Monthly Archives: December 2012

Crispy Fried Pork (or tofu!) Medallions with Escarole Rice (serves 4)

Crispy Fried Pork Medallions with Escarole Rice

Crispy Fried Pork Medallions with Escarole Rice

Sometimes I am in the mood to make dinner as quickly as possible, and others, like last night, there is nothing I enjoy more than standing in my kitchen lazily chopping and stirring, in the company of whomever wants to watch the movie I may have playing and perhaps share my bottle of wine.

frying pork to lovely crispiness

frying pork to lovely crispy-ness

I am always trying to come up with interesting ways to cook pork tenderloin. It is such a delicate cut of meat with a tenderness that needs to be preserved for it to taste its very best. I sliced the pork and with a crowded counter filled with bowls of flour, an Asian egg mixture and another of panko crumbs I coated each piece of meat before frying to perfection. This was so good, and such a hit, I was sorry I hadn’t double the recipe!

Fresh herbs will always make your food taste better

Fresh herbs will always make your food taste better

I thought it would be perfect with a very aromatic rice, and since I was hell-bent on using up every last herb I had purchased for recipes over the Christmas break, I added chopped pungent rosemary and liquorice-y tarragon to the rice with a couple of mushrooms and sweet onions to make the best accompaniment ever. It was hard not to eat and say “mmmmm” the whole time we were eating!

By all means these two dishes can be made as part of other dishes. I think the pork with be great on a buffet table and the rice could go with so many other meat dishes, (and in the case of my dinner, crispy fried tofu).

Happy New Year’s Eve – Cook something memorable!

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You will need:

1 pork tenderloin, (try to find one that is about 1 1/4 lbs) cut into 3/8″ or 1 cm slices

OR tofu (instead of pork)about two packages of extra-firm, sliced into triangles or big squares (prepared as instructed below ingredient list)

2 large eggs

2 tbs hoisin sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs mirin

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups panko crumbs (have more on hand)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 medium sweet or yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 medium head escarole, washed and roughly chopped

2 large mushrooms, diced

10 (or so) fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

1 stem of rosemary leaves, pulled off stem and chopped (about 1 tbs)

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

sea-salt to taste

6 cups cooked basmati rice

Dipping sauce: 6 tbls soy sauce mixed with 6 tbs mirin. Divide between 2 or 3 bowls for the table.

*This can easily be a vegetarian/vegan or Blood Type A Diet recipe. Use extra firm tofu which you should squeeze of excess moisture (enough for 4 to 6 servings) and follow method below or follow method here.

Method:

1 – If you are going to cook rice, put it on right away and let it be cooling until you need it. If you already have leftover rice, take it out of the fridge and stir to loosen.

2 – Mix the eggs in a shallow bowl with the hoisin, soy and mirin. Place flour in a shallow bowl or a dinner plate. Put panko crumbs on a dinner plate. Place a big platter or plate on the counter beside the other plates and bowls.

3 – Make sure the pork is dry and then dip each piece in flour, then coat with egg mixture (by dipping), and finish by pressing each side into the panko crumbs. Place on the waiting platter or plate. When they are all dipped and rolled, place in the fridge. * I find they cook so much better when they are cold*

Prep pork and store in fridge until ready to fry

Prep pork and store in fridge until ready to fry

4 – Next make your dipping sauce (see method in ingredient list).

make dipping sauce

make dipping sauce

5 – Put big saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tbs of oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes.

saute onions

saute onions

6 – Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes. You may have to add more oil. Add the chopped herbs and some sea-salt (about 1/2 to 1 tsp) and stir into veggies.

add herbs

Add mushrooms, then herbs

7 – Cook until onions are nice and soft.

cook for several minutes

Cook for several minutes

8 – Add the chopped escarole and cayenne flakes (if using) and cook until the greens wilt (about 4 or 5 minutes).

