Chocolate Truffle Cake

November 13, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Cake

If you love chocolate then this cake is for you! It is dense and pure chocolate. Chocolate Truffle Cake is great for special occasions and especially birthdays!


1 Cup Butter

14 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate

2 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate

9 Large Separated Eggs

½ Cup Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Almonds for Garnish (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 300° F. Remove the bottom from a 9×3 inch springform pan and cover the bottom with foil. Wrap the foil around to the underside. This will make it easier to remove the cake from the pan. Replace the bottom. Grease and flour the foil bottom and side of the pan. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter with all of the chocolate over a low heat. Stir constantly. Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl. In a small bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar for about 5 minutes with a mixer and 10 minutes by hand. The goal is to get the mixture very thick and lemon colored. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. In a separate large bowl beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Make sure that the beaters are clean before beating the egg whites. With a wire whisk or rubber spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the egg whites one third at a time. Do not mix them in. We want to be gentle with the egg whites. Now, spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Do not over bake because the cake will firm up when chilled. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight in the pan. To remove the cake from the pan run a hot knife around the edge of the cake. Remove the side of the pan and invert the cake onto a cake plate. Unwrap the foil on the bottom and lift off the bottom of the pan. Carefully peel the foil from the cake. Garnish with almonds or other nuts if you like. Makes 20 servings


September 12, 2011


Ratatouille (ratatouille niçoise) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish that originated from Nice. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but also may be served as a main dish. The secret of a good ratatouille is by cooking the vegetables separately so that each vegetable holds its own flavor. There are many versions of ratatouille, but here is my version.


2 Large Onions

2 Medium Green Zucchini

1 Medium Yellow Zucchini

1 Green Bell Pepper

1 Red Bell Pepper

1 Large Eggplant

8 Seeded Plum Tomatoes

4 Crushed Garlic Cloves

¼ Cup Olive Oil

½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Slice all of the vegetables and keep them separated. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan. When the oil is hot add the onions and crushed garlic. Cook for 8 minutes over a high heat. Remove the onions and place in a large bowl. Repeat this process with all of the vegetables cooking them in small batches. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Layer the sautéed vegetables into a large oven safe pot or ceramic dish. Add the salt and pepper. You don’t need to add any water or stock as the vegetables will produce enough of their own juices so that they don’t burn. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve either as a side or main dish. Serves 4

French Lemon Pound Cake

August 28, 2011

French Lemon Pound Cake

Pound cake (“Quatre- Quarts” or Four Quarters) is a traditional and popular cake of the French region of Brittany that refers to a type of cake that was traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: Flour, Butter, Eggs & Sugar. This French Lemon Pound Cake is delicious and makes a great after dinner dessert or snack.


2 Cups Unbleached Flour

½ Teaspoon Baking Powder

¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ Teaspoon Salt

4 Large Lemons

2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest

½ Cup Softened Butter

1 ¾ Cups Sugar

4 Large Eggs

1 ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

½ Cup Sour Cream

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl grate 2 tablespoons lemon zest and squeeze 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. In a large bowl mix together 1 ½ cups of the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Next add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 ½ hours until done. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan. In a small bowl mix the lemon juice with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Brush the mixture over the top and sides of the warm cake. Cool completely on the rack. Slice very thin to serve. Serves 8

Petite Pear Tarts

August 19, 2011

Petite Pear Tarts

Summer is the season for pears. What to do with all of those pears? Make pear tarts!


Pastry for 1 Pie Crust

2 Small Ripe Pears (Peeled, Cored and Sliced)

2 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour

2 Tablespoons Dried Currents

2 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice

½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

½ Cup Plus 6 Teaspoons Sugar

2 Tablespoons Milk

2 Tablespoons Chopped Pecans

Prepare the pastry for 1 pie crust. Shape two equal balls and chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, toss the pear slices with flour, currants, lemon juice, cinnamon and ½ cup of sugar. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pink roll 1 dough ball into a 10 inch round. Transfer to one half of a large cookie sheet. Mound half of the pear mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough up around the pears, leaving a 2 ½ inch opening in the center. Repeat with the remaining dough and pear mixture to make a second tart on the same cookie sheet. Brush each crust with 1 tablespoon of milk and sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Place 2 sheet of foil under the cookie sheet. Crimp the foil edges to form a rim to catch any drips during the baking. Bake the tarts for 20 minutes. In a cup, mix the pecans with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and sprinkle over the filling in the center of the tarts. Bake for 10 minute more or until the crust is brown. Cool the tarts on cookie sheets on a wire rack for 10 minutes to serve warm. Makes 2 petite tarts

