Gutsy Cooks Club Menu #20: Mushroom Risotto and Raspberry Souffles

Who doesn’t like a risotto?  No one that I can think of.  It is Italian comfort food.  It is the thing your Italian grandmother made for you instead of macaroni and cheese when you stayed over at her house.  The memories that risotto conjure up are magical.  The simmering broth, the sizzling rice and all those wonderful add ins.  The great thing about risotto (other than the incredible taste) is that anything can become a risotto.  Some stock, a bit of rice and then whatever you have on hand and in a few minutes, you have dinner.  The last of the asparagus, that leftover handful of peas, the ends of the beef roast.  Whatever you have just seems to magically work in risotto.  This one is delicious.  What could be better than mushrooms?

I took a few liberties with this dish.  On top of the crimini’s I also added some portobellos as I like their rich meaty texture.  I sautéed them in butter and then added a splash of Madeira and let them simmer in it until they absorbed all the wine.  With the rice, I chose to use beef stock instead of vegetable because I felt that the rich mushrooms needed something a bit more substantial.  Also, it is traditional that the first liquid added to the rice is wine so I added a cup of white wine to get the risotto started.  It was truly delicious and tomorrow for lunch I am having the leftover risotta cakes.  Form leftovers into patties, dredge in seasoned breadcrumbs and fry until crisp.  Delicious.

I held off on the souffles as I am having a dinner party next weekend and I felt that they would be the perfect ending for the menu I planned so I will be making them later in the week.

Barcelona Brownie Bars

First off, I would like to apologize for my rantings last week.  Anyone who is a regular reader will know that I can really go off the deep end when I am frustrated and those quail eggs had me frustrated to the point of distraction.  I received a nice email from Woody saying that he and Rose were in tears of laughter after reading my post and he related a similar story about his quest for duck eggs while testing  a new recipe.  It was nice to hear that I am not the only one who gets totally frustrated with these things at times.  In hind sight I guess I did get a bit rowdy about it but I truly was irritated and I didn’t really enjoy the cake.  With that being said, thank you Woody for your email and just so you know, my book is still intact as I did not rip the page out.  And, I now know of about 37 sources for duck eggs if your still looking for them.

Now, on to this weeks recipe.  I have wanted to make these brownies for a very long time, but it seems like every time we have a free choice week, I seem to be suffering from chocolate overload and just look for something that isn’t chocolate. That wasn’t the case this week and Norman was having one of his rare brownie cravings so this was the perfect week for me to try these.   I have always been rather indifferent to brownies.  Not that I don’t like them, because I do, I have just never gotten into the whole, dry and cakey versus moist and fudgy argument.  To me, a brownie is a brownie and if they are around, I will eat them no matter what category they fall into.  I found these to be a bit on the moist fudgy side with sort of a cakey exterior.  At any rate, I liked them.  The ganache plugs were a nice addition although, I admit, not at all necessary for the enjoyment of these little morsels.  Definitely good and for the chocolate lover in everyone.  Let’s bake

These were very very easy to make.  Toast the nuts.  I substituted walnuts for pecans as Norman hates pecans and they were for him.  Melt butter and chocolate and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cocoa and sugar and then add the butter mixture and blend.  Add the cream cheese and blend, then add the flour and vanilla and blend until combined.  Using a piping bag, fill the molds 3/4 full and bake at 235 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.  While the brownies are baking, make the ganache using your favorite method and have it ready in a piping bag.  When the brownies are done, poke three evenly spaced holes all the way through the brownie and using the piping bag, fill each hole with the ganache.  Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan and then unmold and serve.  Delicious.

Next Up:  Sticky Toffee “Pudding”

