Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Note on Cooking Safety

While we do encourage a little sipping while cooking (a splash for the pot and splash for my glass!) we do not suggest experimenting in the kitchen after, say, overindulging in juice. I recently had a discussion with a friend (we'll call her JEM) in which she relayed her adventures in post "night on the town" cooking.

Moral of the story: Don't cook things involving fire/heat unless you are able to remain conscious throughout the process. Like the PSA along the highway say, "Stay awake for safety's sake."


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If you give a Mousse a... of milk and a quick whip you get a delightfully dense flourless cake batter with which to make tasty tarts!
With the intention of bringing some Bitter to the Sweet that is Hallmark's Favorite Holiday (Valentine's Day, for those of you who aren't quite following) NC and MQ ventured to the grocery store last week. We had the right idea going into this experiment (and it was truly an experiment folks!) Basically the idea was a variety of bitter, sour and sweet tartlets; Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, Lemon Curd, and Raspberry Preserve. Somewhere along the way we strayed from our original plan and created something amazing!

Necessary Items include:
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Butter, about 1/2 - 1 inch of a stick
Pot in which to heat water and bowl in which to melt chocolate over said hot water (Double boiler system)
3 or 4 eggs, separated (both parts will be used)
Jar of Lemon Curd
Jar of Raspberry preserves
Corn Starch
1/2 Lemon
Mini cupcake pan and average cupcake pan
Puff pastry (we used Phyllo and later decided against it, more on that to follow)

We made this a two person game. MQ was on Chocolate duty while NC handled the fruity reduction... she loves a good reduction... Anyway, we'll start with Chocolate:
- Preheat oven to 350ish
- Fill pot about 1/2 way with water and place bowl (which should be big enough to sit on top of pot without touching the bottom of the pot, see the picture for visual aide) on the pot. Let the water come to a boil and reduce to a medium heat.
- Add the bag of chocolate chips and butter. Stir and allow to melt.
- Once melted add a wee splash of milk, or half and half. Stir it in, it should be getting fudgey... yumm!
- Remove this from the heat and allow to cool to a point where you can dab a little on your lip without pain...then lick it off
- After the chocolate has cooled, fold in one egg yolk at a time.
- Whip the egg whites to a point where they have some serious body then fold into the chocolate mix.
- If at this point your chocolate is light and fluffy than you've got one up on us! Now ruin it by whipping it too hard and breaking the fluff factor.
- Pour the fudgey batter into the average sized cupcake pan, each cup should be filled about 1/2 way.

- Cut some small squares from the puff pastry just large enough to fill the inside of mini cupcake cups. Spoon just a little of the fudgey goodness into each cup.
- Into the oven they go! Keep an eye on them and you will see they rise ever so slightly. Do the toothpick test after 5-7 minutes and assess the remaining time accordingly. They will, despite NC's doubts, cook through!

On to the fruity fun!

- Heat a sauce pan to about medium. Mix half the jar of Raspberry Preserves and half the Lemon Curd together in the pan. (Yes, this is one of those times where you mix to taste, make a sweetly and sour puckingly perfect fruity filling thats all your own!)
- Let this beautiful blend reduce (we love a good reduction...) and stir in a dash of corn starch in to thicken.
- Feel free to get a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in there, more curd, more preserves, whatever you feel is the right step!
- When the mix is thick (basically not runny at all, no one likes a runny filling, are we wrong?) and reflects your personal tastes remove from the heat and set aside while you wait attentively for the faboo-fudge to finish their assent to experiemental greatness!
When the assorted cupcake pans come out (maybe not at the same time, keep in mind) let them cool and then spoon a dollop of the fruit on top of each cupcake and into each tartlet. Arrange attractively on a pretty plate, admire your "fruitful" labor (ha, we're so witty), and indulge in a Bittersweet love affair!!