Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Flourless Chocolate Cake

We recently had some great friends come for a visit, now that we’re settled in our new home in Portland. They asked to meet up for dinner, and we recommend that they come to our house. Dinner’s here can be restaurant quality, and it’s a more relaxed environment. One thing is that they don’t eat dairy or gluten. What better to serve than Grilled salmon, corn, zucchini & tomato sauté and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. 

If you remember my post from about a year ago when we visited O’o Farms in Maui, we had a flourless chocolate cake made with ground Cascara, the coffee bean cherry, dried and dehydrated. I wanted to recreate this, but don’t have access to Cascara. This recipe was amazing, and even if you aren’t dairy or gluten free it’s amazing. And you can cut it into portions and it freezes wonderfully. 



Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake -
12 oz. dark chocolate, (roughly 2 cups)
12 Tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

Glaze -
4 oz dark chocolate (about 2/3 cup)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Garnish
Fresh raspberries or fresh strawberries

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.  Prepare a 9" cake pan by lining the bottom with parchment and lightly buttering the sides, then dust with cocoa powder and tap out any excess.
2. In a medium sized (microwave safe) bowl, heat the chocolate (break into pieces if using large bars) & butter at 50% power in the microwave until mostly melted (about 2 minutes, but check after 1 minute and every 30 seconds after).  Stir until fully melted and smooth, then set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on medium speed about 1 minute.  While mixing, add sugar, vanilla, salt and water and continue whisking another minute or so, or until the mixture is very foamy, pale in color and has doubled in volume.
4. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually pour in the (cooled) chocolate mixture.  Increase mixer speed to medium and blend until well incorporated, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the cocoa powder and blend just until fully incorporated.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes.  Bake just until the outside edges are fully baked, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist clumps, but not just wet batter.  It will seem under-baked by most cake baking standards.  Don't overcook.
7. Remove from oven and cool in the pan (on a wire rack) for 30 minutes.  The cake will sink quite a bit in the center, leaving a rim around the edge, this is OK.  Cover the pan with foil and move the cooled cake to the refrigerator and refrigerate until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.
8. Once well chilled, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Remove from pan and trim off the raised rim around the edge of the cake, as necessary to level.  Turn cake upside down onto a platter (so the bottom of the cake is now the top) and remove parchment paper.
9. Prepare glaze by heating the chocolate and butter in the microwave (at 50% power) until almost melted, then stir until fully melted and smooth.  Cool slightly, then use an offset spatula to spread the glaze evenly to within 1/4 inch from the edge of the cake.  Allow to set up (at room temperature, unless your house is very warm and in that case, cool in the fridge).  Cake should be served at room temperature.
10. To serve, cut into very thin slices using a knife that has been run under hot water, then wiped dry.  Clean knife between cuts as needed.
11. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Crispy Caramel Chicken Skewers

I make teriyaki chicken all the time. Once I figured out how to make the sauce to the flavor profile I like, it became a weekly (or so) rotation. When I came across this recipe, I noticed a couple changes from the teriyaki I usually make. First off, it uses fish sauce. Which I’m never opposed to!  And there is a lack of soy sauce. Otherwise most of the ingredients are close to my version of teriyaki. 

One big difference for me is that you simmer the sauce into a glaze. I served a this over rice. 

Crispy Caramel Chicken Skewers

Crispy Caramel Chicken Skewers

Ingredients
For the Marinated Chicken:
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice

For the Caramel Glaze:
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce (Red Boat)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced on a bias

Directions
For the Marinated Chicken: In a large zipper-lock bag or bowl, combine fish sauce, brown sugar, and orange juice. Mix well. Add the chicken chunks, shake well to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or  overnight.

For the Caramel Glaze: In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, fish sauce, orange juice, rice vinegar, and honey over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add garlic, shallots, and ginger and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until glaze becomes thick and sticky and easily coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

Grilling : Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set all the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. (I used a gas grill, on high heat until the chicken skewers went on. Then turned to low to cook throughly. Then back on high for a final seat)

Thread the chicken on 6 bamboo skewers. Transfer to the grill and cook over direct heat, turning and brushing with the glaze every 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through and crisp, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat, garnish with scallions, and serve.

Chicken Skewers

Crispy Caramel Chicken Skewers with glaze

Crispy Caramel Chicken Skewers finished


Crispy Caramel Chicken Skewers on rice



Sunday, June 3, 2018

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad


We all grew up eating corn. Usually boiled in salty water, smothered in margarine and liberty sprinkled with Morton’s iodized. 

