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Chocolate Idiot Cake

I recently bought David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert and have been itching to make something from it for a while. He explains that he needed to create cake to an idiot proof cake but used a nicer name and decided to called it Chocolate Orbit Cake. I much prefer the former than the latter since I was feeling rather stupid today due to a head cold.

Chocolate Idiot Cake (Adapted from David Lebovitz)

12 oz chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet) chopped
1 c butter (2 sticks)
6 eggs
1 c sugar
1t vanilla

Grease a 9" springform pan and cover the outside with foil. Set aside. Heat chocolate and butter in 10-second bursts in the microwave or over a double boiler. Set aside. Whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Whisk in chocolate. Pour into springform pan. Cover with foil. Place in a roasting pan. Pour warm water into roasting pan until it reaches half-way up the springform pan. Bake at 350 1hr 15 min or until just set. (When you touch the center, your finger should come aw…

Sunken Again

As you can see I still haven't given up on this recipe. It still tastes good but still sinks. I tried to use buttermilk instead of sour cream. Remember, I did try it in the mini-pans and they worked better. I forgot to try it this time using chilled egg and butter. Oh well, chocolate cake again it is.

Vodka Grasshopper

Thank you, Mr. Boston, for yet another inspirational cocktail.

Vodka Grasshopper (adapted from Mr. Boston)

1oz creme de menthe
1oz creme de cocoa
1oz vodka
2T heavy cream
dash of mint bitters (optional)

Shake well over ice and strain.

This appears in both the old and newer versions of Mr. Boston. It is such an old-timey drink. The dash of mint bitters gives it the slight green color. The bitters are purely optional. The Sous Chef is a bit bitters mad so we have many different flavors hanging around and thought this might be a nice addition to this drink.

This was tasty but I think I prefer a mudslide with a splash of creme de menthe (recipe forthcoming). But then again chocolate is my thing! I do like mint so this does make a refreshing change.

It's a Boy!

Maybe it's not a boy? Either way my knife has a great new addition. A paring knife. I did not think that I needed a new paring knife but then Misen sent a survey about how I liked the chef's knife. They gave me 20% off any purchase just for answering a few questions about a knife I love. So why not? This baby is sharp, efficient, and comfortable to use.

FYI: I still have not made any decisions about sharpening. I've just been honing the chef's knife and so far so good.

Date & Walnut in Bacon

Sorry there are no pictures for this recipe. I was very delinquent. They're really easy to make. They actually don't look so impressive anyway but they have that savory/sweet thing going on - yum!

Date & Walnut in Bacon

24 dates, pitted
24 walnuts
24 slices of bacon
toothpicks

Insert walnut into date. Wrap with slice of bacon and secure with toothpicks. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp. You might need to pour off some of the fat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: that these are very loose quantities. I usually go by how many dates come in the package and go from there (or until the bacon is used up).

You might be tempted to go with less than a full slice of bacon. DO NOT! The bacon shrinks and it will be skimpy - trust me.

These are great made ahead and reheated.

Easter 2017

OK - so I'm a bit late with this post. House guests and all that...

Now that I have your attention, here's what was on the menu this year:

Kielbasi & Sauerkraut *
Oatmeal Clafoutis
French Toast **
Potato Kugel
Irish Oatmeal Salad
Roasted Vegetable Galette
Savory Bread Pudding
Leek & Ricotta Frittata
Date & Walnuts in bacon***
Chocolate Mousse Cake


By the way I have received 3 Michelin Stars for Easter Dinner. I'm not quite sure that this is official but...

*This time juniper berries and caraway seeds were included in the ferment
**I was daring and used Brioche instead of potato bread - it was excellent
***No pics and no postings. I will have to post the recipe without the pics.

Carrot & Potato Soup

I can be such a sucker for soup. Some days you just need soup. Nothing else will warm you up. A nice cuppa tea might work for a little while, but soup has the sustaining power.

Carrot & Potato Soup (Adapted from Ciao Italia)

3 leeks, chopped
olive oil
3 1/2 c vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4 medium carrots, grated
2 potatoes, grated
pinch cinnamon
lemon zest
lemon juice
splash of white balsamic vinegar (optional)
Salt/Pepper

Saute leek with salt in olive oil until softened. Add stock and bay leaf. Bring stock to boil. Add the carrots and potato and cook until softened (about 7-10 minutes). Discard bay leaf. Puree soup until smooth. Stir in cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice (and balsamic if using).

