Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chocolate Marquise

Woo hooo! There are actually people out there (other than those who are forced, such as my friends, their friends, my family, and their friends) who read the Dough Ball. Or at least one person. I recently discovered that my Pesto Truffles had been featured as part of another foodblogger’s cupcake recipe, which you can see here (you just have to scroll down a bit). She even says they were "perhaps the most important component." My creation was the cherry on top, or rather, the truffle on top. But yay.

So now to the growing list of food I’ve made but haven’t written about yet. First off, Chocolate Marquise from Simon Hopkinson’s Second Helpings of Roast Chicken. This recipe I had been eyeing for quite a long time, as it seemed to be pure chocolate with a pistachio custardy-sauce. My one problem was I couldn’t find ground pistachios anywhere and I didn’t have a food processor. Enter ground hazelnuts found in Germany and left over from Gateaux Breton. In my book, there’s nothing better than the combination of chocolate and hazelnut. So I got together all my ingredients, and the recipe looked kinda long, but honestly it’s pretty easy. You just heat all the chocolate and butter, etc. things up for the marquise, and then refrigerate it overnight. Words of wisdom: when he says add in the order that he writes, do it. I put butter in at the end for a little extra shine because I thought the chocolate mixture looked dull, but instead of shine I got butter that separated from the marquise in the final product…ooops. Oh, and the hazelnut sauce was so good I ate it with a spoon. Literally. Now I know where the saying comes from. The only thing was the chocolate was so rich that you needed lots of sauce for just a tiny amount of marquise, which was okay, because it made lots of sauce (which I took care of).

Marquise au Chocolat ‘Taillevent’, Sauce a la Noisette
thanks Simon Hopkinson (thought I’d just make a note, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed who’s read his little Roast Chicken books where he picks out some of his favorite foods/ingredients and goes through them, giving a few recipes for each. Well, the Marquise is found under the cocoa chapter, although no part of it includes cocoa…typo?)

280 g dark chocolate
100 g powdered sugar
185 g unsalted butter, softened
5 eggs, separated
pinch of salt

hazelnut paste
120 g roasted and husked hazelnuts
130 g sugar
2 egg whites

100 g hazelnut paste
1 litre milk
8 egg yolks (7 works ok, because that’s all I used)
250 g sugar

To make the marquise, first gently melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Now add, in this order (really in this order!), mixing well after each addition: 70 g of the powdered sugar, all the butter and the egg yolks. Remove from the heat. Beat the egg whites in another bowl until stiff, then add the remaining 30 g powdered sugar and beat until glossy. Add one-third of this to the chocolate mixture to loosen it, folding it in carefully but thoroughly. Now add the rest, using the same action. Rinse a large terrine mould with water and fill with the mixture. Cover with saran wrap (cling film for the slow Brits) and chill for 24 hours.
To make the paste, simply grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until as smooth as possible (not so ‘simple’ if you don’t have a food processor, Simon), then add the sugar and egg white until it forms a paste. Store in a screw-top jar and keep in the fridge, where it will last for a week at least. And it makes extra, I still have some sitting around my freezer, wondering if I should just make more sauce and drink it…
To make the sauce, put the paste and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 5 minutes. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and then combine with the warm milk. Cook gently over moderate heat, stirring constantly until lightly thickened—a custard, in other words. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and chill.
To serve, cut thin slices from the marquise (use a thin sharp knife dipped into hot water), arrange on plates and spoon the sauce around.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Turkish Delight

Somebody asked me when the first time I had falafel was and I can’t remember. I’m surprised it’s not stuck in my mind because it seems like after taking that first bite it would be branded in my memory forever.

Falafel is probably my favorite snack/late-night food. It’s not so common in the US to have loads of kebab places, especially in the touristy center of a city. But they’re definitely plentiful here in Barcelona and all last year I was fortunate to live about a minute’s walk from the best one, Dionisos. This place is Greek kebabs, and they have the best lamb, which I occasionally get, but it’s hard for me to stray from my favorite hummus and falafel pita. And Berlin was like a playground for me, home of the kebab. One of my favorites was Habibi just because their hummus was super smooth and tasty. I’m not, however, a fan of falafel that is deep fried into a crispy, golden-brown ball. I prefer the lighter fried, so there’s a slight crisp, but it’s not as if you are eating a shell to get through to the good stuff.

I’ve become a hummus-making machine. I think it’s about the easiest thing to do, and made 100 times easier when I used a hand blender to mix everything together. So, I’m not going to post about making hummus. Instead, the other night, I got the hankering to make falafel, for only the second time in my life (to make it myself). I browsed through recipes and looked at the main ingredients, and then sort of through everything together, tasting and checking the color, consistency as I went along. So I’m just going to list the ingredients without exact measurements because I think it doesn’t have to be exact.

And like I said before, I don’t like the hard, super-fried balls, so I formed mine into patties and fried them lightly till they were golden but still soft and a little fragile, and they came out great.

Falafel Wraps

about 250 g or a few cups chickpeas (I used dried ones soaked overnight and not cooked, plus a bit of the water)
1 whole small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
lots of cilantro
lots of parsley
toasted cumin (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. baking soda
good pinch of salt

yogurt sauce
1-2 cups natural yogurt
½ cucumber
1 clove garlic
mint (often used but I didn’t have any)

tortillas/durums for wraps

The first thing I made was the yogurt sauce because it can be set aside for later and it’s very easy. Chop the garlic, peel the cucumber and chop into little pieces, and then in a bowl mix together the yogurt, garlic, and cucumber. Done.
The easiest thing to do is find a hand blender or regular food processor and put the chickpeas, onion, and garlic in and combine. Then pulse in the cilantro, parsley, cumin, baking soda and salt. If it looks like you need more greens, put them in. If it tastes like nothing, add more salt. If it’s dry, put in more chickpea-water. Mine came out pretty green, which I think was fine, I liked the color. When you’re happy with them, form them into patties. While you’re doing this, in a big pan, heat up some vegetable oil, about ½ - 1 inch deep, to medium-high. I always figure out how hot it needs to be after seeing the first one cook, you don’t want it to turn dark brown, but a nice golden color, it should take a few minutes, probably 3-5 for each side. Place a few patties in the oil, and when they turn a nice color, flip them until they’re done. Then drain on paper towels.

While those are draining, get all your other stuff ready: lay out the durums, first heating them up in the microwave. Chop lettuce and tomato, along with some extra cilantro. Now you’re ready to assemble. Put a couple falafels on the durum, spread on some yogurt sauce and sprinkle with lettuce, tomato, and cilantro. Roll up and enjoy. I must say this is a wonderful food to transport if you wrap it in foil. Not only did I feel like I was eating a kebab off the street, but better, but it doesn’t have to be steaming hot to enjoy. So it was a nice lunch the next day to pack up and take outside.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Back to Business: Cheesecake

Another dinner party, another chance to make dessert, and what better dessert to test my little guinea pigs with than another cheesecake recipe. But these guinea pigs were very happy at the end of the meal, being injected with couscous, summer rolls, Catalan sausages, and of course Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake. I’d say these guinea pigs were more than happy, they would have been floating on Cloud Nine, had they not been so weighed down with delicious food, but they were nonetheless smiling.

Anyways, I can’t take credit for most of the food, but I will say the dessert was my doing. I’m happy I’ve come out of my slump (after a less-than-perfect Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, and a would’ve-been-near-perfect Goat Cheese Orange Cheesecake had it not been subjected to ovens without temperature gauges) I needed this Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake. I admit the flavor combination is not original at all, but man there’s a reason it’s still around: it’s goooood.

I started off how I normally do, looking over other recipes, browsing through numerous foodblogs, recipe sites, etc., and now I can’t even remember where, but one of these called for cinnamon in the crust. I normally don’t believe in chocolate on chocolate, and I was hoping I could do a layer of something in between a chocolate crust and a chocolate cheesecake, like caramel, or some sort of coffee cream. But when I saw the cinnamon, I immediately liked that idea. So I mixed it up from what I had originally hoped and put a bit of cocoa in the crust for some color and cinnamon, and then freshly ground cinnamon, lots of it. Then followed a layer of chocolate and coffee combined, and finally a creamy, lighter layer flavored with Amaretto.
I should say more, but when something’s so good, filling, comforting, and rich all at once, I don’t feel like I need to go on. It was happily received with open mouths. ‘Nuff said.

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake

200 g Maria cookies
125 g butter
a teaspoon or two of powdered cinnamon
about ¼ cup cocoa powder (mainly for flavor and a bit of color)
lots of freshly grated cinnamon

Like usual, crush up the cookies and mix with melted butter. Then throw in the cinnamon, cocoa, and grate some cinnamon, mixing again. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan. Then take a cinnamon stick and grate it (it’s ok if you get some large pieces) directly onto the pressed crust, so that you get a nice sprinkling over the crust. Then put in the oven at 170 C for about 10 minutes…be careful not to keep in to long, as it’s hard to tell when it starts to get brown because it’s already dark.

600 g cream cheese
75 g butter
100 g (at least) good dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85%)
1 Tbsp. sour cream and 1 package instant coffee (2 g or about 1 tsp.)
150 g sugar
3 eggs

Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. Put the cream cheese in a bowl with the butter and whip with a whisk until well incorporated. Then, either over a low flame on the stove or low heat in the microwave, melt the chocolate. (Now if you want it to be super chocolately, I’d say up it to 150 or 200 grams. Mine tasted pretty strongly of coffee and lightly of chocolate). Once the chocolate’s melted, whip it into the cream cheese. In a small cup, put the sour cream with the instant coffee and stir to dissolve, it might take a minute or two, but make sure it’s not grainy and keep stirring. Once everything is dissolved, add this to the cream cheese and mix well with the whisk. Add the sugar in mix again. Taste and at this point you can put in more melted chocolate or coffee, if you think it might need more of one. Finally, whisk in the three eggs until everything is smooth and well incorporated. Pour this into the prepared crust in the springform pan and bake at 180 C until a knife comes out almost clean, a little undercooked, about 35 minutes. (You don’t want it completely done because it’s nice to be super-creamy and you’ll bake it a little longer with the topping).

1 ½ - 2 c sour cream and crème fraiche combined (or one or the other, whatever’s easiest)
Amaretto to taste (I mean you can definitely taste it when you stick your finger in)
Powdered sugar (also to taste…make sure it’s sweet enough, not just sour cream)

This topping all depends on you. If you like it especially sweet, put in lots of powdered sugar. If you’re like me and like to be able to taste the liqueur, then make sure you put enough in. Taste as you go. First start with the sour cream/crème fraiche and then slowly add Amaretto and then powdered sugar until you get a nice balance between them both. I poured it onto the cake soon after taking it out of the oven, without letting it cool much, and it came out great. Spread over the top and put back in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 C. I kept thinking it wasn’t finished, but the sour cream/crème fraiche doesn’t really turn firm until it’s been cooled in the fridge for at least a few hours. So make sure not to overcook, and once it’s cooled on the counter, put it in the fridge overnight. Mmmm. Enjoy.