Monthly Archives: January 2011

French Fridays with Dorie: Michel Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

I have another true confession to make this week: I’m not that into chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, I can take it or leave it. I know some people will find that hard to imagine, but that’s the way it is.

I say this because, for French Fridays with Dorie, the recipe this week was a very chocolately cake: Michel Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. What a decadent cake, with a very fancy name, for an ordinary week! Fortunately, I am married to a chocoholic, who comes from a family of chocoholics so I had an enthusiastic audience.

For chocolate, I used a bar of Ghiradelli’s 60% bittersweet, which, chocoholic or not, I always have on hand. This recipe called for coffee, but I’m not really a coffee drinker. I do like espresso drinks, but I get them for a treat from Starbucks, Peets or my favorite Lexington coffee shop. So, as embarrassing as this is, I made some extra-strong instant coffee to add to the mousse mix.

Firm but still glossy?

The chocolate mixture came together easily, more easily than I expected. The part I was most unsure about was whipping the egg whites. I wasn’t sure exactly what firm but still glossy meant. I’m not sure I did it right, but whatever I did worked out.

Oops!

I did made a mistake with the springform pan rim. (By the way, the 8-inch springform pan is definitely getting a workout with the dessert recipes in this book.) I couldn’t decide whether to place it right side up or upside down. Because it was just acting as a rim, I was worried the little edge on the bottom would cause a problem later, so I used the rim upside down. Oops! The top edge, which I placed on the parchment, was slightly rounded. When I baked the bottom crust, a little bit oozed out onto the parchment paper and, eventually, burned. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I think I should have just used it with its usual orientation.

I didn’t plan the timing quite right. I baked the crust after dinner, but there wasn’t time for it to chill before bedtime, so the crust chilled overnight. Dorie said the mousse could be made a few hours ahead, so I worried it might deflate overnight. It survived. The next night I baked the cake with the mousse layer and we ate it warm for dessert. Then, for night #2, we had the baked and chilled version.

Howard, the chocoholic, preferred the warm version. My opinion might not matter as much, given my indifference to chocolate, but I agree with him. This cake was interesting, but so far this month, I’ve only liked, not loved the recipes. I have high hopes for next week’s Chicken B’stilla.

If you’d like to see how other bloggers fared with the Double Chocolate Mousse Cake, check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. If you like what you see, you can buy yourself the book and join our cooking group.

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A Trio of Winter Winners

We’ve certainly been experiencing our share of winter weather this month. Light snow, heavy snow, and wintry mix. Having a dog sheds a new light on winter because you have to go out walking, rain (or should I say snow) or shine. I’ve learned to enjoy winter walks, especially on a weekend afternoon when we can walk through the woods. Cold just doesn’t feel as cold as it used to.

That said, the amount of winter precipitation is getting tiresome. Any suggestions on where we should move for better weather? It’s tough to figure out because I don’t like to be hot.

In deference to the weather, in the past week, I’ve tried three new recipes for hearty fare. Two were from websites I follow and the third, torn from a magazine by a friend and shared with me. All three were successful, so I share the results here with you.

#1 Mujaddara

This is a relatively simple lentil and rice dish, Middle Eastern in origin. I found this on Food 52, the website of Amanda Hesser (of former New York Times fame) and Merrill Stubbs. I can easily get lost for hours, browsing through recipes and watching the videos. The thing I especialy like about this site are the videos. They make everything looks so easy, which is inspiring.

Each week, this site has a themed recipe contest. The top two recipes, as chosen by Amanda and Merrill, are demonstrated and readers can vote. If I understand the site correctly, all the winning recipes are being published together in a cookbook, coming soon.

Lentils are probably my top favorite bean or legume. For this recipe, three basic parts are cooked separately and then combined and served with a spicy yogurt sauce. You bake some rice, while simmering some lentils, while caramelizing some onions. That’s about it. After you combine the lentils, rice, and onions, they sit for a short while while the flavors blend. This is just enough time to make the yogurt sauce. Its components definitely sum up to something greater than its parts. If you check out this recipe, be sure to watch the video.

#2 Roasted Parsnip Fries

This recipe comes from Six Burner Sue, the website of Susie Middleton, former editor at Fine Cooking magazine and author of the recent book Fast, Fresh and Green. Given the 5 pounds of parsnips in the fridge, this one appealed to me right away.

The recipe uses only one pound of parsnips, so it use up my entire supply. However, this is a fast side dish that I will definitely make again. I think I made the “fries” a little to thin. I cut them to around ¼-inch sticks. That was fine for eating with fingers, but with a fork, slightly wider, maybe ½ inch sticks would have been better. I also might not have blackened as many if they’d been a wee bit thicker.

We opted for a simple sprinkle with kosher salt, though a lime and maple drizzle was offered as part of the recipe. Maybe we’ll try a little squeeze of lime juice next time.

#3 Beet and Fennel Soup with Kefir

My friend April (see her recent guest post on my blog here) passed this recipe along to me. It’s from the January issue of Bon Appetit, which I subscribe to, but hadn’t browsed yet. Again, I have a large supply of beets (10+ pounds) in the fridge from our winter CSA. They are gigantic beets too.

This soup has a lot going for it. The texture was velvety, the color was a shocking pink, and it uses kefir, a yogurt-like drink, which was a new taste adventure for me. I can’t say enough about the color. It’s wild! The double fennel taste, supplied by fresh fennel plus fennel seeds, is not overpowering as I feared it might be. It has an interesting flavor that complements the beets nicely.

I had some already roasted beets, so instead of peeling and dicing raw beets, I just peeled and diced my roasted cooked beets and simmer for only 10 minutes to blend the flavors as the beets did not need cooking. Because I love the caramelized sweetness of roasted beets and the ease of peeling them, I’d go this way again. Actually, I made a double batch of this soup.

I still have some kefir left, so I think I’ll try to use it in place of buttermilk for some scones or other quick bread this weekend. Or maybe for pancakes on Saturday morning breakfast, or maybe both!