Chocolate and Almond Cake

I love the idea of Julie & Julia.  Learning how to cook by working through all of the recipes and techniques in ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.  I just can’t handle the idea of an aspic.  Who want’s to eat a savory jello?

This recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

No substitutions were made.

chocolate almond cake 1

Chocolate and Almond Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

A round cake pan 8 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches deep – I used a square pan
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tblsp rum or coffee – I used coffee

Butter and flour the cake pan.  Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe.  Measure out the rest of the ingredients.

3 quart mixing bowl
A wooden spoon or an electric beater
1/4 lb or 1 stick softened butter
2/3 c granulated sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

3 egg yolks

Beat in the egg yolks until well blended

3 egg whites
Pinch of Salt
1 tblsp granulated sugar

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

A rubber spatula
1/3 c pulverized almonds
1/4 tps almond extract
1/2 c cake flour, turned into a sifter

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract.  Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.  Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding.  Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula.  Bake in the middle level of a preheated oven for about 25 minutes.  Cake is done with it has puffed and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on a rack.  Allow it cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

Chocolate-Butter Icing

2 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tblsp rum or coffee – I used coffee
a small covered pan
a larger pan of almost simmering water
5 to 6 tlbsp unsalted butter
a wooden spoon
a bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
a small flexible blade metal spatula or a table knife

Place the chocolate and the rum or coffee in the small pan, cover and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water.  Remove the pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth.  Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time.  Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency.  At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife.

cartoon-strawberry-9We had some friends over for dinner and I made this for dessert, which is why there’s only a single picture of the cake.  Also, I moved the cake when it was cooling and a corner broke off completely.  This icing worked as the perfect glue.  If you have the time, make the cake in the morning and the icing in the afternoon, when the cake has had plenty of time to cool.  BTW, this cake is dense and moist; the almond and chocolate balance each other perfectly.

Potato Salad with Bacon and Parsley

We’re big fans of the potato, and throw in some bacon?  SOLD.

This recipe is from Real Simple, June 2009.

Substitution made, noted below.

potato salad 1

Potato Salad with Bacon and Parsley

1 1/2 lbs new potatoes – I used red potatoes
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 slices bacon
3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 c fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped – I used about 1/4 c dried

Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover and 1 tsp salt and simmer until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water to cool.  Cut into quarters – Because I used red potatoes, I cut them into 1 inch (ish) squares before cooking.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over med-high heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels.  Crumble when cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Toss with the potatoes, bacon and parsley.

potato salad 2

cartoon-strawberry-9I served this side dish with some BBQ pork roast and broccoli.   A great alternative to the heavy mayo based potato salad.

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

Making this pie, I felt like a Pintrest meme.  Messy bun, yoga pants and a love of all things pumpkin.  There has to be a white girl joke in there somewhere.

I’m not sure where this recipe came from, looks like it was cut off the back of a box.

No substitutions were made.

pumpkin pie 1

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

Pie:
1 refrigerated pie crust
15 oz pumpkin puree
12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt

Streusel:
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 tblsp butter
1/2 c chopped pecans

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place crust into a pie plate.  In a large bowl, mix filling ingredients until well blended.  Pour into crust-lined pie plate.

pumpkin pie 2

Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; bake 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix streusel ingredients.

Sprinkle streusel over pumpkin filling.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center come out clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.

pumpkin pie 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Thanksgiving isn’t the ONLY time to enjoy pumpkin pie!  And the streusel topping is perfect.  Next time I’ll double the amount of streusel, so it covers the top of the pie completely.  I’d also use sweetened condensed milk instead of the evaporated milk, just to add a little sweetness.

Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie

The ultimate in comfort food – Chicken Pot Pie.  Fall has given me a need for rich, warm foods.  Foods that fill your belly and your soul.

This recipe is from Real Simple, February 2009.

Substitution and addition made, noted below.

chicken pot pie Collage

Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
3 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c dry white wine
2 c 1% milk – I used 2%
1 10oz package frozen peas
1 tblsp fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 9-inch pie crust
* Addition – 1 med diced zucchini

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cooke the chicken in a pot of simmering water until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool, then shred.  (I diced mine.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken).  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

chicken pot pie 4

Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Transfer to a shallow 1.5 to 2-quart baking dish.

Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal.  Cut several vents in the crust.  Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

chicken pot pie 5

cartoon-strawberry-9What a wonderful and easy dinner.  Took a little over an hour for prep to dinner, and it was so good.  I don’t think I’ll ever want or need to learn how to make pie crust, Pillsbury does it better than I ever could.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Happy Anniversary!  Last November I stared this little cooking blog focusing on all the recipes I have floating around my kitchen.  I’ve shared some of my favorite recipes, found a few that didn’t really cut the mustard, and have had so much fun sharing wonderful food with you!  To celebrate, let’s have some chocolate cake!

This recipe is from a Penzey’s Catalog.  (Unfortunately, I’m not sure which one..)

No substitutions were made, but I did half the recipe.

choc zuc cake 1

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

1/2 c butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tblsp cocoa powder (natural or dutch)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c buttermilk
2 c peeled, shredded zucchini (1 medium)
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

choc zuch cake 2

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the oil, eggs and vanilla.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Stir in the zucchini.  Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

choc zuch cake 3

.

choc zuch cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a very light, moist cake, and the zucchini is not noticeable at all.  This cake would be an easy way to sneak some veggies into a child or husband’s diet. 😉