Rich Creamy Chocolate for Your Valentine!


Caution:  Bill says this could be fatal!




Chocolate is a major food group to just about everyone ~ but not me ~ I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  I do have a sweet tooth though, it’s just not for chocolate like it is for my family members and friends.
  
So when the most chocolate-covered day of the year, Valentine’s Day, rolls around again ~ that day when everything seems to be slathered in chocolate ~ it’s the perfect time to make a delicious dessert.


Chocolate is everywhere, it’s universally loved.  Apparently, according to research done by Dr. David Lewis, letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces as big an increase in heart rate and brain activity as a passionate kiss ~ except that the effects of the chocolate lasts four times longer. 

Therefore, truly, chocolate must be the food of love.

If you’re looking for a creamy, very rich chocolate treat for your Valentine, this Chocolate Pudding Cake by exclusive French pastry chef, François Payard, who launched several eponymous patisseries in New York City, is for you!  





The creation is not exactly quick to make, it takes a good bit of freezer time, 6 hours at least, but it’s worth the effort to make for your Valentine!

Believe me, this is a decadent dessert, so I’m told ~ smooth, creamy, rich, particularly luscious and velvety, a sinfully delicious chocolate treat!

Just a sliver will do it!



Françoise Payard’s Chocolate Pudding Cake

This is a swoonworthy confection for Valentine's Day!

ingredients:

1¼ cups finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional*

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon. pure vanilla extract
Cocoa powder for dusting

instructions

1. Place the chocolate, espresso powder and butter in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Combine the milk and all but 1 tbsp. of the sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stop stirring and cook until the milk begins to bubble around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk together the egg yolk and the remaining 1 tbsp. sugar in a small bowl. Pour half of the hot milk over the yolk mixture, whisking to combine. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and just begins to bubble around the edges (reaching 183° on an instant-read thermometer).
4. Immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the vanilla.
5. Scrape the batter into a 6-in. round springform pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.
6. Remove cake from freezer, and let sit for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cake onto a serving platter, and lightly dust the top with cocoa powder. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 45 minutes before serving.

notes

*This is the slightly adapted recipe of Chef Payard's.  I added espresso powder for a darker richer flavor.  It doesn't taste like coffee, it just enhances the chocolate flavor.














Chicken Tinga, not with my IP!


I know a lot of you are obsessed with your Instant Pot, that "miracle" small appliance! 
 I researched it carefully, 
read your posts about the wonders of it, 
got suckered in, 
purchased one.  




Unfortunately, there’s no IP love here.  It all went downhill with this recipe...

First off, I browned the tomatillos and onions nicely.  Then added the seasonings, stock and diced tomatoes; removed the skin and bones from the chicken and added that to the pot.



The next step is when it all went wrong!  Put the lid on, lock it in place and set the IP to pressure cook, it sounds sooooo easy!  Wrong! 

Once again, I couldn’t get the lid on, couldn’t lock it in place.  It was sort of tricky the first 2 or 3 times I used it, this time it was impossible.

I even read the manual for the umpteenth time, still couldn’t do it.  Then I asked Bill to try it, he had no more luck than I did.  After being frustrated for 30 or so minutes, I watched a video of some man demonstrating placing the lid on and locking it in place - he must've been a magician!

It sounds so simple, but it’s so crazy.  I never did get the lid on, couldn’t cook the chicken in it, ended up braising the chicken in the tomato mixture, in a casserole dish, in the oven.  


By then, I had lost all interest in it and dinner too - just wanted it over with and done!  I'd just rather cook ~ stir ~ & taste ~ my way.

The chicken turned out OK though, tasted OK.  We decided we’d like it over noodles instead of a traditional Chicken Tinga recipe with tostada shells. 




The last step in this disaster:   Bag up the IP and put in the garbage can outside ~ the next day was garbage day and I was happy to be rid of the darn thing and get back the space it demanded!!! 

There is one positive thing I can say about my Instant Pot ~ at least I didn't have to clean the contraption!

I’m hoping I’ve learned my lesson and won’t buy the next pricey kitchen gadget that comes along...


Chicken Tinga
Printable recipe

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chicken stock
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon seasoned pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon chipotle purée
8 ounces uncooked extra wide egg noodles

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place olive oil in IP (skillet) on medium high heat.  
Add tomatillos and cook until browned; add onions and garlic, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
Add chicken stock and stir.
Add tomatoes with their juice, oregano, salt, pepper and chili powder, stir to combine.
Transfer the tomato mixture to a casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
Add chicken and chipotle purée, stir well.
Place lid on dish and cook until chicken is cooked through and tomato mixture has thickened.
Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling water according to package directions.
After cooking, transfer chicken to a plate and pull it into bite-size pieces.  Return to tomato mixture and combine.
Transfer chicken and tomatoes to serving bowl.
Serve over cooked noodles or tostada shells.