add escarole

Add escarole & pepper flakes

9 – Add the rice and stir until it has completely warmed through. Cover with lid and keep warm on lowest heat (or turn off and reheat right before serving)

add rice

Add rice

10 – Put large saute pan on medium/high heat and add about 3 tbs oil. When it is hot add the pork in a single un-crowded layer. Cook until crispy on both sides (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and keep warm in low temperature oven until you have fried all of the batches. You will need to add more oil as you go.

fry pork

fry pork

Serve pork alongside the rice and drizzle a little of the dipping sauce over the pork before serving. Each person may add more dipping sauce or hot sauce as they please.

serve with a drizzle of dipping sauce

serve with a drizzle of dipping sauce

The pork can be easily substituted for tofu (I did) and prepared exactly the same way. (Check above for further instructions)

I had exactly the same thing only with tofu

I had exactly the same thing only with tofu

Ireland Chronicles: Entry 11 – A Visit to Mount Juliet, Kilkenny, With My Friend Bernie

my freind's house in Irealnd

my friend’s house in Ireland

I am remembering my friend Bernie in Ireland and wondering what she is doing right at this moment. It is nearly 1pm over there, so I suspect she is being the diligent artist that she is, and is in her studio painting, or perhaps she is out photographing what nature has to offer around Thomastown in frozen December.

Paint in the Studio (presumbly organised)

Painting Studio (presumably organised)

I was home in Ireland for the entire summer (hence my “Chronicles”) and another beautiful day to recount was the day I spent with Bernie, at her house and studio, and taking a long walk through a beautiful country estate called Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny.

The house at Mount Juliet

The main house at Mount Juliet

The thing that is so great about Ireland is that deciding last-minute to spend the afternoon some place beautiful does not pose any problems. The choices are endless and immediate.  It was no different on the day I jumped into my car to visit my friend in Thomastown, a town situated on the lovely Nore River, a stone’s throw from Kilkenny City.  It is the town where I first met Bernie almost three decades earlier, and where I lived when studying metalsmithing. It is an idyllic place which I want to write about, but am still at a loss as to where to begin that saga.

River_in_Flood

River in Flood By Bernadette Kiely

The summer in Ireland this year can best be described as WET. The rain came down with great regularity, even managing to irritate the hardiest irish men and women! However, on the days that I planned weekend excursions, or picnics, or day long walking tours of Dublin, the sun miraculously shone, and my day in Thomastown was no different.  

River Nore across the road from Bernie's house

River Nore across the road from Bernie’s house

I arrived around lunch time so Bernie and I made grilled cheese sandwiches and ate them from our laps in her sunny front porch. I will never cease to be amazed (and grateful) at how strong the connection is between old friends. It seems when you are young and entrenched in the same place for years, the people you hang out with leave a mark so indelible it is with you for life. In other words, even though I hadn’t seen Bernie in ages, she and I never lost the thread that prompted us to chat in the intimate way only close friends are privy to.

Masses of photographs, mostly of water adn watery firlds

On a studio table lay masses of photographs, mostly of water and watery fields

After lunch we popped into her painting studio to see the latest work. Bernie’s studio is a converted ball alley where years earlier we messed around hitting tennis balls. She was getting ready for a solo exhibit titled The River for the Kilkenny Arts Festival. Her work for this show concentrated on a stretch of the River Nore and she was so excited because a big airy tent was built at the show’s location especially for the exhibit. In fact she said “why don’t we go see it!”

A peek at the garderns of Mount Juliet

A peek at the gardens at Mount Juliet

A few miles away we parked our car at the Mount Juliet Estate.  In the 1700’s The Earl of Carrick built a Georgian Manor on a hill surrounded by 1,500 acres of land, and through which the river Nore meandered. He named the estate after his wife Juliet.

wild flowers

Wild flowers

When I lived in Thomastown in the 1980’s this place was not open to the public but since 1989 it has been operating as a luxury hotel (spa, golf course, all the good stuff) and anyone who wants to can walk the expansive grounds.

