A Winter Dinner Party

Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

What is the best thing to do when the weather is too cold to play outside?  Turn on the fire inside and have friends and loved ones over to a dinner party!   There is nothing sweeter than coming into a warm home with marvelous smells of food cooking, seeing smiling faces and hearing laughter of friends and family.

It feel so good when I can do something to help others to feel good.  One way to make someone feel great is by feeding them.   Everyone has their own way of showing love and I show mine by feeding them.  I put the same love in my cooking for my family as I do for my clients.  I want to feed everyone with not only food that will fill a hungry belly but give peaceful satisfaction afterwards.

For this winter dinner party, we had some wheat allergies and “no gluten” diets.  I wanted to still make a special dessert for us and I don’t really like using “imitation flours” or substitutes.  If I am going to have a cake, I want to use cake flour.  I haven’t found anything that replaces the real deal.  So, I chose to make a Mousse Cake which doesn’t call for flour.

For my own dinner parties, I do like to branch out and try new things on my guests.  Most of them are pretty good sports for being guinea pigs!  I feel like I should disclose here to do what I say and not what I do.  Don’t try feeding your guests with a menu you haven’t tried before!

This Mousse Cake did not come without its challenges.  First of all, you have to really plan in advance if you’re going to make this because you bake a layer, let it cool, place in the fridge, add another layer on top, bake it and then put it back in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  It really is a two-day process.  It isn’t labor intensive, it just takes time to bake, chill, bake and chill!

From my understanding this recipe originated from Michel Rostang, a Michelin-starred chef, and is now in the wonderful cookbook Around My French Table by Dori Greenspan.  On a side note, her cookbook is wonderful.  I made individual cakes in ramekins because that is what I had.  However, the original recipe calls for a spring pan that you can release the cake from.  Using ramekins did make it a little more challenging for me when I was trying to get the cake out.  I do have a blow torch that I use for creme brûlée.  I used this to heat up the bottom of the ramekins and they will come out after using a knife around the edges.  They did come out pretty clean and no one seemed to notice.  This was probably because of the deliciousness!

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Enjoying Time Together

 

Ingredients

1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup hot coffee  (I think, a french coffee press is the best for good dark coffee)

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 pinch of salt

4 large eggs, separated

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously butter individual ramekins.  Then add parchment paper around bottom of ramekins and butter the parchment paper.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  While the Chocolate is melting begin beating your egg whites in a standing mixer until they are firm and stiff.  When the chocolate is all melted, add in hot coffee.  Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and add in the butter a table-spoon at a time, then whisk in the sugar.  After this is mixed, add egg yolks one at a time.  Whisk in half of the egg whites then, gently fold the following half with a rubber spatula.  I used an ice cream scoop to fill the ramekins 1/3 way up.  After filling 6, there should be half of the mousse leftover.  Cover and refrigerate the remaining mousse.  Bake the ramekins on a baking sheet for 10-13 minutes.  They will be really puffed up, but they will fall as they are cooling.  After they are cooled, place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  After the cakes have chilled, add the remaining cold mousse to cold ramekins.  This is your second layer.  Bake this in a 400 degree F oven for about 20-30 minutes.  This will also puff up and then fall as it cools.  Place the cakes back in the fridge for a few hours or over night.  Again, you have to warm the bottom of the ramekins so that the mousse will come out easily.  I served the mousse cake with with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

The ingredients are pretty simple, the taste is delicious and all of our gluten-free friends can enjoy dessert.  No one needs to feel like they are missing out on the party!  The process is a little harder but I think you can do it, or just call me!  I’ll definitley be making these again, but maybe with a little more planning.  Here’s to full bellies and warm hearts through these cold months!  Savourer!

 

 

 

 

 

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This Too Will Pass…Thank Goodness!

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jardin congelés

 

 

 

All those hard things that I’ve put off, like taxes and the empending move, are fast approaching. Excitement had turned into paralizing fear.   The creative work in the kitchen, which is the work I am passionate about, is now needing to be on the back-burner for a bit, while we look at the books.  The fear is there and I am swimming in tears.    I so dislike this part of the job.  When I talked to the book keeper, AKA, Guardian Angel, she says, “I am part accountant, part psychologist”.  It is true, she needed to talk me off the edge.  My head races, will she tell me I need to get a day job, and quit this silly quest of owning my own business?  Will she tell me I am working so hard for absolutely nothing?  Who will take care of the girls if I have to get a 9-5 job?  Will she say I am the dumbest client EVER to make all these bookkeeping mistakes?  The self-doubt in my head is amazingly ridiculous.  If you could hear the chatter going on in my head, you wouldn’t believe that we had accomplished what we had in the last year.  In fact, I HAD forgotten.  I had forgotten all the people we have helped to make their lives simpler, healthier, and more joyful with each event or dinner we had prepared.   I HAD forgotten what this quest was all for, helping those that need it.  We all face different challenges that can seem overwhelming.   Some worse than others but it is all relative to our own lives.  I know I felt hopeless and stopped believing in myself.  Heck, I was having trouble recognizing the woman staring back in the mirror.

Through these trials we get a little bit stronger.  We are all a little stronger after going through difficult times and we WILL get through them.  Whether it is the business books, a loved one who is sick, a child whose tantrums seem to be unruly, or just a rotten day at work, we push forward.  The clouds do move out, leaving the sun to shine.   The clouds come and go, but the sun is always there.  I saw this once on an airplane.  The sky was so crystal clear, beautifuland sunny above the clouds, then we dipped down to land and it was the most grey day below.  The visual will forever be with me as inspiration to be patient for the clouds to move out.  Mimi Thorrison, model, writer, mother and chef wrote in her last blog post on Manger this, and it speaks directly to my heart even though there is a huge ocean between us and she was writing of something much deeper.

In the past week I’ve come to realize that simple things like sharing a table at dinner with the whole family are never more important than in times of turmoil. The comfort of good food, the healing power of a shared moment is never more needed than on a cold January night when bad news reaches your door.
So we continue to lead our lives, cook, eat, laugh and cry together and hope that by raising our children to the best of our abilities will help create a better world.

Today, it is time to get back in the kitchen.  All the hard work isn’t over, but I want to give myself a little sunshine before trudging through the mud again later this week.  I am going to treat myself and my little ones with a little creative fun that I hope you will enjoy too.  This dish is a wonderful rainbow!  My Dad says, “you want every color on your plate”.   This one serves that purpose!

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Rainbow Thia Chicken Salad

 

Here’s Ali’s recipe for Rainbow Thai Chicken Salad-

INGREDIENTS

3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 avocado, diced
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 (large) carrot, julienned or shredded
1 red pepper, cored and julienned (or diced)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped cashews or peanuts
PEANUT DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce (if you are gluten-free, use GF soy sauce or tamari)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 1-1 1/2 lime
DIRECTIONS:

Toss all your salad ingredients in a bowl leaving out the peanuts and some of the cilantro for garnishing the finished salad.  In another bowl, mix together all dressing ingredients.  You can set aside until ready to serve.  When you are ready to serve, mix together your salad and dressing.  Top with peanuts or cashiews and cilantro.

I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven‘s website.  I thought her peanut dressing was a little too thick but she mentions that may happen and to add hot water.  I added more fresh lime juice and tamari (gluten free soy sauce) as well as hot water.   Again, the most important thing is getting all these wonderful colors on your plate.

The rainbow makes its way into your mouth and then to body and soul.  It will be sure to bring out the sun, if even for a moment at lunch!  Whatever clouds may be hovering around you, remember the sun is there, we just may not be able to see it.  Here’s to the sun during this cold February!  Cheers!