Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chicken, Veggie and Barley Soup (or so I thought!)

I don't always know what we are having for dinner when I start to fix it. Sounds weird when I put that in so many words, but that's just the way I cook. Sort of by the seat of my pants. I wing it. Lots. So tonight, when I started dinner, I had no idea what we were having. I figured some kind of soup. That much I knew. I had a few veggies on the counter, and some thawed out chicken with stock. By the time I got done chopping veggies, I decided to toss in some barley to give it some substance. It was coming right along, and I went to the pantry to get the barley. Hmmmm, not there. I checked the freezer. Yeah, not there either. I checked the other freezer. Nope. Then I checked the other freezer. Nada. I went back to the pantry, and got out the flour for dumplings. Ahhh, chicken and dumplings! What could be better? I love cooking!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Chocolate Cake

I've wanted to make this cake for 2 weeks. Well, actually, I take that back. I've wanted to make this cake for 2 years. See, 2 years ago, I tried to make a flour-less chocolate cake, and it flopped. I didn't try it again, and just sort of forgot about it. Then, 2 weeks ago, a friend at work was talking about a flour-less chocolate cake recipe she had. To make a long story short, (sort of!) she gave me the recipe, and I made it yesterday and today. I'll show you what I did!

First off, I searched for 62% Scharffen Berger Chocolate. The recipe I got was a Scharffen Berger recipe, so I figured I might as well go all the way. Normally, I don't follow a recipe to the letter, but I figured I would need all the help I could get, so, I bought what the recipe called for. I'd never even heard of Scharffen Berger. I'm more of a Hershey's girl, or maybe Guittard, if it's on sale.

I broke the chocolate into chunks, and put it into a double boiler along with the butter. Oh, how can a person go wrong with chocolate and butter?

Want to know something? It must be really good chocolate. Does this look like what is left of almost $20?

After the chocolate and butter have melted, stir them until they are all mixed together. You don't want to boil them, just get it nice and warm, so the two can mingle and dance together. After all, it's Valentine's Day!

Break 3 eggs into a different bowl, and add the sugar.

Stir them together well. I just used a hand whisk. You don't have to get lots of air into it, just mixed together.

Let the chocolate mixture cool enough to pour into the eggs and sugar. If you put something really hot into eggs, it will cook the eggs, (or so I've been told) and we don't want that. Not today. Probably not tomorrow either. Ummm, let's see, when the chocolate isn't too hot, pour it into the eggs and sugar, and stir it up.

Here it goes!

This is what it looks like after it's all mixed up. Looks yummy, huh? I wouldn't know. I'm just saying....I think it looks yummy.

This cooks in a round 9" cake pan. That would be a single pan. Very skinny. In the pan, at least. Not on my hips. Anyway, get a round pan. Butter the bottom and sides, and line it with parchment paper. NOT waxed paper!

Pour the chocolate batter into the pan and spread it out. Lick the spatula. Yummy!

Then it goes into a bigger pan. I tried to use a 9x13 pan, but it just sat on top. So, I used this other pan I have. I just got it a month or two ago, at a thrift store. It was perfect!

Then...and I didn't take a picture of this one......boil some water. I used the water in the double boiler, and then added a little more. Pour it into the big pan, so the cake sits in water. The water should reach about halfway up the side of the cake pan. Cover the whole thing with foil.

Then, ever so gently, carry it to the oven, and put it in the middle. Set the timer, and bake it. Go play on the computer, or watch tv, or knit. Or read. Or go outside. But not for too long.

When the timer dings, take it out of the oven. Please be very careful lifting the foil to uncover the cake. Take the cake out of the pan of water to cool. I let it cool over night and finished it the next day. I suppose you could just put it in the frig, if you didn't want to wait.

This is what it looked like the next day. The sides pulled away a little as it cooled. The spot in the middle is from where it was touching the foil as it was baking, but that will be on the bottom, so it's ok.

I had things to do, places to go, and people to annoy on Valentine's Day morning and early afternoon, so I waited until late afternoon to make it pretty. I put it on a cake plate, and made a ganache to top it off. I'm really starting to fall in love with ganache. It's so versatile. And rich! And easy. But don't tell anybody, because it looks pretty impressive.

Here's the recipe!
Chocolate Orbit Cake (serves 12 to 14)
9.7 ounces Scharffen Berger 62% cacao semisweet chocolate
7 ounces butter (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon)
5 eggs
1 cup sugar

Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9x2 inch round cake pan, and line the inside with a round of parchment paper.
Simmer water in bottom of double boiler. Cut butter and chocolate into small pieces into top of a double boiler. Whisk occasionally until melted.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar in another bowl. Thoroughly whisk in the melted chocolate. Pour the chocolate batter into the cake pan. Place it in a larger baking pan, and pour in warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the cake appears to have set and when you touch the center, your finger comes away clean.
Remove the cake from the water bath and cool completely before serving, plain or with gently whipped cream. This cake can be refrigerated for several days.

Well! This is quite funny! I had to put my reading glasses on to read the recipe, because it's late, and my eyes are tired, and this is a long post, and, and, and. Anyway, I had to put on my glasses, and you know what??? I just realized the recipe is folded right at the spot where it says 5 eggs, and when I made this yesterday, I thought it said 3 eggs! So I made this recipe with 3 eggs, instead of 5! But it turned out anyway. Does that mean I have to make it again, only with 5 eggs? Maybe next Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sour Cream Enchiladas

I was going to make pizza for dinner tonight. I even told Hubby that was what he could expect for dinner when he came home from work. Yes, I know it's Saturday, and he doesn't normally work on Saturdays. But there's lots going on, and lots of folks are working really hard, so, long story short, he was at work today. And know what I found out later? He's had pizza for lunch for the last two days! Not that he would have minded, or said anything, but I thought that was funny. Anyway, I was on the phone with him while he was on his way home, and he mentioned White Enchiladas, and how much he liked them. They are so easy, and I had everything (almost) to make them. Oh, it was meant to be, sort of kizmet, you know? So I switched gears and tossed them together, then popped them in the oven. Want to know how I do it??? Today's your lucky day! Read on, my friend!

I pulled out cooked chicken from the freezer. Since I was in a bit of a hurry, I thawed it a little in the microwave, then chopped it and finished it in my cast iron skillet. Oh, yum! You could certainly use one of those precooked roasted chickens available in the stores, but this is what I had on hand today.

In a big bowl, stir together cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, chopped olives, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese! Normally I would put in a can of mild green chilies, but I didn't have any. Instead, I used some pepper jack cheese that I had in the frig. Stir it all together, then add in the chicken.

Spoon about....... this much in each tortilla. This part is very precise.

Roll them up and put them in a greased 9x13 pan. I usually put in 8 or 10. This is what it will look like. Oh, you won't use all the stuff for the middle. The rest will be on top.

This is about how much will be left for the top.

Spread the last of the sour cream mixture on the top, cover it, and pop it in the oven! Let it bake for maybe, oh, say, a half hour, then uncover it, and bake it for another 15 minutes or so. This is what mine looked like.

Dish it up, and be prepared for your family to tell you how wonderful and talented you are. Just as they are getting a second helping!

Want the whole recipe?

Sour Cream Enchiladas

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
16 oz. sour cream
1 6 oz. can olives, chopped
1 lb cheese, grated - I used a combination of sharp cheddar, mozzerella, and pepper jack
about 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
8-10 tortillas

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan and lid, or foil. Stir together soup, sour cream, olives, cheese and chicken. Spoon about 1/4 to 1/3 cup mixture onto tortilla. Roll up and place in pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas, saving some sour cream mixture for top. Spread remaining mixture evenly on top, cover, and put in oven for 30-45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.