So we decided this evening to get together with some friends. I offered to bring something and was assigned dessert. My mind quickly went to my Raspberry Buttermilk Cake when I remembered that one of my good friends in this group doesn’t believe that a dessert is actually dessert if it has fruit in it. We’ll continue this debate personally, but I switched my brain to chocolate.
I recently came across this chocolate cake to make a treat for another friend who is gluten free. Aside from baking time it’s about 15-20 minutes to put it together and that includes the time to get out the ingredients and make the superfine sugar.
This is how I have taken to “sifting”, it’s way easier!
And I still boil my water in a teapot.
The boiling water goes into the cocoa and then the vanilla, it shouldn’t be runny, but it isn’t thick.
In a separate bowl mix the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
I never buy superfine sugar, if you have a food processor, you shouldn’t either.
The mixer gets the eggs, olive oil, and the sugar.
They get whipped together until they are very thick.
Add the chocolate while it stirs slowly.
And then the almond flour mix.
Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that you don’t miss any good stuff.
And then pour it into your prepared pan.
After it’s baked it’s beautiful, moist, and delicious.
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Not Shared, Tested and Approved!
1½ cups almond meal (or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup superfine sugar
⅔ cup regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
3 large eggs
1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9″ springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
2. Measure and sift the unsweetened cocoa into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
3. In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.
4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
7. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.
As promised, last Wednesday’s dinner…since I discovered making my own pasta I have really been excited to continue to try different types. The recipe I had selected caught my eye and my husband’s, so when he suggested it I quickly put it on the menu. As plans became clear, my husband had a friend from work joining us, but as usual that didn’t prevent me from trying something new.
The recipe said that the pasta dough should be made and then allowed to sit at room temperature for an hour; in a note it also mentioned that the pasta could be made in advance. With our schedule, it was no-brainer to make the pasta on Tuesday, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, and allow myself the time to pick up the clams fresh on Wednesday.
The recipe was originally designed as a Valentine’s Day dinner for two; it only called for 1 pound of littleneck clams! My rule is usually about 1 pound per person (8-10); as you can guess, I made a few edits, and there are few more in the recipe below to make it that much better.
I bought Italian Semolina past to make sure it would be accurate, but when I got to the kneading I began to worry that it would not gain that elasticity that is needed. I need not have worried.
After making the dough, I let it rest in the fridge until I was ready to roll it out on Wednesday. Aside from the initial cuts it is all done by hand.
It took me about 45 minutes; the way I have written the recipe it may take a little longer as a thinner pasta would be better. Try to get some help, it would be fun with a partner.
When working with clams, you will see recipes that say “scrubbed” – do not skip this! Clams live at the bottom of the ocean and will fill your meal with grit if you don’t wash them. I always put them in a large bowl of ice water and pull them out, scrub the shell with a soft brush, rinse them under running water, and the place them in a colander layered with ice to keep them fresh until they go in the pan.
Once they were clean I chopped my parsley and sliced the garlic.
Water always takes a bit of time to boil, so I got that started. Then I put together a quick salad with spring greens, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and cherry tomatos.
Last, but not least it was time to put together the main dish, starting with the hot Italian sausage.
Once it’s brown drain the excess oil and add the garlic.
By now your water should be boiling, you want to start the clams and pasta at about the same time. Add the clams to the sausage with the wine and cover it with a lid. I like to use my deep skillet with the glass lid so I can shake them up and see when they open.
Once they are open, stir in the butter and parsley, then the pasta. I shelled my clams at this point for easier eating.
Stir it all together and serve.
Fresh Pasta with Clams and Hot Italian Sausage
Entrées, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!
Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Bon Appétit | February 2016
2¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more
1 cup semolina flour, plus more
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup water, warm
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs. hot Italian sausage, bulk or with casing removed
8-10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-6 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Combine all-purpose flour and semolina flour in a large bowl. Add oil and warm water and mix with a fork until a stiff dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8–10 minutes. Wrap tightly in plastic; let sit at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerated overnight.
Cut dough in 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic, roll dough into a 10-12″ log. Cut on a diagonal into ⅓-½” pieces; dust with all-purpose flour.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out between your palms to make about 3″ strands that taper at the ends. Dust pasta with semolina flour and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel until ready to use.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon (or mix ‘n chop), until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain excess oil, then add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add clams and wine; cover. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes; discard any that do not open.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 3-5 minutes (dependent on thickness). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Add butter, parsley, pasta, and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to clams. Cook, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes.
Optional: Remove clams from shells prior to stirring in pasta.
This past week, both of my son’s lacrosse games interfered with karate, so I wanted to ensure that I had some time for myself to practice on my own. I selected a meal that would require minimal effort, and with snow flurries randomly appearing through the day I also wanted to stay inside – it’s May this is crazy!
Roasted chicken is certainly one of the easist meals to make, while it can be as simple as salt, pepper, and butter, I selected one with artichokes and lemon and updated it with some cremini mushrooms.
As usual, my first task was dessert, Strawberry Pazzo Cake With Herbed Crème Fraîche. The topping is best if you let the rosemary meld with the Crème Fraîche for at least 4 hours in the fridge; the sugar is the other ingredient for the topping, but it isn’t used until you whip it.
Mix it all together and let it chill in the fridge.
And then onto the dinner drink – my husband made sangria.
I hope you’re fans of my favorite school, but if not you are forgiven. The ingredients we show here are more suggestions than. Any sort of a fixed recipe. I don’t think it’s ever the same…
We always strain the juice when adding it to the pitcher on top of the sliced fruit.
