Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sometimes you just need to make a cake...

...for no particular reason. That's what I did this week - no birthday, no special occasion, no one joining us for dinner - just a desire to try my hand at flourless chocolate cake, and a bunch of eggs in the fridge calling out to me, "please don't let us go to waste."

I had been wanting to try this cake recipe from Tyler Florence , but only after I separated my eggs did I realize that it called for a Springform pan. And, yes, I am the one who gave away a perfectly good Springform pan, thinking it would leave more room in the moving truck when we voyaged from North Carolina to California. So, I did what we all do in the kitchen: I adapted by making 12 mini-chocolate cakes instead. You can do this as well - I filled 12 jumbo muffin tins and baked them for 17 minutes. I recommend using cupcake liners. And as for the whipped cream recipe - it comes from the Joy of Cooking. Serve them at room temp, mounded with excessive amounts of whipped cream. These taste best a day after baking, so if possible, bake a day in advance, store in the fridge, and bring to room temp an hour before serving.

Chocolate Cracked Earth
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar,

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1 inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate - then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan.

Joy of Cooking Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 TBL sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Chill mixing bowl and beaters. Beat cream on high speed until thickened. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

Latest and greatest local food news...

Main Course California has updated their lunch menu- adding a Chicken Caprese Sandwich and a California Healthy Chicken sandwich. If these new additions are half as lovable and delectable as their other sandwiches and salads, we're in for a real treat. If you're not familiar with their food, you can check out this review I wrote a few months ago. They are also offering a one-of-a-kind Tequila-centric cooking class this Friday, July 24th from 6-9pm. Students will be making and enjoying such delicacies as gazpacho with drunken prawns; tequila tomato caprese salad; chile rellenos and raisin-tequila salsa, and tequila; and serrano soaked fruits with agave nectar and coconut mousse. Call 658-8900 or email info@MainCourseCA.com to sign up.

Paradise Pantry is holding a Summer Wine and Food Pairing dinner on Tuesday, July 28th. The mind-boggling menu includes himachi & salmon tartares towered with avocado and sesame crisps; spicy crab cakes served with seasoned crème fraiche; chilled corn and vanilla bean chowder with roast ham & rock shrimp; and piquillo pepper relleno stuffed with chorizo, summer squash, and goat cheese. And each of these courses will be paired with a different, and perfectly matched wine. Call them at 641-9440 to make a reservation.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just say no to wasted produce

A dear friend of mine is starting something really cool: The Ventura Produce Cooperative. If you're like me, you may have extra fruits, vegetables, herbs, or flowers laying around your yard. Rather than watching them go to waste, wouldn't you love to share them and then get something you actually need in return? Well, that's what this is all about. Maureen is modeling it after two other coops- one in LA and one in Merced. If you're interested, send an email to shareyourfruit@yahoo.com to get on the e-mail list and indicate what types of goodies you have to share. The first exchange is set for this Sunday 7/12/09 at 12 noon at Maureen's house, 9572 El Cajon in Ventura. Happy sharing and happy eating!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Good news for you wine lovers out there

On Sunday, July 12th, The Cave at Ventura Wine Company is hosting a special wine focused dinner featuring wines from Stolpman Vineyards. Chef Gary Daniel will be serving a four course dinner, each paired with a different wine from this Central Coast winery. Think ragout of rabbit with pine nuts and olives paired with a 2005 Sangiovese, venison tenderloin with wild boar sausage paired with two different 2006 Syrahs, and their volcano chocolate with berries and a Syrah reduction sauce paired with a Syrah/Sangiovese blend- and that is just the beginning. This decadent event costs $75 and begins promptly at 5pm. Call 642-9404 to make a reservation.

And if you're still wanting more wine, Wine Lovers Bar on Thompson Avenue in Ventura is now under new management. Jill Shalhoob, owner of Jill's Place in Santa Barbara, has recently taken over this lovely little downtown wine bar. While their website hasn't been updated yet, plenty of menu changes have already taken place. They will still be serving pizzas, but I was told that now they will come from a new indoor pizza oven (under the former owners, the pizzas were cooked in an outdoor fireplace). The woman I spoke with on the phone mentioned something about a thin cracker crust topped with prosciutto, brie and roasted onions- and I was pretty much ready to drop everything to drive down there just to have a taste. In addition to the pizzas, they offer such delicacies as meat and cheese trays, an asparagus prosciutto wrap, and a caprese salad. They have also added beer on tap: Fat Tire, Hefeweizen, Sam Adams, and Stella Artois. Leave a comment if you've checked it out.