View of the river from the manor

View of the river from the manor

We decided to do just that and spent the rest of the afternoon walking the fields and gardens close to the house and stables. Like any good walk, we worked up an appetite for food and drink. Next stop; The President’s Bar for a little wine and a smakeral of something!

Wine with the barest essentials on the stone balony overlooking the golf course

Wine with the barest essentials on the stone balcony overlooking the golf course

We were in the mood for comforting fries and onions rings. Sometimes there is nothing better than good old bar food, ( we ordered a little greenery out of guilt). We sat munching away and enjoying a drink while golfers worked on improving their handicap and the sun beamed down.

River Nore Summer iv, oil on canvas,

I could have sat there until dinnertime but of course I had to get back home in case my children thought I was kidnapped (kids worry too!). We took our time getting back to the car and drove very slowly to the entrance gate, marvelling at the horses, the lush green fields, woods, flowers, and reedy banks of the river.

River Nore

River Nore

I saw Bernie for the last time before leaving Ireland at the opening of her exhibit. I was completely transfixed by the work and longed to buy a whole wall-full.

Bernie

Bernie (don’t you have enough River pictures!)

If you ever get to Ireland (or live there!) and feel the need to walk some place fabulous, it is 1 hour from Dublin, 30 minutes from Waterford and 20 minutes from Kilkenny, (by Mount Juliet’s calculations anyway). I say it is well worth the trip!

Painting from the exhibition The River, at the Mount Juliet Estate (which overlooks the River Nore) which featured Bernie’s large paintings and charcoal drawings on canvas chronicling the seasonal life of the River Nore and its banks.

Early Morning Breakfast Moment

I was getting my kitchen cleaned up after the mad Christmas flurry where friends came and went in droves, when I came across this waxy white paper bag from the Francois Payard Bakery in New York City. It was sadly empty, and neatly folded and stashed amidst lots of other little saved brown bags for the safe storage of precious leftovers like cookies and slices of unfinished cake.

The best almond croissant i have ever had the pleasure to eat!

The best almond croissant I have ever had the pleasure to eat!

In an instant, it reminded me of a couple of lovely things; the 23rd of December when I drove to NYC to pick up my friend (and her two parakeets!) and we went to the Francois Payard Bakery (check out a previous POST on this bakery) on the Upper West Side for a much-needed coffee and sandwich for the road. Whilst I was there I asked Bird (my friend) if she could recommend their best pastry. Without a doubt she said it was their almond croissant. Before we left I made sure to snag one.

This morning's coffee

This morning’s coffee

The second memory is of Christmas Eve morning when I tip-toed downstairs so as not to wake my family and guests, and headed to the kitchen. It was time to start my marathon cooking session, but not before I indulged in my morning cup of coffee. I was happy to be alone with the smell of coffee in the air and the prospect of devouring the contents of the Francois Payard bag. The coffee was wonderful and the almond croissant pure bliss.

I love my bit of solitude in the early morning but none more than this past Christmas Eve. I will be dreaming of this croissant for many mornings to come.

Marvelous Mixed Fish Stew with Friends (serves 6)

I made this when our good friends Shawn and Jo stopped in right before Christmas for an early celebration. They were not going to be around for the big Christmas day feast but I wanted to make something special nonetheless. This luxurious fish stew was it!

Marvelous Mixed Fish Stew with Friends

Marvelous Mixed Fish Stew 

For me, there are a few kinds of special when it comes to cooking; special can be all about cheaper ingredients (cuts of meat, fish, vegetables, spices) which may take more time and love to coax goodness from, or using more expensive ingredients that need little help in the flavor department. This is not always the case, but you know what I’m talking about? It takes a few minutes to cook a piece of filet mignon to perfection, while a piece of beef chuck roast may need hours of cooking to taste just as exquisite.

Smoky grilled peppers

Smoky charred peppers

This particular dish probably fell right between the two with more expensive ingredients being mixed with more reasonably priced ones. I wanted to make a fresh tasting but intensely flavorful fish stew so used cheaper fish like clams and catfish for strong flavor, and cod fish (at $17 per lb!) for girth, sustenance and an air of luxury. This is not a dish I could have made on Christmas as part of a large array of dishes, as it would cost too much, but, for 6 people it was more realistic (this fish dish cost approximately $52)

feast wirth friends

feast with friends

I wanted to talk about how much things cost because it is a very big part of how I choose certain dishes. I don’t believe for 1 minute that you have to spend a fortune to make something unforgettable, but I am also aware that there are times when using items that cost an arm and a leg, like vanilla beans or saffron or truffles, can transform a dish into something very special. People are funny creatures. We cannot help associating pricy with luxury and inexpensive with plain and ordinary. This is true from clothing to food. I think food is the place where the gap can be closed considerably by savvy, smart shopping, and attention to detail when using those purchases. 

One thing is for sure; anything that comes from your kitchen is going to be better than any take-out, frozen dinner and most every restaurant offering. Happy cooking!

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* A note to Blood type A diet Followers: Omit the clams and add 1 more pound of fish. Omit the clam juice and use veggie broth or veggie bouillon cube and water. Do not add the tomatoes or peppers. Add more spinach if you like. Believe me, it will still taste fantastic!*

You will Need:

2 lbs firm white fish (I used a mix of cod and cat-fish), rinsed, cut into large chunks

2 lbs clams, scrubbed and rinsed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 or 4 long green or Anaheim peppers

2 medium sweet onions

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

big bunch fresh spinach – 6 or more cups chopped

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato puree

3 cups clam juice (usually found bottled in the tinned fish section of supermarket)

1 cup white wine

1 cup water

4 or more cups cooked warm basmati rice

sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper

more chopped fresh cilantro (garnish)

Method:

Cook rice and keep warm. If you have leftover rice you want to use, put it into a pot, cover with lid and turn to the lowest setting on your stove top about 15 minutes before serving.

1 – Prep the peppers as follows: place oven rack close to grill and turn grill to high. Place peppers on cookie sheet or baking tray and place in oven. Check every few minutes. When the peppers’ skin chars and turns black, turn the pepper. Do this until the entire pepper is charred (about 10 minutes or more). Place peppers in brown paper or plastic bag and seal. When they have cooled, remove from bag and tear off the charred skin, remove the seeds and stems and dice. Set aside (this can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to use)

De-ssed adn chop peppers

De-seed and chop peppers

2 – Put big saute pan or large saucepan or pot on medium heat. Add oil and when it had heated up, add onions, garlic, and several grinds of black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

saute onions

saute onions

3 – Add the herbs (thyme, parsley, cilantro), pepper flakes and charred, diced peppers. Cook for another 3 minutes.

add herbs and peppers

add herbs and peppers

4 – Add the wine, water, clam juice and tomato puree to your pan and turn heat up. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook on low for about 3 or so minutes.

add liquid

add liquid

5 – Add the spinach and cover with lid. Bring back to a simmer and continue to simmer until the spinach is very soft and wilted (another 5 minutes). Taste broth for addition of sea-salt. Add according to taste.

add spinach

add spinach

6 – If using clams, add about 3 minutes before the fish and simmer. Add the rest of the fish chunks and cover with lid. Simmer for between 8-10 minutes. Take off heat.

add fish

add fish

To serve, add a big spoonful of warm rice to bottom of shallow bowl and ladle fish stew on top. Add more pepper flakes and black pepper if you like. You can also omit rice and serve with fresh crusty bread (or serve with both, as I did)

serve with rice or crusty toasted bread

serve with rice or crusty toasted bread

Slow-Cooked Pork with Pungent Juniper & Caraway (serves 12-14)

Amazing Pork dish

Amazing Pork dish

Planning the Christmas menu is always a challenge for me. I am a sort of irreverent traditionalist in that I like to refer to the foods that relate to the holiday, while at the same time, serving dishes that are a little unexpected. My idea of the perfect meal is one where the entire length of the table is filled with an astounding sea of platters filled to the brim with the flavors of the season.

