Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Ever since Randal bought me the Sarabeth's Bakery book I have been wanting to make this chocolate truffle cake for him, and as it was his birthday last week I finally got around to making it. I knew that Randal would love this cake, so much chocolate between the cake, the ganache and the glaze, but there is never too much rich gooey cake for my husband, I used valrhona cocoa for this cake as it's Randal's favourite.  I had so much fun making this, I love recipes that involve lots of steps to end up with a perfect cake. 

Chocolate Orange Cake

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup valrhona cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten

Orange Simple Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Whipped Ganache

2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
14 ounces semi sweet chocolate

Chocolate Glaze

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a half-sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or lightly butter the pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together. Combine the cream, zest, and vanilla in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed until the cream holds its shape, just before soft peaks begin to form. Gradually beat in the eggs-the mixture will thin somewhat. Change to the paddle attachment. On low speed, add the flour mixture, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Because the cream is chilled, the batter thickens to the consistency of very stiff frosting. Distribute the batter in 5 large dollops in the pan, 1 in each corner and 1 in the center. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Run a knife around the inside of the half-sheet pan to loosen the cake. Place a large piece of parchment paper over the cake, then top with a large cutting board. Invert the pan and board together, and remove the pan and mat. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill and firm, at least 1 hour.

To make the orange syrup, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small pan, let boil for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat and stir in the grand marnier.

To make the whipped ganache, bring 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Add the hot cream and let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let cool until tepid, about 15 minutes.

Whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cream in the chilled bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed only until the cream holds its shape, just before soft peaks begin to form. Pour the whipped cream over the cooled chocolate mixture and fold together with a silicone spatula. Do not overmix, or the ganache will be grainy. Transfer 1/2 cup of the ganache to a small bowl and set aside.

To assemble the cake, transfer the cake, with its cutting board, to the work surface. Using an 8 by 3-inch metal cake ring as a template, cut out two 8-inch rounds of cake from opposite corners of the chocolate cake. Cut out two half-rounds of cake from the remaining cake, and save the scraps. The two half-rounds will be put together, with the reserved scraps cut to fill in the gap, to become the center cake layer. Place the cake ring on a half-sheet pan. Insert an 8-inch cardboard round, white side up, inside the ring. Place a whole cake layer in the ring, and drizzle and brush with about 3 1/2 tablespoons of the syrup. Top with half of the whipped ganache filling, and spread evenly. Top with the partial cake layers, and fill in the gap with trimmings of the reserved cake scraps. Top with a smaller cardboard round and press gently to level the layers. Remove the cardboard round. Drizzle and brush the layer with another 3 1/2 tablespoons syrup. Spread with the rest of the filling. Add the final cake layer, cover with the smaller cardboard round, and press gently to level the layers. Remove the cardboard round. Drizzle and brush the cake with the remaining syrup. Using a small offset spatula, spread the reserved 1/2 cup filling over the top cake layer to make a smooth surface. Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled, at least 6 hours.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Rinse a kitchen towel under hot water and wring it out. Wrap the hot, moist towel around the sides of the cake ring, being careful not to get water on the top of the cake. Let stand for about 30 seconds. Lift up on the ring to remove it.

Place the cake on a small round wire cake rack set on a half-sheet pan. Using a small offset spatula rinsed under hot water and dried, smooth the sides of the cake to even out the exposed ganache between the layers. Refrigerate the cake on the rack until the outer layer of ganache is very firm, about 30 minutes.

To make the glaze, bring the cream, espresso, and sugar just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Add the corn syrup and stir well until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Strain into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Transfer the cake on its wire cake rack to a room-temperature half-sheet pan. About 1 inch from the top edge of the cake, pour some of the glaze in a circle around the outside edge of the cake. Pour the remaining glaze in the center of the cake. Using a large offset metal spatula, quickly smooth the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the excess run down the sides.   Refrigerate until the glaze sets, at least 1 hour.

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Coconut Lime Chicken

I found this recipe over at Menu Musings.  We both really enjoyed this chicken, it was so quick and easy to make and Randal took the leftovers for lunch and he said it was even better then next day.

