Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I read a lot of blogs...and by a lot, I mean about eleventy hundred! And I find many to be so beautiful, so inspiring, and so delicious looking...however, I have yet to come across a recipe that blows my mind so much that I immediately jump off the couch...off of my cozy heating pad (where I do most of my blog reading and writing)...and head to the kitchen to immediately whip up whatever I have just read about. But that all changed today when I saw a flourless chocolate cake from Everyday Food.
Common this time of year, flourless desserts are served during Passover, as flour and leavening are verboten. The lack of flour makes this cake pure fudgey bliss. That, coupled with the fact that the recipe contains only four ingredients (four!) and comes together so quickly makes this a total winner. It's liked baked mousse...like chocolate clouds....like heaven on a spoon. Run, don't walk, to your kitchen and whip some up too! And do not forget to lick the bowl.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Everyday Food
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: serves 8
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut in small cubes
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a small saucepan (or in a microwave for about a minute), whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
3. Separate eggs, placing the egg whites in a large bowl and the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate. Whisk yolks into the chocolate until thoroughly combined.
4. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, beating continuously, until stiff and glossy peaks form. Whisk about a quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then add the chocolate mixture to the bowl with the egg whites, folding gently until totally combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until set in the middle. It will still jiggle slightly. Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. You can expect to deflate somewhat. Remove from pan, dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
So, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty into this whole spring thing. The rains in Southern California seem to be over for the most part, leaving in their wake lots of green grass and one heck of a happy garden. The tomatoes have suffered a bit, I'm sad to say. But who gets tomatoes in March anyway? (We do....shhh). But other than that, signs of happy, healthy life are everywhere!
Fortunately, I love, love, love spring produce! I love asparagus, fresh herbs and peas. I love strawberries, sweet baby lettuces, pea shoots and squash blossoms. And the farmers' market in these parts is full to the brim with offerings....but not so much with people. Where are you guys? It's too beautiful to shop indoors!! It's too beautiful to eat indoors! It's too beautiful to be indoors, really. And with Daylight Saving Time, it's so light out so late....makes me itch for summer.
Now back to the produce--even my kids (okay, the two that actually eat) happen to love asparagus, especially when it's roasted and wrapped with salty prosciutto. What's not to love? (Except the pork, if you don't eat it.) But even without the pork, I am a firm believer that asparagus was made to be roasted or grilled. The high heat brings out its very best flavors and adds a bit of delicious char.
The other night we enjoyed the bacon bundled spears atop a bed of mushroom mock risotto. Mock risotto you ask? I was too lazy to make real risotto, so I dumped all the water in with the rice at once. I simmered it for awhile, stirring occasionally, and it turned out perfectly, which was a revelation to me....too easy and too tasty to be true. It was dinner for two, on a rare evening where the house was empty midweek....Seems that sports practices can be good for the adults in the family too. But if you can't get rid of your kids for the evening, the recipe can be easily doubled.
Mock Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus Spears
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: serves 2 (can be easily doubled)
10 asparagus spears, rinsed and trimmed
5 slices of prosciutto, halved length-wise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of arborio or other short grain rice (or grain mix...I used a mixture of arborio, spelt and barley available at Trader Joe's)
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
shaved Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wrap each asparagus spear with 1/2 slice of prosciutto, put on a baking sheet and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden around the edges. Stir in garlic and cook one minute more. Remove mushroom mixture from the pot and set aside.
4. Return pot to the stove and add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover rice and stir in mushroom mixture. Continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10-15 more minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
5. While rice is cooking place asparagus in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and prosciutto is crisp.
6. Spoon risotto out onto two plates and top with the roasted asparagus spears and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Whether you know it by the name cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, black kale, lacinato kale, or Tuscan kale, I think you'll agree that it is some of the best kale you will ever try. Increasingly common at farmers' markets, you can identify it by its blueish green and wonderfully crinkled leaves. Most kale is too bitter for my taste, and must be cooked to soften both its texture and flavor. But Tuscan kale can be eaten raw, in salad form, and lacks the harshness of many of its cousins. It's also delicious tossed into pastas and when roasted (yes roasted) the leaves become so amazingly crisp and delicious you'd swear you were eating the best potato chip ever, especially when dusted with the tiniest bit of sea salt.
Late last week, on one of those very busy nights where it seemed as if everyone had somewhere else to be, we somehow managed to sneak in a moment of togetherness around the dinner table. On the menu was roasted pork tenderloin, skillet macaroni and cheese (the best!) and Tuscan kale salad. I found the recipe in my new Martha Stewart cookbook, Dinner at Home. I loved it's utter simplicity that allowed the earthy flavors of the kale to shine through, and I'm sure it will make another appearance on our menu sometime very soon.
Shredded Tuscan Kale Salad
This type of kale might also be labeled dinosaur kale, cavolo nero, lacinato kale or black kale at the market, and is prized for its mild, earthy flavor. If you cannot find it, try substituting savoy cabbbage or spinach.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: serves 4
1 bunch Tuscan kale, finely shredded
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus some shaved slices for topping
1. Finely shred kale by stacking the leaves and using a sharp knife to slice them very thinly, in batches if necessary.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, the lemon juice and oil and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Add the kale and toss to combine thoroughly. Toss with the finely shredded cheese and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Top with shaved parmesan slices and serve immediately.