Enjoy!

Cheese-wrapped Olives for the Super Bowl!




Kickoff
the Super Bowl
with
these savory bites!




It's not shocking that Americans devour more calories on Super Bowl Sunday, more than any other day, even Thanksgiving Day!  
 
You'll want to count these cheese-wrapped olives in for your Super Bowl fare...

They're from another era - oldies but goodies -  that are still popular today.  I posted them way back here when I first started this blog and thought they deserved a repeat now in time for Super Bowl parties.

They're easy to make:  just wrap olives in a tasty cheddar dough, freeze and then bake until golden and serve when needed.

So...   have your football cronies chow down on these little gems while they're watching the game.  Once they sink their teeth into a cheesy olive, they'll huddle around the plate down to the last bite!

Beer is optional...


Yield: 50Pin it

Cheese-wrapped Olive Bites

Savory olives wrapped in a rich cheese dough.
prep time: 30 MINScook time: 15 MINStotal time: 45 mins

ingredients:

  • 50 small pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and patted dry
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

instructions:

  1. Make sure the olives are drained well (I pat them dry with a paper towel.)
  2. Blend cheese and butter.
  3. Sift next 3 ingredients together.
  4. Combine cheese with flour and butter mixture. It makes a stiff dough.
  5. Pinch off a small amount of dough and flatten in palm of hand.  
  6. Wrap dough completely around olive.
  7. Place on baking sheet in a single layer and
    freeze; once frozen, they can be placed in a resealable plastic bag
    until ready to bake.
  8. Do not thaw before baking.
  9. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°.
  10. Place olives on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until golden.
  11. Transfer to serving plate.

    Serve warm or room temperature.


Enjoy and...



GO NEW ENGLAND!





Easy Parmesan-Crusted Baked Tilapia


It's just another manic meatless Monday!
I wish it was Sunday, that's my fun day...

Tell me, does that ring a bell with any of you?

I remember how I felt in my employed days when Monday rolled around again, and hearing about meatless Monday at work just made it worse.  

Those days are over, I like seafood much more than I did back then, and I'm always looking for a delicious way to dress up fish...

This is a great tilapia recipe that's perfect for any day!




It's delicious with it’s crispy, flavorful Parmesan crust just using just a few everyday ingredients!

Tilapia is ofttimes referred to as “the chicken of fish” thanks to its mild taste and being readily available.  We definitely don’t buy it fresh here in the Midwest, but frozen tilapia is generally on display at the grocers’ seafood counter.  

This recipe would work well with other whitefish also.  The thickness of the fish may require a longer baking time, just bake until flaky.



Ready to bake

A good entrée for dinner tonight!

Give it a go!




Easy Parmesan-crusted Baked Tilapia

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 15 MINStotal time: 25 mins
This tilapia is crispy and flavorful with its Parmesan crust, easy to make also!

ingredients:

1 pound tilapia
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Wash and pat dry tilapia.
  3. Mix Parmesan, and remaining ingredients in a shallow bowl or plate.
  4. Dredge fish in the cheese mixture, patting the breading in well on both sides.
  5. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, and place tilapia on it.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes until flaky and lightly browned.




Enjoy!



Woo hoo! It's Moist and Easy Cornbread Time!


I’m passionate about cornbread ~ I've tested a lot of cornbread recipes, and I’ve learned one thing about it ~ many other people get worked up about it also!

There is quite the debate as to how it should be prepared...




It’s either about the type of cornmeal:  stone ground or not; yellow or white?   
OR...
How much flour?  
How many eggs should I add?  
Which is better:  milk, buttermilk, or sour cream?  
Should I make it with butter, lard, Crisco or bacon grease?
Contaminate it with sugar, or not, or how about honey?  
Bake it in a cast iron skillet or baking tin?
And, finally ~ a 375° or 425° oven? 




In other words, give it to me if you’re not!


Presidents even reacted to it:  George Washington started by savoring hoe cakes, a simple corn bread fried in shallow grease.   

During James Polk’s presidency, of a trip to New Orleans, he wrote that "all the dishes were prepared in the French style of cooking, and to one unaccustomed to it it was difficult to tell of what they were composed... I took a cup of coffee and something on my plate to save appearances, but was careful to eat none of it.  As soon as an opportunity offered, I asked a servant in a low tone if he could give me a piece of corn-bread and broiled ham."1



James Polk
Abraham Lincoln  loved corn cakes, and it was said he ate them “as fast as two women could make them.”   

Way back in the 1920's, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge preferred to start their day with corn muffins.  Herbert Hoover loved fried cornmeal mush, and so do I, almost as much as cornbread! 


