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


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

Fresh raspberries or fresh strawberries

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

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

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

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

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.