October 2, 2010

Chocolate Basilisk Balls with Kiss of Life sauce

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

These were inspired by the Indian dessert Gulab Jamun, although they are really nothing alike except that both feature spheres in sauces. The Basilisk Balls (basilisk eyes) are dark chocolate truffles, and the Kiss of Life sauce is a Cardamom Creme Anglaise. The truffle recipe is modified from Cooking for Engineers, and the sauce is modified from Epicurious.

The goal is to petrify the guests at the first bite, and slowly bring them back to life with murmurs of intense appreciation.

for the Basilisk Balls,

1 pound dark chocolate, cut into small pieces (not unsweetened — Ghirardelli dark chips are good)
1 cup heavy cream
about 3 Tbsp of a really good cognac (I used Hennessy)
unsweetened cocoa powder to coat

Heat cream in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and cognac until your ganache mixture is shiny and smooth. Refrigerate until stiff.

Scoop truffles into small balls using a melon baller or tablespoon measure, and roll until smooth with your hands (this is a messy process). Place in refrigerator to harden for a few minutes. When solid, lightly coat with cocoa powder.* Eat a truffle to check quality control at this point.

for the Kiss of Life Sauce,

4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided into halves
scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds

Lightly whisk egg yolks and half of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, vanilla, cardamom, and the rest of the sugar and heat on medium until almost boiling. You should stir almost constantly (and scrape the bottom of the saucepan) for the duration of the heating process. When the cream mixture is hot, reduce heat dramatically and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream, stirring as you do so. Increase heat again to medium and stir until the mixture becomes a custard. You will know this has occurred when you can run your finger across the back of the spoon and the track will remain. The mixture will also look very slightly grainy. Remove from heat, cool, and put through a fine strainer to remove unwanted bits of egg.

To serve, place two basilisk balls on a small plate and cover with sauce to taste. The sauce also makes an excellent ice cream if there is any left over.

* The cocoa powder will make the sauce run down the sides of the truffle without properly sticking. This can be solved in two ways — leave off the coating and use just the ganache, or keep adding sauce until it looks right. I prefer the second method, because you get to eat more chocolate that way.

A new favorite butternut squash recipe

cgbookcat1, 29 Dec 2009, Recipe Thread

I discovered a new favorite butternut squash recipe tonight.

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh or 2/3 Tbsp dried sage leaves, chopped/crushed
1 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (~200 C) Mix all spices with the olive oil in a small bowl. Place squash in a large bowl, add the spice mix, and stir so that the squash is entirely covered. Roast the squash until it is very soft and starting to brown (25-40 min), stirring once or twice during the roasting process.

Honey Wheat Bread

cgbookcat1, 4 Sept 09, PWYF Forum

I’ve been making a honey wheat bread for the last 5 or so years on a regular basis. It makes wonderful sandwiches and keeps a surprisingly long time.

5 1/3 Tbsp (2/3 of a half cup stick) unsalted butter
2 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet is 2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup lukewarm water with a bit of honey
1 egg
1/3 cup orange or other fruit juice
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour (I like King Arthur’s)
4 cups whole wheat flour

Heat milk and butter until the butter is completely melted. Mix sugar, salt, and honey in a large bowl and pour milk/butter mixture on top. Stir until dissolved.

In a small bowl, combine yeast and warm water. Set both bowls aside for about 15 min. (The milk mixture should be cool enough it won’t kill the yeast, and the yeast will grow while you wait.)

Add orange juice and the beaten egg to the large bowl, and then add yeast. Add the white flour, mixing in one cup at a time, and then the wheat flour.

Upend the dough onto a heavily floured countertop and knead until the dough feels homogeneous and slightly stretchy. If you poke it, the dough should bounce back.

Place dough into a large greased bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch down, knead slightly, and let rise for about 1/2 an hour.

During the second rise, grease two large bread pans. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Divide the risen dough in half and shape into loaves. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes at 425, then turn the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

The loaves should be browned, but they won’t sound as hollow as French/Italian loaves do. They may need a bit less or a bit more time depending on how hot your oven is and what type of pan you use.

Eggplant Parmigiana

cgbookcat1, 15 April 09, Recipe Thread

From The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas

Eggplant Parmigiana
1 medium eggplant, sliced thick
1 egg beaten with some milk
dried breadcrumbs, wheat germ, or cracker meal
olive oil
1/2 lb Swiss or Mozzarella, sliced
6 oz tomato paste
white or red wine as needed
pinch of oregano
clove of garlic
salt and pepper
1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

Wash your eggplant and, without peeling it, slice it about 3/4 inch thick. Dip these slices first in flour, then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs so they are well coated. Sauté them in a little olive oil, a few at a time, until they are nicely browned on both sides; tend them carefully and add oil if it is needed.

