Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The past weekend's cooking....

We had a Bethel speaker over the weekend and thus we had congregation hospitality.  I was asked to bring a dessert, and after much deliberation, I decided to make my Flourless Chocolate Cake.  Okay, it's not MY flourless chocolate cake...it's America's Test Kitchen's recipe.  It is however becoming "MY" FCC--at least at the congregation level.  I've stopped sharing the recipe. And for that reason, I'm not sharing it here, either.  (That's not really the reason...ATK makes it incredibly difficult to cut and paste their recipes and I don't really feel like tying it.)

I will share the ingredients, though.  It is truly a decadent  cake:

1 pound chocolate--bittersweet to semisweet (I use Ghiradelli and I go half and half)
2 sticks of unsalted butter
8 eggs (beaten in a stand mixer for 5 minutes)
1/4 cup strong coffee (I use decaf...the first time I made it I used leftover from my morning coffee and was awake for half the night)

Now I know that if you do any baking you will be able to recreate this cake.  I'll give you one more hint (okay 2 really)--you make it in a spring form pan, bake it at 325  for 20-25 minutes (the center will still look wet but the edges will look more like a brownie) and in a water bath.  That was really three hints. Your welcome.

So I made the cake on Friday to serve on Saturday, and there were a few friends who didn't get to have a piece.  (There were many friends who didn't get any...it was cut into 16 slices...). I knew that these particular friends really wanted to try it, so I brought the serving piece to them so they could taste the crumbs.  The brother informed me that I "have" to bring that cake to all congregation gatherings.

 We have a going away soiree at the end of the month.  I think I'll bake 2.

The other thing that I made this weekend was a Ham and Cheese Puff Tart.  Martha Stewart was gracious enough to post her recipe on this great webbernet that we have, thus it is very easy for me to share.

 Ham and Cheese Puff Tart
  • Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Total Time 35 minutes plus cooling
  • Yield Serves 12


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced deli ham
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  1. On a floured work surface, roll each sheet puff pastry to a 10-by-13-inch rectangle. Transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add flour; cook, stirring, until golden, 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add milk and simmer. Stir until thickened, 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and pinch of nutmeg. Pour sauce into a bowl and let cool 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lower third. Arrange ham evenly on 1 pastry sheet, leaving a 3/4-inch border; top with cheese and sauce. Brush pastry border with egg; top with second pastry sheet. Fold bottom edges over top and press to seal. Brush top with egg and cut vents in tart. Bake until browned and puffed, 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I made this for a book club meeting I was hosting.  When the ladies were packing up to leave, one of them asked for the recipe.  She was astounded when I was able to hand the print out that I had used to make the very puff tart she had just enjoyed..

I've made this many times. In the process I  have tweaked the directions a little.  I take the sliced ham and cut it into ribbons.  Then I add the ham and cheese to the bechamel sauce.  It makes the final assembly a little easier and a lot less messy.

That's the cooing I did this weekend.  Date this week is going to be a doozy.  Stay tuned.

happy cooking

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Date Night May 2, 21012 or "No one can take a picture of candle smoke"

Well, I think that answers that question.

As for dinner, which was eaten before the candles were blown out,  we had my old standby--Filet Mignon.  Yum!

Cocktail was a version (and not a great one in my mind, though Josh liked it well enough) of this:

  • 1 oz Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
  • .5 oz DeKuyper Triple Sec
  • Splash orange juice
  • Splash cranberry juice
  • Splash simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
Garnish: Orange slice
Glass: Rocks

So I don't really like drinks on "rocks" so I fiddled with quantities but kept the ratios the same (although quantifying a "splash" is a lot harder than you might think.) and served them up.  Our "house bourbon" is Maker's Mark, which is fine, and we just don't keep Triple Sec at all.  Cointreau was my choice of orange liquer.  In the end, I thought it was a little "mediciney" tasting.  Too much orange Triaminic in my youth I suppose.

Appetizer was  the yummy cheesy jammy thing I get at my at my local market (local as opposed to my kick-butt market that's 25 mins away).

The green beans are haricot verte--these beautifully thin green beans that come to us from the French.  I tossed them in a few tsp of olive oil, added a few handfuls of grape tomatoes and one thinly sliced shallot.  I added about a .5 inch of water to my saute pan.  This combination allowed them to steam and then to caramelize.  I love green beans prepared this way.

The potatoes were skillet cooked and they were PINK fleshed.  I saw that they were called Pacific Rose, but thought that merely referred to their skin.  They were pan fried in olive oil.  Yum.

Dessert  was lemon souffle pudding.  I topped this with a lemon scented whipped cream (added a little lemon extract to the cream as I whipped it) and served it with a strawberry.

Lemon Souffle Pudding


  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, for the baking cups
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Whipped cream, for garnishing


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the teaspoon of butter, butter six 2-ounce baking cups or one 12-ounce (8 x 10-inch) oval baking dish. Place the cups or dish in a roasting pan. Bring a tea kettle or medium pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. In another clean bowl, beat the egg yolks until frothy and light in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the sugar to the yolks while still beating. Mix in the lemon zest and juice.
  3. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk-lemon mixture. Pour the batter into each souffle cup (filling each three-quarters full) or the baking dish. Put the roasting pan on the oven rack with the oven door open. Carefully and quickly pour the boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking cups or dish. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Don't overcook.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven. Set the cups or dish on a wire rack to cool. To serve, set the cups on serving plates or scoop from the baking dish into individual dishes. Dust with confectioners' sugar, then top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Dinner tonight is ravioli.

happy cooking