Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chocolate Lava Cake

The only thing sexier than this beautiful little molten pile of chocolate is the woman who wrote the recipe.  

Suzanne Pirret is what would happen if Nigella Lawson and a sultry sex writer got together and decided to write a book.  She's my food writing hero.  She is hot and funny and totally engaging.  Not usually words one uses when describing a cookbook but this one is all those things and more.  Then again I suppose hotness its to be expected from someone wearing a form fitting white dress and 6 inch Louis Vuittons on the cover of a book called The Pleasure is All Mine.  Get your head out of the gutter, it's a book full of fancy but easy recipes for one because eating alone is no reason not to treat yourself well.

Seeing as I've been obsessed with this book as of late I've already shared her recipes for TomYum Kung Soup and Lemongrass Steamed Fish.  But I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't write about the best recipe in the entire book.  It of course involves chocolate and is insanely decadent.  That didn't stop me from making this luscious melty mouth filling treat over a dozen times last week in order to experiment with getting the sugar free version of the recipe perfect.  It was tough but I made it through.  This is the type of rigorous testing I suffer through just for my loyal blog readers.     

In the end I came up with a gluten and sugar free recipe that is so good I couldn't tell the difference between the one that had sugar and the one that didn't.  I have to warn you though Suzanne Pirret says this is a single serving treat, unless you're immune to high doses of sexy chocolate induced caffeination you might want to find someone to share it with.  Or not who am I kidding it's too good to resist eating the whole damn thing.  

If you want to make the sugary version or need help figuring out how making this cake works check out this video for the recipe and watch Suzanne Pirret work her magic.  Someday I'll be the type of person coordinated enough to wear a designer dress and high heels while working with chocolate.  Or at least I can dream.

Chocolate Lave Cake

3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate

1 tablespoon butter (soy butter also works nicely)
3 teaspoons fructose
1 egg

 1 tablespoon almond flour
1 dash sea salt

unsweetened cocoa powder
drizzle of agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.

In a small sauce pan over low heat very slowly melt the chocolate.  When chocolate starts to melt, briefly remove pot from heat and stir, then place back on heat to further melt.  Repeat the process until chocolate is completely melted and set aside to cool a bit.

Melt the butter in a small mixing bowl then whisk in fructose and egg until well combined.  Slowly begin to drizzle in the melted chocolate, whisking as you pour.  You want to add the warm chocolate a little at a time so it doesn't cook the raw egg.  The mixture should be very stiff and thick at this point, too dense to stir easily and that is the perfect texture.

Add in the flour and salt and stir once again briefly. 

Grease a small ramekin then sprinkle the inside with cocoa powder.   Tap the sides of the ramekin to remove any excess powder then pour the batter into it.  Bake for 9 minutes.  Don't over cook!  

When the cake is done cooking it should be firm on the outside but liquid on the inside.  If you tip the cake over a plate and it slides out it's done.  Drizzle with agave nectar or top with ice cream to take an edge off the bitterness of the chocolate.

Modified to be sugar and gluten free from a Suzanne Pirret recipe in The Pleasure Is All Mine.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lemongrass Steamed Fish

Over on the other blog I write for I've been blathering about how much I love Asian markets and all the crazy ingredients that are to be found there.  Last week I wrote about all the crazy things I bought on my last trip through the Asian groceries of Madison and today I posted a delicious and easy soup recipe that I used to combine all the things I bought.   Now Tom Yum Kung soup is one of my favorite things to make. It seems complicated but it comes together super easily.

The only problem with a recipe like that and all the specialty ingredients is you are inevitably stuck with left over bits of things you have no idea what to do with.  Like lemongrass tends to come in big bunches but each recipe only calls for one stalk, so what to do with the rest?  Or you managed to track down lime leaves and galangal and they were kind of expensive so you don't want the rest to just rot, now what?

Steamed fish is the perfect solution.  Gather all the left over bits of Asian oddities and pile them on fish, wrap them up in parchment and you have an easy but creative dish that will save those stalks of lemongrass from going to waste.  It isn't pretty but it's very tasty and with just enough spice to be exciting.

Lemon Grass Steamed Fish

2 fillets of swordfish or other meaty fish
2 dried red chili peppers, chopped
2 limes, zested
4 thin slices of galangal (or ginger)
2 stalked lemon grass, bashed up with the edge of a knife and cut into 2 inch lengths
1/2 cup sake or white wine
2 dashes of fish sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut two pieces of parchment paper a bit larger than your pieces of fish.  Pat dry each fish fillet and season with salt and pepper on both sides before putting each piece of fish on a square of parchment.  

Sprinkle the top of each piece of fish with chili pepper, lime zest, galangal and lemongrass.  Now comes the interesting part.  Using string or staples gather together the parchment so that the fish is wrapped up like a present with just a small opening at the top of the packet.  When the fish is secured in the parchment, carefully pour 1/4 cup of sake into each wrapped up piece of fish.  Then drizzle in just a little bit of fish sauce to each fish packet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a knife stuck into the fish meets little resistance.  Be careful unwrapping the fish so that you don't get burnt by the steam.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gluten Free Banana Cardamom Bread

Photo by Steve Apps of The State Journal.

