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In today’s Heirloom Recipe Series, I am so fortunate to have Amanda Hesser, one half of the dynamic duo behind fabulous foodie site, food52. {note: Merrill joined us yesterday – click to read!}  Amanda has an amazing connection with food having grown up in a family surrounded by those who cook, she was recently named one of the “top 50 women game-changers in food” by Gourmet and was awarded a James Beard award for The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

As you must know, I am just thrilled to have Amanda with us today to share a family recipe of her very own, as our Heirloom Recipe Series continues!

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My mother has many specialties, but her Chocolate Dump-It Cake is most beloved in my family. My mother used to do all of her baking late at night, after we were in bed. Around 1 in the morning, the aroma of this cake would begin wafting up to our bedrooms. Then we’d watch her frost it while we ate breakfast. My mother kept this cake in the fridge, and it is sublime even when cold.

Chocolate Dump-It Cake
Serves 10

2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.)

3. When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky – if someone is around, enlist them to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out.) Let cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature, otherwise the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test it by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl; if it mixes smoothly, it’s ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some! It’s good.

5. When the cake is cool, you may frost it as is or cut it in half so that you have two layers (when I do this, I use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers on top. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top, then uses toasted almond slices as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.

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Be sure to connect with Amanda on Twitter, and with food52 on Twitter and Facebook too!

Part of our Heirloom Recipe Series, featuring foodies, chefs, artisans, Southerners & fabulous folks willing to share their stories, recipes and photos in an effort to help preserve and share these family recipes for generations to come.

It’s a great big, fun week here on heirloomed, with two very special new additions to the Heirloom Recipe Series!

I have been just bursting to share the delights of  Merrill Stubbs, part one of the dynamic duo behind fabulous foodie site, food52. {note: Amanda joins us tomorrow too – be sure to stop back!}  Merrill, who grew up in a home fortunate enough to have a mother for an amazing cook, has quite an extensive love affair with food. Along with her work on  The Essential New York Times Cookbook, she has also had stints at such amazing publications as Cooks Illustrated and Herb Quarterly (and you know how I adore herbs …).

Here with us today is Merrill, graciously sharing one of her very own family recipes from who else but her mother of course, adding to the collection that is the Heirloom Recipe Series!

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For years now, on the day before Thanksgiving my mother has made what my family refers to as “Tuscan Onion Goo” (slightly off putting, I know, so please don’t go by the name alone). Inspired by a visit to a family-owned trattoria in Florence called Ristorante del Fagioli, this sour-sweet onion confit was originally served to my mother as an antipasto. She enjoyed it so much that she asked, in halting but enthusiastic Italian, if the waiter would tell her how it was made. He promptly ushered her into the tiny kitchen, where the sweaty, grinning chef showed her how to put together the dish. She took mental notes and then came home and recreated it, with a few small adaptations.

The recipe has since become one of my mother’s signatures, and Thanksgiving would simply not be the same without “Tuscan Onion Goo.” It’s a great addition — or alternative — to cranberry sauce. While the flavors are very different, it serves a similar role: the sweetness provides a counterpoint to other, more savory sides, and the acid in the vinegar cuts through some of the richness that often pervades the meal.

The confit couldn’t be easier to make, although it does require a bit of a time commitment. You can use frozen pearl onions, but it’s worth trying with fresh cippollini. My mother insists that you have to be crazy to make it with anything other than frozen onions after the first time, but I find peeling cippollini somewhat cathartic. The confit keeps very well in the fridge, and it doesn’t have to be limited to turkey, or to Thanksgiving; it’s great with beef, pork and lamb as well.

Tuscan Onion Confit

Makes about 3 cups

1/4 cup pine nuts
12 ounces small cipollini onions or one 10-ounce bag of frozen pearl onions, thawed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup medium sherry
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup raisins
Salt

1. Using a small frying pan, lightly toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan back and forth to keep them from scorching. Set aside.

2. Peel the onions — either by blanching them first in boiling, salted water for about 30 seconds and then using a sharp paring knife to strip away the skins, or by simply going at the raw onions with the aforementioned paring knife. (Personally, I find blanching a waste of time here and prefer to just have at it.)

3. Put the olive oil in large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook gently (without browning) for about 5 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until mostly reduced. Add 3/4 cup water, vinegar, sugar, raisins, pine nuts and a pinch of salt. Stir well. Simmer the mixture over the lowest heat possible for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so. You may need to add more water from time to time if the mixture gets too thick and gooey or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. It is finished when everything has caramelized well, and the flavors have blended together (you can take it as far as you’d like—I for one prefer a deep amber color).

4. Cool and serve at room temperature. Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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Be sure to connect with Merrill on Twitter, and with food52 on Twitter and Facebook too!

Part of our Heirloom Recipe Series, featuring foodies, chefs, artisans, Southerners & fabulous folks willing to share their stories, recipes and photos in an effort to help preserve and share these family recipes for generations to come.

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