selection, and prepared foods. They also describe it as a blend between Trader Joe's and Ralphs. For those of us living in the Ventura area, we will have many opportunities to judge for ourselves in the coming months:

First, a store will be opening at 1750 E. Channel Islands Boulevard in Oxnard. This store is far enough along that its officially posted on the company website and has started hiring.

Also, according to the Ventura County Star, the city of Ventura approved the development for "Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in the 2200 block of East Thompson Boulevard, at Jordan Avenue." They reported that "Evergreen Development wants to build a 15,300-square-foot, single-story Fresh & Easy at the site. "

And finally, most exciting to me since I'll be able to walk there, is the Fresh and Easy that will be going in at a new development at Telegraph and Day Road (according to the Hagelis Group's website). Demolition on the site (old gas station, Mexican restaurant, nursery, and coffee shop) has already begun!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Locals drink local wine

Searching for an excuse to have some girlfriends over for a party, I decided to host a wine tasting. We did a blind tasting of 7 local red wines. Here is what I learned:

  • Do choose a theme. I chose local red wines under $15, and defined for my guests what I meant by local (Santa Barbara, Ojai and Santa Ynez area).
  • Do research if your theme is actually a realistic one. After going to my local wine store, I realized it was hard to find bottles from the local area under $20. And, after reading the fine print on my own purchased bottle from a Santa Barbara winery, I came to realize that the grapes were actually grown and vinted in Napa Valley.
  • Do have people post their wines (we did this through the Evite invitation) as they purchase them to avoid duplicates, especially if you have chosen a narrow category as I did.
  • Do have lots of food on hand to counter the effects of the wine consumption. I didn't worry too much about serving foods that went with the wine, I simply chose foods I thought we would enjoy eating. I served Rosemary Roasted Walnuts (see below for recipe from, a pesto pizza, oreo truffles, and some other goodies that my friends were kind enough to bring.
  • Don't pour giant pours. As we went through the evening and tasted seven different red wines, it quickly hit me that we would never make it to number 7 sober if I kept pouring large pours.
  • Don't be hesitant to pour out the wine after you taste it. For many of my girlfriends this was hard to do, and completely counter intuitive. "What, pour out good wine?!" But if you want to be able to taste and appreciate #7 as much as you did #1, then pour away.
  • Don't be too rigid. As we started off the evening, we were all keeping notes on our scorecards and tasting a new wine every 10 minutes or so and talking about things like tannin and body. As the evening wore on, we sometimes lost track and noticed our senses dulling a bit. But since the main goal was to have fun and drink wine with good friends, I didn't sweat it.

So, what did we find? While there wasn't a huge consensus, the group favorite was definitely the Casa Barranca 2006 Syrah ($20). Made with organic grapes grown at Harmon Vineyard in Santa Barbara County, it solicited a lot of 'wows' and 'yums' from the group.

Rosemary Roasted Walnuts
  • 5 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary coarsely chopped
  • 4 tsp kosher salt (I recommend using closer to 3 tsp)
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place the nuts on a baking sheet. Add remaining ingredients and mix with your hands to evenly coat.
  3. Bake until nuts are browned and toasted, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet, transfer to a bowl, and serve.

Sandwiches Galore

As many of you know, I'm an avid Trader Joe's fan....dreaming up wonderful concoctions using their foods and always anxiously awaiting the arrival of new products. So, you can probably imagine that I would be thrilled beyond thrilled to enter their annual recipe contest this year. For this year's contest, they are looking for a to-die-for sandwich recipe using only four Trader Joe's ingredients (I guess the bread and binders don't really count). So, until then, we will be trying lots of yummy sandwich concoctions in our house, until I find one that is just right. Stay tuned....I'll be posting about my progress- the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Submissions are due by May get cookin'!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Looking ahead...Foodie Events

Wow, I just got an email from the folks at Outstanding in the Field, and they are now hosting one of their amazing farm dinners with Chef Tim Kilcoyne of the Sidecar restaurant at McGrath Farm in Camarillo on June 20th. As their website explains,"Outstanding in the Field events feature a leisurely tour of the hosting farm followed by a five course, farm-style dinner at our long table set in a scenic spot. Dinner is accompanied by a wine paired with each course. Diners are joined at the table by the farmer, food producers, a winemaker and other local artisans associated with the meal." While the price is steep ($200), if you can swing it somehow, this is a must-do for anyone who considers themself a true foodie and supporter of local produce and local business. Tickets go on sale this Friday, May 8th at 9am.

