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Posts Tagged ‘Curtis Stone’

Settled in my condo and adjusted to my new kitchen (still not thrilled with the electric stove), I’ve taken to hosting dinner parties for friends and family.  I think I should be Martha Stewart’s apprentice.  I’m getting better at cooking (though I can’t say I didn’t know how to cook, I just never did) and find it really fun to have people over rather than go out to eat.

My parents were the guests at my first dinner party.  I made pan-fried pork chops wrapped in prosciutto with capers and spinach, and a rich chocolate mousse, recipes courtesy of Curtis Stone.  It turned out well, but the pork was a bit too lemony.  Lesson learned.

I had nine friends over for my next dinner party.  It was BYOC (bring your own chair).  It was right before St. Patrick’s Day so I served up some beef and guinness stew with potatoes, soda bread, and apple/blackberry crumble.  My friend Roddy also brought a Shepherds Pie.  It was great fun, but I made way too much food.  Three months later, I still have a few tupperware containers each with a serving of stew in the freezer.  And I ate one the other day.  And I didn’t get violently sick.  How long does frozen stew last?  Oh well, still have a lot of soda bread in the freezer as well too.  Maybe that should get thrown.

Shortly after that party, I had my aunt, grandparents, parents, and brother over for some pan-fried chicken with a green olive, onion, and tomato topping, baked potato wedges, and tiramisu.  That was quite a success as well, except my grandpa wouldn’t try the tiramisu after he found out there was brandy in it.  I didn’t really think it was very strong, but the others could taste it.

The tiramisu had been a previous Daring Bakers Challenge that I didn’t complete, because I didn’t have the time.  It was something I had always wanted to make, so since I had done part of the challenge in making the lady fingers from scratch (and freezing them, of course), I decided it would be a good dessert.  Plus, I love living alone, but I can’t keep up with eating all the things I bake.  So if I don’t have friends/family over to help me eat the goods, they go to work the next day and get devoured within an hour.

I don’t really have any new baking techniques to report on at the moment.  The baking that I’ve done recently are things I’ve made before, like pumpkin muffins, apple pie, chocolate chip cookies (for Tyler Hilton, Reckless Kelly, and Ari Hest ), and brownies.  I shall try to do something new soon, I’ve just been busy with work and globe-trotting, not to mention my new-found enjoyment of cooking, that I haven’t had much time for the sweet stuff.  But I’ll come up with something soon that is sure to impress you.

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I say, you say, we all say, “Souffle!”

Yesterday, I looked in my cabinet and saw two bars of gourmet chocolate, 60% cocoa and 85% dark.  Combined, they’d make the perfect chocolate, right?

So I remember watching “Because I Said So” with Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore, and Mandy’s character was making chocolate souffles.  They made it look all hard and then she messed them up when she was having a bad day.  Okay, well I was having a good day (Hell!  Any day when I’m off from work is a good day) so these should be easy as pie.  Ooh pie!  I’ll have to make one soon.

Anyways, I looked up a recipe on my favorite site, All Recipes, and reviewers raved how good and easy they were.  Alton Brown says their difficulty is exaggerated, and I know I’ve seen Curtis Stone (he’s tasty!) whip them up on “Take Home Chef.”  This should be no problem.

I got all my ingredients out and prepped.  Eggs were separated, lemon juice was squeezed, and chocolate was finely chopped with a fork (I didn’t want to wash a cutting board too).

I melted the chocolate with the butter in a double boiler and then whipped up the egg yolks and hot water.  I was told to whip them until ribbons formed, but after five minutes, the ribbons were more like the ones with wire in them that can be bent and shaped, and they were bent to look like peaks.  Hmm…

After folding the egg yolk “ribbons” into the chocolate, I moved on to the 7 egg whites and 1 tablespoon water (Alton told me to!), added a half teaspoon lemon juice, and let Mr. Kitchenaid do his thing.  When it got a bit foamy, I added the sugar…. well, you know how meringues go.  They formed beautiful stiffies (peaks, that is) and then I folded them into the chocolate mixture as well.

The ramekins were waiting patiently in the freezer, lubed and coated with cocoa powder.  I filled them up to the brim, leveled off the tops, and even ran my thumb around the sides creating a ditch like Alton told me to do.  They went in the 400F oven and the kitchen became quarantined, nobody in or out.  Yes, a bit superstitious, but I wanted these to turn out.  And like a certain black labrador looking out the window all day, I watched through my little oven window as the souffles rose, cheering them on all the while.

After about 21 minutes, the mighty souffles and I deflated.  I didn’t want to undercook them, but I also didn’t want to open the oven door.  I was warned against doing that.  But I took them out and dusted them with powdered sugar and they weren’t that bad… that is until about 5 minutes later.  I successfully made chocolate craters.

I’ve never had a souffle before, but I thought they were supposed to be kind of gooey.  Mine weren’t.  The fall, the dryness, I believe all were caused by over-cooking.  I probably should have removed them when I didn’t think they were done.  Isn’t that like most things?  You’re told not to over-mix, but… but… what if the ingredients don’t get properly incorporated?

I suppose I should give the recipe another go, master it before I move on.  These are expensive buggers to fudge (get it?) though, $6 on the chocolate alone.  Actually, they tasted pretty good.  The bigger ramekins weren’t as overdone and reminded me of rich brownies.

Before these get another chance though, I spot spotted bananas on the counter and a banana bread recipe from Alton Brown that also needs another take, this time with sugar.

Chocolate souffle grade:  C-

forked chocolate eggs separated folding egg whites into chocolate

ditched souffles rising souffles powdered chocolate souffles

puffed souffles deflated souffles

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