I added a little white balsamic vinegar. I found the lemon juice added some flavor but not enough. It needed a little more acid. This soup cooks so quickly because the potato and carrot are grated. Yes, you might have to pull that food processor out, but how else can you have soup in a…

Tomato Kugel?

Yes, we break the rules here. This technically is not a Flash Back Friday (FBF) because I've added in a few more ingredients - so does that make it Alternative Tuesday?

To the Potato Kugel recipe, I added oregano, basil, garlic, and 1 pint of grape tomatoes that were quartered.  Magic happens in the oven and you get a Tomato Kugel.

Chocolate Mousse

At first, I was not impressed with this recipe. I thought the egg whites didn't rise whisk up that meringue-y. It didn't look that impressive. I tasted it and it was OK. The second time I tasted it, I thought hmm better. By the third taste, I was sold. What first attracted me to this recipe was that it said you could make it up to a week in advance (like chocolate would have a chance to last a week in my house -HAH!)

Chocolate Mousse (Adapted from Epicurious)

10 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped*
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 c heavy cream
3 egg whites**
1 c confectioner's sugar, sifted

Place chocolate in bowl, and sprinkle with salt and add vanilla. Set aside. In a saucepan heat heavy cream to just simmering. Pour over chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and is a smooth glossy texture.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl whisk egg whites on highest speed until frothy. Continue until soft peaks form. Add sugar 1T at a time until stiff peaks form. It should be smoot…

Butterscotch Pudding

I had leftover egg yolks* (and you know how I hate to have leftover whites or yolks) so I was on a quest to find a use for them. I had to adapt because most of the pudding recipes I found wanted either 6 yolks (if I went with this, then I would have extra whites - it could never end!) or whole eggs. So off adapting I went...

Butterscotch Pudding (Adapted from David Lebovitz)

4T butter
1 c brown sugar
3/4 t salt
3 T cornstarch
2 1/2 c milk
3 egg yolks
2 t whiskey or bourbon
1 t vanilla

Whisk together in a small bowl cornstarch with 1/4 c milk until smooth. Then whisk in egg yolks.  Set aside. Melt butter in sauce pan and add brown sugar and salt. Stir until sugar is well moistened. Remove from heat. Gradually pour in remaining milk to butter/sugar mixture - whisking non-stop. Whisk in cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minute (or until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot …

FBF - Sourdough Pizza

I used this recipe again except instead of using a pizza pan I used my new cast iron round griddle. I greased it with a little olive oil. It slide out of the pan like a charm. The crust was nicely browned. This round griddle is certainly a keeper. I had hesitated buying it because I wasn't sure I would use is since I already have a square griddle (which is great for grilled cheese and pancakes). I'm starting to think I might need to get rid of the square griddle and just keep the round one?

Waffled Hash Browns

I'm not that much of a fan of one-trick ponies taking up real estate in my kitchen. I know that a waffle iron can be classified as that, but now I can rationalize that it's not. Who knew you could make hash browns in it?

Waffled Hash Browns (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/2 lb russet potato (shredded)
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 t garlic powder
1 1/2T butter, melted

Preheat waffle iron. Squeeze liquid out of potatoes by blotting between two paper towels. Toss potatoes, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Brush both sides of the waffle iron with butter. Spread potatoes evenly on waffle iron. Close and cook 2 minutes. Press iron closed completely and cook about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
I did not feel that they browned as nicely as in the picture on the original recipe, but then again I don't have a food stylist do I? The drawback of this recipe is that you have to share this. Since they take about 15 minutes, it's a little difficult to make a second one. I guess you…

The Grappa Report

Once upon a time, we made Limoncello. We used straight-grain alcohol (which we had to buy in a different state because it was not sold it ours!). It was firewater. We tried to pawn it off on unsuspecting friends and relatives. It did not work.

So when friends of ours said they wanted to share some Grappa that they had received from a friend, I was slightly suspicious. It was a little firewater-ish but not as much as the Limoncello.

