Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Uncle Mark's Chocolate Cake

Let's hear it for Uncle Mark! Another of his family-favorite recipes turned out fabulous. I practically ate this entire chocolate cake myself.

It was dense, so a couple of people I served it to asked whether it was flourless. The answer is 'no'. It has a wee bit of flour in it. I can't help it, I find flourless bakery items odd. Or at the very least, a mystery. I can't recall ever having tried one, so it's all a preconceived notion in my head. HOW does one make a cake flourless? I bet it's actually easy, and just one of those things you need to do once to understand. However, I'm sticking with this cake and it's flour. It's my new go-to chocolate adult party cake.

Why 'adult party cake'? As you can see above, it has no frosting. Kids like frosting. Don't deny them frosting.

However, the cake is rich, moist, dense and delicious. It does not need frosting. When serving to adults.

I dusted it with powdered sugar for better presentation, but it doesn't need that either. Just pure chocolate-y goodness.

Marie-Claude Gracia's Chocolate Cake
from Food & Wine, via Uncle Mark

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt or Tobler, broken into pieces (I used Ghirardelli)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, generously grease a 9-inch springform pan.

In a double broiler*, combine the chocolate, remaining 10 tablespoons of butter, and the sugar. Cook over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, and about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

* Don't have a double broiler? Do what I do, and substitute a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. Voila. Your own home-made double broiler.

Let the chocolate mixture cool for 10 minutes; then whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour just until blended.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites just until they form firm peaks; do not overbeat. Stir on-third of the egg whites into the chocolate batter until blended. Fold in the remaining egg whites until the mixture is well blended and no streaks of white remain. Spoon the batter into the springform pan.

Bake the cake in theh middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until firm and springy and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Let teh cake cool on a rack for 2 hours (I did not do this. Mine cooled for about 30 minutes), then remove the sides of the springform. Let the cake cool completely, about 1 hour longer. Invert the cake onto a platter and carefuly remove the springform bottom. This cake is traditionally serve without icing. To garnish, dust the top with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.

Serves 8-10.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chili Rice

Did I mention that my dad's side of the family is making a cookbook of our favorite recipes? I bet you couldn't tell, since the last couple posts have been from my cousin and uncle.

The recipe book is quite the project, but something I have wanted to do forever. I don't want to miss my chance to know my nana's favorite recipes, or her mothers signature holiday dishes.

While this isn't from my Nana, nor a holiday dish, it was delish. Comming at ya from my Uncle Barrett, this is his family's favorite accompaniment to enchiladas... Chili Rice.

A nice combo meal idea. And one I expect to make often through the winter, as zucchinis stay well stocked in the market, causing me to make our favorite enchiladas on a regular basis.

This dish is fairly creamy, due to the sour cream (brilliant observation). But I wanted to mention it because that was why a couple of people said they really liked it (I served this at an informal gathering with a few of my sister's friends). Rice seems universally liked, so pair it with some cheese, sour cream and green chilis... and, ta da! A crowd pleaser.

Hope you like it too!

Chili Rice
from Uncle Barrett

2 cups of white rice
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large can diced green chilis
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Cook rice. You can use a rice cooker (like me), or stove top (Uncle B's directions below).

To make rice on the stove top, place rice in small to medium size pan. Rinse the rice in water 2-3 times, until the water is mostly clear. Add 3 cups of water to your rice pot and cover with a lid. Steam 20 minutes, then cool with the lid on.

Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread cooked rice evenly in baking dish.

Mix sour cream and diced green chilis in a small bowl, then spread on top of the rice. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top of the rice/sour cream mixture.

Bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly and brown. Serve hot.

* This dish can be refrigerated up to 1 day before cooking.

Guten appetit!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Uncle Mark's Tortellini (Tortellini with Herbs and Sun-Dried Tomatoes)

Our little chef's helper has finally fallen from grace... he has his first cold. Welcome to the great big world, little man. It's a germ ridden place.

Surprisingly, he's taking his cold in stride. Still happy, smiling and eager to eat. His only complaint is when I wipe his nose. But in all fairness, would you like someone to wipe your nose?! No thanks. If he had better hand-eye-nose coordination, I would let him do it himself. 8 months is a little young for that though (wink)!

For the road to recovery, I'm sharing an absolutely delicious, healthy dinner that everyone should make this weekend. Fresh herbs, some cheese protein, some pasta carbs... what's not to like?!

It's pretty darn fast to make, and it will be eaten even faster. If you start feeling a little run down, this should perk you right up! Might not cure a cold, but it works wonders in other ways. Your tummy will thank you.

Tortellini with Herbs and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
from Uncle Mark

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, and parsley)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (drained)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces cheese tortellini
About 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large covered pot. Add 2 teaspoons salt, if you like. Add pasta, stir, and partially cover the pot until water returns to a boil. Immediately remove cover, stir again, and cook pasta just until al dente.