Christmas day cooking

Christmas day cooking

I spent at least 6 weeks composing our Christmas dinner. This makes me sound a little intense and a tad overly meticulous, but I assure you most of the planning was done while day-dreaming about food while driving, or when lying in my bed late at night when my brain refused to turn itself off.

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

This year was more ambitious than others, with 15 people to cook for.  Four close friends would be staying at the house, as well as my two brothers, one of whom was bringing his wife, three kids and mother-in-law! They were all traveling from places as close as New York City, to as far away as Colorado and Canada. Right there was pressure to please all of my wonderful friends and family who were making the effort to spend time with us. I wanted everything to be spectacular and fill them with so much goodness that they would think of nothing but that when they remembered the Christmas of 2012!

Everybody has now come and gone, and a quiet has descended upon my kitchen. It was a marvelous whirlwind of conversation, laughter, games, silliness (the silliness part being mostly my brothers’) and a joyously frantic marathon of cooking and eating.

The Christmas table had a parade of food including: slow-cooked pork with root vegetables, (recipe below), turkey breast with rosemary scented gravy, curried meatballs, roasted aromatic bread stuffing, baked rigatoni in a rich beef ragu sauce, Celine’s famous Meat Pie, creamed mashed potatoes, cranberry/orange relish, balsamic dressed green beans, romaine salad, and for dessert, Italian trifle, warm plum pudding, an array of Christmas cookies, and chocolates.

Delectable Christmas Cookies (labourious made by my freind Bird)

Delectable Christmas Cookies (laboriously made by my friend Bird)

I am only posting one recipe, but it was one of the biggest hits and could be made any wintry night. It is rich, mouth-wateringly good and unusual. I was definitely pulling from and inspired by a recipe from one of my latest Saveur magazines, but as with all recipes I believe you should allow yourself the liberty of tweaking it to your own taste and convenience. For instance, the recipe called for juniper berries which I decided to pulverize and make into a paste using extra-virgin olive oil and the other spices. Also I used the vegetables of my choice (what was available in my supermarket) and added more liquid and wine. Feel free to ad-lib from my recipe below to make something that is more you!

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Preheat oven 350*

You will need:

6 to 7 lb pork shoulder, de-boned and butterflied (I took this to the butcher right at the supermarket counter and got him to it – all you have to do is ask!)

2 oz pancetta (don’t worry if you don’t have this ingredient)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 1/2 tbs dried juniper berries (you can find this in well-stocked supermarkets or spice shop)

5 tsp  caraway seeds

1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp course sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes)

2 pale green inner celery ribs including leaves, roughly chopped

4 big carrots, peeled & sliced thickly OR 2 cups baby carrots, left whole

3 big parsnips, peeled and sliced thickly

1 very large sweet potato, cut into big chunks

1 good quality stock cub (I use Rapunzel brand, herbs with sea salt)

1 cup red wine

4 to 6 cups water (more instructions in the method)

Equipment: Roasting pan or big saute pan (oven proof), kitchen string/twine

Method:

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Put juniper berries, caraway seeds, garlic, rosemary leaves, salt, pepper  and the 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and grind to a rough paste (pulsing action works well).  Open butterflied pork (like opening a book), and rub paste over every part of the inside. Lay pancetta in a single layer keeping about 1 inch from the edge. Roll the pork up as tightly as you can and lay on cutting board with opening facing down. Firmly tie with string.

Prepare meat

Prepare meat

2 – Put roasting pan or big saute pan on high heat and add the 1/4 cup olive oil. When it is hot, add the pork and brown on all side. This will take about 20 minutes. When done, place on plate and set aside.

cook veggies

cook veggies

3 – Turn heat down slightly and add the root vegetables and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes. Add stock cube and stir. Add wine and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn heat off and place the pork on top.

Cook

Cook

4 – Cover with foil and place in oven until meat is done (until meat reaches 165* This will take anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Check each hour and add water if it looks low (about 1 cup each time).

Rest meat, then slice adn serve with veggies

Rest meat, then slice and serve with veggies

5 – When done, rest meat on a plate for about 20 minutes and keep veggies with au jus warm on low heat on stove top.

I cannot tell you how cook this tastes. You may just have to make it for yourself!

I cannot tell you how cook this tastes. You may just have to make it for yourself!

Slice meat and lay onto a serving platter. Pour the pan juices and vegetables over the top and serve. This is great with rice or mashed potatoes and a fresh green salad on the side.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

A Walnut-Nutella Torte and Christmas Party! (serves 10-12)

time to Party (anyone thinking: Deer? Headlights?

Time to Party (anyone thinking: Deer? Headlights?)

We were invited to a Christmas Dessert Party at our friend Tom’s and of course we accepted. It is started to feel like Christmas even thought the days are unseasonably balmy. Anyway, it was an excuse for my daughter “the young baker” to test out another recipe from her favorite cookbook, The Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

yg

Ghirardelli chocolate

As she perused her book I told her to make it a little challenging, after all she was way past being daunted by cracking eggs and handling the vibration of the electric mixer. I knew it would come from the chocolate section (a given), and was happy she choose something I knew I would love but don’t possess the patience to make myself (too many steps for this One-bowl-And-It’s-Done-Girl!)

We had everything for her Torte in the pantry except for the hazelnuts, but when I went to the supermarket I couldn’t justify paying 3 times what every other variety of nut cost! I figured walnuts would work just as well, and in this case I was not wrong.

Nutella is a staple in our house!

Nutella is a staple in our house!

The other thing we changed in the recipe was adding a little more ground nuts to the body of the cake, and, using less nutella. That was for another practical reason: Ms. Lawson’s recipe called for 14 ozs of nutella but the standard jar in the US is 13 ozs, so went with that. I don’t believe in driving yourself mad following directions to the letter, and I’m trying to teach my daughter how not to get frustrated with recipes from cookbooks. That way she will learn how to relax when cooking and be more spontaneous.

finished torte!

Finished Torte!

Her cake was beautiful, and so delicious, I hated leaving it at Tom’s at the end of the evening.

A small selection of cakes at the party - yum!

A small selection of cakes from the party – yum!

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for cake:

6 large eggs, separated

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup soft butter (2 sticks, 8oz or 226 grams)

1 jar Nutella choc/hazelnut spread (the small jar in the US is 13oz and this will do fine)

1 tbs water

1/2 cup plus 2 tbs ground walnuts (I ground up some in my food processor. They can be rubble-like or fine in consistency)

4 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, melted (I a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate)

for icing:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbs water

4 oz bittersweet chocolate

for Topping:

3/4 cup broken walnut pieces.

Equipment: one 9″ springform pan which has been buttered and parchment or wax paper has been buttered and laid in the bottom.

Method:

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Separate eggs, making sure to use a medium/large bowl for the whites. Whisk the whites until stiff (but less stiff than for a meringue). Set aside.

whisk egg whites

whisk egg whites

2 – Place butter and Nutella (use a small spatula to scrap out the last bits clinging to jar) in a large bowl and beat until well mixed.

Beat nutella adn butter together

Beat nutella and butter together

3 – Add the ground walnuts, egg yolks and water to the mixture and blend well.

Add reamining ingredients (except choclate)

Add remaining ingredients (except chocolate)

4 – Mix in the melted chocolate.

Add melted chocolate

Add melted chocolate

5 – Fold in the egg whites. Be gentle as you want to keep the mixture as airy as possible.

fold in egg whites gently

fold in egg whites gently

6 – Pour into your springform pan and place in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. (start checking after 35 minutes, and if the cake is pulling away from sides of pan or top looks brown, remove). Place pan on top of a wire rack to cool completely.

scrape into prepared pan

scrape into prepared pan

7 – While the cake is in the oven, melt the chocolate with the cream and water. When it has melted, use an electric whisk to beat until it is thick enough to spread onto the top of your cake (it does not have to be stiff). Set aside until the cake has cooled.

