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Archive for April 15th, 2008

Seriously. How could anyone think this looks attractive enough to stick in your mouth?

I snapped this prized winning pic the other day while out running errands. The country is littered with these hot dog stands. They are in supermarkets, malls, gas stations, street corners, and pedestrian shopping streets. I just can’t believe someone in their marketing/advertising department had these photos taken, laid out this ad and then with certainty said, “Yup. It’s perfect Sven!! Let’s print up some posters straight away – they’ll be drooling over these puppies!”

In Sweden, they serve hot dogs as you see them here – shoved into this hollowed out tube shaped bun – but they also have this crazy concoction called the “Half-Special’“. (I haven’t actually slipped this masterpiece into my grill – but have seen it on the menus while walking by these joints).

The “Half-Special” is a grilled sausage way-too-long-for-the-bread slapped on an American style bun, with a scoop of mashed potatoes plunked on top. (Yup, you heard me right – mashed potatoes). For the “Full-Special”, you’ll receive two franks, a generous spoonful of spuds, a handful of shrimp salad, and occasionally it’ll be topped off with a just a wee bit of some cucumber mix. (I’m sorry for not having a picture of this heinous dish loveliness – you’ll just have to use your imagination).

I’m all for trying different types of food, have a very diverse palate, and usually jump in with both feet, ready to nibble on new dishes – so I guess I can’t say I’ll never try it……but I can’t say I really want to either.

My apologies to Sweden here – but am I the only one who thinks this sounds totally nasty?

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This gooey rich slice of heaven has to be one of my all time favorite treats. Chocolate goodness oozing out the moment your fork hits it….

Just across the water from downtown Portland, there is a pint-sized cozy restaurant serving fresh, local and organic dishes known as The Farm Cafe. Countless nights I’ve made my way over there squeezing in at the teeny weeny bar (they don’t take reservations) just to order this yummy chocolaty treat. Their version is a cross between molten cake and a traditional soufflé – more like a fallen chocolate lava soufflé (and I mean that in the best possible way). They make each pot of deliciousness to order so be prepared to kick it for twenty minutes over a glass of wine. It’s SO worth it. Check this review.

This last weekend I prepared dinner for just under thirty guests at the golf and country club and wanted to serve a deliciously memorable meal. I started with baked halibut in saffron broth over mashed potatoes with a tomato and black olive ragoût followed by this to-die-for chocolate molten cake – recipe by Dave Lieberman.

My apologies; in my haste to keep the hot – hot and the cold – cold (remember – I was plating for over a couple dozen peeps!) I totally spaced taking a snapshot of the final product and only took a few pics of the prep. The good news is I will probably be making some more of this loveliness tomorrow and may be able to grab a decent photo.

Molten Chocolate Cake

Courtesy of Dave Lieberman

You’ll need:

7 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 6 (6-ounce) ramekins. (I dusted them with sugar instead of flour).

Place 5 1/2 ounces of the chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler, and melt them over simmering water.

Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed and add flour. Add the chocolate mixture and continue beating until glossy, about another 5 minutes.

Divide half the mixture into the ramekins. Divide the remaining chopped chocolate among the ramekins, making a little pile in the middle of each one. Top with the rest of the batter.

Bake until just set around the edges, but the center still jiggles. About 10-12 minutes. DO NOT overcook. (I found they didn’t need the full time – so keep your eye on them carefully).

Cool just a few minutes and un-mold each cake onto a plate.

Raspberry Coulis

You’ll need:

1 (10-ounces) package frozen raspberries (if available with syrup)
2 tablespoons sugar – to taste (sometimes I use vanilla sugar)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice – to taste

Preparation:

Puree raspberries with syrup, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids.

Alternatively, you can throw the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice into a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for approximately 8 -10 minutes, puree with a hand held mixer, and pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids.

Either option should be chilled before serving.

You can also use fresh raspberries if available and in season – just increase the amount of sugar.

This dessert really does plate up so pretty and of course, you can take your own creative liberties, but this is how I prepared it: I placed the cakes upside down on the plate (the sugar coating/dusting works better than flour if this is how you intend to serve them) then lightly dusted them with icing sugar, added a bit of the home-made raspberry coulis – so the upside down dome appears to be wading in the sauce, and finished with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

It turned out freakishly good…One of the ladies commented, “That was the best thing I have ever eaten. Would it be possible to have another?”

I promise – your guests will love you.

Bon Appétit!

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