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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eat Your Vegetables!

I cooked for a client yesterday and the menu included tons of vegetables. My shopping list included:
3 kinds of lettuces, fennel, carrots, baby bella mushrooms, new potatoes, zucchini, onions, spinach, carrots, green beans, green onion, red pepper, cucumber and tomato...did I leave anything out?

And fresh herbs: cilantro, Italian parsley, thyme, chives, and basil.

When I arrive at a client's house on a cook day, after unloading the groceries and my equipment, I wash all the vegetables, then get to work.

The carrots and potatoes got roasted,the fennel went into a pasta dish, the green beans got blanched, then added to carmelized onions and stewed tomatoes (forgot to take a picture of that!), the zucchini got grilled.

On the menu also was a large green salad with homemade vinaigrette and grilled shrimp. I bought three kinds of lettuce: boston, green leaf and red romaine. These are the vegetables that the client can use to top the salad: carrots, red pepper, green onion, cucumber, celery and tomatoes.

Fresh vegetables are so delicious and so good for you! Eat as much as you like, most are extremely low in calories.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year, New Cookbooks

As a personal chef, I'm always looking for new recipes to try in hopes I'll come across something new and fabulous that I can share with my clients. I subscribe to 5 or 6 cooking magazines and am constantly buying and acquiring cookbooks.

I have three new cookbooks that I'm working my way through: One: recipes using the pressure cooker, two: a creme brulee cookbook, because I've been interested in trying some savory-style custards, and my new favorite, Around My French Table. Tonight I'll be testing from this cookbook, a chicken recipe, a rice and spinach recipe and a vegetable side dish. Can't wait! Hope my husband is hungry.

This weekend, I tested one of the savory recipes from the Creme Brulee cookbook, using Corn and Roasted Red Pepper. It turned out really good and was pretty easy to make.

After prepping all the ingredients, you fill the custard cups with the vegetables and cheese, then add the custard and bake in a waterbath. Then, even though this was a savory creme brulee, the recipe still called for topping with a bit of sugar and burning the top to get it crispy. Surprisingly, this bit of sweetness gave it a really great contrast to the savory filling.

I served this with a roasted chicken. I used Ina Garten's recipe for "perfect roast chicken". That recipe is also a winner.

There are several more savory style recipes in this Creme Brulee cookbook that I definetely want to try, as well as many sweet versions, including lots of chocolate ones. As I work my way through these, I'm sure there will be lots of winners that will make a great side dish or dessert that will be great for dinner parties.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chocolate Torte

I'm cheffing a dinner party Saturday night for 10 people and needed to test the dessert I plan to serve. A chocolate torte. Last night was our monthly knitting night so I took the cake there to get the girls to taste it and give their opinions.....the cake got a thumbs up!

This recipe is quite simple and didn't take a lot of time to prepare. But it turned out like I hoped, moist and chocolatey. You use bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted. Eggs, separated and the egg whites beaten and folded in, nuts, butter, and a little bit of sugar.

Then, bake for about 40 minutes.

When the cake was done, I was running late so I don't have a picture of the whole cake, but here's a slice ready to be served.

Saturday night, I'll also make a fruit syrup to go with the cake and to decorate each plate.

Thanks to all the girls at knitting night last night for being my guinea pigs and giving the thumbs up on this dessert!

Here's the recipe:

Capri Chocolate Torte

1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup all purpose flour
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
14 tablespoons sugar
7 large eggs, separated, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line with wax paper. Finely grind walnuts with flour in processor, set aside. Stir chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water til melted and smooth. Remove chocolate from over water and cool slightly.

Beat butter and 7 tablespoons sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in ground walnut mixture.

Beat egg whites in another bowl until beginning to form soft peaks. Gradually add 7 remaining tablespoons sugar. Beat to soft peaks. Stir 1/4 whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites

Bake about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on rack. Run knife around sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides and cool completely. Transfer to cake platter.