Pie Crust Recipe


1 ¼ Cups Unbleached Flour

¼ Teaspoon Salt

2 Tablespoons Shortening

4 Tablespoons Cold & Cut Up Butter

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. With a pastry blender cut in the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in 3 to 5 tablespoons of ice water, a tablespoon at a time. Mix lightly with a fork after each addition, until the dough is just moist enough to hold together. Shape the dough into 1 ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Remove from the fridge and let stand for 1 hour before rolling. You want the dough at room temperature. Make two separate balls. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball to make the petite pie crusts.

Béchamel Sauce

August 9, 2011

Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel Sauce, also known as White Sauce, is one of the “mother sauces” of French cuisine. Also used in many Italian recipes such as lasagna. This sauce is also used as a base for other sauces mainly Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese.


2 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Flour

1 ¼ Cups Heated Milk

1/8 Teaspoon Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and stir in the flour. Stir constantly and cook for two minutes until the mixture bubbles just a bit. Do NOT let the mixture brown. Add the mot milk and continue stirring as the sauce thickens bringing it to a boil. Add the salt and pepper and lower the heat and cook for 3 more minutes. Remember to constantly stir and don’t leave unattended. Remove from the heat and cool if you are going to use this sauce later. A good tip for storing this sauce for later use is to pour a film of milk over the mixture before storing. This will prevent a skin from forming. If you decide to make this into a cheese sauce just stir in ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking along with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Makes 1 cup

Hollandaise Sauce

August 6, 2011

Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce is used to prepare eggs Florentine. It also pairs nicely with poached fish and roasted or steamed asparagus.


4 Egg Yolks

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon & Lime Juice

1 Tablespoon Water

1/8 Teaspoon Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

¼ Freshly Ground White Pepper

2 Sticks Melted Unsalted Butter

Set a bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water. Combine the egg yolks, lemon and lime juice and water. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. You must not turn your back on this process and make sure to whisk constantly. Whisk another minute more. Remove the bowl from over the saucepan. Add the salt, cayenne and white pepper. With a blender mix while slowly pouring in the melted butter for two minutes. Cover and keep warm over a very low heat until ready to serve. Makes 2 cups

Bearnaise Sauce

August 5, 2011

Bearnaise Sauce

It is useful to have basic sauces up your sleeve to dress up any dish. Bearnaise Sauce is a rich yet tangy topping for steak, grilled chicken, vegetables or poached eggs. If you don’t have tarragon vinegar then use white wine vinegar and toss in an extra tablespoon of fresh tarragon.


½ Cup Tarragon Vinegar

1/3 Cup Dry White Wine

2 Finely Chopped Shallots

3 Large Egg Yolks

¼ Cup Water

1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Stick Cold Butter – Cut Into Pieces

1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Tarragon

¼ Teaspoon Salt

In a (nonreactive) saucepan, combine the vinegar, wine and shallots. Heat to boiling over a high heat. Boil for 7 minutes until the liquid has reduced to ¼ cup. With the back of a spoon, press the mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl or on the top of a double boiler. With a wire whisk, beat the egg yolks, water and pepper into the vinegar mixture. Set the bowl over the saucepan of the simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, for 10 minutes until the egg yolk mixture bubbles around the edges and has thickened. Reduce heat to a very low. With a wire whisk, whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until each addition is incorporated and sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the tarragon and salt. Makes 1 cup

Peach Melba

July 13, 2011

Peach Melba

A classic dessert invented in the late 1800’s by French chef, Auguste Escoffier, at the Savoy Hotel in London.  Chef Escoffier invented Peach Melba to honor the Australian soprano, Nellie Melba, who was performing in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at Covent Garden.  Peach Melba combines the two favorite summer fruits peaches and raspberries (raspberry sauce) and is serves with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. 


