recipe | veggie and wheat berry quinoa

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am trying to workout and eat healthier, so now I will share my new favorite recipe of mine. It is quite delicious and I have made it three times now. Wheat berries are my new thing, they add a good texture and are very filling so they help with cravings later. This makes a big serving, but it is great leftover. Since you will need to cook the wheat berries in advance (they take a while to cook) and it will yield more than you need for this recipe, I’ll put that recipe first. But don’t worry about leftovers, they are great in all salads, or in wraps, or just get creative.

WHEAT BERRIES

 

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You will need: 1 cup wheat berries, 3 cups veggie broth, some onion (if you want)

Put wheat berries, veggie broth, onion, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once this happens, reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. They will be a chewy texture when done, so you might need to cook them longer depending on the variety. Once you have deemed them done, drain and put aside to be used later. (refrigerator if it will be longer than two hours before use)

 

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup cooked wheat berries
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 large white onion
1 zuccini
several florets of broccoli (to taste)
4 cloves of garlic, whole
2 carrots, cut into sticks
mini bell pepper (I used 8, but that was a bit much)
1/2 cup spinach
salt and pepper (to taste)
olive oil (to taste)
juice of one lemon

1. Cut up your veggies (and half of the onion), add a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and pop into a shallow baking dish and into the oven at 425 degrees for maybe 30 minutes. (it just depends on the size of your veggies, etc.)

 

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2. While your veggies are cooking, start your quinoa. Put the quinoa, veggie broth, salt, pepper, 1/4 onion into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. All of the liquid should be used up.

 

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3. Once your veggies and quinoa is finished, toss it all together with the wheat berries and spinach. Add a little extra olive oil, juice of the lemon, extra salt and pepper (loads of pepper!) and eat!

 

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recipe | scones

I was going to make a whole new batch of scones in order to take pictures throughout the process and thus giving a more dynamic recipe….. but then I remembered that I am trying to lose weight and I shouldn’t eat a whole batch of scones today. And then I remembered that there’s a variation that would make them last longer….. and then I remembered that I would just eat them all anyway and to be safe I should just not make more.

So, without further ado, the RECIPE!

 

Blueberry and Lemon Scones

These are cream scones and will last about a day (perhaps two, but none of mine lasted that long anyway since I shared with friends). You can reduce the butter to 4T and the cream to 3/4 cup and add in 1 large egg (lightly beaten) with the cream if you want cake-ier scones that will last longer.

I put the sugar at 1T but it can be increased to 3T if you prefer sweeter scones.

For the flour, it is suggested to use a lower-protein brand like Gold Medal or Pillsbury instead of King Arthur as it helps with the texture.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1T baking powder
1T sugar
1/2t. salt
5T. unsalted butter (keep cold, and cut into small cubes)
2t. lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream

 

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1.  In a food processor, throw in the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt and mix together.

2.  Put the cubes of butter throughout the mixture evenly and add the lemon zest. Pulse the food processor for about 12 1 second pulses so that the butter is cut in but isn’t warmed and melting.

3.  Take out the blades and stir in the heavy cream until the dough is just coming together (30 seconds), then transfer the dough and still dry flour bits to a countertop and knead with hands until it comes together in a rough, sticky ball (15 seconds).

4.  Add in the blueberries. (If anyone has a tip for how to do this evenly or without mashing some of them, please let me know)

5.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges. You can do this easily by greasing an 8 in. round cake pan and pressing the dough into it so that it is a perfect circle and leveled. Then take out of the pan and cut with a large knife into wedges.

(optional) 6.  If you choose to make sweeter scones, you could brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream and sprinkle sugar on them before you put them in the oven.

7.  Place onto a non-greased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 min. at 425F. The tops should be light brown before pulling them out.

8.  Wait for ten minutes before serving so that they firm up, then EAT THEM ALL.

 

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(optional) 9.  If you choose the less sweet version, you could add some lemon curd on top to make them more lemon-y if you wish.

Lemon curd: It sounds disgusting, but is surprisingly delicious!

Lemon curd: It sounds disgusting, but is surprisingly delicious!

 

 

 

baking | scones and cake

For the boy’s birthday a couple of week’s ago I spent the weekend baking. First of all, I should say that Baking Illustrated by Cook’s Illustrated (the same branch of people as America’s Test Kitchen) is the best cookbook ever. It has so many interesting recipes, and the best part is the description ahead of each recipe so you know exactly why you are doing each step. Everything that I have made out of this book has been amazing, so buy it, and bake things.

