Just like the first book, The Middle Years is all about the recipes from the TV series, but unlike the downloadable recipes on the Food Network site, there are tidbits about the shows, and a good sprinkling of the science and the detailed explanations of how and why things work. And there's a good bit of humor, too. When you least expect it, he tosses in a quick little one-liner, then goes back to business. Just like the show.
With any new cookbook, the tough decision is what to make first. Should it be something complicated, or should it be something simple? Savory or sweet? Something I'm familiar with or something completely new?
In the end, I settled for something simple and sweet. After all, Valentine's Day is just around to corner, so sweets are very appropriate.
4-Minute Peanut Butter Fudge
Adapted from Good Eats: The Middle Years by Alton Brown
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioner's sugar
Butter an 8-inch square pan. Fold (or trim) a piece of parchment paper so that it's eight inches wide. Place the parchment in the bottom of the pan, leaving the overhang on both sides so you can cover the fudge later.
Combine the peanut butter and the butter in a 4-quart microwave-safe bowl. Yes, that's a very big bowl for few ingredients. You'll need it, trust me. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the microwave, stir the ingredients, then re-cover the bowl and microwave for another 2 minutes. At this point the mixture will probably have bubbled up a lot (see, that's why you need the big bowl) and it will be very hot.
Remove the bowl from the microwave (carefully!) and add the sugar and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is incorporated. It will get thick and hard to stir.
Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and even out the top. Fold the parchment over the top of the fudge. Place it in the refrigerator to cool completely - about 2 hours. Cut into squares (about 1 inch square is nice) and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature.