Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Two weekends ago marked the beginning of naking treats in my very own kitchen. In the midst of running errands and figuring out window treatments for my new pad, I made my go-to recipe for Gateau Au Chocolat (imagine me saying it with a faux French accent, oui oui). Just another fancy name, but this dense and rich flourless chocolate cake remains a staple in my repertoire. You can jazz it up with a dusting of confectioner's sugar, drizzle some caramel sauce or top it off with fresh raspberries. Either way you're guaranteed to make friends for life, at least that's been my experience.

Gateau Au Chocolat

  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (use a serrated knife)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 5 1/3 oz. unsalted butter
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch cake pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the pan. Butter the top of the parchment paper. Set aside.

In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt together the sugar, butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Whisk egg yolks into the chocolate mixture. Then whisk the flour in the chocolate mixture.

Using a handheld mixer or standup mixer, beat egg whites until they form firm peaks. Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Slowly fold the remaining egg whites into the batter until fully incorporated. Patience is a virture in this case. Be careful not to overmix but be sure there are no traces of white streaks in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is springy and firm, 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven, mine leans towards the 30 minute mark). Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before unmolding.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across one of Amy Karol's blog posts on Angry Chicken. She featured various concoctions, including this one for Chai Concentrate (which was featured in one of her local Oregonian newspapers). I'm a big fan of chai tea, in fact, do I dare to admit that it's probably my favorite? I don't want to make any other tea leaves cry now. This simple concotion makes a lovely housewarming gift or party favor. Unlike many brands of pre-made chai, this one includes the milk and sweetener. Assembly required and a mug of your favorite black tea.

Chai Concentrate (Makes 1 1/2 c., enough for 28 cups of chai)

  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Empty condensed milk into glass jar or plastic container with tight fitting lid. Stir in the sugar and spices. Store in refrigerator for 6 months.

To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, such as Assam, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or to your liking. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.

Being that it was a three day weekend (President's Day), I spent Monday afternoon doing some serious damage at IKEA with a girlfriend. Does anyone know of any IKEA Anonymous meetings in my area?!?! I mean really, that place is like kitchen crack! Before we took off for a day of fun in the sun, I mariniate some lamb shanks I recently purchased from McCalls Meat & Fish Co. in Los Feliz. I pulled a recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Olives and Apricots from Food Network (pretty sure it was a Tyler Florence recipe). Sorry to say I forgot to take an "a la finished" photo, but trust me when I say that lamb was tender, delicate and robust with flavor. Unlike a lot of lamb shanks I've eaten in my day, these were fairly mellow and worthy of converting you non-lamb eating foodies out there. Stay tuned, I will be posting some more foodie adventures this week!

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