I have been wanting to try my hand at making scones so I found the recipe and decided to make them for breakfast. Scones are surprisingly not too hard to make. I assumed they would be harder because they seem more of a special occasion thing for me, but I assumed wrong. I read in the description beforehand and it stated that the more British-y way of making them was using only one tablespoon of sugar, but in their recipe they call for 3T. because American’s like things sweeter. However, the boy isn’t as big on things being super sweet and since it was his birthday I went with 1T. It was actually quite enough, and I was pleasantly surprised (plus we put some lemon curd on top which sounds disgusted but it really quite good). I also went for the blueberry and lemon variation as opposed to the original recipe using currants. Here is what they looked like:

 

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Since it was the boy’s birthday, there obviously needed to be a cake!! Since he isn’t big on things that are too sweet and prefers flavors that are more complex than me I decided it was an opportunity to try my hand at a fancy cake. That, and I got that lovely Kitchen Aid Mixer for Christmas and needed to find an excuse to use it.

This cake was quite the experiment. It’s French, so that gives you an idea. It was a génoise cake with raspberry filling and almond buttercream frosting. It sounds fancy, doesn’t it? With both the batter and the frosting, however, I was required to beat eggs (or egg whites with the frosting) by hand over a pot of almost boiling water until they reached 110F. Quite the feat. My arm was tired, and I was sweating from the heat of the water. It took FOREVER. That was probably the most challenging part of making the cake and frosting.

HOWEVER. I assembled the three layers of the cake (I measured and cut it and it was perfect!) and put the crumb coat on and put the cake in the fridge to set over night. There was a soaking syrup aspect with amaretto that required letting the cake to soak it in over night. I thought by putting the crumb coat on and letting it harder in the fridge over night I would be able to make the outer frosting look all pretty; something I have never been able to do. But the next day, the leftover frosting (which the recipe assured me could be put in the fridge and used later) had separated and no amount of whipping could put it back together. I had to make new frosting (but I decided to make less intensive (read: less fancy) frosting because of lack of time). It was very disappointing. I had put so much time into it. I think I let the butter get too warm when I was getting the frosting back to room temperature, so now I will know for next time? Let’s hope.

Anyway, on to the pictures!! It did turn out quite lovely, and it tasted like a dream!!! Definitely proud of my little venture, despite the frosting disaster.

 

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grilled cheese heaven

So recently I had two insane cravings: a grilled cheese sandwich, and something that contained the ingredients of avocados and bacon. So I did something more insane: I put them all together!

You know what I found out? This was the most delicious sandwich of my life. Also probably the thing that will kill be eventually (that’s a lot of fat for one sandwich!).

In case you all want in on this insanity, I will give you the recipe, you lucky ducks you!

Ingredients

2 pieces of nice thick bread (to stand up to the other ingredients, I used Orowheat’s Oatnut bread)
Monterrey Jack Cheese
1/4 of a white onion
4 pieces of bacon (more if you are feeling naughty)
1/2 avocado

 

pictured: most of the ingredients.

picture: most of the ingredients.

 

First off, cook your bacon. People have preferences here, but I put my bacon on a cookie sheet (that has sides) and then put in the oven while it is preheating to 400F. After maybe ten minutes it is ready, unless your oven is like mine and is horribly unreliable.

 

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So I cooked extra bacon….. I cannot be blamed.

 

So here is the deal, I like tasting every ingredient in every bite of my sandwiches. I absolutely hate ending up with a mouthful of onion in one bite only to find that there is none left in the last bite (onion is just an example, feel free to substitute anything else (like lettuce)). Also, avocado can become slippery, so I mashed up the avocado in order to maximize avocado flavor and minimize slippage. It was effective.

 

how to cut up an avocado, according to me.

how to cut up an avocado, according to me.

 

Additionally, I realize some people might cut out the onion, but honestly one of my favorite flavors is onion and cheese together. They make a good match. Avocado and onion also make a good match. So just try it.

 

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This leads me to the second step. Mash the half of avocado, and mince up your bit of onion, and mix it all together.

 

this picture came out super weird, but it's a lot better than it looks!

this picture came out super weird, but it’s a lot better than it looks!

 

Once the bacon and avocado mixture is ready, cut the amount of cheese you would like and butter your pieces of bread. In this next step, I put one piece of bread down and then the cheese on top and let it cook (putting the lid on in order to get the heat to melt the cheese).

 

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While that was happening I spread the avocado mixture and put the bacon on the second piece of bread. Once the cheese was properly melted/bread was cooked and not burned (a tricky step) I put the second piece on top.

 

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Last step was to flip, cook the other side of bread, and then put on a plate to enjoy!

 

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Which I did!