We decided to try to infuse it with some flavors - star anise, cinnamon, and blueberry. We got mixed results:

Star Anise - was the most successful. It mellowed its sharpness.  Cinnamon - We left the cinnamon in for about a week. I think it was too long. It left a very woody taste. Perhaps, less infusion time would have given a better result. Blueberry - We thought if we mashed the blueberries, they would make the Grappa murky. So we first put them in whole. Nothing happened. We then cut them in half. Then the Grappa began to color a pretty shade. The bluebe…

FBF - Not Dry Irish Soda Bread

I thought this would be an appropriate FBF (Flash Back Friday) since today is St. Patrick's Day. I promise you that this is Not Dry Irish Soda Bread. I know, I know everyone says theirs is not dry. But the secret here is sour cream. This time I used my cast iron skillet instead of my cast iron dutch oven. It took a little less than an hour, as I think it is slightly larger than my dutchie. I used golden raisins and regular raisins. I did a slightly different take on this recipe here.

Seedy Oat Crackers

I've been wanting to make these for a while. First I didn't have the chia and sunflower seeds. Then I foolishly assumed I had raw pumpkin seeds in the cabinet - NOT. So it took a little while to finally get them done. They were worth the wait.

Seedy Oat Crackers (Adpated from BonAppetit)

1 c old fashioned oats
3/4 c pumpkin seeds (raw)
1/3 c sunflower seeds (raw)
1/3 c sesame seeds
3T chia seeds
3T poppy seeds
3T flaxseed
1t salt (kosher)
4t canola oil
2T maple syrup
3/4 c water

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. Let sit 10 minutes. Form a ball (mine wasn't much of a ball). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place another sheet of parchment on top. Roll out to about 1/8" thick. Remove top layer of parchment and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 until the edges are browned. Remove from oven and carefully turn cracker over. I found it easier to flip it onto another baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until edges a…

Millionaire's Shortbread

I have to admit I never heard of Millionaire's Shortbread before. To me, this is just a bar cookie. OK not "just" a bar cookie. Quite a good bar cookie. There's a lot of flavor packed in there (also a lot of butter). I will be definitely making this again.

Millionaire's Shortbread (Adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

Crust:
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
3/4 t salt
2 sticks butter (16 T), melted
1t vanilla

Filling:
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c corn syrup
1 stick butter (8T)
1/2 t salt

Topping:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (separated 6 oz and 2 oz)

Line a 13x9 pan with aluminum foil. Set aside. Combine flour sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla. Spread evenly in the foil-lined pan. Pierce the dough at 1 inch intervals with a fork. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until lightly brown. Place on cooling rack and press entire surface down firmly using a spatula (I did not find that mine had that much of a rise that it needed this, but I d…

Pasta in Clam Sauce

I'm going to let you in on a secret - don't be horrified but sometimes I use canned clams (GASP!). If you buy good quality canned clams, they can be quite good.

Pasta in Clam Sauce

1lb Pasta
3 cloves garlic, minced
3T olive oil (additional for drizzle on top)
1/2 c white wine
8oz canned clams and juice
1/4 c chopped parsley
salt/pepper
Lemon wedge
Bread for dipping

Add garlic and olive oil to a saucepan. Heat garlic until fragrant. Add wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add clams and cook until heated through. Add parsley, salt/pepper, and squeezed lemon wedge. Serve over pasta. Drizzle with olive oil.

This comes together so quickly and I think the best part is sopping up the liquid with the bread.  Just make sure you buy good quality canned clams.



Shredded Butternut Squash

This recipe will make you slap yourself on the forehead and say "why didn't I think of that." It should be called Shredded Butternut Squash - DUH!

Butternut squash is so delicious but it just takes so darn long to cook. The peeling can be a pain but the most tedious part I find is the actual cooking. Well, that was until I saw Sara Moulton cooking it on her PBS show. It almost looks like rice with saffron.