1 pack of thin chicken breast slices 
3 tbsp  oil
1 lime, zest and juice
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp curry powder (I used the Penzeys sweet curry)
1 can coconut milk
1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place the chicken in a large zip lock bag. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, curry powder, cumin, sugar, soy sauce and salt.  Pour half of the marinade onto the chicken, refrigerate the chicken for around 2 hours.

When ready to cook, pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and simmer while the chicken is grilling.

Grill chicken around 6-8 minutes per side, until cooked through.  To serve pour the sauce over the chicken and top with the pepper slices and cilantro.

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Mango Coconut Jasmine Rice

I made this mango rice to go with some coconut lime chicken. We both love the addition of coconut milk in rice and the mango was a really great addition.

1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
1 cup water
1 large mango, diced
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil

In a medium saucepan bring the water, coconut milk and salt to a boil.

While the water is boiling, in a medium frying pan heat the oil over high heat, add the rice to the pan and fry for a few minutes until the rice turns white.  Add to the boiling water, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. 

Once the rice is tender and fluffy, stir in the honey and the mango chunks.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Fresno Potatoes

These potatoes from Rags to Riches were Randal's other side dish choice for his birthday weekend. I have to say that he made some excellent choices because these potatoes are so good. We both really loved them and I ended eating more of these than anything else.  We added to the recipe slightly by adding in some jalapenos and diced red bell peppers but that was just to make it even more perfect for Randal.

4 medium sized yukon gold potatoes
6 slices bacon, diced and cooked
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tbsp flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup panko
5 tbsp butter, melted
salt and pepper
Peel potatoes but leave them whole, boil potatoes, until just tender but not cooked all the way through, about 20-25 minutes. Drain, cool and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a greased deep pie dish, layer half of potato slices, then top with half the bacon, spring onions, jalapeno and red pepper.
Whisk milk into sour cream and flour until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half the mixture over the potato layer and then sprinkle with half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat layers.
Sprinkle Panko over top and drizzle butter over all. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.
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Green Beans with Red Potatoes

Last weekend was Randal's birthday, usually we go out to a nice restaurant on our birthdays but this year Randal decided he would rather buy some nice filets and lobster tails and cook at home, that way he got to choose meals for the whole weekend for what he would have spent on one meal at a nice restaurant. For one of the dinners he chose this side dish from Paula Deen.  These green beans were so good, I was a little skeptical of cooking green beans for so long but we would definitely make this again.  We changed the recipe slightly as the original was for 3 pounds of green beans and salt pork, so we used bacon and just the one pound of green beans.

1 pound fresh green beans
4 slices bacon, diced
1 cup chicken broth
12 small red potatoes
1 onion, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
 Remove the ends from the beans. Snap the beans in 2 pieces, set aside.
In a large pan cook the bacon over medium heat. Add in the green beans and the onion, the garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir.  Pour in the chicken broth and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes.
When the beans are about half way done add in the potatoes and cook with the lid on for a further 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a large cast iron Dutch oven, lightly brown the salt pork in the bacon grease over medium heat, turning often, for approximately 10 minutes. Toss the green beans into the pot, stirring them with a wooden spoon to coat well with the pork fat. Add the broth and House Seasoning. Cook over medium-low heat, covered tightly, for approximately 30 minutes, or until the beans are half done. Stir in the butter and serve.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cherry Glazed Ribs

These ribs from The Midnight Baker  were so good. I just love fruity rib recipes, so much better than just straight up bbq sauce!

1 rack baby back ribs
1/2 cup cherry preserves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Mix together the brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the ribs and then refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 275.

Mix together the cherry preserves, orange zest and balsamic vinegar.  Coat the ribs with the glaze, leaving some for a final glaze before serving.  Cover the ribs with foil and bake for 3 hours.  Once ribs are cooked through, remove the foil, turn the oven to broil and coat with the remaining glaze, broil for a few minutes.