 

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sibling rivalry

First of all, it’s super snowy outside today so the office closed and I got to stay home, so here’s to another snow day cooking post! Seriously, it looked like this outside, and I wasn’t about to go out in it. Still in my pajamas thank you very much!

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So on to this post’s title: sibling rivalry. My darling sister (Where’s Toto) and I decided we needed to help each other stay accountable on our blogs and on learning how to cook. So, this venture was born.

The deal: An ingredient is agreed upon, could be anything, then each of us separately picks something to make with this ingredient. We have a set date to finish the dish and post on the blog about our adventure! Then we can stay connected and see what each other is up to plus have a secret competition to see who is really the best out of the two of us.

So, welcome, one and all, to the first edition of Sibling Rivalry (a catchier name to be decided upon later, but I’m terrible at names)! The ingredient this month (also the time frame has not been decided upon) is CAULIFLOWER. There are a ton of cauliflower recipes on the internet, and most of them look amazing. So we jumped on the bandwagon, sifted through our pinterest recipes, and are ready to share with the world!

I decided on roasted cauliflower|chickpeas with an orange|cumin dressing and some tomatoes and cilantro. That’s not a catchy name, but you remember how terrible I am at that. I got the recipe at in pursuit of more, and their picture is what got me thinking this was the way to go; it really is a beautiful dish! Here’s a sneak peek:

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Now here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower1/2 pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

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For the dressing

3 oranges (approx. 9oz of juice)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
2 t. rice vinegar
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

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OR, you could accidentally get blood oranges and have a slightly different tasting but still super delicious dressing.

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Directions

First up, set your oven to 400F. Next, rinse, core, and break the cauliflower head up into little florets (the smaller, the faster it will cook). After that rather time consuming task (clearly I need to be more forceful with my cauliflower; it doesn’t have feelings, Stevi) you put the cauliflower and the chickpeas in a 9X13 baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and stick it in the oven uncovered for approx. 30-40min. or until they are looking a teensy bit browned. Really, whenever you think it’s done as everyone likes their veggies cooked differently.

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While that is cooking, juice your oranges and then put all of the spices and oils and juice into a small saucepan on the oven and simmer for about 5-7 min. or until the liquid has cooked down a bit and is thicker. Then take off the heat and let sit until the cauliflower is ready.

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Once the cauliflower is out, pour some of the dressing (or all, depending on your preference) in the pan, mix it all up together real good and plate it up! Top with the tomatoes and the cilantro and loads of pepper! Then, EAT IT ALL. Seriously, I didn’t know if all the flavors would mix together well but it really worked. Even the boy said we should make this a regular thing. The best part is, it’s actually a vegan recipe so it’s so good for you and there’s no guilt afterward! And just look at it, don’t you just want to eat it all up?!

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Which will make the pulled pork and mac ‘n cheese we are having for dinner even better. So for the evening, there will be food, fires, sleepy cats, and snow! Hope everyone is surviving the weather!

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making cheese tortellini

I love cheese tortellini, it is one of my favorite meals OF ALL TIME, and I’ve wanted to try to make it for some time now. Been on my “to do” list for years. So I decided to try my hand at it for our New Year’s Eve get-together. I wanted to do as much homemade stuff as possible, so since I’m making the pasta, why not try my hand at making some ricotta cheese? Turns out, that wasn’t as crazy as I thought it might be, and although people are super impressed when you tell them you made cheese, it isn’t that hard. But you don’t have to tell them that if you don’t want to.

I’d made a batch a couple of days before and the ricotta was great but I couldn’t roll the dough out thin enough so the tortellini tasted a bit like dumplings with delicious stuffing. My aunt had gotten me a pasta maker but it didn’t have a “tortellini” setting to make flat, round noodles, so Jason bought a pasta roller with his gift card monies for our second batch. The pictures are from the second, more successful batch.

So to start us off, I’ll explain the ricotta process. First off, you will want to gather your supplies.

(the milk was in the glass container)

(the milk was in the glass container)

The ingredients pictured above are from my first batch which turned out great, but with the second batch I didn’t have buttermilk. I tried making my own buttermilk but that didn’t work as the curds and whey never separated. So I looked up a different recipe, which actually worked better.So I’ll just give you that recipe, which is from Ina Garten. But of course, I’ll change some things.

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Directions

Combine the milk, cream, and salt into a large pot (I used a stock pot). Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

it will fluff up like this at some point, which seems weird.

it will fluff up like this at some point, which seems weird.

Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

you can't really tell, but it's separating.

you can’t really tell, but it’s separating.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain at room temperature for as long as you want, if just depends on how dry you like your ricotta (I recommend getting it very dry for the tortellini)

before draining

before draining

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after draining

After you have your delicious cheese, you can either keep it in the fridge, covered, or you can put the other ingredients of your tortellini filling together and get straight to work. I chose the latter.

I tried using Alton Brown’s recipe, but honestly the pasta part of it was weird (nooooot enough liquid at all) and I wanted different things for my filling so I just made that up, and then just made up the pasta part. So, here goes.

Filling

Ricotta cheese (approx. 2 cups)
Parmesan cheese (approx. 1/3 the amount of ricotta you put in)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
tbsp. dried basil
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
one egg

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After adding it all, mix it together and set aside while you work on your pasta.

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Now, I tried using Alton Brown’s recipe but, as stated before, it didn’t work. So here’s what we did:

Ingredients

3 cups flour
3 large eggs
tbsp. water
tbsp. oil

We mixed it all together using our hands. We tried the Kitchen Aid mixer and the food processor but hands seemed to work best. You add more water in order to incorporate the flour. Supposedly, you won’t need all three cups. And you aren’t supposed to force it to take flour. But there’s no way it would use anything CLOSE to three cups so I don’t know how anyone came up with that number. So just add water (maybe another egg) until it’s all incorporated. It looks like normal dough, very smooth and elastic. Also, it will taste delicious even if you are just guessing about the proportions, so don’t worry about it too much.

Next, you let it rest in the fridge for an hour (very important for rolling it out, a mistake I made the first time). Then you have the boy roll it out in the pasta roller and use a 3 in. circular cookie cutter to cut your circles to fold. Honestly, our 1/2 cup measuring cup is a three inch round circle, so that’s what we used. It needs to be extremely thin, like five sheets of paper thin. Don’t worry, it’s very elastic and hard to break.

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Once he gives you the circles (too bad for you if you don’t have him helping, because it was quite useful) you put 1/4 tsp. of your cheese mixture in the middle and then use an egg wash to help you seal it in. Next you fold the two sides in towards each other and connect them.

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And then you just keep doing that.

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Just keep going, even though it’s getting late.

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You do that approximately 123 times.

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(there’s a whole other plate and a half that isn’t pictured)

Be sure to put them on a floured surface so they don’t stick and end up breaking while you are fixing up all of the others, which is a problem we had. But that’s ok, because those are the ones you test! If you just wrap them up with the fettuccine noodles you made with the excess dough like mummified tortellini, they won’t leak their filling everywhere.

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Oh, and you should probably kick up your feet as they will ache LIKE NO OTHER and enjoy a nice glass of whisky (Templeton Rye with your round ice and be the fanciest!) and congratulate yourself on a masterful job well done.

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We served the tortellini with a bacon carbonara sauce at the New Year’s Eve party, and it was quite the success. It was actually a pretty fun evening, listening to music, systematically rolling tortellini, and learning new things!

happy new year!

This year I volunteered the boy and I to host an extravagant dinner party on New Year’s Eve. I’d had the whole thing planned in my head for months. I sent out invitations, planned a menu, set up decorations, and told everyone to wear their sparkliest attire.

So after days of cooking, trying recipes, cleaning the apartment, buying decorations, and planning every detail the day had dawned. Let’s start with a tour of the decorations then, shall we?

 

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Aaaaaaand now. The food story.

 

THE MENU

Appetizers

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The boy made the appetizers. He made the baguettes first, and then chose four different toppings.

1. So we had pesto, cherry tomatoes, with a parmesan crisp. We already had some pesto bought, so that wasn’t homemade, but Jason did make the parmesan  crisp by shredding the parmesan in circular form on a silcon baking mat and toasting it in the oven. Delicious.

2. Cannelloni beans that have been cooked and mashed with rosemary and used as a spread. So very tasty!

3. Apples and brie. enough said.

4. My favorite: cream cheese and horseradish topped with salmon and capers!

 

Salad

Here I decided to go for a fresh classic. Strawberry, spinach, mandarin oranges, toasted pecans, and homemade raspberry vinaigrette! This would have photographed beautifully but unfortunately I was rather busy serving it up to hungry people and then scarfing it down myself so I could get started on the next course. The vinaigrette didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, which is a bummer because I’ve made it plenty of times. What I usually do that works is this:

Mash a container of raspberriesPour some balsamic vinegar in
Pour some walnut oil in
Taste it after mixing a TON
Adjust vinegar/oil as needed
Start adding salt a little at a time until the bite from the vinegar is gone
Let sit and meld for however long you’ve allotted yourself
Push through a sieve to get the chunkier raspberry bits out
Serve.