When they are crisp and brown, arrange them in a baking dish and put a slice or two of Swiss or Mozzarella cheese on each one. Make a thick tomato sauce by diluting the tomato paste with wine. Mix the tomato sauce with the oregano, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic clove, and spread 2 to 3 tablespoons on each slice. Finally, sprinkle the grated Parmesan on top of it all. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes and serve steaming hot.

This hearty dish will serve 4 to 6 people.

Apricot Tea Cookies

Cgbookcat1, 15 October 08, from the Recipe Topic


Apricot Tea Cookies (originally from allrecipes.com)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
6 Tbsp white sugar
pinch salt
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup very cold butter
1 Tbsp sour cream

1 1/2 cups dried apricots, finely chopped. Cherries or cranberries also work well.
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbsp orange, peach, mango, cranberry, etc juice

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 tsp orange juice (or whatever you put in the filling)


Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter and cream cheese until small crumbs form. Add sour cream and mix just enough to form the dough into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Note that the dough is very sticky even when cold.

Combine all filling ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until you can stir without producing small pools of liquid (5-7 min). Allow filling to cool.

Divide the dough into two equal portions. On a floured surface, roll one section into a 10-inch square. Cut this large square into 16 smaller squares. Place 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of filling in the center of each square. Connect two opposite corners of dough over the filling and pinch enough to seal. They are prone to unroll during baking! Place on a greased cookie sheet and repeat for the second half of the dough.

Bake cookies at 325 degrees F (163 C) for 18-20 min, until the cookie edges are very slightly browned. Cool slightly before drizzling glaze, so that it is visible.



cgbookcat1, 2nd June 2008, comment to ‘Robins! We have robins!’

Here is my favorite waffle recipe. I suggest the use of an electric mixer to make the egg whites very fluffy. These waffles are best when cooked in a Belgian waffle iron, because the large holes allow you to insert fresh fruit and real maple syrup. Leftovers are good slightly toasted.

2-4 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup oil or melted butter

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour . . . whole wheat or combo wheat & white

2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

Beat egg whites until stiff. In a large bowl, beat yolks with milk. Add remaining ingredients, beating after each addition. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into lightly greased pre-heated (medium-hot, 375 deg) waffle iron and bake until it stops steaming or until the iron beeps. This will make enough waffles to feed 4 people, possibly with leftovers.

Optional waffle additions: 1/3 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup chopped apples, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, etc.


cgbookcat1, 2 Jun 08, comment to ‘Robins! We have robins!’

This recipe is for a sweet flatbread. I’ve adapted it from a Swedish recipe and adjusted ingredients to make it closer to Tolkien’s lembas. They make a handy grab-and-run breakfast or snack.

1 cups sour milk or buttermilk

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 to 1 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cardamom (very important)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

about 3 1/2 cups flour

Combine ingredients and work with hands into a soft, pliable dough. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll about 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick. Cut into squares, circles, or other fun shapes (I like to use cookie cutters). Bake on a lightly floured griddle over VERY low heat until done, flipping after 10 min or so. They should turn a light brown color on both sides but not burn. I like to use 2 or 3 griddles at once so I’m not standing at the stove all evening.

These are good with butter, cheese, or jam, but I like them best plain.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumb Pie in a Skillet Crust

Comment by cgbookcat1, 6th May 2008, to “Eat your veg”

Since it is both strawberry season and rhubarb season, you may appreciate the following recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie: it’s been my favorite pie for the last year. I found it online, but don’t recall the source. Apologies for American measurements and temperatures . . .

For the Crust:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; when it is melted, blend in the vanilla. Turn off the heat and stir in the flour and sugar mixture; this may take some time, but be patient and keep stirring until you have a pan full of
evenly mixed crumbles. Transfer about two thirds of the crumbs to a 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie pan, and press them to the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb stalks, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (about 3 cups of slices)
2 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4- 1/2 all purpose flour (if your rhubarb stalks are small, use the
larger amount of flour–if they are large, they are drier, use the smaller
amount of flour)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon rosewater (use smaller amount for a more subtle effect)

Mix together the filling ingredients and allow to stand for ten minutes. When the oven is preheated, put the filling ingredients into the prepared bottom crust and level it carefully. Crumble the reserved crust mixture over the pie evenly, and press it down gently with your hand.

Place the pie in the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the pie 180 degrees and turn the heat down to 325 degrees F. Close the oven and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the juces bubble thickly up around the edges of the crust.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool at least two hours before serving. (This is important–the filling thickens as it cools. If you try to cut into it before it is at least just barely warm, it will be a sloppy, messy, painful procedure.)