As we matured and realized that margarine wasn’t the diet alternative to butter, that there was another seasoning component missing, black pepper and wait….corn can be grilled!  These are just a few of the food evolutions I have had in my corn eating life. 

Then came Mexican Street Corn!  Life changing. Smother that cob with a mayo/lime/chili slather and roll it in Queso Fresco?  When did so much love happen to our beloved yellow kernels? Not to mention, when I was growing up, corn was yellow. There wasn’t white or bi-colored., unless it was fall and your teacher had Indian corn on her desk!  Then there popcorn.....but that’s a whole other blog....

So this brings me to this recipe.....

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

INGREDIENTS
For the Dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce 
pepper, to taste

For the Pasta Salad:
8 oz. farfalle pasta
4 ears of fresh corn 
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced finely
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
4 oz. crumbled queso fresco (or cotija cheese), plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish


INSTRUCTIONS
Mix all ingredients for dressing in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to directions in salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water until completely cool. 
Shake off as much excess water as possible.

Meanwhile, grill corn until lightly charred. Allow to cool and remove from cobs. 

Add the cooked and cooled pasta, corn, jalapeño pepper, green onions, queso fresco, and cilantro to the large bowl with the dressing. Stir to combine.

Serve garnished with extra cheese, cilantro, and a little bit more chili powder, if desired.








Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fresh Spinach Pesto

Inspiration to cook, is everywhere!

As a Christmas gift for Craig, I joined us up for a winter CSA (community supported agriculture) at a local urban farm, 47th Avenue Farms, here in Portland.  It’s been amazing, and reminds us of the old CSA we belonged to, in the Seattle area.  Everything is fresh and grown locally, unlike a few we have tried. (Where they still had stickers on the fruit)

Anyhow, it’s been a challenge to get through a lot of the potatoes and carrots.  Living with a “part-time” vegetarian, as I call him, you would think potatoes wouldn’t be an issue, but my husband doesn’t care for them. We both like carrots, but really it’s hard to get through 2lbs a week!  (Might make a curried carrot soup?) 

Anyhow, last week we got 3 large bunches of spinach.  And I have been dying to try spinach pesto.  So yesterday, I cleaned, de-stemmed and dried all of the spinach, got out my new food processor, and went for it!

Here is the recipe for the pesto, and below it, is how I made the pasta dinner.

SPINACH PESTO













INGREDIENTS
2 to 3 cups packed fresh baby spinach
½ to 1 cup mixed fresh parsley &basil
2 to 3 cloves garlic; whole or minced
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
½ to 1 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil + more if needed
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine the spinach, parsley, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil (I used about a cup) into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly combined. Add the parmesan and pulse again. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:
Cook pasta according to directions.
Reserve about 1 cup of the hot pasta water.
Scoop about ½ cup of the spinach pesto over pasta, mix and add in a small amount of the hot pasta water.  The hot water will melt the pesto slightly and coat all of the pasta.
Gently toss to combine.
Top with slices of grilled chicken, if you like. 

Blue Cheese and Green Onion Scones

A few years ago, I was watching a tv show, specifically Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, when a blue cheese scone flashed across the screen.  I was like, I must have that.  Well, I have no intention on going to Minneapolis to visit Colossal Café, just to get a scone.  So I searched and searched, and like everything else, I got distracted and the years passed, until yesterday when the episode aired again (probably for the 300th time, you all know tv programming!) and I did a quick search, and low and behold, there it was.  “Ahhhhhhhhh”, is what I heard.  I also noticed, I (thought) I had everything to make this savory treat.  So early this morning, I decided to attempt to make these.

While I was inspired by the original recipe from Bess at Colossal Café, but alas, I did not have all of the ingredients.  Here is my version….and I have to say they turned out awesome!



Blue cheese green onion scones 

Ingredients
22 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon rosemary salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 ounces very cold butter, diced
4 ounces blue cheese crumbs
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 bunch chopped green onion
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup sour cream

Directions
Preheat the convection oven to 350°F.

Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. 

Using a pastry blender, gently blend in the diced butter into the dry ingredients. Add the blue cheese, parsley, and green onions. 

Mix together the eggs and sour cream. Make a well and add in half of the egg/sour cream mixture. Fold until just holding together, adding the remaining egg/sour cream mixture as needed. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop 3-ounce portions of batter onto the paper. Bake for 22-28 minutes, until firm and golden.