Archive for April 2003

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I had my dinner party last night and it was good! The food took longer to cook than I had expected (I made the gelatin 2 days before, thankfully, but I didn’t get any other cooking done in advance.)

Here was the menu:

Prosecco-Ginger Ale-Lemon Juice Gelatin with Pansies, Strawberries, and Blackberries

The juice from the cut-up strawberries tinged this a pale pinkish color, and it tasted light and refreshing and looked absolutely beautiful. I used one big box of strawberries and one small box of blackberries and one package of edible flowers and 4 cups liquid and 4 pkgs gelatin.


These came out a bit too oily, heavy, and eggy, but they were still pretty good. I doubled the recipe and grated the cheese with my new awesome Microplane grater. It’s not very good at going into the corners of pieces of cheese. I used chopped thyme as the herb, and had to put batter into my 2 muffin tins as well as 2 baking sheets (well, 1 baking sheet and the roasting pan.)

Fennel and Potato Soup

Came out a little dark because of the vegetable bouillon and possibly because I cooked the vegetables too long, but overall quite tasty, esp. with a dash of anisette. Pei said it was too sweet.

Baked Brie en Croute

Christy said this was the best thing she’d ever tasted. The sticking point with this was that I had forgotten to defrost the puff pastry beforehand. I wrapped the brie in the puff pastry with the apricot jam inside. This was slightly disastrous because one or both of them started leaking and dripped brie onto the bottom of the oven and caused a lot of smoke. It was very rich and liquidy.


Very good. I sliced, salted, weighted & drained, rinsed, and broiled (about 3 mins on either side, till golden) about 7 eggplants. I minced four onions and one red pepper and left them to sweat in a pan in olive oil, then minced one bag of brown mushrooms and let those sweat and cook down for a good long time as well, until almost dry. I also added a handful of reconstituted Horn of Plenty dried mushrooms, chopped, and some of the soaking liquid; I let this absorb and evaporate as well. Then I added about four cans of diced tomatoes drained of their puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, dried oregano leaves, salt, and a large handful of chopped fresh basil. I added two packages of Morningstar (?) fake ground beef, and let them melt and the whole thing simmer a while longer. Then I layered the casseroles and topped them with a “bechamel” made of about 2 cups of plain yogurt mixed with 2 eggs and about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. These went in the oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees and came out all steaming and browned.

Chocolate Ganache Cake

AWESOME. This is the prettiest thing I have ever made. I made feathered marbling on top with lines of white chocolate ganache, and stuck some mint leaves and white chocolate shavings in the middle of the cake. It tasted great–how could it not, with more than two packages of semisweet chocolate in it?

Hazelnut and Pear Gelato

Anni brought these over from Mondo Gelato. The hazelnut was dairy, and the pear was non-dairy (a sorbet, I think).

Guest List (lucky 13!):


Rahul (gave me a Strange Foods book.)


Molly (is making me a pink necklace.)



Atsushi (gave me Godiva truffles.)

Jameel (gave me a knife set.)

Mike B. (gave me a Chocolate Desserts book.)

Mike R.

Erin (with Mike R., gave me a card and white balsamic vinegar and chocolates)

Christy (gave me Play with your Food magnets)

Paul (gave me a two-volume set of The Life of Langston Hughes)




Written by orata

April 27, 2003 at 1:55 pm

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russet potatoes



gruyere cheese

vegetable broth (for soup and risotto)

heavy cream (for cake, soup, gougeres)

milk (for cake and soup)

eggs (for gougeres and cake)


apple pears

edible flowers


puff pastry

apricot jam

fresh vegetables

Written by orata

April 21, 2003 at 2:14 pm

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Birthday Dinner 4/18:

Mike, Erin, Molly, and Kyle came with me to Udupi Palace. Molly and I shared the masala dosa and South Indian Thali plate, both of which were excellent. My favorite of the thali was a little dish of cauliflower and potato curry with mustard seeds in it. The dosa was smooth and shiny and slightly crunchy. Way too much food! We saw Jerry there and he didn’t seem to remember who I was. Then I got lemon and hazelnut gelato for free at Mondo Gelato. It was nice. Mike and Erin gave me a bottle of white balsamic vinegar and some chocolate, and Jameel came up from Hayward and Paul and Christy came over, and Jameel gave me a knife set.

Birthday Dinner 4/19 at Cafe Pro Bono:

I had charbroiled lamb loin chops with merlot-blackcurrant sauce, and an accompanying glass of merlot. Delicate and smoky and with a delicious lamb flavor. It came with a heavenly creamy savory pan-fried piece of polenta, and julienned veggies. Dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse in a hard chocolate shell for dessert, and tiramisu. The candles we burned smelled horrible and soapy.

Mom got some other part of the lamb (it came in thin slices) with a cabernet sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. Mine was better.

