I recently received a request for a Gluten free, dairy free chocolate cake for an event. After much research and some trial and error, I created this one. It has a rich tasting chocolate frosting, a moist chocolatey interior and a filling of raspberry between the layers. It was well received and I have received a second order for another.
OK. I apologize for not posting a picture. I must say that this is such a quick and yummy recipe, I got carried away. Peter and I tore into it warm from the microwave with a bit of fresh whipped cream on top and it was amazing. I saw the recipe on Michael Symon’s Symon’s Suppers on the Cooking Channel and I just had to try it for Valentine’s day. So easy, so simple, so so good.
Total Time: 10 min
Yield:4 to 6 servings
8 ounces room-temperature butter, cubed
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint ice cream, such as salted caramel flavor, for serving
Good quality maraschino cherries, such as Luxardo, for serving
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a glass bowl set over a double boiler, or for 60 seconds in the microwave.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, orange zest, salt and eggs. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Divide the batter among 4 large or 6 medium coffee cups.
Microwave for 50 seconds to 2 minutes on high, depending on the number of cakes, the power of your microwave and how molten you like your cakes. Let cool for 30 seconds. Top with the ice cream and cherries, and serve.
Here is a recipe for the novice who wants to embark on the road to creative cuisine but may think they lack the skills to do so. This is best taken with a grain of salt (or two). Happy Holidays!
Boiling water is essential to many recipes. If you have never cooked before, don’t worry. It is not as difficult as it may appear. This recipe will guide you through the process, even if you have never set foot in a kitchen.
Special equipment: 12-quart stockpot
Open your cupboard or wherever it is you store your cookware.
Locate a 12-quart stockpot. If you do not have a 12-quart stockpot, you may use whatever size pot you have; in that event, keep in mind that serving size here is 1 cup and there are 4 cups in a quart. Do the math.
Place your pot in the sink under the tap. If you have never used a sink before, it is the large depression in your counter top. (If you live with someone else, they may have filled it with dirty dishes; in this case, wash them or simply remove them from the sink and place them in the oven — someone else will eventually discover them there and wash them.)
Turn the cold-water knob to the “on” position. Some people (like my dad) prefer to let the water run a little bit. This is optional but encouraged — if it’s a hot day or someone has previously used the “hot” water knob, the warmer water will eventually be replaced by truly cold water.
Fill stockpot to within a couple inches of the rim.
Lift stockpot from sink and transfer to stove. (Although appearances may vary, the stove is the thing with 4 or more circular metal bands on top of it; alternately, it may be a completely flat black glass surface. If you are unsure, ask your family, roommate, or neighbor for guidance.)
Find knob on stove that corresponds to the “burner” you have placed your pot on. In addition to words like “Right Front” or “Left Rear,” there are usually little pictures near the knobs to indicate position.
Turn knob to “High” and wait until water boils. Depending on strength of your stove and amount of water, the boiling time may vary. Note: DO NOT WATCH THE POT; it will never boil in the event that you do.
Boiled water may be used for any number of applications. Serve hot but do not drink. Serves 48, cooking time 5 minutes, total time varies.
Depending on water application, you may want to salt the water. Do this after the water has come to a boil.
Placing a lid on the pot will help it boil faster, with the additional benefit of blocking water from your line of sight, which, as stated above, inhibits the boiling process.
This is an amazing recipe for use with beef. It can be sirloin, chuck or rump, as long as the cut is one large piece and not slices. The dried Chinese mushrooms add umami to the dish and it becomes something incredibly luscious and satisfying.
I made this on a cold Cleveland evening for dinner and served it with polenta to soak up the wonderful gravy that it makes. You could also use potatoes or rice is that is your preference. This is a dish that is best made on the weekend because it requires marinating in the frig for a couple of hours and then it is cooked low and slow to break it down into meat that nearly melts in the mouth.
About 2 lb. of beef
2 c. red wine
12 large dried Chinese black mushrooms or more if small
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the beef and the wine in a bowl that will hold them comfortable. Place the mushrooms in a 1 cup measuring cup and fill with boiling water. Allow to steep 10 minutes to rehydrate them. Transfer the mushrooms, along with the mushroom liquid that has be strained, into the bowl with the beef. Stir in the soy sauce. Cover and marinate in the frig for two to three hours.
Heat the oen to 300 degrees. Transfer the meat to several sheets of paper towels and pat it dry. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan on medium-high and lightly brown the beef. Remove and lower the heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the thyme, the marinade and the mushrooms and cook on high 8 to 10 minutes until reduced by half. Return the beef to the pan, cover and bake about 2 1/2 hours or until fork-tender.
Remove the beef from the pan. Add the remaining vegetables and broth to a blender and blend until smooth. If it is too thick, add a bit of water to bring it to gravy consistency.
Taza is a new spot, recently opened in the Warehouse district of Cleveland. It is in the spot where Crop was located before Steve Schimoler moved it to Ohio City. It has gotten a nice redo to give it a Middle Eastern vive. Walls and ceiling are draped with gauzy fabrics and the lighting is softly covered with lengths of fabric and beads which give an intimate feel to it.
