12.20.2011

12.18.2011

Susan's Mustard Puffs


What we need now is something brilliant and fast, so I turned to Susan from
Savoring Time in the Kitchen. She's one of my favorite people and I love her blog. Quite a while back I saw this recipe and thought: I'm going to use that next Christmas at a party.....or make them and take them as a hostess gift. And that's exactly what I did. Twice.  Have you made them yet? Quick, easy peasy and everyone will love them. I always try to keep some puff pastry ready to go in the fridge during holidays, whether I suddenly need to make a dessert or an appetizer. No need to go to the store to make these puffs.

Mustard Puffs
Adapted by Susan from Mustard Batons from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan



Ingredients:

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
All purpose flour, for rolling out puff pastry
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 large egg
Coarsely ground pepper
Sea Salt

Method:
Place the racks inside the oven so that the oven is divided into thirds. Preheat oven to 400F. Place a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on two large baking sheets.

Take one pastry sheet out of the package and keep the other refrigerated until ready to use. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it measures 12 x 16 inches, approximately, with the shortest end facing you. Find the middle and mark it lightly. On the lowest half, spread about ¼ cup of mustard, stopping about 1/8 inch from the side and bottom edges. Fold the top of the dough over the bottom. Mark the pastry every ¾ inch or so, then cut into strips using a pizza/pastry cutter or sharp knife.

Carefully, transfer the strips to one of the lined baking sheets (keeping about 2 inches between them since they will puff up) and chill or freeze while you work on the second sheet of puff pastry. At this point, you can freeze them on the sheets and then wrap air-tight until ready to use for up to 2 months. 

When ready to bake, beat the egg with a little cold water and brush the tops of the strips. Sprinkle them with coarsely ground pepper and sea salt (Dorie suggests poppy or sesame seeds).

Bake for 8 minutes, rotate and transfer the sheets, then bake for another 7 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. 



12.16.2011

Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #28, Anne-Sophie Pic


Enfin! We have a Game Changer who was born in a family of famous chefs. Although she rebelled a bit at first. Anne-Sophie Pic grew up in a Michelin-starred kitchen, "dipping her fingers into copper pots of simmering crayfish and sampling the pastry chef's choux à la crème as a girl." The restaurant, Maison Pic, received its third Michelin star under her grandfather in 1934 for the first time. Since then, all three generations, including her father Jacques Pic, have received three Michelin stars for the restaurant.

But just for a while, Sophie chose not to lead that life. She studied business management and traveled from Paris to the United States via Japan, which left its mark on her taste. It was also in Japan that she met her future husband, David Sinapian.


But in 1992 at the age of 23, she returned to the family kitchen where she informed her father she wanted to indulge her "real passion", cooking. Her father wanted her to attend hotel school, but his death that fall put an end to his plan. For a while, Anne-Sophie took care of other aspects of the restaurant business, always keeping in mind she preferred to be in the kitchen. Her husband and mother Suzanne were very supportive of her and in 1998 with their backing, and to the amazement of everyone, Anne-Sophie walked into the kitchen and started her apprenticeship.

Her last name was Pic for good reason and Sophie, a self-taught cook, assembled a young team that shared her vision. Thanks to her husband David Sinapian’s managerial role, she could fully devote herself to cooking and develop her style, which is characterized by pairings of subtle flavours. Anne-Sophie won three Michelin stars as well and she is only the fourth woman in history to achieve that honor. The restaurant is listed on the Relais & Châteaux website as: "
Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in town."

Maison Pic, with Sophie at the helm, is located in Valence, France and is a century-old. "The restaurant exudes a hushed elegance that's on par with her cooking, described as being creative, light and refined." The restaurant's successive rooms are lit by French windows open onto the patio or the adjacent gardens. Bright colours and “period” furniture provide unexpected notes thanks to their colour and size. Enormous frames without pictures, tables dressed with bursts of light and simplicity, the gentle murmur of conversation, and the discreet presence of the waiters and sommeliers all add to the atmosphere.
Here's a wonderful video: (I hope it works for you!)




Anne-Sophie believes that everything begins with the product and she works with fishermen, market gardeners and farmers who provide her with knowledge that she can draw on at will.  She recently was recognized as the World's Best Female Chef, chosen by a panel of 837 voters around the world that included food critics, journalists, chefs and restaurateurs representing 27 different international regions. In 2004, she published “Au nom du Père” (“Like father, like daughter”), which describes her journey and her gratitude towards her family, particularly her father to whom she dedicates with great emotion this third star. 

