Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scallop Verrines, The Saturday Blog Showcase

This weeks Saturday Blog Showcase is hosted by Lori at All that Splatters. She and Ann at Tibeault's Table, co-host this Showcase, taking turns every week. Thanks ladies! In case your not familiar, every week you prepare a recipe from another blog and feature it on your own.  Take a look at the links and enjoy some new ideas, foods and recipes.
I chose one of my favorite blogs this week. Kate at Serendipity,  has a variety of lovely recipes to choose from. Her Scallop Verrines looked so delicious, I decided to serve them at my last dinner party. Kate suggests many different flavors for the verrines. I choose a simple vegetable mix and tossed together a lemon juice a touch of French mustard and hazelnut oil from my favorite artisan shop in Charroux.
Everyone raved, it was an unqualified success. The next morning I sent Kate's link to all the guests, because verrines are just the tip of Kate's iceberg. There is quite a lot to discover on this blog. Give her a visit, you will be as dazzled as I am.
I served these during cocktails before we all sat down for dinner.
Sounds fancy, no? Actually we all stood around the stainless steel table that serves as an island in my kitchen eating, drinking wine and having a good old fashion chat.
It was actually quite simple. I julienne golden beets, celeriac, radishes, fennel and thinly sliced asparagus.  I blanched the asparagus, tossed the whole bunch in a light dressing made with lemon juice, grape-seed oil, as well as hazelnut oil and a touch of mustard, both from Charroux. Next time I will add a bit of chopped hazelnuts.  
Kate made her verrines with an Asian accent. I made my to complement my french menu. You can make yours to suit your own menu and taste.
Honestly, this summer I'll  try this with a Mexican accent of cilantro and chilies.
All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carmen, Chocolate and Snow Storms

Last night Katy and I went to the Metropolitan Opera to see Carmen.  It was a beautiful production. Sex, intrigue, betrayal, it's all alive at the Met. So much better than Television. As we left the theater the snow had begun to fall. Just a dusting and then it stopped. A bust we thought, the storm will miss New York again. When we awoke this morning, the snow was falling, covering everything, turning our neighborhood into a fairy land.  
A day off, no school, work or other responsibilities. With the sound track from Carmen playing in the kitchen I decided to bake a tribute to my favorite Opera, the snow storm and of course Valentine's Day.
Baked in the Heritage Cake Pan, it came out beautiful, rich and decadent. Surrounded by roses, it looked too good to eat. But we got over that, and cut right into it. 
It was the best cake I've ever made. Let me just say, this recipe is a keeper!
 The original recipe came from Cooks Illustrated. It made about 1 cup more batter than was needed. I used that for mini cupcakes which were eaten before they even had a chance to cool. 
Cooks suggest you blend, melted butter and cocoa and brush the mixture on the cake pan to avoid the uneven finish a bundt cake usually has. I had a "Why didn't I think about that moment" when I read it. Absolutely brilliant, it works!
Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake
 adapted from

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon cocoa
 3/4 cup unsweetened  cocoa powder, not Dutched
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon Via, bold coffee powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups, packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Stir together the cocoa and melted butter in a small bowl until a paste forms. Using a pastry brush, coat the surface of a 12 cup bundt pan. If the mixture becomes too thick you can microwave until warm, about 10 seconds. 
Adjust the oven rack to a lower middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cocoa, coffee powder and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until blended. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then whisk in the sour cream.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a second bowl.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, abut 3 minutes. 
Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl. 
Reduce the speed to medium low, batter may appear separated, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 the chocolate sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated. 
Scrape down the bowl and repeat using 1/2 the remaining flour and all of the remaining chocolate mixture, beat to incorporate about 30 seconds. Add the remaining flour and chocolate mixture. Beat 30 seconds to develop the cake's structure. 
Spoon the batter into the bottom of the pan, bang it on the counter to remove the air bubbles. Then fill the rest of the pan about 3/4 full. If you use a 12 cup pan, there will not be any batter left. If you use the heritage pan you will have about a cup left.

Bake until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few cooked crumbs on it about 45 to 50 minutes. 
Dust with confectioner's sugar.
All text and pictures are property of The Gypsy Chef, unless otherwise noted.