Also, looking ahead is the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard May 16th-17th. If you want to participate in a strawberry pie eating contest, learn about growing your own strawberries, listen to live music, let your kids ride the rides and meet Strawberry Shortcake, then this is the event for you. If you're looking for more of a grown-ups only kind of outing, The Casa Pacifica Angels Wine and Food Festival is coming up on June 7th, from 1pm-5pm. This promises to be a wonderful gathering of great chefs, restaurants, wineries, breweries and entertainment. For you true foodies out there, the big draw will be the serious culinary showdown between a number of locally known chefs, including Fabio Viviani from Top Chef (Cafe Firenze, Moorpark). Judging the contest will be a number of the food and wine writers from the Ventura County Star, a chef, and strangely, Jerry Mathers from "Leave it to Beaver." Tickets are $75 each.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Yummy yogurt that won't break the bank

Wild Cherry Frozen Yogurt
5100 Telegraph Road, Ventura, 644-5507

Okay, I've heard the hype, but I still haven't tried Pinkberry or Tutti Frutti. Yet now, after discovering a wonderful little place on Telegraph Road, I'm pretty sure I don't need to. Open for six months now, Wild Cherry Frozen Yogurt is a true find, and given that it is in walking distance of my house, I am beyond thrilled. What drew me in is the huge banner hanging on the storefront that reads: "33 cents per ounce." I don't know how many ounces are in a regular cup of ice cream or yogurt, but this had to be more affordable than the $12 I spent the last time I went to Ben & Jerry's with my children.

Tucked into an unassuming strip mall, Wild Cherry is a neat little spot- decorated in bright colors and filled with modern metal tables and funky brightly colored plastic chairs. The yogurt is self-serve, so after reading the instructions (choose cup, fill with yogurt, add toppings, pay) we tried to choose from the variety of yummy options. Fat-free vanilla, fat-free chocolate, tangy yogurt, green tea, strawberry, mango, fat-free cheesecake, and peanut butter were among the offerings. My five year-old chose peanut butter and topped his with mini m&ms and my three year-old chose strawberry topped with marshmallows. Believe me, spooning on their own toppings may very well have been the highlight of their day. I, too, was in heaven since I was able to serve myself lots of little tastes in my cup - caffe mocha, cheesecake, and peanut butter because I simply could not resist.

All of the flavors were wonderful - the strawberry had the perfect tang of the berry flavor coupled with a nice subtle kick of true yogurt flavor. The peanut butter tasted just like creamy peanut butter ice cream, and the caffe mocha reminded me of Starbucks. And as I sat there savoring every bite, I couldn't believe how cheap (and I mean that in a good way) this fun little outing was. After weighing all three yogurt cups, our total came to $4.89! This is a great destination if you're looking for a healthy yet affordable treat for your kids that tastes more than decadent.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Going to the Grape Farm

Winery + kids = not such a smart idea, right? Well, yesterday I took my kids to Old Creek Ranch Winery in Ojai, and it was actually a success. I had been looking for an activity and had been curious about this winery for years, having seen the signs off Route 33 every time I've been up to Ojai. They enjoyed our visit to McGrath farm last week, so I explained to them that this week we were going to a "Grape Farm" so mommy could buy some wine (for my upcoming local wine tasting) and so we could have a picnic. They were excited, especially because they were hoping to eat a lot of grapes.

After turning off the 33 onto Old Creek Road, the road meanders and curves, lined with beautiful houses (both big and small), stretches of stone wall, and colorful flowers. When the road ends at the winery, visitors are greeted by fields of grapes, a few quaint little buildings, and the most beautiful landscaping - from roses and irises to lavender and poppies. A little anxious about how the kids might behave, we went into the tasting room. There were a few other people tasting the wines, so we kept our stay brief. I tasted the 2005 Merlot ($18.50), from grapes grown in the Santa Ynez Valley, purchased a bottle, and asked if it was okay to have a picnic. The gentleman working the tasting offered a tablecloth, bottle opener, and wine glasses, but I explained that we wouldn't need a thing, and that we were more of a peanut butter and jelly kind of crowd.

We ate our lunch outside in the warm sunshine at one of the nice picnic tables on their patio. The kids asked about the big wine barrels, which prompted a fun discussion of how wine is made. "Grape juice turns into wine," I explained. They were pondering how we could sneak in and eat some grapes, but were quickly distracted by a cat wandering around. As they followed the cat, I sat enjoying the surroundings, knowing it was a bit chilly and cloudy back home in Ventura, happy to have found another fun and picturesque picnic destination. Next time I'm going to take my husband so he can watch the kids outside while I taste more of their wines inside.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Best Peanut Butter Cake

I never turn down dessert. Some may call that a flaw, some may call that endearing. Anyway, I recently declined a piece of cake at my friend's son's birthday party. Later that night as we were debriefing the party over the phone (as we moms often do), she asked me about it, knowing there was something behind my shocking decline of a slice of chocolate cake. "Laurel," I confessed, "the reason I didn't have any of Jack's cake is that I'm totally having a love affair with another cake." I didn't have any of his cake because sitting at home, I had leftovers of my son's birthday cake. They were calling to me every day, encouraging me to plan all of my eating so that I would have room for a piece. This dense, moist Peanut Butter Cake with thick and fudgy chocolate icing is my favorite cake of all time, and actually pretty easy to make. Happy eating!

Cousin Kelly's Peanut Butter Cake
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBL baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream butter and peanut butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13x9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Ice with chocolate frosting and cut into squares (makes 15 squares).

Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Combine the chocolate chips, half-and-half, and butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and blend in powdered sugar. Set saucepan in bowl of ice water and beat with a hand mixer at medium speed until the frosting holds its shape. You have to mix the frosting for a pretty long time- the texture will change when its ready and it will be thicker and more fudge like.