Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Gems

The holiday season is officially launched and the pile of  leftovers is dwindling each day. While cleaning up after Thanksgiving--which seemed to take as long as the cooking did--I decided to do a little organizing as well. I'm proud to say that my junk drawer is no longer a place you have to put on a glove to fish around. In fact, I'm so pleased with the results, I'm going back to the store to get some more organizers to do that bottomless bottom drawer that holds all the extras for my Robot Coupe, Kitchenaid, Pampered Chef paraphernalia, mixers, assorted foodie gadgets, and who knows what else.

Meanwhile, these little bites were a hit and at just 98 calories each, a treat I'm sure to make again.

Makes 24
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees and coat 2 gem pans (12-cup mini muffin pans) with cooking spray.

Combine chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, stir until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the sugar, vanilla extract, and espresso powder. Whisk in eggs until well combined. Sift cocoa powder over top and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter among prepared pans (an ice cream scoop insures even sized gems). Bake until cakes have risen, 8-12 minutes. Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove gems from tins and cool on rack. Dust with confectioners sugar.
Gems is the perfect description of these chocolaty bites. They are rich and melt on the tongue and two truly satisfy. I don't know how they freeze, but will definitely try that out next batch. These are worth having around for the perfect bite to go with your evening cup of tea.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Perfect Make-ahead Turkey Gravy

 Have you been blogging too long when you start to duplicate your posts? Or, is that just a sign that what you're posting about is really, really good. I prefer to believe the latter. My "faithful readers" may have noticed that my posts at the beginning of this month were sporadic. That was because my significant other's daughter was married at the beginning of the month. Following that joyous occasion, I headed to my refuge on Longboat Key, Florida for a little R & R, which, unfortunately, never happened. Instead I sat in my recliner staring longingly at the beautiful Gulf of Mexico while I fought a terrible cold and sore throat. On a positive note, I got lots of stitching on my latest crazy quilting project done. When I got home, I realized with a start that Thanksgiving was almost upon us.

When I came here to post about it, something made me look in my index and sure enough, there is was! I thought, however, that the photos I snapped today were better looking, and so I used them and will just give you a link to the recipe HERE.

The advantages to making your turkey gravy ahead of time are two-fold. First, it is far less stressful than trying to manage carving the turkey, getting all the side dishes to the table, as you stand and tend the gravy, which does take your full attention. Second, the turkey parts you use in this recipe can be used for salads, soups, sandwiches, or casseroles, a nice bonus.

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roast Chicken Redux

In my book, Ina Garten is the Queen of roast chicken. No one can disabuse me of this fact. I've tried several of her recipes and every one of them has been a winner. This particular roast chicken is made even more drool-worthy because of the incredible sauce that accompanies it. From her newest cookbook, How Easy Is That?, Jeffrey's chicken is a definite keeper. I did add carrots, shallots, and some turnips, roasting them alongside the chicken, which I know made the sauce even yummier.

1 4-to-5 lb roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons
1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise
olive oil
2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
2 shallots, peeled and diced
6 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 turnips, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbs all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters and place 2 quarters in the cavity along with the garlic. Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a roasting pan.

Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken. Spread the carrots, shallots, and turnips around the chicken as well.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour, 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, leaving the lemons and vegetables in the pan. Cover the chicken with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Place the pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect on the platter under the chicken and taste for seasoning. Remove the lemons, carrots, and turnips. Serve the chicken with the sauce on the side.
Of Ina's many preparations for roast chicken, this one is, by far, the best. I'm sure there are many reasons why Ina and Jeffrey have been married happily for many years, but I'm just as certain that this chicken must be counted among them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley

If you are a regular reader of The Food of Love, you'll know that my rule of thumb for using a slow-cooker is that I mustn't have to dirty any other pots and pans. When I spied this recipe in the November issue of Food Network magazine, I was delighted to note that it met that criteria. This is one you can easily put together before you go to bed or before you leave for work in the morning. With an 8-hour cook on low, it's definitely a keeper.

Serves 4
1 1/4 lb boneless beef chuck (in one piece)
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 stalks celery, quartered
6 medium carrots, quartered
2 medium leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only; be sure to clean well!!!!)
1 sprig thyme
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: horseradish for serving (Yes! just do it!)

Combine beef, barley, mushrooms, celery, carrots, leeks, thyme, beef broth, and soy sauce in a slow cooker. Add 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cover and cook on low UNDISTURBED for 8 hours. (Yes, I'm talking to you, the one who takes off the lid!)

Uncover, skim off any excess fat, and transfer the beef to a cutting board to cool slightly. Slice or shred the beef into bite-sized pieces. Thin the vegetable-barley mixture with some water, if desired. Divide among shallow bowls, top with the beef, and pass the horseradish.
O!M!G! this is one tasty bowl of fiber-laden goodness. While it comes in at 647 calories per serving, it has a whopping 12g of fiber and 40g of protein (29 g fat, 57g carb) and needs absolutely nothing else to make it a meal. While a loaf of wonderful bread could only make it better, fitting into my clothes is important to me, so I skipped that luxury. Try this one ASAP.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Rarebit--also known as Welsh rarebit--is a popular British dish. It generally consists of a mix of Cheddar cheese, ale, and seasonings like Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard and is served over toast. I recently encountered a recipe for turkey rarebit, a suggestion for an easy open-faced, post-Thanksgiving sandwich. With a lot of leftovers from an oven-stuffer I had roasted, I decided to give this comfort food a try. What follows is my version.

Serves 4
2 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for the baking sheet
8 slices sourdough bread, lightly toasted
2 tbs Dijon mustard
16 thin slices skinless roast chicken breast (or turkey)
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced
2 tbs all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup brown or dark amber ale
8 oz  aged English cheddar, finely grated
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.

Lightly butter a large, rimmed baking sheet. Smear one side of each slice of bread with the mustard. Set the bread slices mustard side up on the baking sheet and top with the chicken slices.

Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the scallions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute more, whisking frequently. Add the milk and bear and whisk until thick and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Add all but 1/4 cup of the cheese and 1/2 tsp pepper, and the Worcestershire and whisk until bubbling, just a few seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese sauce over each sandwich. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Broil until bubbling and browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before serving.
This isn't something my mother made, but I do remember making it as a young bride (I'm sure a variation of it is in my first big Good Housekeeping cookbook). We ate it twice during the week, once with a big tossed salad and the other night with tomato soup. It was a big hit with both DSO and me, both of us liking it even better the second time around when the ale flavor was more pronounced. My biggest issue right now is I have more wonderful ways to serve Thanksgiving leftovers than I'll have leftovers. I may need to return to making a second bird.