Taza is part of the Cleveland-based Aladdin’s restaurant chain (which has locations in Chicago, Charlotte, Raleigh, Toledo, Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Arlington and San Antonio!), Taza is known for its wide variety of traditional mezza (Lebanese for ‘tapas,’ or appetizers). Her twin sister is located in Woodmere. The menu says that Taza uses no sulfites or any type of preservatives in the food and only the freshest vegetables and meats. The freshness was apparent in the foods we were served.
I was there is week as part of a group who came on the recommendation of one of my husband’s co-workers, Tom R., who had eaten there once and said it was really good. It turns out that “really good” was a bit of an understatement. The food rocked!
The menu has a nice assortment of fresh, healthy choices including many vegetarian dishes. Here a vegetarian does not have to settle for only a couple of salad choices for a meal.
We ordered assorted entrées and this is a review of those seated around me. With a bit of encouragement, I took some photos which I would love to share.
The server brought out some warm puffy pita bread with Zaatar (an ancient Middle Eastern herb) and olive oil, sprinkled with sesame seeds, for dipping which was really good. Some of the bread was puffed and some was traditional flat pita. I don’t know if they go by different names but it was all good. I particularly liked the warm puffs of bread which I tore and dipped into the oil.
Upon the recommendation of Tom, I ordered the “Tour of Lebanon” which gave a nice variety of things to sample. I was a large serving of Shawarma (shaved beef that has been skewered and cooked for hours) with grilled onions, Shish Tawook (grilled chicken (marinated in a yogurt puree over couscous), Lebanese Salata ( a mixture of chopped tomato, green pepper, cucumber, onions, olives and feta in a lemon-herb dressing), Hummos ( a puree of chickpeas, tahini and lemon) and Baba, short for baba ghanoush (char-grilled eggplant with tahini and lemon). Everything was spot on for flavors. The serving was quite ample and I took half of it home for lunch the next day.
My husband had the falafel which came with chopped tomatoes and onions in a lemon herb dressing along with the Shawarma plate which had rice. He offered me a taste of the falafel, which had a crispy outer layer with a flavorful soft center. His loved the Shawarma as did I.
Suzanne L., seated next to me, had Makanek (baby sausages made with spiced beef and lamb, sautéed in a lemon-pomegranate sauce. She offered me a taste of the sauce on some pita and it was well balanced and tasty. She also got a salad with was huge and she took half of it to go.
We finished the meal with Baklawa (a thin, phyllo dough desert, sweetened with syrup and dusted with pistachio dust). It had a nice buttery flavor and was not overly sweet.
Our server was great in making suggestions for us to try if we were unsure of something. She was attentive without being annoying.
While we were eating, the owner, Fady Chamoun, checked frequently to see that we were all pleased with our meals. He showed us his new, soon to be finished private party room which promises to be quite lovely. We all left with satisfied smiles on our faces. We must go back again soon.
This is a great drink for a warm summer’s day. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and can’t resist them now. Grab some fresh berries at the farmer’s market and some limes and try it.
4 blueberries plus one for garnish
10 blackberries plus one for garnish
10 mint leaves plus one sprig for garnish
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. rum
Muddle the berries, mint, lime juice and simple syrup in a rocks or old-fashioned glass.
Add the rum and ice. Stir gently.
Garnish with berries and mint sprig
I have been spending the last couple of months baking bread every few days and have gotten quite spoiled by it. The house smells amazing on baking day and you can hardly wait to tear into a fresh loaf.
This is a recipe based on one from James Beard. I have made a couple of changes to suit our tastes. It is great for sandwiches as it has a fine crumb and is very tender.
4 c. all purpose flour
1 T. salt
1 package of dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
10 oz. water
Start by mixing 1/2 c. of warm water, the yeast and sugar together. Let it set in a warm place for about 15 minutes until it is really foamy. This way you know your yeast is active and ready to have fun.
Place about 3 3/4 c. in a bowl and add the bubbly yeast, salt, 3/4 c. of warm water and knead for about 10 minutes. If you have an electric mixer with a dough hook, you can use that instead. Slowly add another 1/4 to 1/2 c. of flour while kneading. Poke it with a finger and see how it depresses and feels to your touch. The dough should be soft but not sticky. It can vary depending on the temperature of the room and the humidity so you have to go by feel. If it is sticky, add a bit more flour and knead a couple of minutes and check again. Roll into a nice round ball.
Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in it and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Let set about 2 hours in a warm place and let rise until double in size.
Check after 1 1/2 hours as sometimes it will rise faster and sometimes slower.
Punch it down. This means to push on dough and it will deflate. Knead a couple of times with your hands and roll into a nice smooth rectangle. Place in a bread pan that has been sprayed with pan spray.
Let rise again until about 1 inch above the pan. This usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Brush your bread with cold water and place in oven and bake for 35 minutes or until it reaches about 200 degrees inside with an instant read thermometer. If you want a crisper crust on bottom of loaf, remove from pan and let bake another 5 minutes just sitting on the oven rack.
Remove and place on cake rack to cool. This is really the hardest part because the bread smells so good and you just want to cut into it but waiting is the thing to do.