Saturday, 27 October 2007

Chocolate Mousse, really?

This is how this one goes -
Friends move into lovely large house. They know they will tire of unpacking over the weekend. So, they have us over for lunch on Sunday. Any chance I get, I like to make dessert and thus, I volunteered (the least I could do)! Now, as much as I thought I would prepare stuff well in advance, I was down to the wire as usual. And then I remembered, no worries - time to try out the Nigella Lawson Chocolate Mousse. Nigella Lawson recently published a book, Nigella Express, that focuses on quick meals. Am sure the book has the recipe but I saw one of her 'express' cooking shows and was fascinated with the chocolate mousse. Think Nigella Lawson is the UK version of Rachel Ray? Anyway, forget silly comparisons and other random thoughts. Back to the point. Chocolate Mousse was made and it was surprisingly like the real thing!

150g Marshmallows
50g Unsalted Butter
250g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa solids)*
60ml Hot Water
284ml Double Cream
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Fresh Raspberries as needed. Ideal when using the dark chocolate!

* If you don't like Dark Chocolate, use regular cooking chocolate or mix the dark chocolate with some cooking/milk chocolate. This makes the taste less intense, easier for kids to have.

**Also, this recipe makes 6 large servings or 12 moderate to small servings (smaller servings are better when using rich dark chocolate, as the large serving can get too heavy after a nice meal). Mind you, we took a whole hour but we finished of the 'large' serving of mousse!

Cut each marshmallow in half and drop the pieces in a heavy saucepan. Add the butter. Chop the chocolate into smallish pieces and into the pan. Add the hot water and put the pan on the heat, stirring occasionally until everything is smooth and melted. Remove from the heat. Whip the cream with vanilla extract until thick, then fold into the chocolate mixture until totally absorbed and smooth again. Pour into 6 small ramekins or glasses, and cover with cling-film. Put into the fridge to set, this will take at least 3 hours. Be careful as you transfer them to the fridge - klutzy me, I tipped a couple of the glass bowls as can be seen in the picture! :) Once set, top with raspberries just before serving. The raspberries taste lovely with dark chocolate.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Pasta Fagioli Soup (without Pasta!), Roasted Garlic and Salad

I don't even know where to start with this one..... so many thoughts and in some ways - so much unconnected history behind the recipe that follows. So, I may as well get to the recipe quickly. It's healthy, mostly protein and if I may so - delicious! Perfect for these cold days - though, surprisingly - we had a great weekend in London. Almost warm and the sun was shining!

The meal consisted of Fagioli soup, roasted garlic + red pepper 'spread' with bread and some salad on the side. In my books, this meal falls into the express cooking category.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
2 cans of Cannellinni (white) beans - I used dry beans and pressure cooked them in water for about 30 minutes the day before...
1 large can of chopped Italian Tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh Italian herbs - use your favourite - I used oregano and basil
1 carrot - cut into little squares
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1/4 cup smallest macaroni like pasta - if you want the pasta

In a heavy sauce pan, heat olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Then add the herbs and black pepper and saute for another minute. Add in the beans and the tomatoes, mix well. If you thinner soup, add some water. Bring to a boil and add in the carrots and then add salt to taste. If you want pasta in the soup, add in just before serving, allowing 5 minutes of cooking time. Garnish with Parmesan and Basil leaves.

This is the only time I would recommend using canned tomatoes - the canned Italian tomatoes seem to be more juicy than fresh ones and have a tinge of sweetness- just the right touch for the soup.

Roasted garlic with Red Pepper Spread

Take as many garlic cloves as you think you will enjoy; cut off the top 'hard' part and rub olive oil over the freshly cut ends. Wrap in foil, put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes at 150-180 degrees. I popped in the bread to warm at the same time. When you pull out the garlic cloves, quickly check that they have gone soft. If soft, they are done. Let them cool for a few minutes and then squeeze the garlic from the skins. Mash the roasted garlic slightly and add crushed red pepper, mix well and have with some warm bread. It warms the body and if I can stretch the imagination for garlic lovers - warms the soul :) !

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Panini for Dessert?

Yes, Panini for dessert. It's a Chocolate and Strawberry panini and fits my current theme ... quick, easy and something new! I saw this on FoodTV during my NY trip and could not wait to come back home and try it. It's a success with kids but us adults have been loving it to :)


1/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommend Nutella...mmmm!)

12 (1/2-inch) thick slices pound cake loaf (known as sponge cake in the UK)

6 fresh strawberries, hulled and very thinly sliced

Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray (optional)

Vanilla Ice cream (optional)

Heat a panini grill to medium. Even a 'George Foreman' grill will do. Spread the chocolate-hazelnut spread over 1 side of all of the pound cake slices. Arrange the sliced strawberries over 6 cake slices. Cover with the remaining cake slices, chocolate side down. Spray the panini grill with nonstick spray and grill each panino until the pound cake is crisp and golden and the fillings are warm. It takes about 2 minutes depending on your grill strength. Cut each panino in half and serve. For those who like the hot with cold taste, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries. You know me...I can't keep away from ice cream!
You can also try the recipe with bananas if that's the preferred fruit.