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.

Happy Birthday!

It’s my birthday!

Here’s a fun Julia remix.

PBS has also done similar remixes for Reading Rainbow, Bob Ross and Mr. Rogers.  So great!

And I made myself a birthday cake.  A two day, three layer, chocolate amaziness overload cake.

choc mouse cake

You can find the recipe and instructions HERE.  Thanks Crunchy Creamy Sweet for the amazing recipe!

Treat yourself to a piece of cake on me!

Suprêmes de Volaille à Blanc

I picked up As Always, Julia on the sale rack at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago.  The edited letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto.  A friendship created in letters about food, politics, family, housekeepers and the cookbook.  I’m about half way through and am in love with these two women.

This recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Substitution made, noted below.

Suprêmes de Volaille à Blanc

Suprêmes de Volaille à Blanc

4 suprêmes (boned breasts from tow fryers) – I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Big pinch white pepper
A heavy, covered, fireproof casserole about 10′ diameter – I used my dutch oven
A round of waxed paper 10′ diameter and buttered on one side
4 tblsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the suprêmes with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Heat the butter in the casserole until it is foaming.  Quickly roll the suprêmes in the butter, lay the buttered paper over them, cover casserole and place in hot oven.  After 6 minutes, press top of suprêmes with your finger.  If still soft, return to the oven for a moment or two.  When the meat is springy to the touch it is done.  Remove the suprêmes to a warm platter and cover while making the sauce (2-3 minutes).   My chicken took about 17 minutes total to cook.

For the sauce:
1/4 c white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/4 c port, Maderia, or dry white vermouth
– I used a brown vegetable broth, and didn’t have any wine on hand. So I substituted 1 1/2 tblsp of Balsamic Vinegar and stock to fill a 1/2 c.
1 c whipping cream
Salt & Pepper
Lemon juice as needed
2 tblsp fresh minced parsley

Pour the stock and wine into the casserole with the cooking butter and boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy.  Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly.  Off heat, taste carefully for seasoning and add drops of lemon juice to taste.  Pour the sauce over the suprêmes, sprinkle with parsley, and serve at once.

cartoon-strawberry-9Holy Shmoly this sauce is rich and buttery.  But, we were having some friends over for dinner and I didn’t take enough time to thicken the sauce.  I served the chicken with red quinoa and fresh green beans.  Perfect meal for a summer night.

French Onion Soup

There’s French Onion Soup.  And then there’s Julia’s French Onion Soup.  This is the best there is, just be sure to set aside 2 hours for this endeavor.

The recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Vol 1.

No substitutions were made.

French Onion 1

Onion Soup

1 1/2 lbs or about 5 c of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tblsp butter
1 tblsp oil
A heavy-bottomed, 4 qrt covered saucepan

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 min.

1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (helps the onions to brown)

Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar.  Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.

3 tblsp flour

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

French Onion2

2 quarts boiling brown stock, canned beef bouillon, or 1 quart of boilinb water and 1 quart of stock or bouillon
– I used 2 quarts of Trader Joes beef stock
1/2 c dry white wine or dry white vermouth
salt and pepper to taste

Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid.  Add the wine, and season to taste.  Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally.  Correct seasoning.  Set aside uncovered until ready to serve.  Then reheat to a simmer.

3 tblsp cognac – I skipped this
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1 to 2 c grated swiss or parmesan cheese

Just before serving, stir in the cognac.  Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread, and pass the cheese separately.

French Onion3

Hard Toasted French Bread

12 to 16 slices of French Bread cut 1/4 to 1 inch thick

Place the bread in one layer in a roasting pan and pack in a preheated 325 degree oven for about half an hour, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned.

Olive oil or beef drippings
Cut clove of garlic

Halfway through the baking, each side may be basted with a tsp of olive oil or beef drippings; and after baking, each piece may be rubbed with cut garlic. – I brushed one side with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.

French Onion4

cartoon-strawberry-9This is the best French Onion soup you’ll ever make or eat.  Do it ASAP!

Split Pea Soup

A friend of mine blogged about this recipe early in 2012, and I have made it probably ten times in the last year.  It’s that good.

Here are the original posts for this recipe – Picnics in the Park and In the Kitchen with Kath

split pea soup 1

Julia Child’s Split Pea Soup with Ham

Ham Stock
Meaty ham bone and scraps from a ham, or 1 or more ham hocks
3 quarts water
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped onions
1 c chopped celery
An herb bouquet: 3 bay leaves, 1 tsp thyme, 5 cloves tied in cheesecloth

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot and simmer, lid askew for 4 hours.

Strain the broth, discarding the ham and vegetables.  At this point you can make the soup, or you can refrigerate or freeze the stock to use later.

I like to make the broth the day before I make the soup.  I will also strain the fat off the top of the broth before using in the soup.

3 tblsp butter
2/3 c diced celery
2/3 c diced onions
1 c diced carrots
3 tblsp flour
2 quarts ham stock
1 1/2 c split peas
salt and pepper
Diced ham or croutons for garnish

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the celery, onions and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.

Add the stock and split peas.  Simmer with lid askew for 45 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use an immersion blender in the pot to blend the soup. – Alternatively, put some of the soup in a blender.  Fill the blender only half full and hold the lid on securely with a pot holder.

Serve with sauteed ham or croutons as a garnish.

split pea soup 2

cartoon-strawberry-9This is another favorite in our house and is perfect on a cold winter evening.  Add a little diced ham to your bowl and a warm roll on the side, nothing could be better.