 

Soup

Once upon a time I ate at a restaurant and got this mushroom soup with black truffle oil and it was the most amazing thing ever! So I decided to recreatethe masterpiece. I scoured the internet and then decided to base the thing off of a delicious butternut squash soup I’d made from Cooking for Two.
Basically, I put some oil in a pan with some garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage (a LOT of them) and let it steep for a while, infusing the oil with flavor. Then I chopped up one whole onion and cooked it with the oil and herbs until slightly tender and then added in about a pound of mushrooms; cremini, oyster, shitaki, and re-hydrated porcini mushrooms all mixed together.
I cooked those for about ten minutes on high heat, then added in about 6 cups of liquid (chicken stock as well as the water from re-hydrating the porcini mushrooms) and a cup of heavy whipping cream. Let simmer for 30 min. and then blend it all up so the mushrooms are smooth.
Reheat until piping hot, pour in a bowl, top with some fresh parsley, and add a couple drops of black truffle oil and you have perfection. Even one guest who doesn’t like mushrooms ate the whole thing and told me it was delicious, so don’t just take my word for it.

Also, it appears I didn’t get a picture of that but it’s ok because it would picture well as it is brownish in color.

Main Course

Ok, here’s the beauty. Homemade cheese tortellini (with homemade ricotta!) in a bacony, cheesy, carbonara sauce with a side of super garlicy/rosemary-y carrots. Heaven. So delicious. I’ll go into deeper detail about the ricotta and tortellini later, as there are a ton of pictures of that, so look for that in the next post.

 

Cleansing Course

I like the idea of a course in between a heavy entree and a decadent dessert that is light and refreshing. It gives a bit of a suspense to the whole dessert situation. I know the meal just ended…… but you are still going to have to wait for a minute before I pull out the big guns. So last minute I decided to do a champagne/ginger ale jello with strawberries. It would have been beautiful but I forgot about it and it turned to jello before I put the strawberries in so it turned into individual portions of jello salad-esque yumminess. I really liked what happened since it was so last minute, though there are probably some things I would changed to the recipe if I tried again. I’m just not quite sure what it would be yet. Maybe better champagne?

At any rate, you can find the recipe and a much nicer picture here.

 

Dessert

Here it is, what you have all been waiting for! But you’ll just have to wait one more minute as I tell the back story. Every since receiving my Baking Illustrated cookbook I have wanted to try their flourless chocolate cake. That was four years ago. I could have made this cake in my sleep, I’ve read the recipe so many times. So the night before we were busy with the tortellini and I didn’t get to start the cake until 1a. I was up until 3a with the damn thing, but it was all worth it. The actual process is easy as the ingredients are simple. 8 eggs, two sticks of butter, 1 lb of chocolate (I also added 1/4 cup of strong coffee). What could go wrong?!

Well the actual mixing process was simple, melt butter and chocolate, add coffee, whip eggs (with my new mixer!) into a frenzy for five minutes and fold them all in. The next step is time consuming but also simple in nature. Line the bottom of the (8 or 9in.) spring form pan with parchment paper, grease the sides, then line the outside twice in aluminum foil put in a roasting dish and fill with boiling water until about halfway up the spring form pan. Spoon in you batter and cook for about 20 min at 325F or until the temp reaches 140F.

Here’s the dramatic part of the tale: the thing is, it was supposed to be a bit jiggly in the middle, like with a cheesecake, with a thin crust on the top. The thermometer went past 140 and it was still completely fluid. I waited and waited certain it would over bake in less than a second and I wouldn’t have time to save it. But secretly being afraid it would never cook and I’d have a raw-egg cake to serve (although Baking Illustrated did assure me that once the temp is 140 you can take it out of the oven and it will hold the temp for 5 min. which is enough to kill salmonella, but that wasn’t enough to quell my ears!). I finally saw it harden a bit on the side and took it out of the oven and waited for it to come to room temperature. It did. It was still incredibly jiggly. All hope was lost and it was 3a the day before the party. I decided to just trust the book, covered it, and set it in the fridge over-night so it could “mellow”. And mellow it did!! In the morning it was completely set up and beautiful. I then made J buy me a cake platter and set it up with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top and garnished with some raspberries. It was quite beautiful!

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J then made a delicious strawberry sauce (strawberries, vanilla balsamic, and champagne) to serve with it and it was quite the hit. To be fair, everyone was quite drunk by then so perhaps their perception was skewed, but let’s not dwell on that!

Everyone stayed until very late and we had quite the raucous event. All in all, it was a success!!!!

This morning, I woke up to this:

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I hope everyone had a lovely New Year’s Eve!