Monday, September 16, 2013

Just Serve Wine

The great thing about having a dinner party is that you can try out new recipes on your friends. The bad thing about having a dinner party is trying out new recipes on your friends. Sometimes things don't quite go according to plan, so it can be kind of a risk. Unless you ply them with loads of wine. My friend, Chad, hosted a dinner party this weekend and I offered to make a dessert. (It sounded like wine was covered.) And I wanted an excuse to bake!

I actually thought that I had blogged about a flourless chocolate cake previously, but according to my own hi-tech blog search, I hadn't. Unless I forgot to label that particular post, which is not outside the realm of possibility. (Sometimes I blog under the influence. It happens.) 

Since this is an awesomely abbreviated four-ingredient recipe (i.e uncomplicated) and because I knew that we were having pasta for dinner, it seemed like this gluten-free solution (but not calorie free let's not forget!) was the way to go. Overall I would say that it was successful, though I wish that I had made and served a whipped cream alongside it, as I discovered after the first taste that my cake was slightly on the dry side. Slightly. I think I left it in the oven for, like, 8 minutes too long. Being the spazz that I am and since I had the tools, I made another cake the following day just to check. A few less minutes in the oven resulted in a much smoother result. Yay!! And also, Sorry dinner-party-friends!! I didn't know!! So, I guess the moral of the story is, if you want to impress, do a trial run, if you don't have the time, serve wine!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 300˚F with the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with buttered parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth, in a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until completely melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolks.

3. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture then, gently, fold in the remaining egg whites in 2 additions.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. (My cake actually didn't pull away from the sides until it was cooling, hence my slightly overcooked trail run. So don't wait for that to happen.) Cool completely on a wire rack; remove the sides of the pan. Serve at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Late Summer Saturday

Whoa. It's September. And a college football/US Open men's semi-finals kind of Saturday no less. Quite the day of athleticism. I took my urban rebounding (mini-trampoline to those unfamiliar) class this morning so am feeling entitled to one final glass (or two) of rosé for the season. I'm more of a tennis drinker than football drinker. Champagne and French fries? Sure! Beer and nachos? The nachos sound good...

The end of summer brings one last chance to hoard all the tomatoes and corn that you can. But they won't last very long and I'm not about to start canning. Forgoing my 85th variation on a green salad, I'm breaking out the wheat berries. It's getting crazy up in herre! Wheat berries are the whole grain form of wheat and are a little nutty, a little chewy and are a little more interesting than quinoa (to me), though the wheat berries could be replaced with quinoa or farro or couscous if you preferred. There's no real recipe here, as I kind of eyeballed the whole thing, but I'll give you a general estimate and you can go from there. Now, where are my nachos? I've got some football (and Rafa) to watch!

End of Summer Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat Berries: Simmered for an hour, or until soft, strained and cooled
Heirloom Tomatoes: Chopped
Sweet Corn: Cooked briefly in boiling water, cooled & cut from the cob
Scallions: Chopped, to taste
Feta: Crumbled, to taste
Toasted Walnuts: Chopped, to taste
Cilantro or Parsley: Chopped, to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (3 parts)
Lemon Juice (1 - 2 parts)
Dijon Mustard (1/2 part)
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper: To taste