I had no idea when the article was going to be printed so I didn't get a chance to warn people to keep an eye out for it.  So in the ennui filled late hours of the afternoon when they were both probably hiding from work in separate break rooms both the fella and my friend Tim texted me nearly the same sarcastic message.  "There's a great article on going gluten free in the paper you should look at."  

And there I was in the paper.  Well not technically me, more like my bread.  Even Lindsay who wrote the article isn't sure why there are three pictures of bread and no pictures of me in  the print article.  I guess the bread was just more photogenic than me.  Le sigh.  Given how great the pictures of my baking came out I'm thrilled they got all that attention though.

This loaf doesn't technically fit in with the French Diet considering the higher GI flours and the bananas but for the weight maintenance phase it would be a nice breakfast bread.  The diet aside, this bread is surprisingly good,  I made it and even I was blown away.  

The fella had this great recipe for a banana cardamon loaf he used to make when we were first dating so when I needed an idea for another bread recipe I decided to use that recipe to reverse engineer it into a gluten free version.  And it worked out really nice.  Gluten free it isn't quite as fluffy but since it's a desserty bread it doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of it at all.  Smeared with a little honey the fella and I really enjoyed nibbling on it with Lindsay and her fella literally seconds after the photographer got done with it.  It smelled that good we couldn't resist any longer.

Gluten Free Banana Cardamom Bread

2/3 cup warm water (temperature around 110 is best)
1 teaspoon yeast
1 generous pinch of sugar

3 cups Bob Red Mill Baking and Biscuit Flour blend
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2 very ripe bananas well mashed

arrowroot or tapioca starch to flour work surfaces
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Put the warm water in a small bowl.  Whisk in the yeast and sugar and let stand about 10 minutes or until it turns bubbly.  If the water doesn't become frothy it means the yeast isn't active and you need new yeast or the water was too hot or cold to activate it so try again.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  When well combined add in the yeasty water, honey, and bananas.  Gradually incorporate the mix into a soft dough with a wooden spoon and your fingers, adding a little more water if necessary to get a dough like consistency that isn't too dry and crumbly. 
Dust a cutting board or very clean counter with arrowroot or tapioca starch (you don't want to add anymore flour to the dough, you want to use a sticky starch that won't dry out the bread for this purpose).  Knead the dough for a minute or so until it is sticky and well combined.  Return it to the bowl and cover with a damp dish towel to allow to rise for about 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

After it has risen, remove the dough from the bowl back to the dusted work surface and divide into three equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a short fat oblong shape and braid the three together.  Place the dough on a greased baking sheet and loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand until it rises a little bit again.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush the dough with a bit of water and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 10 minutes then lower temperature of oven to 400 degrees.  Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.

This will be a very dense dessert like loaf of bread and is best served with a little honey or raspberry jam.  Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Look Ma My Bread is Famous

 Photo by Steve Apps of the State Journal.

The interview I did with my foodie friend Lindsay for the local newspaper here in Madison just went up today.  As you may know May is Gluten Free Awareness month so she talked to me and a couple other people in the Madison gluten free community about our experience of going without wheat.  And the most important part of the whole thing of course was the food. 

I cooked four different very photogenic loafs of bread that the paper's photographer did a great job of capturing.  I'll post the recipe for the banana cardamom bread I reverse engineered from the fella's favorite gluteny recipe next week.  The other three recipes are from some of my favorite gluten free bloggers so be sure to check those out in the article as well.

It was a fun experience.  Now that people know what I'm doing over here I better get back to some serious blogging.  But after all that baking I need some time off from making bread.  I'm all breaded out.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sorrel Quiche

It's CSA season again.  That means its spring (yay no more snow!)  And it also means weekly confrontations with vegetables you have never seen before.  Sorrel? Ramps? Nettles? Say what?  I find it extremely exciting to hunt down recipes for these new vegetables, its like a treasure hunt than ends in a great meal.

This year the fella and I weren't able to go for a CSA since we'll very likely be moving out of state in the next couple of months and didn't want to abandon our box of veggies halfway through the season.  Instead the fella has been enjoying going to the farmer's market each Saturday and playing a little game called "stump Emily with wacky produce."  The star of the first episode of this little adventure was sorrel.  It's in a lot of French recipes but what do you do with it when you have a grocery bagful?  That's a very good question to which I answer; quiche!

But if you're on my site you're either on a low carb diet or just enjoy my typo ridden recipes and I'm gluten free so how do you make a tasty crustless quiche?  In this case covering the bottom of the pie plate with goat cheese worked out nicely as a crust substitute.  In fact this recipe was just all around fabulous and easy.  If you don't have sorrel go for spinach.  And if you're avoiding cow milk cheeses here is a fun tip: ground raw cashews taste very similar to Parmesan so it's a great thing to sprinkle on quiche or pasta without the unpleasant lactosey side effects.

Sorrel and Goat Cheese Quiche

5 ounces chevre
3 cups sorrel, coarsely chopped
1 handful scallions, chopped
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 handful ground cashews (or Parmesan cheese)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread goat cheese (or any strong flavored cheese) in the bottom of a well greased pie plate.  Cover with chopped sorrel and scallions. Beat eggs, salt and milk together. Pour over greens. Sprinkle with ground cashews. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.