Monday, May 3, 2010

Over the top lunch....

I was planing on having company this weekend but ended up under the weather.  Allergy season. :(

However, the grand plan was to have a wilted watercress salad (fresh from the farmer's market), beef pot roast (mint creek) and chocolate cake (flour-less, of course).

So, I made up the cake on Friday.  Set up the beef in the fridge to thaw out.... and generally got ready for Saturday dinner.

Saturday morning - I just couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Eh! The ruin of all my plans.  Thankfully, my friends are very accommodating and were willing to reschedule.  But, Sunday - I had to deal with the beef roast.  So, very late, I get to cooking... and we ended up with a lovely lunch.

As you can see, the cake was already broken into by the time I got to taking pictures. :)

And the pot roast came up lovely.

Almost makes going to work on a Monday bearable.

The wonderful thing about pot roast is that it tastes brilliant the next day.  This was a great flavor combo - the warm roundness of the pot roast, the acid and bacon and pepper flavors of the salad, and the sweet finish of chocolate.  So, here are recipes and if you want a wonderful evening dinner or a over the top, make you feel good lunch....

The BF's sister gave him a cookbook for Christmas holidays (and, well, I've basically taken it)  No surprise there!  I'm sure he is happy enough - getting the rewards and hardly any of the work. :)  And, I have been enjoying this awesome cookbook.  If you have a bit to spare, I highly recommend adding "From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine" to your cookbook collection/stash/stack. (I do not get money from this.. I just really love the book. I will at some point put up a list of cookbooks that I just think are brilliant -- but that is for another day. )

Pot Roast:

  • 3 pounds tri-tip (aka: triangle tip, sirloin tip) or bottom round of beef
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (I used bacon fat)
  • 4 cups sliced onions ( I've done as little as 1 cup to as much as 5 cups -- depending on if you have leeks or not)
  • 1 cup leeks
  • 1 1/2 cups celery (sliced - supposedly diagonally - I'm a random chopper when it comes to stews and roasts because it cooks down and no one will notice the lack of perfection)
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots (sliced, diagonally -- *shrug*  -- and I tend towards more, but I like carrots)
  • 1/4 cup garlic (slivered / chopped / some how made a bit small)
  • 3 cups red wine (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like heat)
  • 4 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes (I use fresh when possible)
  • 2 large bay leaves (broken up a bit)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp minced fresh sage or 1 tsp dried.
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried.  (if you can get winter thyme - the leaves are smaller but the taste is brilliant - and as a bonus, no mincing. )
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
Note: if you are using one pan to brown everything and another to cook it, please mind step 5.  If you are doing everything in a roasting pan - no worries.  I tend to brown everything in a cast iron pan, then move all the ingredients to a dutch oven.  It doesn't have as much room as a roasting pan would - so the liquid ingredients get put in slowly over the course of cooking -- and in proportions to whatever I feel at the moment.  I max out at 5 cups of liquid in my dutch oven - so, if I'm using wine - it will be a bit more heavy handed than the stock. :)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Season the meat (salt / pepper) on all sides. In a pan heat the oil / fat until hot. Put in the roast and brown - all sides. Once all the sides are browned, put beef on a plate.

Put in the vegetables (onions, leeks, carrots, garlic - but not the tomatoes) and cook over medium heat until they begin to color and the onions are translucent. Add the meat to the vegetables. Add liquids (wine, stock, canned tomatoes' juice), red pepper flakes, tomatoes, bay leaves, fennel seeds, thyme, sage, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring up the heat and once the liquid starts to simmer, cover and braise in the oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

Once done, pull out meat and let rest.

in the mean time, thicken up the base by simmering. Cut up the meat, add the sauce, serve.

Salad - Wilted Watercress:

The recipe is from which really didn't need any changes.  However, since we don't use much sugar - I tend to the less sweet and use honey over table sugar. But, you can sweeten it as much as you need/want.
  • 2 bunches watercress (Try to get mature watercress, it will hold up better to the hot dressing)
  • 3-4 slices bacon (save off the bacon fat for the dressing)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (less can be used - I'd start with a few tablespoons and add to taste)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar (or less - I used a tbsp honey)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A pinch of ground mustard
  • A pinch of sweet paprika 

Rinse thoroughly the watercress, removing old leaves and thick stems. Set aside in a serving bowl

Heat a small stick-free pan on medium heat and cook the bacon until done, several minutes on each side. Remove the bacon from the pan and put on a paper towel.

Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Add the cider vinegar and sugar/honey to the bacon fat. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a pinch of ground mustard and a pinch of paprika.

Adjust acid/sugar to your taste.  If you are going to use the dressing the next day, use less vinegar as the bacon fat will pick up the taste.   if you are going to use it now... bring the dressing to a simmer. Pour over the watercress. Crumble the bacon over the top. Toss and serve.

Flour-less chocolate cake

This is the BF's favorite cake and each time I make it, it is a bit different.  It is adapted from the America's Test Kitchen version - but there isn't a link I can find for it.  If you like them - they do have a pay site: - which is well worth the $40. Or, you can sign-up for ATK and get this season's recipes and info for free.

There is definitely a difference between making this in winter and in the summer.   In winter, the butter doesn't separate as much and so the overall flavor of the cake is creamier/richer.  And, if you have the AC on, I'm sure the same would be true in summer. :)  But, it was a beautiful evening on Friday and I had to leave the windows open.

You can add as much or little chocolate as you wish - I've apparently (by accident) made it with as little as 160 grams of chocolate and as much as 480 grams.  Note: 1 pound of chocolate is 453.60 grams.  For some reason, I can never remember this! :)  I use Green & Black 72% and 85% dark chocolate in a half and half consistency.  Pick your favorite chocolate and go for it!  Just know that the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it has.  So, make sure you love eating it straight before you cook it up. :)

  • 8 large egg, cold
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
  • ½ pound butter

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and pre-heat oven to 325 F.

Line bottom of 8" spring-form pan with parchment and grease pan sides.  Cover pan underneath and along sides with a sheet of heavy-duty foil and set in large roasting pan.

Bring kettle of water to boil. You will be using this for the bath around the chocolate cake.

Beat eggs at high speed until volume doubles to approximately 1 quart, about 5 min - or longer.

Melt chocolate and butter in large heat-proof bowl set over pan of almost simmering water, until smooth and very warm (about 115 F), stirring once or twice (I stir pretty much the whole time, as I find that it brings a better consistency to the chocolate and stops the butter from separating too much)

Fold 1/3 of egg foam into chocolate mixture using large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible; fold in half of remaining foam, then last of remaining foam, until mixture is totally homogeneous.

Scrape batter into prepared spring-form pan and smooth surface with rubber spatula.  Place spring-form pan into roasting pan and set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of spring-form pan.  (you can do it the other way around too...but the water does slosh around and can make a bit of a mess)

Bake until cake has risen slightly, edges are just beginning to set, a thin glazed crust has formed on the surface, and an instant read thermometer inserted halfway through center of cake registers 140 F, 22 - 25 min.

Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight to mellow. It can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

About 30 minutes before serving, remove spring-form pan sides, invert cake on sheet of waxed paper, peel off parchment pan liner, and turn cake right side up on serving platter. 

Sieve light sprinkling of confectioners' sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder over cake to decorate, if you want. I do when I'm doing this up for company... but as you can tell from the picture, the BF is just fine eating it after it has come up to room temp without the added prettiness. :)

Hope you had a happy Monday.

1 comment:

  1. yes, the chocolate cake is absolutely killer. excellent with real whipped cream, as well.