Make icing for cake

Make icing for cake

*if the icing refuses to thicken, add 1 tbs of confectioners sugar (icing sugar) to the mixture and that should do the trick* And on the other hand, if it gets too thick add a little water until it is a good consistency for spreading*

8 – Roast the walnuts: put medium saute pan on medium heat and add the walnut pieces. Cook, tossing occasionally until the walnuts start to pick up a little brown color in spots (6 to 8 minutes). Remove to a plate to cook completely.

brown walnuts

brown walnuts

9 – When cake has cooled, remove from pan very carefully and place onto a cake plate (or any flat board or plate). Spread with icing with a palette knife or spatula.

The fun part

The fun part

10 – Decorate with walnut pieces.

finished torte!

Finished Torte!

Serve alone or with a dollop of fresh cream.

This is the best way to clean the bowl!

This is the best way to clean the bowl!

Delightfully Tofu-y Stew (serves 4 as main course or 6 as appetizer)

You don’t have to be a vegetarian, a vegan, a gluten-excluder, a blood type A diet disciple, or a meat-eater to enjoy a lovely brothy bowl of this comforting stew. It is universally delicious and meets the requirements of what I think a stew should be: warming, hearty, with a feeling of regret when one comes to the last spoonful.

A surprisingly hearty stew

A surprisingly hearty stew

Yes, the fact that it could possibly be one of the healthiest things you could put into your body doesn’t hurt either, although I refuse to eat something just because it is good for me. If it doesn’t taste good, I won’t eat it, even if it is medicinal. The medicine for my soul cannot be discounted!

So, with my soul in mind, and a healthy regard for my body, I came up with this lovely soup. I am on a mission to make everyone like tofu, and it is quite the task. I am the first to admit that it has absolutely no taste whatsoever, but when surrounded by flavorful ingredients it has a tendency to take on their most prominent characteristics. The general tone of this stew was of delicate sweetness and the tofu cooperated beautifully.

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* This is a great Blood Type A diet recipe with highly beneficial ingredients like tofu, garlic and onions*

You will need:

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium sweet onions, thinly slices, or large dice

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

12 oz (340 grams)  firm tofu (it can be a little more or a little less depending on what you can find)

1 cup baby peas (I used frozen – very handy)

1 good quality stock cube (I used Rapunzel brand (vegan w/herbs & sea salt)

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional and not suitable for strict Blood type A Diet)

1 tsp curry powder (optional)

1 tsp sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes, but another course sea salt will work too)

Freshly ground black pepper (not for strict Blood Type a Diet)

6 cups water (more if needed)

Method:

1 – An hour before you want to cook this dish (or earlier in the day), press the excess moisture from the tofu as follows:

Press water out of tofu

Press water out of tofu

Place tofu on a dinner plate and stack 4 or so plates on top (or heavy pot as in my case). Pour off excess water occasionally (this can be done for an hour but you can leave it longer). When moisture has been removed, cube the block of tofu.

cubed tofu

Cubed tofu

2 – Put medium soup pot on medium heat and add oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to low and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until very soft and have sweetened.

cook onions, add spices

Cook onions, add spices

3 – Add the salt, pepper, chili flakes, curry powder and stock cube to onions and stir until cube has dissolved.

add water

Add water

4 – Add water and turn heat up to medium/high and bring liquid to a simmer.

add tofu

Add tofu

5 – Add tofu and bring back to a simmer. Place lid on pot and simmer for 5 minutes.

add peas (can be added frozen)

Add peas (can be added frozen)

6 – Add peas and bring back to a simmer. Taste broth for addition of more seasonings (salt and /or pepper) and also add more water if you think it is too thick for your taste. Cover and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

serve with bread for more girth

serve with bread for more girth

Serve in warmed bowls with bread,  adding more pepper flakes or black pepper if you so desire.