Just before draining the pasta, ladel out 1/4 cup pasta water and pour over herb mixture. Drain remaining water from pasta.

Add drained pasta to herb mixture. Toss well with tongs or large spoons to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese and toss again. Yields 4-6 servings.

Guten appetit!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Justin's Secret Broccoli

My cousin Justin started a food blog: Organic Recipes on a Budget. What a great idea! However, I don't mean to get you all excited, because he hasn't posted since August. Justin? Hello? Is the site defunct? Sad. I'm sure there's an audience for your recipes. Like, say... me.

Justin's wife is a veggie, like us, and apparently loves this recipe. Since I'm always looking for easy, delicious side dishes, thought I would give it a try.

Other than cooking it a bit too long, which I didn't mind (I like most things overdone, yikes!), it certainly was scrumptious. And for a minimal amount of extra effort, you get a bit more zing from your broccoli side dish. I give it two big thumbs up! Thanks for a delish new recipe J. I hope you return to your blog soon.

Justin's Secret Broccoli
from Organic Recipes on a Budget

Said to only cost $5! Pair it with lemongrass tofu and some rice. Mmmmm.


1 Big Bunch Organic Broccoli - Cut into big florets
1 Organic Lemon
From the cupboard - 1.5 Tbls Olive oil, 2 cloves garlic - peeled & pressed, 1 tsp Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, or preheat the grill for indirect heat.

Put the broccoli in a good sized bowl and pour the olive oil on top. Throw in the pressed garlic, salt & pepper and toss the broccoli to get the goodness spread around.

Pour the broccoli into a 13x9 inch pan or onto a foil lined baking sheet and put it in the oven for 20 minutes (I greased my pan with Pam, just to make sure it wouldn't stick).

Pull it out of the oven and squeeze the lemon juice onto the broccoli, making sure you get it onto all of the florets. Serve warm.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eggs in the Hole

This was one of my husband's favorite breakfasts growing up. Eggs in the hole... Simple. Fun. I like it.

Since we've been eating a lot of eggbeaters recently (I first tasted them while we stayed at Tim's mom's house, as that's all they eat these days), I made this on a day I was craving real eggs. Eggbeaters, if you haven't tried them, are very healthy (Tim's mom has high cholesterol), super fast (no cracking of shells, beating, etc) and taste great. I was a non-believer before, but I'm hooked now.

I can't say that I have a recipe for this dish... but I'll try to write one up. My only advice is not to make your hold too small. Otherwise, the egg wont fit and it spills out everywhere. No longer would you have eggs in the 'hole', you'd have eggs 'all over'. And that's no fun for the kids. Or you (we, big kids, like fun too).

Hope you enjoy!

Eggs in the Hole
from June

2 slices of whole wheat bread (we're trying to be healthy, remember!)
2 free-range, large eggs
Margarine (or butter, cause butter is not where I skimp to be healthy)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cut 1 large hold in the middle of each bread slice.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium, and add a dollop of margarine/butter (If you're using a non-stick pan, the butter is just for flavor. Although, my non-stick pans never seem to be TRULY non-stick, so I always grease 'em up).

Crack each egg into a ramekin and set aside.

Once the butter has melted, place 1 (or 2 if they fit) bread slice in the pan. Pour an egg into the hole.

At this point, your method may vary based on how you like your eggs cooked. Tim's mom likes runny yokes, where I like mine cooked all the way through. If you like your yokes cooked through, poke them so they break. If you like runny yokes, don't poke them.

Let the eggs cook on the first side until the majority of the white is opaque and cooked. You can also salt and pepper the egg at this point.

Flip the bread and egg, and cook on the other side, until the egg is fully cooked to your desire and the bread is browned (approx. 3 minutes).

Guten appetit!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

I'm tired. New moms are tired. And because I'm tired, I'm ditsy. Kristen at Dine and Dish had a great, very funny, post about a mom of 4 being called ditsy. I can't even imagine how someone holds everything together with 4 kids. More power to you!

But, back to my ditsy-ness. I made this 'cheesecake', which is a frozen pie, and somehow missed the part about it needing to freeze. I left it in the refrigerator overnight and was insanely perplexed as to why it was STILL incredibly runny the next day. Cursing the directions for not telling me to freeze the pie, I served it anyway. What a drippy mess. Only then, did I realized it was probably supposed to be frozen. So, I stuck it in the freezer, a couple slices missing, and sure enough, it hardened up nicely.

Luckily, even as runny goop, it tasted great. If you like coffee and chocolate, you're going to really, really like this pie. Just don't forget to freeze it.

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake
from Taste of Home

1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) low-fat sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon hot water
1 cup whipped cream

Combine crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of a 9-in. springform pan; set aside.

For filling, beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add milk and syrup.

Dissolve coffee in water; add to mixing bowl. Fold in whipped cream.

Pour into crust and freeze at least 6 hours.

Guten appetit!