Shredded Butternut Squash (Adapted from Sara Moulton)

1 medium butternut squash
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
6 mint leaves, shredded
1/3 c pistachios, chopped
4 dates, chopped
salt/pepper
3 T lemon juice

Peel the squash and grate it in the food processor (or by hand - which will take longer!). Set aside. Saute shallots in olive oil for about 1 minute. Add squash and cook on medium-high heat. Stirring for about 3 minutes or until squash is tender. You will find the texture changes when it is done. Stir in mint, pistachio, dates, salt/pepper, and lemon juice.…

Rotisserie Chicken vs Faux-tisserie Chicken

I know I've disappeared for a while. February has been a bit crazy. I've been cooking - visiting old favorites like pierogies, sourdough chocolate waffles, and potato kugel and tested a few not so good new ones.  I also have another batch of sauerkraut fermenting. So things have been busy. I think I've been a little lazy about posting. But I promise you this one was worth the wait (were you really waiting??).


Faux-tisserie Chicken (Adapted from BonAppetit)

2 t fennel seeds
1/4 t red pepper flakes*
2 T majoram, and 4 sprigs
2T thyme, and 4 sprigs
1T salt
1/2 t pepper
3T olive oil
about 3lb whole chicken
1 lemon, quartered
1 head garlic, halved
Grind fennel and pepper in a mortar and pestle. Combine with other herbs, salt/pepper and olive oil. Rub chicken inside and out with the spice mixture. Stuff lemon, garlic, marjoram, and thyme sprigs into the chicken. Place on rimmed baking dish and cook for 3 hours at 300. Baste chicken every hour, until tender and browned.

This chic…

Sourdough Boule

What is it about bread baking that just makes you feel all warm inside? It was cold; it was gloomy; it was a day to bake bread! This recipe is best for a day you plan on just bumming around the house. You will need to let the starter sit for a bit before making the bread.

Sourdough Boule (Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

1/2 c sourdough starter, unfed
1/2 c flour
1/4 c water

1- 1 1/4 c water
1 1/2 t yeast
3 1/2 c bread flour
1c old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c sunflower seeds*
2 t salt
1-2 T flaxseed

The sourdough starter should be straight from the refrigerator. Add flour and water to the starter. Cover and let it sit for 2-3 hours until it starts to puff up a bit.

Add yeast and 1 cup of water. It should have a loose consistency but not shouldn't look like just colored water. Add additional water as needed. Stir in yeast, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Add flour, oats, sunflower seeds and salt. Knead by hand or in mixer until soft adding additional flour as needed. Cover and l…

Nutella Brownies

Take a deep dive into chocolate. Not only do these have chocolate but they also have Nutella. Why is it with just the mention of Nutella, your mouth automatically waters. As much as I hate to admit, it really isn't the highest quality of chocolate, but there is something about it.

Nutella Brownies (Adapted from Handle the Heat)

1 c semisweet chocolate chips
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 T butter, cut into pieces
1 c Nutella
1 1/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t Frangelica
3/4 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 t salt

Line a 8x8 pan with foil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate, and butter. Microwave in 15 second bursts until melted. Stirring until mixture is smooth. Stir in Nutella and set aside to slightly cool.

In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar until light and thick (about 3 minutes). Beat in vanilla and Frangelica. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gently fold in flour, cocoa, and salt. Pour into pan and bake at 350 for about 35-40 minu…

Margaret’s Maple Sugar Pie

This recipe started calling me. I'm such a sucker for brown sugar-don't know what it is about brown sugar. The Sous Chef is a sucker for all things maple. So I made it and this is where I got the recipe from.

Those of you that are astute will note that there isn't any maple syrup or maple sugar in there. Puzzling no? Yet it tastes mapley.  Now I know making a crust can be a big pain. Crusts are definitely not my favorite thing BUT I must say it is well worth the effort. I did a crisscross pattern with a fork on the edge.

A few comments about this recipe: Mine was definitely not as dark as the picture from the recipe. I did use light brown sugar. My oven is usually a bit slow but the pie filling set up by the 45 minutes. I suggest checking it around 40 minutes. Next time I would use a deep-dish pie pan. I had leftover filling which did not go to waste...
I used Knob Creek Smokey Maple Bourbon. I'm sure it did contribute some of the maple flavoring but definitely not al…

Orecchiette Carbonara

I've made Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts before but this time I thought I'd do it without the Brussels Sprouts and use bacon - since the Sous Chef was smoking up a batch today.