Warren Harding
Herbert Hoover
Calvin Coolidge

As a matter of fact, cornbread was served in some of the White House’s more formal settings.   Franklin D. Roosevelt served it at a 1939 state dinner for King George VI.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
King George VI










On to the 40's, when farm boy Harry Truman had simple tastes; he favored his cornbread with sorghum molasses bought on trips home to Missouri.  We've often heard, John F. Kennedy was a small eater and nearly always had to be reminded it was dinner time, with corn muffins being his favorite.  Peanut farmer Jimmy Carter liked dining on corn fritters at the Carter family's big weekend breakfasts.


Harry Truman
Jimmy Carter












 


Then there's Paula Deen!  
 Thanks to her for this cornbread recipe!







Paula Deen’s Moist and Easy Cornbread


Flour and cornmeal
ready for the oven

It's a truly Southern melt-in-your mouth cornbread ~ especially when it's piping hot out of the oven with butter melting on it!

Give it a try!




Pin it

Moist and Easy Cornbread

This is a true Southern cornbread ~ melt-in-your-mouth good ~ especially when it's straight from the oven, slathered with butter, thanks to Paula Deen's recipe!
prep time: 15 MINScook time: 25 MINStotal time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons melted, plus butter for baking dish unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425º. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk and butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold together until there are no dry spots (the batter will still be lumpy). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the corn bread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

1As quoted in Mark Eaton Byrnes' James K. Polk:  A Biographical Companion



Enjoy!





Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for a Comfy Winter Meal!




We are paying for last winters’ mild weather! 



There’s no avoiding winter here since we’re just 40 miles northwest of Chicago.  Winter barely started when Mother Nature wasted no time in putting us in the deep freeze and keeping us there for 2 weeks with highs in the single digits, not counting bone-chilling wind chills way below zero ~ it's about unbearable!  A warm-up is on the way today ~ that translates, SNOW!


All of this cold weather leads me to dishes like this stuffed cabbage leaves, a great comforting winter dish!




I have a ton of food memories from when I was growing up, but stuffed cabbage rolls isn't one of them.  I don’t recall ever eating them back then, and Bill says the same.     

While the direct origin of cabbage rolls cannot be certain, its lineage can be traced back some 2,000 years ago to Jewish cooking, according to Gil Marks, author of the 2010 Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.  Cabbage is not mentioned in the Bible, but it is referred to in the Talmud, he says where the rabbis praise the cabbage for “sustenance.”  Though no one knows where the tradition of filling leaves originates, it appears in cultures around the world stretching from Europe and the Middle East to the jungles of the Amazon.

For example, the following names and some of the differences in their recipes…

Jewish “holishkls” is served during the fall harvest festival.  The dish is made with raisins, brown sugar, lemon and tomato for a sweet and sour taste.

Lithuanians call it “balandeliai,” translating to “little doves.”

Ukrainian “holubtsi” is made with sauerkraut, and usually no meat, served with perogie.

The Polish version is “golabki,” meaning “little pigeon feet” and served with sauerkraut and sweet paprika.

Finland’s version is “kaalikaaryle,” and the cabbage rolls are browned before brazing.  

But today in America, it is just simply stuffed cabbage, the exemplary comfort food that makes a complete meal.

Here’s the version we eat:  a savory meat and rice filling wrapped up in tender cabbage leaves that’s slow-baked in a sweet-sour tomato sauce.





While these cabbage rolls are pretty tasty straight out of the oven, there even better the next day, so here’s hoping you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the leftovers, should you try this recipe!




Yield: 6 servings

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

These cabbage rolls are stuffed with lean ground beef and lean ground pork and rice. It's a comforting winter dish!
prep time: 30 MINScook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cabbage
  • For the Filling:
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Instructions:

For the Cabbage:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, remove 10 to 12 whole outer leaves from the cabbage by cutting them off the core. (Reserve the remaining cabbage for another use.) Add the leaves to the boiling water and blanch until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the leaves to a colander to drain.

Make the Filling:
Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl.  Scoop out approximately 1/3 cup of meat mixture and form into a log shape.
Place filling in a cabbage leaf close to the core. Fold once, then grab both side and fold in, like a burrito.  If the leaves are too small, overlap 2 leaves.
Arrange cabbage rolls snugly next to each other in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Make the Sauce:
Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour evenly over the cabbage roll.
Cover with foil and bake for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until meat is cooked through.




Enjoy!






"If I had it to do over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma. But Betty said bring a key lime pie, so I did."

Heartburn by Nora Ephron




DINNER PARTY

DINNER PARTY
Jules-Alexandre Grun

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May 5, 2004 – Dec 16, 2014

THIS BLOG LAUNCHED OCTOBER 29, 2009

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