Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chocolate Cake for Eeva's Gala

I have returned from a almost a week of back to back events in Washington D.C.  The most special were Barack Obama's inauguration and Eeva's 30th birthday.  Amy and Eric hosted a dinner party and I provided the cake.   I had a couple of requests for the recipe which is slightly altered from "Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme".  This is my most requested dessert and is very easy to make.

Suzy's Cake
9.7 oz bar bittersweet ScharffenBerger Chocolate
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup organic sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tblsp all-purpose flour
1. Butter 9" round springform cake pan that is at least 2" high, line bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and dust inside of pan with flour: tap out excess.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees with shelf in middle.
2. Melt chocolate (Cool until just warm to touch before mixing with rest of ingredients).
3. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed for about 4 min, scraping sides of bowl frequently, until butter is creamy and sugar well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating about 1 min after each.  Reduce speed to low and pour in the cooled chocolate. Mix just until incorporated. Stir in flour only until it disappears into the batter.
4. Scrape batter into pan, smooth top, and place into oven.  Bake 26 to 29 min or until cake rises slightly and top has lost its sheen.  The top may crack a bit and the cake may not look entirely set in the center; when you test the cake by inserting a slender sknife into the center, the knife will come out lightly streaked with batter, which is what you want.  (This light streaking, hasn't happened for me. It is always heavy streaking for me. It is important not to over bake the cake as it will be dry. I never bake it over 29 minutes.)  Transfer cake to a rack to cool.
5. When cake has cooled, chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or two to make it easy to unmold.  Turn cake out, remove parchment, and invert cake onto serving platter so that it is right side up.  Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.  Serve cake with whipped cream.  I sift powdered sugar lightly over cake, but it isn't necessary. I think it makes the cake more attractive.
The cake can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature or in to refrigerator for 3 or 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recipes Old and New

I just enjoyed a weekend of eating and cycling with friends and my food contributions were my old cookie favorite Brandon's Chocolate Bars and Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa from Gourmet Magazine by way of  Both were big hits and the recipes were requested and so here they are.  I thought the quinoa would be better if the amount of black beans was increased just a bit, but nobody else agreed.

Brandon's Chocolate Bars
Crust:  1 cup butter
             1 cup brown sugar, packed
             2 cups flour
             1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar.  Add flour and vanilla.  Pat into 9 by 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes.
Topping:  3 large eggs
                  1 1/2 cups brown sugar
                  1 1/2 tsp vanilla
                  3 tblsp flour
                  3/4 tsp baking powder
                  12 oz pkg chocolate chips
                  3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in flour and baking powder.  Add cocolate chips and nuts. Spread topping over baked crust.  Return to oven for 25-30 minutes.  Cut into bars while still warm.

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa
2 tsp grated lime zest
2 tblsp fresh lime juice
2 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I omitted this)
1 tblsp olive oil (I used a bit more)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (I cooked my own)
2 med. tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, chopped.
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (the original recipe called for cilantro)
Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in large bowl.  
Cook quinoa.  (For directions in orginal recipe, go to TEXT
and  type in Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa in the search box.)  Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Dermatology Department Party

Fancy has asked me what we served when we hosted the derm party.  It really couldn't have been simpler and made the party relatively stress free.  The only thing that I prepared from scratch was the gravlax which was served with small slices of pumpernickel bread and baguette, along with creme fraiche as a topping.  The other things merely needed to be set out: mixed nuts, a variety of olives, four different cheeses, crackers, tapenade, ham, small franchese rolls, and mustard .  The ham was Martha Stewart/Niman Ranch from Costco.  They have had it the last 2 Christmas's at Costco and it is really good, not too salty.  For dessert I picked up four different things from Gayles:  individual chocolate peppermint cakes, little mocha mousses in chocolate cups, pecan tassies, and lemon butter snowflake cookies.   For drinks we offered San Pellogrino sparkling water, champagne, white and red wine, and beer.  I borrowed wine glasses from Martha and had stemless flutes for the champagne.  I found great appetizer plates at the Crate and Barrel outlet.  It was wonderful not having paper plates and plastic cups.