Orecchiette Carbonara (Adapted from Carols Cafe Pasta Sauces)*

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 head of garlic, slightly smashed
1 onion, sliced thinly
6oz prosciutto diced  (or in this case freshly made bacon)
4 eggs
1/2 c heavy cream
1 c Parmesan, grated
ground nutmeg
freshly ground pepper
1lb pasta
reserved pasta water

In a large skillet heat butter and olive oil. Cook garlic until lightly golden. Remove from pan and set aside. Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta. Add onion to the skillet and cook until caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside. Add prosciutto and saute a little. Remove from heat. Add onions and garlic back to the skillet. Whisk together eggs, heavy cream, Parmesan, nutmeg, and pepper. (Add more pepper than you think).  Depending on your timing, you might need to reheat the onion m…

Pile of Cake?

OH BOY! What a stuck mess. I saw that 2017 is the year of the bundt. Hey, I had lemons, I had a bundt pan so I decided to go for it. Well as you can see mine looks nothing like a bundt. It's just a pile of cake. Yes, it is a delicious pile but nonetheless a pile. I greased the pan using spray and I think that was my downfall. I should have used butter? (or Crisco - I know it's pretty gross but it does usually get the job done).

I've been here before as you might recall. I thought I had set aside my bundt issues. I had purchased a new pan and was ready to go. I did make a chocolate bundt in this new pan successfully before. So what went wrong?? I'm not sure?

What happens when you are left with a pile of lemon cake? I guess you make "lemonade" and you eat it? Portion control is challenging, however. I will give this bundt pan another go but it might be the last bundt or I might just have to stick (pun intended) to my mini-bundt pans.

Braised Short Ribs

I was once again cruising around for a nice rib-sticking recipe for short ribs. A braise usually fits in well with rib-sticking so that's what I was looking for. I thought about Sous Vide but most of the recipes involved 24 hours. I might try that another time but I was looking for something for dinner that night. The recipe amounts for were not really specific for this recipe so I went with my own ideas.

Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from BonAppetit)

1T canola oil
3lbs English cut beef short ribs
salt/pepper
4 carrots, cut in rounds
1 onion, cut in chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
28oz can whole tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
Red wine (about 2 cups)
1lb pasta - wide such as fetuccine or pappardelle
Parmesan Cheese

Heat a large dutch oven. Salt and pepper the ribs on both sides (be generous with the salt). Add oil to dutch oven until it shimmers. Brown all sides of ribs. Remove and set aside. Add carrots and onions and cook until brown. Add garlic saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add…

Caramel Chicken

I was browsing around looking for a chicken recipe. I wanted something that was pretty simple to make but sort of homey and rib-sticking. This worked well.
Caramel Chicken (Adapted from Epicurious).

2 T oil
salt/pepper
3lb whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c water
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c rice vinegar
2 1/4"-thick slices peeled ginger
1 c chicken stock
1/4  soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
white rice (for serving)

Salt/pepper chicken. Heat oil in dutch oven and brown chicken in batches (each side about 6-8 minutes). Set chicken aside. Pour off some of the fat and heat garlic until lightly browned (about 2 minutes). Deglaze pan with water (scraping up the fond) over high heat. Add brown sugar and stir until thickened and dark (about 4 minutes). Add vinegar, ginger, chicken stock, and soy sauce. Add chicken back to pot. Bring to boil, lower and simmer 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken from pan and heat liquid until reduced and c…

Chocolate Mousse Cake

I made this for Christmas Eve.  Yeah I know I'm a bit behind in posting - what with the girls home and the cooties quarantine (what is it with flying and catching a cold?). I was going to make some little chocolate Christmas trees to top off the cake but got lazy. I thought I wasn't going to like the mini-chocolate chips mixed in with the mousse but it did really add to the cake.

Chocolate Mousse Cake (Adapted from Cooking Pleasures)

Crust:
2 c chocolate cookies crumbs
6T butter, melted
3/4 c mini chocolate chips* (semisweet)

Filling:
2 t water
1t instant coffee granules
2 1/4 c heavy cream (divided)
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 c sugar
1 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c butter
1 t vanilla
1 c mini chocolate chips (semisweet)

Topping:
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3T confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla
1 c mini chocolate chips (semisweet)

Spray 9" springform pan with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl stir cookie crumbs, melted butter, and mini ch…