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Fruited Quinoa

I made this to go with cherry glazed ribs. Both recipes came from The Midnight Baker and the quinoa went so well with the ribs, I really loved it but I am on a bit of a quinoa kick these days. 

1 cup quinoa
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted almonds

Rinse the quinoa well and place in a medium saucepan with the orange juice and water.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.  Add in the cherries and toasted almonds.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Steak, red creamer potatoes and green beans

Tuesday: Italian sausage spaghetti, salad

Wednesday: Cranberry cola glazed ribs, potato salad and corn

Thursday:  Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Friday: Eating out
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Curried Chicken Crepes

I love crepes (or pancakes as we call them back home) but I mostly eat them covered in lemon and sugar, but this recipe from Exclusively Food looked so good I had to try it and we both loved these and would definitely make these again.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup milk
For the filling:
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup cream of chicken soup
3 tbsp. sour cream
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
To make the crepes - In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together, add in the flour and milk and whisk until smooth.  Let stand for 30 minutes.
Lightly grease a small frying pan and over medium heat add about 2 tablespoons of the batter and swirl around the pan, cook until the bottom is lightly browned and then flip the crepe and cook until the other side starts to brown.  Place the cooked crepe on a plate and continue cooking the rest of the crepes.
To make the filling - Stir the soup, curry powder, lemon juice, diced onion and sour cream together. Add in the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
Place about 1/4 cup of the filling onto the bottom half of each crepe.  Roll up each crepe and place them seam side down in a baking dish.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and pour over the heavy cream.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

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Cottage Pie

Growing up in England cottage pie was a staple in our house. This version is a little different than the one my mum used to make, I don't think hers included red wine but this is a great cottage pie recipe. I just wish I had remembered to take a picture of the inside!

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
4 tbsp. Worcester sauce
Thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves

For the mash:
2 lbs potatoes
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup cheddar cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg

Fry the beef until browned, drain and set aside. Put the oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins. Add the garlic, flour and tomato paste, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan. Pour in the wine and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, worcester sauce and thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. Discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

To make the mash, in a large saucepan cover the potatoes in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, then mash with the milk, butter, and three-quarters of the cheese, then season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

Place the beef mixture into a large ovenproof dish, spoon the mash over the beef and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Black Bean Burgers

I have been really loving black beans recently, so when I found this black bean burger recipe over at Smells Like Home I couldn't wait to try it.  I have never made or even actually eaten a black bean burger before so I don't have anything to compare this to, but I was so surprised by these burgers... they are good, really good, I think they have just become my new favourite lunch as unfortunately Randal wouldn't eat these at all.

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp olive oil
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 shallot, minced

Mix the breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small bowl.  Heat a small frying pan over medium heat, add the breadcrumbs and toast until lightly browned. Set aside.

In a large bowl mash all but half a cup of the black beans.  Add in the red bell pepper, shallot and cilantro.

In a small bowl beat the eggs, salt, cumin and cayenne together. 

Mix the egg mixture into the bean mixture, add in the half cup of black beans and the panko breadcrumbs, mix together and refrigerate for half an hour.

Shape the mixture into 6 half cup patties.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and cook the patties for around 10 minutes, turning half way through cooking.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Coconut lime chicken with mango coconut jasmine rice

Tuesday: Black bean burgers, potato salad

Wednesday: Cranberry cola glazed ribs, potato salad

Thursday:  Chili con carne

Friday: Eating out
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Monday, March 11, 2013

Biscoff Mousse Cream Pies

Time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal.  This month I was assigned the blog Dinners Dishes and Desserts.  I love Erin's blog, it's full of such great looking recipes and her pictures look so good.  I have a list of other recipes I will be making soon (including the shrimp and grits, keema samosas and butter chicken), but for this though, I wanted to make something that I knew Randal would love, so I went with these Biscoff mousse cream pies.  One of Randal's favourite things that I make are the chocolate cupcakes with Biscoff buttercream, so I knew I had to make these for him. 

