Monday, September 15, 2014

Aztec Chocolate Cake
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp. espresso powder
1C pecan halves, toasted
1C crème fraiche, lightly beaten with sugar and vanilla to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl and place over simmering water until melted.  Stir gently and remove from the heat.

Place eggs in a mixing bowl and beat until triple in volume and light in color.  Add half the beaten eggs and the espresso powder to the chocolate mixture and fold in.  then add the remaining eggs and gently fold in until just a few streaks remain – do not overmix.

Pour into the cake pan and place in a roasting pan.  Fill the roasting pan with boiling water to come halfway up the cake pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Cover the cake pan with foil and bake – still in its water bath – an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the water bath and set aside to cool on rack 45 minutes, then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.  Run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold.  Serve with whipped crème fraiche and sprinkle with toasted pecans.
MAKES:  8 – 10 servings

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blackened chicken with Spanish salsa
4 – 6 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
2 Tbsp. Cajun seasonings or spice rub of choice
olive oil

6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Sherry wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small cucumber, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
3/4C sliced pitted Kalamata olives
½ red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
½ yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2C thinly sliced red onion
3 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
5 oz. ricotta salata, shaved

For the salsa:  Whisk oil, vinegar garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add all remaining ingredients and toss to coat.

Rub the chicken breasts with spice rub and olive oil.  Let sit 15 minutes.   Grill 3 – 4 minutes per side until tender.  Remove from the grill and add any cooking juice to the salsa.  Slice the breasts and serve warm with salsa.  Sprinkle with shaved ricotta salata.
MAKES:  4 – 6 servings