Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Last year, I worked late on Valentine’s Day. When I got home, I found that hubby had made an elaborate dinner that ended with this delicious dessert.


This year, I had the day off, so I thought I’d return the favor.

I should mention that this recipe is stolen, once again, from Chef John at Food Wishes. It’s also available on all recipes, which I wish I’d realized before I watched his video and transcribed notes on how to do everything. I have yet to be disappointed by ANY of Chef John’s recipes, so I really recommend that you check out his site if there’s something you’ve been wanting to make.

The first step was supposed to be in a double boiler, but since I don’t have one, I just used a small saucepan on very low heat. Basically, melt together a bit of unsalted butter, brewed espresso (or leftover hazelnut coffee from that morning, in my case…sue me), and dark chocolate.When I was younger, I experimented a lot with melting chocolate, so I already had a good idea how to do this.




I moved the mixture to a clean bowl at this point, starting over with the same small saucepan. Add a bit of marsala wine or rum (I just had rum)…


Sugar… (don’t worry about this looking funky, it’s the unbleached, organic sugar that hubby and I put in our coffee).


And two egg yolks. Each of the puppies got a small snack of egg white, so they approved of this dessert wholeheartedly.


Cook it over medium-low heat until it’s frothy and thickened. At one point, I think I panicked that mine wasn’t doing anything, so I brought the saucepan into my office and compared the mixture in Chef John’s video with my own. I was reassured and decided to be patient. Eventually, it did look like this:


At that point, add in a bit of mascarpone cheese and stir it in.


Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture


And whisk it together.


Let it cool down for a while. I took this opportunity to make meatballs for our romantic, candlelit dinner.


When you’re ready to continue, take some heavy cream.


And beat the crap out of it until it looks like this. Chef John suggested doing this by hand to save on dishes, adding that it doesn’t take long, but it took me a while and I actually got really warm doing it! I swear I’m not that out of shape…. But next time I’ll use my electric mixer.


Add about half of the cream to the chocolate mixture


Fold it in until mixed, then add in the rest and fold that in, too. It should look like this.


I decided to be fancy and use a pastry bag to pipe my mousse. I’d never used one before, and I found that I had a lot of trouble filling the thing with only two hands. I ended up propping it against the fridge with my heavy cream and going from there (ignore the celery, it was for the spaghetti and meatballs).


Yay, it’s ready to pipe into martini glasses!


I’m not sure if it was what I was doing that was intriguing, or maybe the fact that I was talking to myself trying to get this to work out right, but the dogs found this step REALLY interesting.


Anyway, this is  what I ended up with!


Okay, I suck at piping. Maybe I needed a bigger tip. But I was still proud of this. Dusted it with some cocoa powder and stuck it in the fridge until dessert time.




Decadent. Romantic. Lovely.

I hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day <3

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Barbecue Vinaigrette

I’m not exactly where this recipe came from.

It found its way into my family’s repertoire via a meal-in-a-basket gift one Christmas, or was it a birthday? I guess it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that it found its way into my family’s hearts (and tummies) years ago and has become a regular on the dinner rotation.


But when I moved out, I never made it on my own.

I’m not sure why. It’s a meal I like. It just never occurred to me to MAKE it for myself, until recently, when I was looking for something new to do with chicken breasts.

First step: poach some chicken breasts in a pot of water. Sometimes I add a splash of vinegar to tenderize it a bit.


Next, start a pot of fettuccini. Or linguini. Or any shape pasta you want, really. I like fettuccini with this.


While these are cooking, you can make the barbecue vinaigrette sauce. It starts off with some barbecue sauce (shocker, right?).



Some olive oil…


Some vinegar (I think I used white wine vinegar since our recipe wasn’t specific)…Don’t worry about the color, I didn’t rinse out my measuring cup after the barbecue sauce.


And some soy sauce.


Whisk it all up…


Meanwhile, your chicken is done. Let it cool for a few minutes…


And drain your pasta.


Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and mix it in.


Add corn. We usually use frozen, but this time I used canned.


And of course, your chicken gets cut up and put in there, as well.


All mixed up!


Finally, before serving, you can top it off with green onions. Other people in my family use regular raw onions, but I much much much prefer green onions. Much.


Give it another stir, and then serve!


It’s an easy weeknight dish. In fact, the recipe says to chill it before serving, so you could make it in the morning or the day before. Personally, though, I have no idea why it says that. I much prefer it hot, but maybe that’s just me. Even so, it’s not hard to throw together.

It’s a unique flavor combination, flavors that aren’t often mixed with pasta (I’m trying to think of another time I put soy sauce on pasta…), and maybe that’s just what makes this meal work so well. Hubby went back for seconds when I made this, so I guess it’s pretty nummy.

I recommend you try it! Here's the recipe. Let me know what you think!