I decided to make these 2 different ways, in mini tart pans but then I also thought these desserts would look great made in 3 inch entremet rings, that way you could really see all the layers.  I also changed the recipe slightly by using all fresh whipped cream in place of the cool whip (I had Randal make that for me) and I used graham crackers for the crust and topped them with a sprinkling of valrhona cocoa. We both loved these, especially the ones made in the entremet rings, which made for a great balance of flavours with the layers.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
Chocolate Whipped Cream: 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup valrhona cocoa
Biscoff Mousse:
1/2 cup biscoff spread
4 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp. milk
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. icing sugar
Vanilla Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp. icing sugar
To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl and mix in the melted butter until the mixture is combined. 
To make the chocolate whipped cream, in the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the heavy cream until it starts to thicken, then add in the sugar and cocoa and whisk until thickened.
To make the mousse, in the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the cup of heavy cream until it starts to thicken, then add in the 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and vanilla and whisk until thickened, remove from the mixer.  Add the cream cheese and biscoff to the empty mixer bowl and beat together, add in the milk and the cup of icing sugar and beat until combined.  Fold in the whipped cream.

To make the vanilla whipped cream, in the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the cup of heavy cream until it starts to thicken, then add in the sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla and whisk until thickened.
To assemble, place 2 tablespoons of the crust mixture in the bottom of the entremet rings or small pie pans and press down firmly.  Top with a layer of the chocolate cream, followed by a layer of the biscoff mousse.  At this point I topped the entremet rings with a layer of the vanilla whipped cream, but you can also add the cream to the mousse pies once they have chilled.
Place the mousse pies in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
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Menu Plan Monday

Last week the menu planned kind of thrown out the window as neither of us were feeling good and Randal took part of the week off sick, so this weeks menu plan has a few of last weeks meals that we didn't feel like making.

Monday: Cottage pie with peas

Tuesday: Cherry glazed ribs with fruited quinoa

Wednesday: Coconut lime chicken with mango coconut jasmine rice

Thursday:  Chicken tikka, jasmine rice, naan bread

Friday: Herb roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Parmesan Gremolata Smashed Potatoes

I have made the crash hot potatoes many times, usually with just a little rosemary on top, this herb and cheese version I found at  Use Real Butter looked so good I had to make them.  You really cannot go wrong with crispy hot potatoes tossed with garlic, pasrley and cheese!
2 lbs red creamer potatoes
1 tsp salt
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400
Cook the potatoes in salted water until tender.
Place the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet and flatten with a potato masher, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. 
Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl mix together the garlic, parsley, lemon zest and parmesan cheese.  When potatoes are done, toss with the parmesan mixture.
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Sausage Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

I found the recipe for these stuffed jalapenos over at The Black Peppercorn, I love making the ordinary kind of cream cheese stuffed jalapenos and after making the cornbread stuffed ones a few weeks ago I thought these would be fun to try. 

Eckrige smoked sausages
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
1 shallot

Preheat the oven to 400

Cut the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds. 

In a small bowl mix together the softened cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese and the finely diced shallot.  Fill the jalapenos with the cream cheese mixture, place a sausage on top of the cream cheese and wrap the jalapeno with a slice of bacon.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

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Corn Crisps

I am a little obsessed these days with making appetizers, some turn out better than others but I love making a dinner of 4 or 5 little plates of appetizers.  These were part of last weeks appetizers for dinner night, I knew I had to make these because Randal loves corn.  These corn crisps are really quick and easy to make and taste great.

1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups corn
 1/4 cup finely chopped spring onions
 vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cumin, sugar, and cayenne. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until they are just blended. Fold in the corn and spring onions.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan.  Drop the corn mixture by tablespoons into the hot oil and fry for 2 or 3 minutes each side, until golden brown.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Buttermilk fried chicken, smashed potatoes tossed in garlic, lemon zest, parsley, parmesan

Tuesday: Cherry glazed ribs with fruited quinoa

Wednesday: Coconut lime chicken with mango coconut jasmine rice

Thursday:  Curried chicken crepes with roasted asparagus

Friday: Vietnamese chicken meatballs in lettuce wraps with stuffed mini red potatoes
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie