Sunday, August 29, 2010


It seems that there has been one birthday after another, and Ron's is still to come next Sunday. I don't mind,as it gives me an opportunity to try some of the cakes that I have had bookmarked for a while.
When a dear friend told me that her mix/master went kaput, it was only natural to offer to make the birthday cake for her daughter. After all, Seeta has made many an Indian dinner for us, lovingly put it into the tiff'n'carry and brought over to us to enjoy, and   we have enjoyed them immensely.

The Cake had turned out exactly as I had hoped that it would, as the directions,while time consuming were easy to follow.

I did double the recipe as I felt a four layer cake looked more impressive, and to be truthful the single recipe said that I would be able to cut the cake into 3 layers but that was just not the case, as the best I could have gotten out of it would have been 2 layers, not 3.

I always worry that I do not put in enough butter cream in the center or then I worry I've put in too much and then won't have enough for the outside frosting. But in this case it all worked out correctly there was enough frosting for the entire cake and the frosting recipe was NOT doubled. As a matter of fact this was the first time I made a Swiss Meringue frosting and I was quite pleased with the end product.

I wanted to make a special birthday cake for this lovely, beautiful, gal and the Chocolate Pistachio Cake fit the bill.It was one that I was itching to try. I had it bookmarked for a few years now,(since 2008) and if you go to, it's Jenny's recipe modified from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers.
The cake was a huge hit and the evening was lovely.

( I made two of these for my 4 layer cake)
11/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon flour
6 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. butter plus extra for coating the pan
2 oz, unsweetened chocolate broken into pieces
2 eggs
1 tsp.vanilla
1 tsp. raspberry vinegar
1 cup boiling water
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a sifter. Sift onto wax paper or a bowl set aside.
Prepare your pans ( 2, 9x3 inch round pans) with butter, and parchment paper, I never use parchment paper because my pans are non-stick, and i never have a problem.
Gently melt unsweetened chocolate over water bath or on half power in micro, stirring to prevent burning. Set aside
Beat sugar and butter together in mixer fitted with paddle. Beat on medium for 1 minute, then on high for 1 minute,
Scrape down the sides and beat on high for another 15 seconds, after the addition of each egg.
Add vanilla and vinegar and beat on high for 20 seconds
Add the melted chocolate and mix on low for 10 seconds.
Scrape down the sides .
Boil the water.
On low add the dry ingredients, mix for 10 seconds.
CAREFULLY add the boiling water, continue to mix for 10 seconds on low, then increase to medium speed for another 5 seconds.
Pour into pans and bake for 45 minutes or until center comes out clean. I needed to add an additional 15 minutes for a total baking time of 60 minutes. I usually don't have a problem with my stove temperature, but this cake center was still sticky in the center at 45 minutes.
Cool Pans, then remove cake and cool another 20 minutes. Then put cake in fridge for 1 hour while you prepare the next stages.

this amount was perfect for the 4 layer cake
8 egg whites
16 oz. sugar
1 pound butter at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1.5 cups shelled pistachios

Blanche the pistachios in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Place nuts in a cotton tea towel and vigorously rub to loosen and remove the skins. Toast the pistachios on a baking sheet for 15 minutes at 325 and allow to cool at room temperature.
Reserve a few whole nuts for garnish and chop the rest.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a bowl. Whisk constantly over a bain marie until 140F. temperature is reached. Then place bowl on mixer with balloon attachment and whisk until stiff.
Turn down whip speed to 3 and whip until cool to touch, this will take a while.
Change to a paddle and gradually add butter by tablespoon pieces. Once desired consistency is achieved add vanilla.
Take 2/3 of butter cream and fold in pistachios. this goes into the layers. The remainder 1/3 is for frosting the outside of the cake.

6 tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz, semi-sweet chocolate chopped
Bring cream to boil and immediately remove from heat. Pour over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until smooth and keep in fridge until firm for piping.

Cut off the dome tops of the cake. Slice each cake into 2 layers. Because the cake is very dense, you could choose to make a simple syrup and soak the layers. I choice to use a raspberry liqueur to soak the cake because  I knew it would be used after the actual birthday and I didn't want it to dry out.
Take 1/3 of the butter cream and spread in-between the layers.
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer and then frost and decorate as desired. I spread a few pistachios over the top and then piped the ganache over it in swirls and piped some extra rose buds around the cake and put in the whole pistachios. 
Happy Birthday Chetna, Enjoy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It's my birthday on Thursday and Ronnie has been treating me with special treats every day this week. He's cute like that, it's his way of showing me that I'm special...even after 35 years..ahhh ! Enough of that !
Today's surprise was a salmon tartar.
The first time I had a salmon tartar was about 10 years ago at our favourite French Restaurant in the Gatineau Hills called Loree de Bois.
It was something that I always wanted to try at home, but truthfully just never got around to making.

Last year in Boulder Co. we celebrated Valentine's Day at the famous Flagstaff Restaurant, there I had tuna tartar as my appetizer, while Ron had some quail. Ron knows how much I enjoyed that tuna, I still talk and dream about it.It was quite the presentation with toasted triangles and was prepared at my table by the waiter.
What a lovely surprise my sweetie, made for me today.It was absolutely great and mouthwatering.
Can you tell that I enjoyed it?? I wonder what my surprise will be tomorrow?

1 Fillet sushi grade Atlantic/or Pacific Salmon (make sure your salmon is fresh)
2t capers
Olive oil
Sliceand cube  the salmon  into small cubes about 1/16" thick or thicker if you prefer.  Place cubed salmon in a glass bowl.  Rough chop about 2T of dill and about 4 strands of chives and add to the salmon.  Add 2T of capers to the salmon.  Add about 2T of olive oil to the salmon and stir to coat the salmon.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate the tartar for about an hour to let all the herbs and spices penetrate the tartar.  Approx 5 mins prior to serving squeeze half a lemon into the tartar and mix.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if required.  You can also add some extra lemon if you prefer. Serve with toasted baguette

Sunday, August 15, 2010


A very dear friend is celebrating a birthday and because her schedule has been very hectic lately and will continue to be so for another 2 weeks,a nice dinner celebration was not possible. But every birthday deserves a cake at the very least. The arrangements were made and coffee and cake it would be, even though it was only served after 10pm. I felt sorry for the gals that had to work the next day!
Barb loves chocolate and raspberries, so it wasn't very hard on deciding what cake to make, little did I know that I would be making it twice. I still don't quite know what went wrong, but suffice it to say the center of the cake was wobbly , even though I gave it an extra 10 minutes in the oven and then an additional 5 minutes. The end result was that when the cake cooled, it did solidify somewhat in the center and I thought that it would still be ok, seeing that it would have preserves in the center anyways,,, but then when  I cut the cake in half it all crumbled to the point where no amount of patching or covering up with icing would help.Too bad because the cake itself was delicious, almost like a brownie texture.
Sometimes it just goes like that! Ron offered to help me start it all over again, but to be truthful , it was late already, I did not have the energy left to have another go at it and mostly, could not deal with another disappointment. The basement pantry had a box of chocolate Duncan Hines and I knew that this was going to be foolproof. Don't get me wrong I will have another go at the original cake batter, but at another date. Or, if any of you are going to try it do let me know if it works for you.
 The inspiration for this cake comes from the Sachertorte, a famous cake that was created in the kitchen of Vienna's renowned Hotel Sacher.  The dense cake is coated with apricot reserves and then topped with a chocolate glaze.  This version features raspberry perseveres which provide a good counter point to the intense chocolate. Traditionally, |Sachertorte is eaten with lots of whipped cream. ( |While the original cake fell apart we are still enjoying the broken pieces with a cup of coffee as the cake itself is really very delicious and while the first attempt at it did not work for me it dose not mean ,the instructions are bad, as I have made many recipes from this book and they always work.I think it was just me.)

1C plain flour
8oz bitter sweet chocolate
3/4C  unsalted butter
1C sugar
6 lg. eggs separated at room temperature
1C seedless raspberry reserves
Chocolate Glaze
Whipped cream optional

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9" spring form pan, set aside.

Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler placed over barely simmering water.  Stir often until the butter and chocolate melt.  Remove from over the water.  Whisk 1/2 C of the sugar into the egg yolks and then stir the egg mixture into the chocolate.  Using a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form while slowly adding the remaining 1/2c sugar.

Using a rubber spatula stir 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture.  Gently fold in the flour.  Add the remaining egg whites, folding gently and thoroughly.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using the spatula. 

Bake the cake until it puffs up and feels firm to the touch in the center.  25-30 mins.  If the center looks soupy, bake for another 5mins.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 3mins, then release and lift of the pan sides.  Place a wire rack on top of the cake and carefully invert them together.  Lift off the pan bottom and peel off the parchment paper if you used it.  Gently turn the cake back over onto another rack and let cool completely.  Cover the cake with a clean slightly damp kitchen towel so the outside does not dry out as it cools. 

To assemble the cake cut it in half horizontally, remove the top half.  Using a icing spatula spread 1/3c of preserves on the bottom layer.  Replace the top round.  Spread the remaining preserves over the top and sides of the cake.  Refrigerate the cake for 30mins to firm up the preserves.  Meanwhile make thew chocolate glaze.  Refrigerate the cake for 30mins to set the glaze.  Scrape any drippings from the sheet pan, rewarm the glaze and add a second coat.  When the glaze sets up slightly transfer the cake to a serving platter.  Serve immediately with whip cream.

Chocolate Glaze:
12oz semi sweet chocolate finely chopped
1c unsalted butter
2T corn syrup
Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler placed over barely simmering water and heat until the chocolate and butter melt, stirring often.  Remove from heat and pour the glaze through a fine mesh sieve.  Let cool to 92 degrees before serving.  (Taken from Essentials of Baking Williams-Sonoma)


Friday, August 6, 2010


Our favorite Italian Restaurant on Preston Street serves a mouth watering Veal Marsala accompanied with beautiful buttery capellini, however, the young men in our house don't eat red meat and veal is most definitely out of the question. Personally, on a certain level I admire and even agree with their views on the use of veal, but from a culinary side, milk feed veal is a lovely meat and as I'm writing this post the veal scallopini I had  2 weeks ago, is still a vivid, delicious, memory.
That being said, in preparing meals , one can almost always substitute any meat for another without loosing the main components in a recipe. In this case it was the Marsala Sauce.
One day, I would just love to learn how to make all those delicious sauces that I have had in some of my favorite French Restaurants...but today's post is Italian, and while we are substituting chicken for veal, I wish you can have a taste of this sauce as it is just heavenly, (if I may say so myself).
It is a fool proof recipe that lends itself easily to pasta (like linguine) or even a lovely mashed potato like my boys like to have it.

Marsala-which comes from the island of Sicily- is a fortified wine, meaning it is infused with spirits. It has a rich, smoky flavor. I used Marsal. You could also use dry sherry.
The entire meal took 35 minutes, another great substitute is to use skinless, boneless, chicken thighs as they are more tender and tastier that chicken breasts, the choice is yours.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram, crushed
1/8 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms ( you could use drained canned mushrooms)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
3 T butter/margarine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry Marsala or dry sherry
Hot cooked pasta, such as capellini or linguine(optional)

1.In a shallow bowl, stir together flour, marjoram,salt, and pepper. Place each chicken piece between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound chicken lightly to about 1/4 inch thick. Remove plastic wrap. Lightly coat chicken pieces on both sides with the flour mixture, shake off excess.

2.Ina large skillet, cook mushrooms and green onion in 1 tablespoon of hot butter over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes or until tender, remove from skillet. In the same skillet, cook chicken in remaining 2 tablespoons hot butter for the same time turning once.

3.Remove skillet from heat. Return mushrooms and green onion to skillet. Carefully add broth and Marsala to skillet. Bring mixture to boiling, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for 2 more minutes stirring occasionally. Season sauce to taste with additional salt and pepper.  To serve , spoon mushroom mixture over chicken.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I can't remember from where this recipe came from,only that it was copied quickly on the back of an envelope and something that I was going to do last year. I was actually looking for another recipe when I came across the envelope and thought , "why not try this one?" after all the plums are in season and the rosemary is thriving in the garden.
My mother often made plum cake this time of year. German plum cake is usually made from yeast and prepared on a rectangular sheet with the plums quartered and layered on top and served with a dollop of whipped cream. While other cake batters are fine for the plums I prefer the yeast dough one. This recipe really intrigued me with the use of the olive oil and the addition of the rosemary,

The rosemary is incorporated in the preparation of the dough, can you see the little green flecks?

After the plums are placed on the dough you sprinkle another teaspoon of rosemary with the sugar over the plums.
The plum cake, was a success and a very easy lovely recipe it turned out to be as there was no kneading done by hand. Everything was completed in the mixer with the paddle and dough hook attachment. The only problem with the preparation of the cake is because it needs a double rise you should set aside a huge block of time. The first rise took 2 hours, the second rise in the spring form was 1.5 hours and then it took 1 hour in the oven. But well worth the effort.

Dough Ingredients;
250G flour
66g (1/4c) Milk
6g (2t) Instant Yeast
4g (2/3t) Salt
100g (2) Eggs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1t chopped fresh rosemary
55g of sugar
113 (1/2c) olive oil

Topping Ingredients;
3 lg firm plums sliced
1t chopped fresh rosemary
34g of fine sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle combine the flour, milk, yeast, salt, eggs, lemon zest and rosemary.  Mix at low speed, dough will be stiff at this point.  Remove paddle and insert dough hook.  On medium speed gradually add sugar in about 5 increments making sure sugar is fully incorporated in between each increment.  Continue mixing at medium speed until the dough starts to come together around the hook about 2-5 minutes.  Remove dough hook and change back to the paddle add the olive oil and mix until incorporated (this will take a while).  If dough is still sticky add a tablespoon of flour at a time and lightly knead into the dough.  (I added an additional 3T of flour to get dough not to be sticky)  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container cover and ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours. 

Press the dough into a disc and with fingers spread it to fill a 10" spring form pan.  Press the plum slices into the dough cover and proof for 1.5 hrs at room temperature.  Pre-heat oven to 400F before baking sprinkle the cake with rosemary and sugar.  Bake at 400 for 10mins and reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 40mins or until cake is golden brown.  Cool on wire rack for 10mins, then release the pan and continue to cool.