Quail Egg Indulgence Cake

I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for saying this but this cake is a total rip off.  I spent my whole day off on Friday driving all over town trying to locate quail eggs.  We have not only Chinese but Korean, Vietnamese,  Thai and Philippine neighborhoods here and I had the worst time finding these eggs.  I would call all over to looking for them and be told they had them only to arrive at the store to find that what they actually had were duck eggs. I am not kidding, I spent all day trying to find these eggs.  When I finally located some, I couldn’t believe the horrendously high price I had to pay for them.  These eggs were $3.00 a piece.  $15.00 just for eggs to make a 5 inch cake.  I am not opposed to spending alot of money on a good quality product as it produces a good quality finished product, but, this was a ridiculous amount of money to pay for such a mediocre, bland tasting finished product.  I set about to bake the cake and I was truly disappointed to end up with this puny little mediocre cake.  It tastes no different than the countless other butter and egg cakes that we have made many times before. Not to mention the special 5 inch heart pan that the recipe calls for.  I wouldn’t even waste my time trying to find that thing.  When would you ever use it again? The cake ended up looking like an oversized English muffin and didn’t even taste half as good as one.   Indulgence is hardly the word I would use to describe this cake, madness is the word that comes to mind for me.   I considered it an act of insanity on my part that I wasted so much time and trouble to even bother to make it. I imagine that the heart shaped pan was supposed to indicate that this would be a good Valentines day dessert for two.  Well, I hardly think that this cake would elicit any sort of romance.   I was truly disappointed in this cake.  I made it on Saturday morning and when we ate it at dinner it was hard and dry.  We literally took one bite and tossed the whole thing into the trash.   Trust me, just make your favorite genoise cake, flavor it to your liking and serve it.  Your time and effort, not to mention your wallet, will be better rewarded.  If you truly feel the need for an indulgence, then go to your favorite bistro or coffee shop and order a special dessert, your money will be better spent.  Needless to say, I will never make this cake again.  I truly felt like just tearing this page right out of the book.

Making the cake is easy.  Combine egg yolks, vanilla and 1 tablespoon cream and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and blend to combine.  Add the butter and remaining cream and blend until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium high and beat for one and a half minutes.  Add the egg mixture in two additions beating between each addition. Scrape the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.  Set the cake on a rack and cool for 10 minutes.  Unmold onto a rack, then reinvert the cake so the top side is up.  Cool completely.

Next Up: Free Choice

Gutsy Cooks Club Menu 19: Lamb Kebabs and Sticky Lemon Cake

I like these sort of dishes because they allow you to follow a given recipe and then add your own touch to it.  The marinade for this was very good, rich with coriander and sweeten with a touch of honey, a bit of zing from lemon zest and then all of it smoothed and soften with rich green extra virgin olive oil.  The tomato and cilantro salsa was just the perfect accompaniment to the rich and zest meat. I used beef this week since I wasn’t all that happy with the lamb selection my butcher had.  I admit I much prefer beef to lamb anyway so all were happy all the way around.  I also added some red and green pepper chunks and chunks of red onion to the kebabs, only because I felt that big hunks of meat and nothing else just looked too plain and needed a bit of something to meld with the flavors of the marinated meat.  I also served some beef stock flavored boiled rice on the side for a starch.

As I have said many times before, I love all things lemon and this cake was no exception.  It is just the sort of cake that I like, rich with butter and lots of lemon juice and zest and all of that tempered with smooth, creamy yogurt.  I used the thick Greek yogurt for this just for some extra richness.  This cake goes together in a snap but I had to keep doing a double take as the recipe called for an 8 inch pan but the batter filled that size pan right up to the top.  I was sure it was going to be overflowing the pan and spilling out into the oven but it didn’t.  The cake baked up perfectly flat although mine took considerably longer than the 30 minutes the recipe called for to bake.  Mine took about 50 minutes to fully bake and I was worried that it was going to overbake and be dry but it didn’t and it wasn’t and I couldn’t be more pleased with this simple, flavorful snack cake.

Mud Turtle Cakes

This is going to be a fairly short post this week.  It seems that there were so many extra things that needed my attention this week that I wasn’t sure I was even going to get around to baking.  On top of that, my computer was infected by some new virus which my anti-virus software didnt’ detect.  After several days of fiddling, and numerous phone calls to technical support, followed by more fiddling and lord knows how many extra fees I had to  pay, I am happy to report that my computer is once again my own.  By the time I got into the kitchen I wasn’t even sure I really felt like baking.  I decided to forgo my usual tirade against cupcakes and just get on and make them.  This was a typical Rose cake formula, the only thing different was the addition of sour cream to the batter which we have done several times.  I thought this cake was delicious.  A nice, moist, tender crumb with loads of rich chocolate flavor without being cloying or dense.  Again, I would rather just make it as a single layer cake.  I thought that the addition of the ganache and caramel made these way too sweet for my taste.  I am sure that children would love this sort of thing, to me, they made my teeth hurt.  I would have prefered the cupcakes with just a bit of sweetened whipped cream.  I also decided to forgo the turtle decorations, I just found that way too cutesy.  I just filled them with the ganache, added a dollop of the caramel and then a walnut and some cocoa nibs. They are certainly nothing to look at but what they lack in visual appeal, they certainly make up for in taste.


Next Up:   Quail Egg Indulgence Cake