The year 2006 saw the opening of the bistro “7 by Anne-Sophie-Pic", a sign of the modernity that is sweeping through Maison Pic. In 2007, Anne-Sophie Pic opened “SCOOK,” her cooking school, near the Maison Pic, to share her passion with a larger audience. 



The restaurant website: http://www.pic-valence.com/
                                                                          ***********************************************

To represent Anne-Sophie Pic, I chose an unusual recipe. It's a pudding and was included in her book: Entertaining: Kitchen Lesson by Anne-Sophie Pic in a section for children. Are you familiar with Carambar? It's a caramel candy, a cross between the American Sugar Daddy and Tootsie Roll.  These little caramel sticks, each about 4 inches long, crack when cold and are soft when warm. They are really quite delicious and I had never tasted them before. This is a very basic pudding recipe and using the Carambars made it fun and different.

Creamy Carambar



                                                                   
Ingredients:
8 Carambar bars
20 cl milk (6 3/4 fluid ounces)
2 eggs
40g caster sugar
20g cornflour (I used cornstarch)
200g unsalted butter, room temperature

Method:

Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the Carambars and melt.
Mix the eggs with the sugar in a bowl. Add the cornstarch to the eggs, temper with a little of the carambar/milk mixture and then add everything to the saucepan, whisking all the while. Heat over low heat, stirring until the mixture thickens like a custard.



Pour the sauce into a container and stick a sheet of cling film in contact with the cream to prevent a crust forms. Let cool until the mixture is at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
When the correct temperature is reached (about 40 ° C), add the soft butter into small pieces. Mix with an electric device to obtain a smooth cream. Place in the fridge.
You can serve it plain in small pots or in glass dishes. I added 6 small pieces of Carambar cut with scissors to decorate. Serves 4.


Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.
(We're taking a Christmas break and will be back with another Game Changer January 6th!)

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

Linda
 Ciao Chow Linda



12.13.2011

Madeleinesau Roquefort, Poire & Noix (Walnut, Pear and Roquefort Madeleines)


Several weeks ago, our 50 Women Game-Changers group did a post on Clotilde Dusoulier and her Chocolate and Zucchini blog. I'm delighted to be a part of this series for a number of reasons: 1) 
whether you agree with the list or not, it's been an amazing learning experience getting to know these talented 50 women; 2) I've met lots of bloggers I might never have discovered; and 3) I love checking the other posts each Friday to see the wide range of recipes we've chosen to represent the chefs.

For instance......I took one look at Nancy's
 (from My Picadillo) recipe from Clotilde and my eyes lit up. Savory madeleines. Just had to get these posted before Christmas because they make a terrific first course or hors d'oeuvre. Take a look at the photo at the bottom of the page....you can practically taste by looking. One of my favorite salads is made with these three ingredients + chicken, greens and a light vinaigrette. So I knew I'd love these madeleines. My suggestion is to make them in madeleine pans (truly unusual and most unexpected) but if you don't own the right pan, 
let your imagination take wing and make any shape you like. 


Thanks Nancy, for introducing us to Clotilde's unique recipe!

Madeleinesau Roquefort, Poire & Noix 
(Walnut, Pear and Roquefort Madeleines)
From "Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen" by Clotilde Dusoulier via My Picadillo


Makes 24 madeleines

Ingredients:

A pat of unsalted butter for the molds
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup buttermilk 
3 ounces Roquefort or another blue cheese
1 ripe pear, about 8 ounces, peeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup shelled walnuts, roughly chopped (not too fine)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a tray of madeleine molds or mini-muffin tins. (With the madeleine molds I use softened butter using a small brush so the mold is well-covered.)

Combine flour and baking powder in a small mixing bowl. In a medium mixing 
bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper. Add the oil, buttermilk and cheese, and whisk again.

Sift flour mixture into egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until 
incorporated— the batter will be thick. Don't overmix. Fold in pear and walnuts and stir. (The batter can be prepared up to a day ahead and refrigerated.) 

Spoon 
batter into the molds, filling them by two thirds.Bake 12 to 16 minutes, until puffy and golden. Transfer to a rack to cool for a few minutes, unmold and serve warm.


12.10.2011

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies: More Cookies for Christmas


I do love shortbread cookies! Especially since you can refrigerate or freeze them and bake them as needed. I always try to have something like this in the freezer. This particular recipe is from Hannah at
Honey and Jam and it's perfect for the holidays....studded with cranberries. The orange zest stands out, as does the almond flavor. Truly a lovely shortbread and an easy-to-make cookie, too. Love that during such a busy time, don't you? 

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
From Hannah at Honey and Jam


Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Method:
Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add vanilla, almond extract, orange zest and dried cranberries and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter beating at a low speed until blended. 
Form dough into 2 logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; wrap in parchment, and refrigerate 1 hour (up to 3 days) or freeze.


Preheat oven to 350.

If frozen, let the logs stand at room temp for 10 minutes. Remove parchment. Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

12.09.2011

Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #27, Anne Willan


We're now more than half way through Gourmet's list of Game Changers and while choosing a recipe to feature, once in a while you happen upon an absolute gem, one that really stands out.....one you're going to make again and again. For me, this tart is IT. And don't for a minute think it's your ordinary tomato tart. Oh no. It was slightly time consuming to make, but after that first bite, it was one of those roll your eyes moments...Mmmmmmm....savoring the ambrosial flavors. A drizzle of vinegar highlights the caramelized tomatoes and garlic in this, yielding an intense, savory tart to serve with crisp greens as a first course or light main dish.
Just to make it easier, Anne suggests using frozen puff pastry.
It's always rewarding when you tell me you've made one of these recipes and loved it, but this time, you've simply got to make this tart at the first opportunity. It is perfection.


But first, let me tell you a little about Anne Willan.


British-born Anne Willan was raised in a life of privilege. She graduated from Cambridge in 1959 with a master's degree in economics. But that life was not for her. Encouraged by an early employer while teaching at a finishing school, she took classes at London's famed Cordon Bleu cooking school. Then, after graduating from that school, she went to Paris to finish her studies, earning the coveted Grand Diplome in 1963.

Ms. Willan put an ad in the International Herald Tribune: "Cordon Bleu cook will give lessons and cook for dinner parties". One of the replies was on embossed stationery from the Château de Versailles. Willan remembers that it said: "I have Mexican cooks. I am starting to entertain at the Château de Versailles so I want my cooks to learn French cooking. Please come to see me." The note was from the American-born philanthropist and socialite Florence van der Kemp, whose husband was the curator of Versailles. Willan started out by giving twice-a-week cooking classes and wound up living at Versailles,in an attic over the servants' quarters.

While working for Van der Kemp, Willan cooked for the duke and duchess of Windsor, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco and the flamboyant Countess Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec. At one party, a guest was Cherniavsky, a young World Bank economist. The two fell in love and when Cherniavsky was transferred to Washington, D.C., Willan followed him and moved to New York. With the assistance of Van der Kemp, she landed a job as an editor at Gourmet magazine. She married Cherniavsky a year later and moved to Washington. For the next decade, the two went back and forth between the U.S. and France.During this time, Ms. Willan edited Cordon Bleu's 20-volume Grand Diplome Cooking Course encyclopedia.


In 1975 she opened La Varenne in Paris. In 1982, she and Cherniavsky bought Château du Feÿ, near the town of Joigny in Burgundy and in 1991 they moved the school there. Her intention for La Varenne, she says, was to offer the culinary equivalent of a college education. Willan became an authority on the cooking of France and its' history.

Willan's husband's poor health prompted a move back to the US, to Los Angeles. "We always thought we'd end our days in France. But I think we'll be fine. This is such a great place for food. It's a wonderful place to cook. The ingredients are outstanding, and there is so much going on. I do miss the cheese, though."

Ms. Willan has written a couple dozen well-received cookbooks, including two that have become culinary bibles: "La Varenne Pratique" and "French Regional Cooking." To read about Anne's books, click here.
Anne was elected to the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America in 1986 and was honored in 1995 as Grande Dame of Les Dames d'Escoffier International. In 1999, the International Association of Culinary Professionals recognized Anne with their prestigious Lifetime Achievement award. 


Anne Willan's Tarte Tatin à la Tomate
Excerpted from THE COUNTRY COOKING OF FRANCE



Ingredients:

6 ounces/170 g store-bought puff pastry 
2 pounds/900 g plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise 
Salt and pepper 
1/4 cup/60 g sugar 
1/4 cup/60 ml red wine vinegar 
1/4 cup/60 ml olive oil, more for the pan 
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary 
2 or 3 dried bay leaves 
1 head garlic, divided into cloves, unpeeled 
1/4 cup/60 ml red wine 
Few leaves arugula or frisée, for garnish 

Method:

Heat the oven to 275°F/140°C. Sprinkle the cut sides of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and set them aside. Sprinkle the sugar in a large frying pan with an ovenproof handle and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and toasts to golden caramel, 3 to 5 minutes. Take the pan from the heat and at once add the vinegar, standing back as it will sputter and fume. Return it to the heat, stir to dissolve the caramel, and then stir in the oil. Again take the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes, cut side down, packing them tightly so they all touch the bottom and pushing the rosemary and bay between them.

Roast the tomatoes until they are very tender and wrinkled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Forty-five minutes before they are done, add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the pan. If liquid remains at the end of cooking, evaporate most of it by cooking the tomatoes briefly over high heat, taking care they do not scorch. 


Oil a second frying pan with an ovenproof handle and transfer the tomatoes to it, arranging them snugly cut side down in a pattern. Discard the herbs and leave the garlic behind, along with any juices, in the first pan. Add the wine to the garlic and heat it, stirring to deglaze the juices and boil them down to 2 to 3 tablespoons. Pour the liquid and garlic through a strainer over the tomatoes, then push through the garlic pulp. Set the tomatoes aside to cool. The tomatoes may be cooked up to a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. 


Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C. On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 10-inch/25-centimeter round and prick the dough so it rises evenly. Transfer it to the pan to cover the tomatoes and tuck any excess dough down around the fruit. Bake the tart until the dough has risen and is crisp and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the tart cool for 5 minutes, then turn out it onto a platter and garnish with the arugula. Alternatively, let it cool in the pan, then turn it out and serve it at room temperature. Tarte Tatin à la Tomate may also be cooked up to 8 hours ahead and kept in the pan. Warm it briefly in the oven before turning it out.



Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

Linda
 Ciao Chow Linda


12.05.2011

The Two Fat Ladies and Spatchcocked Game Hens


Are you all familiar with The Two Fat Ladies? They starred in a BBC cooking program in the late 90's. Their names were Clarissa Dickson Wright (on the right in the photo below) and Jennifer Paterson. The show ran for 4 seasons and several channels picked it up. I think it's now showing on the Cooking Channel.


Here's how
someone online described them:
They promoted the use of lard. They looked like men in drag. They were old and badly dressed. They were a bit like bag ladies but with more jewelry. One of them smoked and drank and wore bright red nail varnish and diamond rings as she plunged her fingers into all manner of food. (The other was a recovering alcoholic.) Almost surreally they drove a vintage Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and sidecar wearing  goggles and old leather bike jackets.
Yes I know, amusing, and spot on, as the British say. Obviously (using lard, for example), their show disregarded health issues. And the animal activists weren't pleased either as these two fat ladies loved meat and game and had no patience with vegetarians. Frankly, I found their show totally entertaining, delivered in their posh accents. 
There's no denying they both led fascinating lives. You should Google them, just to read about their backgrounds. Here and Here. Fascinating stuff, really. 

Jennifer passed away in 1999 from lung cancer. She did enjoy imbibing and kept smoking and drinking right up to the end; a friend of hers phoned her at the hospital to ask how she was and Jennifer nonchalantly replied:  "I'm dying dear." 

Clarissa, who was twenty years younger than Jennifer, is still going strong and still on the wagon.

During the series, Clarissa made a Mustard/butter Spatchcock Chicken in one show and I could never quite get it out of my mind. She mentioned it was her mother's recipe. They didn't "do" recipes, (although I think a cookbook based on this show was published somewhere along the way) never measured anything that I remember, so I replayed the episode and jotted down ingredients. It's pretty simple to spatchcock a chicken or game hens. If you've never done it, here's a video.





I used two Cornish game hens, didn't use quite so much butter (which melts to the bottom of the pan anyway and merely leaves a nice mustard flavor to the chicken), didn't dot butter on top of the bread, but I did sprinkle some fresh herbs on top so it tasted more like stuffing. This recipe was regarded as a bad influence on the British diet. No doubt it's a bad influence on the rest if us too, so I figured I better post this before January when we'll probably all be on a diet!  