TSS got linguine with lemon juice and clams which I thought was unremarkable.

Serena got “Susan’s Downfall”–herb and cheese ravioli in a creamy browned gorgonzola-almond sauce.

Written by orata

April 21, 2003 at 1:36 pm

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Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 6 1/4 hr (includes chilling)

4 cups mixed fruit such as berries; peeled and thinly sliced peaches (see cooks’ note, below); and halved seedless grapes

2 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from two 1/4-oz envelopes)

2 cups Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Arrange fruit in a 1 1/2-quart glass, ceramic, or nonstick terrine or loaf pan.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup Prosecco in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften. Bring 1 cup Prosecco to a boil with sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup Prosecco and lemon juice, then transfer to a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water. Cool mixture, stirring occasionally, just to room temperature.

Slowly pour mixture over fruit, then chill, covered, until firm, at least 6 hours.

To unmold, dip pan in a larger pan of hot water 3 to 5 seconds to loosen. Invert a serving plate over terrine and invert terrine onto plate.

Cooks’ notes:

• To peel peaches, first cut an X in the end opposite the stem and immerse in boiling water (15 seconds). Transfer it to ice water and peel.

• Terrine can chill up to 3 days. Unmold just before serving.

• To achieve a look similar to that on our cover, use 6 (8-oz) ceramic or stainless- steel molds and 2 cups of fruit and double the gelatin mixture. Once gelatin is at room temperature, spoon 3 tablespoons into each mold, then chill 1 hour to set. (Keep remaining gelatin at room temperature.) Arrange 1/3 cup of fruit in each mold and divide remaining gelatin mixture among molds. Chill, covered, until firm, at least 6 hours.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about 290 calories.


August 2002

Written by orata

April 21, 2003 at 12:53 am

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The inclusion of fennel and a dash of Pernod puts a sophisticated spin on the classic chilled potato soup. Offer your guests iced tea with the meal.

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 3 small fennel bulbs)

2 onions, sliced

1 pound small white potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 cups chicken stock or canned

low-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons Pernod

2 cups half and half

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add sliced fennel and onions. Cover and cook until fennel is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add potatoes and chicken stock; increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in Pernod. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Transfer soup to large bowl. Mix in 2 cups half and half. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Chill soup uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Makes 8 servings.

Bon Appétit

August 2000

A Cook on 08/23/01

Excellent! Easy to make, yet very sophisticated flavor. Nice with a garnish of frizzled leeks and/or a drizzle of infused oil.

A Cook on 08/03/00

Very good by the cup, not by the bowl.

( rbond@kentek.com ) from Boulder, CO on 08/02/00

Excellent cold soup for hot summer days. Intriguing taste of fennel in the background. Definitely would make again.

Written by orata

April 21, 2003 at 12:51 am

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1 fennel bulb (sometimes called anise), stalks discarded, bulb cut

into 1/2-inch dice, and feathery leaves reserved for garnish

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium russet (baking) potatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups milk

In a large heavy saucepan cook diced fennel and onion in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Peel and cube potatoes. Add potatoes and broth to fennel mixture and simmer, covered, until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. In a blender or food processor purée mixture in batches until smooth and return to saucepan. Stir in milk and salt and pepper to taste and simmer soup, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, or until heated through.

Garnish soup with reserved fennel leaves.

Makes about 5 cups.


April 1995

Susan A. Hodge: New York, New York

A Cook from Media, PA on 01/17/02

Wonderful! Besides being quick, easy and healthy, the fennel taste is subtle and delicious. And it made the whole house smell delightful.

A Cook from Tucson, Az. on 01/28/00

This soup is great served cold. Make at least 24 hours in advance, cover and refrigerate. I added a little chopped parsley to the top of each serving.

Written by orata

April 21, 2003 at 12:50 am

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Lovely Chocolate Ganache Cake

Wow your guests with this festive show-stopper. Milk chocolate curls add a decorative touch.

19 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup heavy cream

1 large piece milk chocolate for making curls

raspberries and fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 50 minutes plus cooling

Serves 8 to 12

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour 10-inch springform pan. In saucepan, melt 10 ounces semisweet chocolate with butter over medium-low heat; stir until smooth and set aside.

2. In bowl, beat eggs at high speed 5 minutes, until thick. Add sugar; beat 5 minutes, until fluffy. Sift flour and baking powder on top; fold in. Fold in chocolate mixture.

3. Pour batter into pan; bake 20 minutes. Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes. Cool.

4. In saucepan, melt remaining semisweet chocolate in the cream over medium heat; stir until smooth. Pour over cake. Shave curls from the milk chocolate with vegetable peeler; place on cake with berries and mint.


Written by orata

April 21, 2003 at 12:47 am

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