Monday, November 25, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake

The holidays are upon us.  And, while most people enjoy pumpkin and a few other favorite pies at Thanksgiving, you can never go wrong with a decadent, chocolate confection, thrown into the mix for a little variety.  It's especially fun to bring one if you're the guest.  And, with today's rising gluten-intolerant crowd, you will be doubly loved for bringing this marvelous, flourless cake that I adapted from a Bon Apetit recipe.  Dense and moist, it's always a hit.  And when Christmas comes, you can sprinkle it with some finely crushed peppermints.  Here's one I just made.  Notice the glaze dripping down onto the platter.  I am cool with this.

12 oz. semisweet chocolate (bars or chips)
3/4 Cup butter
6 eggs, separated
6 oz. sugar, divided (12 Tbsp.)
2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

1/2 Cup corn syrup
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
9 oz. semisweet chocolate
Optional garnishes: Berries, chocolate shavings, chocolate leaves, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  Line the bottom with a circle of parchment and then spray that as well.  Wrap the outside of the pan with foil. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter until smooth.  Let cool to lukewarm.
2. In a large bowl, beat yolks with HALF the sugar (3 oz.), until they're pale yellow and thick, about 5 minutes.  Fold in chocolate mixture and extract.
3. In a separate bowl (use clean, dry beaters), beat egg whites until frothy.  Keep beating as you slowly add the other 3 oz. of sugar.  Beat until peaks form.  Fold a little at a time into chocolate mixture.  Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out with a bit of baked batter on it.  Place cake, still in pan, on a cooling rack until cool.  The top will be cracked; don't worry, as this will be the bottom of the cake.  Press down on the cracked parts to make a level surface.
4. Use a knife to loosen pan edges, then invert cake onto a serving platter.  Remove parchment.  In a medium sauce pan, simmer cream and corn syrup.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth.  Pour a small amount over top of cake, smoothing it onto the sides.  Freeze 5 minutes.  Pour remaining glaze onto cake (I leave most on top, as you can see), then chill until firm, about an hour.  Now you can store it at room temperature, and garnish it before serving (serves 10 or more).  Or, it's possible people will not be able to wait for the garnish, and may slice it up and start eating, as you can see below!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sausage and Sweet Potato Dutch Baby

What's better than a showy but totally scrumptious breakfast dish?  A Dutch Baby is an oven-baked pancake that puffs up and BEGS to be devoured!  And when you fill it with sausage and sweet potatoes, the sweet-and-spicy mixture is truly divine.  Perfect for autumn, too (and for all those Thanksgiving house guests!)  And since it's in a contest, you know it's super easy to make.
This creation of mine needs your votes.  Please go to this link and vote for my Dutch Baby, then click on the recipe for complete instructions.  You can even pin it if you like.  Definitely one to keep on file.  Here you go:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Wonton Appetizers

I made this one up after having squash ravioli at a restaurant, and you will love it!  It won a Taste of Home contest and works as a snack or dessert, too.  It's the perfect thing to enjoy this time of year, when we can't seem to get enough pumpkin yummies.

This makes 40 appetizers, and 1 & 1/2 Cups of dip, so cut it in half for a smaller crowd.

1 ( 15 oz.) can solid pack pumpkin
1 Cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
1 tsp. salt
40 wonton wrappers
oil for frying

1 Cup powdered sugasr
1/2 Cup sour cream
1/2 Cup apricot jam or preserves
1 tsp. cinnamon

1.  In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cheese, spice and salt.  Place 1 tablespoonful in the center of each wonton wrapper.  (Keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use.) Moisten edges with water; bring corners to center over filling and press edges together to seal.  Repeat.
2. In an electric skillet or deep fat fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees.  Fry wontons in batches for 30 to 40 seconds on each side or until golden brown.  Remove with slotted spoon or tongs, and drain on paper towels.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine dip ingredients.  Serve with wontons.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Seasoned Greetings" Rice Mixes

Here's a brand new idea of mine, a treat I'm giving to friends this Christmas, and something I invite you to copy.  It's a gift from the kitchen that's a snap to assemble, and keeps in pantry until they're ready to use it.  The challenge came from, and I'm happy to contribute this easy recipe.  Here's how it looks:
I made three different batches of seasoned rice: An Italian one, a Tex-Mex one, and a savory one that simply includes a great blend of herbs and spices that would go with anything.  You can see some of the spices I used, in the background. This recipe is for just 2 cups, but you can double or triple it, to make several gifts. 

Here's how to make your rice mixture:
2 Cups rice, any kind you choose
4 Tablespoons seasoning (look for spice blends of Cajun, Tuscan, Southwest, Garlic-Herb, Caribbean, etc.)
2 teaspoons bouillon granules, optional, if you want the rice to cook in a broth

Just stir it together in a bowl, then pour it into your container. I used a funnel for these bottles. You could use bottles like the ones I chose, mason jars, tins, cellophane bags-- whatever you like. Just be sure your container holds at least one cup.

I'm attaching a tag that says, "Seasoned Greetings!  Boil 2 Cups of water, add one cup of rice mixture, cover and simmer for 30 minutes to make a tasty Italian side dish!  Add butter if you wish.  And use the bottle for oil, once it's empty (it holds 2 cups)"  Obviously, that's for the Italian one.  Tie on the tag and a fluffy bow, and you have a wonderful Christmas gift!  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jazzy Jamaican Stuffing

Are you looking for a different twist on the usual Thanksgiving stuffing this year?  I have created just the recipe for you!  It won a Better Homes & Gardens contest, and appeared in one of their cookbooks.  It's colorful, easy, and has just the right amount of spice to perk up those sleepy turkey-eaters!  The tasty ingredients are exotic without being too unheard-of--- goodies like mango, black beans, pineapple, and lime.

Here's what you need:
1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple, NOT drained  (or use fresh if you wish)
1/2 Cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (I like Schilling/McCormick)
1 & 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 Cup butter
2 Cups cooked white rice
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium mango, seeded, peeled, and chopped
1 (4.5 oz.) can diced mild green chili peppers
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh cilantro
5 Cups soft bread cubes (7 slices)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large skillet, cook undrained pineapple, onion, Jerk Seasoning, lime peel, lime juice, and butter, for about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Remove from heat.  Stir in rice, black beans, mango, chili peppers and cilantro. 
2. Place bread cubes in a large bowl and add the pineapple mixture.  Toss lightly to mix.  Place stuffing in a 3-quart, rectangular baking dish.  Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more, or until hot.  Makes 6 side-dish servings.