Deviled Spatchcocked Game hens



Ingredients:

1 stick soft butter
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco
3 Tablespoons dry mustard
3 cups bread crumbs, crusts removed
2 game hens, spatchcocked

Method:

Spread the mustard butter on the chicken, thickly. Top with the soft bread crumbs.
Dot with butter. Bake 375 for 40 minutes.



12.03.2011

Marion Cunningham's Christmas Bread


This was an unusual recipe....not a cake, but not really bread, either. I'm so glad I tried it because 
as Ms. Cunningham suggests:  "this splendid but easy recipe will soon become a Christmas tradition in your home." Marion plumps the raisins in amaretto and then it's all added to the batter, which results in a nice moist crumb. This would make a perfect brunch offering for the holidays as the flavors are lovely for Christmas.

I made both muffins and one round panettone-type loaf. It freezes nicely, although eating this warm right out of the oven was hands down delicious.
 No butter needed. This is the kind of bread that will appeal to the adults in your family. Kids? Maybe not so much. I found it rather strong of amaretto.....this is not a bad thing. You know me, boozy ice cream and now boozy bread.  :) Bring on the holidays!

Christmas Bread

From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham




Ingredients:
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants
grated rind with a little white pith of 1 orange
grated rind with a little white pith of 1 lemon (orange and lemon together should make about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup almond liqueur (or brandy, rum or bourbon) I used more as it should be enough to cover the fruit
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup milk


Method:
Preheat oven to 325. Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 inch loaf pans or muffin tins. (I made muffins and one round loaf)
Put the raisins, currants, rinds, and liqueur in a small bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes.
Put the eggs and oil in bowl and whisk until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and stir vigorously until well blended. Add the raisin mixture, liquid and all. Mix well.

Spoon batter into the loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes for the loaves and 45 for muffins or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let rest 10  minutes in the pans, turn out on a rack to cool. Allow to cool before slicing. If making muffins, you may serve them hot.




12.02.2011

Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #26, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray


Ruth Rogers was born in America and Rose Gray in Great Britain. It's always fascinating to learn how two women, neither of them trained chefs, got together to open such a fabulous restaurant. Their backgrounds certainly didn't point in that direction.
Ruth attended Bennington College and the London College of Printing where she got a degree in graphic design. Later, she moved to Paris with her husband and worked on exhibitions at the Pompidou Center. 
Rose attended Guildford College of Art, where she gained a BA in Fine Art. She taught art at a state-run school in East London and then started a business making paper lampshades.

The two first met in 1969 when 21-year-old graphic artist Ruth turned up at Rose's home with her husband. Although they saw each other occasionally, Rose and Ruthie's extraordinary partnership still lay almost 20 years in the future.


In the early 80's, Ruth and her husband moved to Tuscany. It was here that Rose began to take a serious interest in Italian cuisine. 
Then, in 1985, while her husband's exhibition was shown in New York, Rose received an invitation to cook there at a newly opened fashionable Italian-style restaurant, Nell's Club. She found she loved it. 

On her return to London, she worked a while at Carluccio's and it was at this time that Rose and Ruth's paths crossed again. The story is that Ruth's husband had set up his office in Hammersmith, and he wanted someplace for everyone in this area to eat. Rose said: "From the beginning we had huge ambition for the River Café, it was just restrictions on the premises that forced us to start small."


No matter how it began, Ruth proposed the idea of a restaurant to Rose. And so The River Cafe was born in 1987. (Ruth on the left, Rose on the right)




Their partnership was close; their uncompetitive and generous spirits became the guiding force of the restaurant. Ms. Gray was a maternal presence and a dynamo in the kitchen; a number of well known chefs passed through their kitchen on their way to celebrity. They focused on fresh ingredients and authentic Italian country dishes; their wine list was entirely Italian. 

Both Rose and Ruthie were self-taught. Ruth said: "Women who used to want to cook went into catering or they gave dinner parties for rich businessmen. The chefs and the managers in the River Café are 50% women. I'm really proud of that." 
The River Cafe earned a Michelin Star in 1998. And kept it.
Ruth and Rose published their first cookbook in 1995 which led to a TV series. They have published 10 cookbooks since then. Both were awarded MBE's in 2010.


