Monday, March 3, 2014

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

This cake has very little flour, only 2 tablespoons. My friend who asked for the recipe described the cake as having a soufflé like texture. It is much lighter than your typical flourless cake.  Whipped cream is a tasty addition when you are serving it.
This recipe comes from Fran Gage's book The New American Olive Oil with a couple of minor changes. I tend to use one of two olive oils that she profiles in her book, either Corto or California Olive Ranch. I have read many times about all the fraud going on in the Italian Olive oil market and so I steer away from Italian Olive oils when shopping at a supermarket where I can't taste before buying. I trust olive oils made in California to be the real deal. I also look for an oil in a dark bottle because light is not good for the oil.

Almost Flourless Olive Oil Chocolate Cake 
7 ounces 70% chocolate, coarsely chopped. ( Use a high quality chocolate such as Scharffen Berger)
1/2 cup extra-virgin oil oil
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature, separated
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
1/8 tsp salt
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and line a 9" springform pan with baking parchment.
Melt the chocolate. Place it in a mixing bowl and when it is cool add the olive oil in a steady stream. Whisk in 2/3's of the sugar, the egg yolks, and the salt.
Beat the egg whites, slowly adding the remaining sugar once they are foamy. Continue beating until they form soft peaks.
Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture, adding them in two additions.
Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Bake 35 or 40 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean or with only a few crumbs.
Let the cake cool in the pan. Run a knife around the edge and then invert it onto a serving dish. The cake will have deflated as it cooled.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Original Toll House Cookies with a Twist

Maida Heatter included what she said was the original Toll House cookie recipe in her Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, a great resource for chocolate lovers. That is the basic recipe that I have used for as long as I can remember but I have always added one extra ingredient to it, Rice Krispies. A high school friend of mine would bring her mother's chocolate chip cookies to school and she put Rice Krispies in her cookies. I liked the extra crunch the Rice Krispies gave the cookies and figured that they made each cookie lower in calories and fat. What is there not to like about that idea?

Toll House Cookies with Rice Krispies
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar firmly packed (the original recipe calls for light brown)
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water
12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
2 cups Rice Krispies
(Maida Heatter called for 2 cups broken walnut pieces)
Preheat the oven to 375º. Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the vanilla and salt, then the eggs one at a time, beating well. On low speed add half of the flour, beating only until incorporated. In a small cup stir the baking soda into the hot water and then mix it into the dough. Add the rest of the flour, beating until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate and the Rice Krispies. Drop teaspoons of dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, until golden brown. When done let the cookies rest for a few seconds before removing from the cookie sheet. Move to a rack to cool.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Noodles with Crispy-Meat Sauce

I haven't made this in years, but I have the end of a roast to be used up and thought this would be a great way to do it. I had to search through my many old Sunset cook books and finally found it. Next time I want to make this dish the recipe will be here in my blog and I will not have to hunt for it. I no longer subscribe to Sunset Magazine, but  I did for many years when it was owned by the Lane family. The recipes could always be trusted to be good. This recipe is from the Sunset Pasta Cook Book, first published in 1980. I have made some minor changes to the recipe.

Noodles with Crispy-Meat Sauce
8 oz. fresh medium wide egg noodles, preferably home made
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, diced
2 cups slivered cooked beef or pork roast
1/2 cup shopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves or 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a wide frying pan over medium heat, combine olive oil and butter. Add the onion and cook until it has softened and starts to brown. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is crisp and browned. Add the parsley, basil, salt, oregano, and pepper and cook until the parsley just begins to turn limp.
Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and place in a serving bowl. Spoon the sauce over the noodles and toss lightly. Pass the Parmesan for individuals to sprinkle over their servings.
Makes 4 servings

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Slow Cooked Ribs

I have compiled this recipe from a few sources, added a few things here and there and greatly reduced the sugar content (although there still is quite a bit).  The more time you can cook in the oven, the better...and just finish on the grill!  Can be cooked ahead of time and grilled the day of.