Poached Peaches:

3 Cups Water

½ Cup Sugar

Peel of 1 Lemon Removed In Strips

1 Vanilla Bean Split Lengthwise

½ Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Peach Schnapps

4 Just Ripe (Not Overly Ripe) Peaches

Raspberry Sauce:

2 ½ Pints Fresh Raspberries

½ Cup Sugar

1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Vanilla Ice Cream

Nuts Or Fresh Mint Leaves For Garnish (Optional)

For poaching the peaches combine the water, sugar, lemon peel and vanilla bean in a saucepan that is just large enough to hold the peaches with the liquid barely covering them.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Reduce the heat to low and add ½ cup of the peach schnapps and the peaches.  Cover the pan and cook at a very low simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the peaches are tender when pierced.  Remove the peaches from the poaching liquid and place them on a plate to cool.  The peaches can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Before serving, cut the peaches in half and remove the pit and carefully peel off the skin and throw away the peach skin.  Remove the lemon peels and vanilla bean from the poaching liquid.  Throw away the peel and vanilla bean.   Place the pan over high heat and reduce the liquid to about ¾ cup to concentrate the flavors.  Cool to room temperature and then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of peach schnapps.  Store the syrup, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.  For the raspberry sauce, rinse the berries and place them in a small saucepan with the sugar.  Place the pan over a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes until the berries are softened and begin to break apart.  Force the berry mixture through a fine mesh sieve and throw away the seeds.  Add the lemon juice to the sauce and refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.  To assemble the Peach Melba dessert, place a scoop of ice cream in a bowl or large goblet.  Top with 2 poached peach halves or sliced peaches. Spoon some of the poaching syrup over the ice cream.  Next drizzle raspberry sauce over the peaches.  Garnish with either chopped nuts or mint leaves.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4

Steak Au Poivre

July 10, 2011

Steak Au Poivre

It is thought that Steak au Poivre descended from what is known as Steak Diane.  Some food historians believe that the origins can be traced to Leopold I of Germany in 1790.  There are quite a few chefs who claim to have created this dish in either Paris or Monte Carlo. This steak is covered with coarsely ground pepper before sautéing or broiling.  Steak au Poivre is usually finished either by topping it with a chunk of butter or by making a simple sauce from the pan drippings.  You can serve with mashed potatoes or pomme frites.  You most likely may find this dish in traditional French restaurants. 


Four 1” Thick Strip Steaks

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Chopped Shallots

¼ Cup Butter That Is Cut Into 2 Pieces

½ Cup Cognac

¾ Cup Heavy Cream

Salt & pepper both sides of each steak.  Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over a high heat and sauté the steaks (2 at a time) for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the steaks to a heatproof dish and keep them warm in the oven at 175° F. Pour out any leftover liquid from the skillet and lower the heat to medium.  Next add the shallots to the skillet along with 1 piece of butter and sauté for 5 minutes until cooked.  Very carefully add the Cognac and bring to a boil for 3 minutes until the sauce thickens.  The Cognac may flame so be careful.  Stir in the cream and the other piece of butter.  Heat through and stir constantly.  Serve the sauce over the steaks immediately.  Serves 4

Chocolate Soufflés

July 3, 2011

Chocolate Soufflés

Everyone thinks that soufflés are difficult to make.  They are easier than you think plus they make quite an impression.  They are great as individual desserts and are beautiful as one large dessert.


1 ¼ Cups plus 3 Tablespoons Sugar

¼ Cup Unbleached Flour

1 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Coffee Crystals

1 Cup Milk

5 Ounces Chopped Unsweetened Chocolate

3 Tablespoons Softened Butter

 4 Large Separated Eggs

2 Large Egg Whites

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

¼ Teaspoon Salt

Powdered Sugar

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan combine 1 ¼ cups sugar, the flour and the espresso powder.  With a wire whisk, gradually stir in the milk until blended.  Cook over medium heat for 1 minute until the mixture has thickened and boils.  Remember to constantly stir.  Remove from the heat when it hits the boiling point.  Next, stir in the chocolate and butter until both are melted and smooth.  With the whisk beat in the egg yolks until well blended.  Stir in the vanilla and cool until the mixture is lukewarm.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease eight 6 ounce ramekins or custard cups or a 2 quart soufflé dish.  Sprinkle lightly with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.  You will need a large bowl and a mixer on high speed for this next part.  Beat the egg whites and salt just until stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted.  With a rubber spatula, gently fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Fold back into the remaining egg whites JUST until blended.  Spoon into the prepared ramekins or soufflé dish and bake for 25 minutes until the soufflés have puffed and centers are glossy.  Bake 35 minutes for a large soufflé.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.  Serves 8

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