Sadly, Rose was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and passed away in 2010.


                                                                           ****************************************

I chose to make Chocolate Nemesis. The exact definition of nemesis is:  one that inflicts retribution or vengeance and truer words were never spoken. How The River Cafe manages to plate it (I've eaten there but for some reason did not order the "nemesis") I don't know, but there are lots of problems with this cake and I can only tell you how I got it to work.
First of all, a little bench note: the full recipe below easily makes enough for two cakes. So halve the recipe and you'll have plenty for one. (Although as it turned out, I was relieved to have enough batter to make the second one......as I truly messed up the first one!)

When the cakes had fully cooled, which is done while the cakes remain in the bain marie and in the oven, I removed them and cut into the first one. It collapsed into a puddle (a rather delicious puddle, but a puddle nonetheless) and I partially blame the foil liner. If I make it again....which I doubt 'cause I'm not a chocoholic....I will line the bottom of the pan only. It resembled a pudding/cake rather than a cake and we enjoyed eating it, but still, it was nearly impossible to cut into any kind of neat wedge.

So I turned to the Internet and did some research on this cake. One person inverted it onto a platter. I can't imagine how that would work, considering the puddle problems I had with the first cake and wondered if her recipe was different in some way. Perhaps she cheated and added flour? Another refrigerated the cake over night. Now that sounded like a sensible plan so that's what I finally did. 

When it was fully chilled, I cut the cake in wedges, placed them on serving plates and let them come to room temperature before serving. It worked. It's unbelievably rich and you need the creme fraiche or some unsweetened whipped cream to cut the sweetness. It's rather like eating candy, so don't cut big slices!

The River Café’s Chocolate Nemesis 





Ingredients:
675g dark chocolate 70%
450g butter
10 whole eggs, room temperature
675g caster sugar (I weighed this to be accurate)

Method:
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain marie. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 160 C or 320 F and line a 27cm springform cake tin with foil.

Beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for five to eight minutes until they’ve quadrupled in volume. Fold the chocolate and butter mixture into the eggs and sugar and stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Either I beat this too long or my springform wasn't large enough because I had too much batter and made one regular spring form pan and one small one and still had a little batter left.

Place the cake in a large roasting tin in the oven, then pour enough boiling water into the tin to rise 3/4 up the side of the cake. Cook in the preheated oven for over an hour, then turn the oven off and allow to cool completely before removing. Serve with crème fraiche and raspberries


Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

Linda
 Ciao Chow Linda

11.29.2011

Chocolate Sparklers for Christmas


You know how much I love to visit Pastry Studio. One fantastic recipe after another. This particular one doesn't need to be for the holidays, but as it turns out, I've offered to bring a cookie tray to our Garden Club Christmas party. I think it's a super idea that we each bring food to this event and then pay a small sum for drinks. Another holiday party I usually attend is my Antique Club's annual celebration. This year, they are charging $60 per person! Yes, it's being catered and this includes food and drink, but don't you agree that's a little over the top? I'm skipping that one, much as I love the women in that group.

So I've been having fun making all sorts of new cookies the past month for the Garden Club do.  These "sparklers" don't have a deep, dark chocolate flavor like a lot of Christmas cookies, but are elegant and subdued. They'll be a super addition to the cookie tray and the raw sugar on the outside adds that all important sparkle. I think you'll find them more in the Christmas cookie spirit by dipping them in red sugar. I make them that way often.


Chocolate Sparklers

Adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan by Pastry Studio





Makes about 30 cookies 

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
10 oz (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla 
1 large egg yolk
raw sugar, for coating

Method:

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt together. 

Beat the butter on medium speed to soften. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing, until the mixture is smooth and creamy, but not airy. Add vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure thorough mixing. Turn down the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just until ingredients are just about blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish mixing with a rubber spatula to avoid overmixing. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log about 1 1/2” thick and 7 1/2” long. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours. 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. 
Whisk the egg yolk with one teaspoon of water. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on a work surface. Spread out a good handful of raw sugar on it. Working with one cookie log at a time, unwrap and brush lightly with egg wash. Roll each log in the sugar, pressing gently. 




Use a sharp thin knife to slice each log into cookies about 1/2” thick. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom at the midway mark, until the cookies are just firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Repeat with second log.

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