Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lava. And Its Chocolate Incarnation

I ended up at an impromptu dinner party last night at a local restaurant. They ordered for me because I didn't know about it until they'd already sat down, and my four cheese mac and cheese was an utter delight. Pretty much everyone who had steak wished they were me since the beef was not so good and the pasta was oh-so-delicious. But during the course of conversation, someone said, "What's that cake that you get at Chili's that's part cake and part pudding and a whole lot of delicious?" And that man's wife and I said at the same time, "Volcano cake!" Well. Suffice it to say that I spent the day googling volcano cake, but found out that googling molten lava cake gave me better results. And here are the results.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe. Of which I mostly refuse to follow. It's a principle sort of thing. But it was the easiest and I had all the ingredients on hand and well - you didn't have to separate the eggs and whip egg whites and fold them in. Not a fan of whipping things. Well - just not food things. So here you go.
The recipe said you should cook them in six muffin tins and since I was giving them away, I decided to use my ramekins. I only had three small ones, so I made three baby cakes and two medium ones.
The "dough" got decidedly hard when I mixed the chocolate with the eggs, sugar and butter. I will make sure that those three ingredients are more than room temperature next time. It was almost too hard to plop in the ramekins.
The finished product with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
And the carrying case! A drill box. Perfect!

Molten Lava Cake
4 T. butter
1/3 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/3 c. flour
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray ramekins to within an inch of their lives. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add flour. Then fold in the chocolate. Distribute between 6 small ramekins or muffin tins. Bake 8-10 minutes. The top may look sort of dry, but the middle should still be liquid. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. You can either invert them, or serve them individually in ramekins. They are very rich.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Anti-Holiday Salad

So, Crissy informed me that spinach and clementines are the antidote to holiday over-consumption. And well. I don't like spinach. Or clementines. But I liked the baby arugula I used in my Christmas salad, so I got some more of that. And three clementines. Not the eight pound bag they wanted me to buy. Just three. And not three pounds. Just three. They even opened a bag for me so I could do that. A little smile will get you a long way in the produce section. Right? Of course, right. (You know that phrase comes from Fiddler on the Roof. Right? You have listened to that soundtrack fifty billionty times in your lifetime. Right? Of course, right.)

I peeled and sectioned the clementine and put the slices on top of the arugula, sprinkled some feta cheese on top, splashed it with balsamic vinegar, drizzled it with a bit of olive oil and then cracked some pepper on top. A pinch of sea salt. And? It was luscious! My mouth liked it. Alot. The feta distracted me from the fact that I was eating something so incredibly healthy that I have no chance of getting scurvy today. I will make it again. Yes! AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! And you will too. Because it's that good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Little Somethin' Somethin' for the Cold

It has averaged about 2 degrees Fahrenheit this past weekend. Tiny Apartment has been very, very cold. I've got my tasty wool slippers and homemade wool socks, but today when I was trying to take a nap, I couldn't get warmed up no matter what. So I conspired to cook something hot and spicy to take the edge off.

I keep this three ring binder of recipes I've ripped out of magazines over the years. If - when I finally try a recipe - and it's a winner, I will write it on a recipe card and put it in my wooden recipe box. I know. This whole online thing is great and everything, but I cherish the handwritten recipes from my mother, grandmother and Aunt Kathy. When I see their handwriting, not only do I know it's going to be good, but my heart thinks of them. And I hope that doesn't die with the age of the internet. It might. But so far, I'm not giving in.

So, this recipe - I'm PRETTY sure came from a Clean Eating magazine, but it doesn't really say. I'm assuming so because I think I remember that the recipe on the OTHER side of the page came from a Clean Eating magazine. So, if you don't put your name and date on all your magazine pages, you're shit out of luck in my world. So there you go for credit. The recipe is called Shrimp Fra Diavolo with quinoa. But I despise shrimp, so chicken it is. Fra Diavolo means "Brother Devil" which apparently refers to the crushed red pepper, but I was not particularly impressed with it's devilishness - no matter how good it was. I think if I did it again, I'd add twice the amount of crushed red pepper.

Kate's Chicken Fra Diavolo
Somehow adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 lb. chicken tenders for stir fry
1/4 t. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy and tender, 10 -15 minutes.

Heat 1 T. of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken tenders, season with salt and black pepper and cook until done, about 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness. I cooked mine on my George Foreman grill, which I love. Regardless of how you cook it, when it's done, cut it into bite sized pieces.
Heat remaining oil in skillet and add red bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. I used a combination of onions, yellow, and red peppers because I had leftovers from other recipes. Whatever floats your boat.

Add tomatoes and crushed red pepper and stir well. Add cooked chicken and simmer until heated through. To serve, top quinoa with chicken mixture.

Now, I'm a single gal, so I make sure to look at the number of servings each recipe makes. And I got some awesome new Pyrex storage dishes for Christmas, so I portioned it into 4 serving sizes and refrigerated it. I've got almost a whole week's worth of lunches in my refrigerator tonight. And it's lovely.

When all is said and done, I think this dish needs more pizazz. I would definitely add more black pepper and some italian seasoning, along with a healthy dose of crushed red pepper. But that's just me. I make it the way they tell me the first time and then make my adaptations the second time around.