Some simple syrup and cranberry juice add some sweetness. (We do normally make our own simple syrup; I really wanted a margarita on Cinco de Mayo and he said he didn’t have time).
Everything goes into the pitcher, and again, this is best if you prepare it at least a few hours in advance.
Final, after my practice I moved onto dinner. The first thing to make is the Gremolata (in layman’s terms: lemon garlic herb butter) and for that I had softened my butter earlier.
Note the pictures have double what the ingredients call for in the recipe below; I am using the extra chicken to make sandwiches later in the week.
This is my standard tool for zesting a lemon, the important thing is not to get the white pith, which is bitter, in your zest. The garlic and the zest go on top of the butter.
And then it was time to clean and chop the parsley and add it to the butter mix.
Add salt and pepper.
To really flavor a chicken, it is good to get your mix above and below the skin; for best results dry the skin with paper towels. I placed both chickens in my large cast iron skillet.
For the butter that will go on the chicken, I put it in a separate bowl so that I could repeatedly stick my hands in it and not get any of us sick.
And then I thoroughly salted and peppered the skin.
I used canned artichoke hearts which need to be rinsed well, and I cut them in half.
I surrounded the chicken with the artichoke hearts and set it in the oven.
I also prepped the cremini mushrooms and the rest of the parsley to add later.
Back to dessert…I cleaned and halved a pound of strawberries.
As with many cakes, you first mix the dry ingredients.
And cream soft butter with two kinds of sugar.
And then add the wet ingredients.
Finally, mix in the dry ingredients.
The batter is poured into the pan and then you press the halved strawberries down into the batter and then it goes into the oven.
While it baked, I prepped my asparagus and basted the chicken.
With only 20 minutes left on the chicken, I added the mushrooms and the parsley and stirred them into the artichokes.
As it continued to cook, I made the balsamic glaze for the cake; still simple, it has three ingredients boiled together.
And immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, 2/3 of the glaze goes directly onto the cake (do not over bake it!).
Time for dinner and a glass of the sangria. Serve over ice (especially in the summer).
My mother-in-law made another beautiful salad.
And dinner is served.
Just before serving dessert I whipped the Rosemary crème fraîche with a heaping teaspoon of sugar. It. Will still be very thick, just beat it to stiff peaks to avoid making butter. To serve, drizzle with the remaining glaze.
Roast Chicken with Artichokes and Gremolata Butter
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, chopped, divided
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 4-5 pound chicken
1½-2 cans artichoke hearts, halved
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix butter, ¼ cup chopped parsley, lemon peel, and pressed garlic in small bowl to blend. Season butter mixture with salt and pepper.
Place chicken on heavy large rimmed baking sheet; pat dry with paper towels. Gently slide hand under chicken breast skin to loosen from meat. Spread 2 tablespoons seasoned butter under skin and 1 tablespoon over chicken; sprinkle skin with salt and pepper. Arrange artichokes around chicken and transfer to oven; roast chicken 40 minutes, basting halfway through.
Add mushrooms and ¼ cup parsley to artichokes around chicken; baste with drippings. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180°F, about 25 minutes longer. Remove chicken to a cutting board for carving and stir in remaining butter and lemon juice into the artichokes and mushrooms. Carve chicken and top artichoke mushroom mix.
Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Tested and Approved!
Makes Serves 8 ∙ Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Epicurious | June 2013
1¾ cups Crème Fraîche
1 Tbsp rosemary, freshly minced
1-2 tsp. suar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan
1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, fresh, hulled and halved
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 tsp granulated sugar
black pepper, a few grinds of fresh
For the Crème Fraîche:
Stir together the crème fraîche and the herbs. Refrigerate and let sit for 30 minutes or overnight.
For the Cake:
Butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or 8-by-8-inch enameled cast-iron baking pan (if cooking in the grill) or standard 8-by-8-inch baking pan (if baking in your oven). (Don’t put a standard baking pan inside your grill or over a fire.) Ignite the coals, turn a gas grill to high, or preheat an oven to 350°F.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until the mixture looks creamy, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix just until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until smooth with a creamy texture.
Pour the batter into the buttered pan. Arrange the strawberry halves, cut-side down, on top of the cake batter. Don’t overlap the berries; use just enough strawberries for one layer and set aside the rest to use as garnish
TO BAKE IN A GRILL: When the grill reaches 350°F, slide in the cake, resting the pan on the grill rack, close the grill’s lid and let it bake for at least 20 minutes with the grill lid closed. Test the cake: It’s done when a skewer inserted into the center (but not in a strawberry) comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.
TO BAKE IN AN OVEN: Bake for 10 minutes and then decrease the heat to 325°F and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the center (but not in a strawberry) comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.
For the Glaze: While the cake is baking, in a small pan combine the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and remove from the heat right away. Set it aside until the cake has baked. It should be the consistency of maple syrup; if it thickens too much before the cake comes out of the oven, stir in a few more spoonfuls of vinegar. As soon as the cake comes off the heat, drizzle the top with about two-thirds of the balsamic glaze.
Whip the Crème Fraîche with the sugar, making sure not to over beat.
When the cake has cooled, cut it into wedges if baked in a skillet; if baked in a standard baking pan, cut it into squares. Drizzle more balsamic glaze over the cake if you like. Top the cake with a spoonful of Herbed Crème Fraîche. Spoon any remaining crème fraîche into a bowl and set on a platter with leftover halved strawberries to pass so guests can add extra if they like.