2 racks ribs (I use 2.5 kilos)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 large onion (minced)
5 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 tbsp tomato concentrate
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 honey
1/2 cup brown beer (belgian quadruples work well here)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp dijon mustard (spicier is better)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pot, add onions and garlic.  Cook over low heat until onions are trasparent.

Stir in remainder of ingredients, gently bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (with the sugar content it is prone to burning if left unattended).  Let cool completely.

Place ribs in a Dutch oven, and cover them with BBQ sauce.  Cover, and place in preheated 80 C oven (175F).  Turn every 2 hours and apply more BBQ sauce.  Cook for at least 9 hours, 12-14 is better at a slightly lower temperature!  You can cook over the course of two days and refrigerate overnight if timing is short in one day.

Grill over coals for only a few minutes, be sure that the fire is not too hot to burn the ribs.  You may need to place and remove ribs with a spatula instead of tongs as they may be falling apart!

Serve with mac 'n cheese made with stinky cheese.  Serve with extra  BBQ sauce

Saturday, September 7, 2013


This is a wonderful way to use stale bread when tomatoes are in season. I think it is especially good with lamb shoulder chops that have been cooked on the BBQ. The recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma Savoring Italy cookbook which was written by Michele Scicolone.  I used the amounts given in the recipe as a very rough approximation. A mandolin helps immensely to speed up the chopping of the onion and the cucumber.

2 large/6 small flavorful tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more if needed
3 tblsps balsamic vinegar, or to taste.
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6-8 slices stale pain de compagne or other hearty bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and basil in a bowl and drizzle with the oil and vinegar and season with salt and paper. Toss to coat evenly. Place half the bread in a wide, shallow bowl, cover with half the vegetables. Layer on the remaining bread and then the rest of the vegetables. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Toss the salad and then taste and adjust the seasonings. If the bread is dry add a little more oil and or vinegar, to taste. It is ready to serve. If you have leftovers, they still taste great the next day though the salad tastes fresher the first day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shortcake Biscuits

This is my mother's recipe for shortcake biscuits. Heap split biscuits with whatever sort of fruit you prefer and top with sweetened whipped cream. Small shortcakes with fruit are a great dessert, but larger ones make a fantastic breakfast. Strawberry shortcake is no sweeter than pancakes or waffles with syrup and makes for a happy morning surprise.

Shortcake biscuits
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter in cubes
3/4 cup milk
Place dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended. Add butter and pulse. Add milk and pulse until dough just comes together in clumps. Drop the dough on a greased baking sheet or a Silpat sheet on a baking sheet in 6 to 9 biscuits, patting a bit to flatten. If you are making the shortcakes for dessert make them smaller, if for breakfast they can be larger. Bake in a 425º oven for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Split the biscuits and serve with lightly sweetened fruit and sweetened whipped cream.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pan Seared Round Bone Lamb Shoulder Chops

These lamb chops are inexpensive and cook quickly. We had them this evening with a savory bread pudding. That made for a very good combination. Delicious! Makes 4 servings.

Round Bone Lamb Shoulder Chops
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 round bone lamb shoulder chops
Smash the garlic with the side of a French chef knife and smear it on a cutting board with the salt until you have a paste. Mix the salt and garlic paste with the herbes de Provence and the olive oil. Pat the lamb chops dry with a paper towel and then rub the paste all over them. If you have the time, let the chops sit for an hour with the paste on them. They are still very tasty if you don't have the time to do that. 
Heat a cast iron frying pan large enough to hold the chops over medium-high heat. Sear on one side until browned, about 2 minutes, and then flip and sear on the other side for about another minute. Slash the edges in a couple of places to keep flat. Lower the heat to medium and cook until medium rare, about 5 minutes. Cut to check for doneness. That's it. Fast, easy, and very good. Do not overcook or they will be tough.