February 15, 2010

A New Chapter!

More specifically, a new home in a new country.

There's one problem though; these changes will require my absence for a short while.

To explain the situation better, I have answered a few questions that I thought some of you may have. Sort of like an anticipatory FAQ :)

Here goes...

Q: Why are you leaving Washington DC? I thought you liked it here?

A: I do like DC and I'm going to miss it very much. However, an exciting opportunity has come up in Europe for my husband and I.

Q: Europe? Where?

A: The German state of Baden-Württemberg. Neither me or my husband have lived in Germany before, so this a big first for both of us!

Q: When do you leave?

A: We were supposed to be leaving today! However, due to complications caused by the recent snowstorm, we will now be leaving next week.

Q: What do you mean by absent? Are you going to abandon your blog?

A: NO! Not at all! Well maybe for a little while. Here's the thing:

The entire contents of my kitchen, along with the rest of our stuff, are packed and will soon be making their way across the Atlantic ocean. We have been told the shipment could take up to 90 days to arrive! During that time, we will be searching for somewhere to live. This is where the possibility of a temporarily neglected blog comes in. I won't have the equipment I need to cook until we find a home and our belongings have arrived. All I'll have is a suitcase full of clothes, my laptop, my camera equipment and my husband.

Q: So you might not be able to cook for three months?

A: Nope. Unless our stuff arrives sooner and we find a home quicker than expected. Or perhaps the hotel we stay in let's me use their kitchen ... unlikely! :)

Q: Are you going to miss cooking?

A: Definitely! Don't get me wrong, I love to eat out. Especially in different countries, but not every single day for 3 months! No doubt I'll enjoy local food and hotel room service for a while. But before long, I'll be begging for the day our stuff arrives and my new kitchen is up and running!

Q: Will you keep us updated?

A: Absolutely! As often as I can. I have recently set up a Facebook page that I will update frequently. I'll fill you in on all the German / European cuisine I come across. I'll visit farmers markets, cafés, restaurants and vineyards. And when we're settled I plan to explore the culinary wonders and delights that all of Europe has to offer. Paris and Rome here I come! :)
My camera and I will share these adventures with you every step of the way.

Thank you for listening, for your support and your understanding. I'll catch up with you all soon.

Goodbye for now.


February 4, 2010

Chocolate Fondant Puddings

Have you ever had one of those days where you'll do just about anything to satisfy a craving? Not just any craving but a ridiculously chocolaty one.

For me, that day was yesterday. I wanted the tastiest, gooiest, chocolatiest thing I could think of. And Chocolate Fondant Puddings seemed like the right way to go.

These decadent desserts go by several different names. Some of you may know them as Chocolate Lava Cakes or Molten Chocolate Cakes. They are easy to make and versatile. A splash of Bailey's Irish Cream, Cointreau or some finely grated orange zest are all wonderful additions. They are great for dinner parties and celebrations. And they would certainly sweeten up that special someone. Your Valentine perhaps?!

So go on, let your hair down. Indulge your taste buds in the chocolatiest way possible!

Chocolate Fondant Puddings
Serves 8, Makes 9

Note: This recipe yields an extra serving to allow for errors and to determine cooking time. They can be made and frozen up to 1 month in advance. Allow an extra 5 minutes of cooking time if baking from frozen. Halve the recipe if you wish, or keep the extras for another time.

200g good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
200g butter, cut into pieces
200g caster sugar (superfine)
200g plain flour
4 eggs plus 4 yolks
50g melted butter for brushing
Cocoa powder for dusting
9 small ramekins

First off prepare your ramekins. Brush the entire inside of each one generously with the melted butter and then refrigerate or freeze. Brush more melted butter over the chilled ramekins, then, with one ramekin at a time, add a spoonful of cocoa powder. Tilt and turn the ramekin so the powder completely coats the butter. Tap out any excess powder and repeat with the remaining ramekins.

Slowly melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of gentle simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Using a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. Sift in the flour and beat to combine.

Gradually pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, stirring thoroughly as you go. Keep mixing until you achieve a loose cake batter.

Divide the chocolate batter evenly between each ramekin. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or freeze for up to one month. Add an extra five minutes to the cooking time below if baking from frozen.

Preheat oven to 400F. Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops form a crust and the cakes begin to separate from the sides. Be careful not to overcook them as the runny chocolate center is essential. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for one minute. Gently tip the pudding out of the ramekin onto a plate. Serve with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream.

Recipe adapted ever so slightly from recipezaar.