thewayne: (Default)
I mentioned that I was going to post it, and I've been procrastinating. So here it is. I think it is VERY good, my wife absolutely loves it.

Chocolate Mousse Pie Recipe
Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: less than an hour, plus 3+ hrs chilling time | Makes: 1 (9-inch) pie, or 8 to 10 servings
¾ cup (5 oz) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped. I use Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips, no need to chop.
¼ cup cold heavy cream for melting the chocolate
¾ cup cold heavy cream for whipping (a single pint makes 2 pies)
2 or 3 large egg whites (no traces of yolk), at room temperature, depending on how dense a chocolate you want (2 eggs = more dense chocolate, 3 eggs = slightly less dense chocolate, 1 egg = not recommended)
1 Oreo chocolate cookie pie crust

OPTIONAL: ½ TEASPOON chili powder, I recommend Spice Islands brand, should be available at Albertsons.
OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, use a good one that isn't just vanilla “flavored”.

1. Fill a medium sauce pan with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Place the chocolate (and chili powder, optional) in a large heat proof bowl, add the ¼ cup of the cream and vanilla. Nest the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until smooth and combined with the cream. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, wipe any moisture from the bottom of it, and set aside to cool slightly.

3. While the chocolate is cooling, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (make sure the bowl and whisk have no trace of oil or fat on them, or the whites won’t whip properly). Mix on high until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute; transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. It's OK if this is over-mixed. Personally I put the whites on a paper plate to reduce cleanup.

4. Clean and dry the whisk attachment and mixer bowl, chill the bowl with cold water if you just rinsed it with hot. Place the remaining ¾ cup of cream in the bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. It's NOT OK to over-mix this or you get something like butter! Keep an eye on it.

5. The chocolate should be cool, or just slightly warm by this time. Using a spatula, fold half of the whipped cream in to the melted chocolate, then gently stir in the rest (try not to deflate the whipped cream). Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate-cream mixture just until there are no longer large blobs of whipped cream or egg white (do not over-mix). Pour the mousse into the cooled pie crust and smooth it into an even layer, you can do this by moving the pie tin in a large circle and it will settle itself. Refrigerate uncovered until set, at least 2-3 hours, overnight is better. Then cover it with the lid that came with the pie crust (if you bought an Oreo or Keebler crust.)

NOTES FROM WAYNE: The chili powder and vanilla are my additions. If you want more chili powder, go ahead, but be very careful. Add it in quarter, or even eighth teaspoon increments, we find the current half teaspoon to be a nice kick and just shy of too much.

If you look at this recipe online, they have you making your own pie crust. If you want to make the effort, go for it, I'm sure it'll be great. I'd rather not spend the time, and I can make this pie in half an hour from pulling the ingredients out of the fridge to putting the pie in to set by using an Oreo crust. Keebler also makes a chocolate crust, but the Oreo crust tastes better in my opinion.

The online recipe also has the suggestion of making and adding whipped cream when you serve it. Personally, I wouldn't bother because this recipe is VERY calorie-dense. It's a very nice dessert, Russet and I usually share a piece to reduce the calories and I cut it in to eight pieces to make them a little smaller.

(from CHOW By Amy Wisniewski
thewayne: (Default)
We had a very good harvest this year and I've never made a cherry pie before, so this year I did! My previous experience was with one apple pie for Pi Day a few years back and multiple chocolate mousse pies using Oreo crusts, so this was a little bit of an adventure.

The BIG labor was in halving and pitting SIX cups of cherries! Aside from having very sore and stained hands, this was definitely the worst part of the process. Next time I'm enlisting the spousal unit! I found a Ree Drummon recipe (The Pioneer Chef on Food Network) that was remarkably easy, since once again I wimped and used a frozen crust. 2/3rds cup of granulated sugar, cook until bubbly. Add two tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Separately mix together half a cup of corn starch and half a cup of lemon juice (two lemons), then mix that in with the cherries. It thickens nicely. Let cool completely. Pour in to crust, bake until crust is brown and cherries are bubbling. Let cool completely before cutting and devouring.

I may be too late to get more cherries, I don't know. I made this ten days ago. She actually recommended using canned cherries! I can't think of anything more appalling. I'm going to take a look at frozen cherries, they might be of an acceptable quality.

The taste was absolutely fantastic. I used a frozen pastry crust that's probably been up in the freezer for at least 3 years, and it worked just fine. Russet wanted a lattice-work crust: I'm not yet at the confidence level to make my own pie dough, but I'm getting there. Now that I'm confident with the fillings, once I get some cabinet surface area re-established, I'll give it a go.

A friend of mine complimented me on the rich color from the local cherries and the lack of water seepage. I'm wondering if the lemon juice and the corn starch in the 50/50 blend prevented that: simple syrup is also exactly a 50/50 mix. I don't know, I'm not that much of a food scientist.

thewayne: (Cyranose)
It came out quite well, the spousal unit quite enjoyed it. The peppermint candies were a nice addition. The pretzels were not as successful as I'd hoped: the moisture from the pie basically disintegrated them. So no pretzel flavor, but the addition of the salt did enhance things.

So two additional experiments to run over time. The first, and easiest, is the next time that I do a regular choc mousie pie, after it sets drizzle some fleur de sel salt over the top. It is a larger, flake-like crystal, and if the pie has already set, I think it might not dissolve readily. And if it hasn't dissolved, it'll provide a small crunch component, which is something that I was hoping the pretzels would give me. I can get it in Phoenix next week: in addition to Williams-Sonoma, Trader Joe's for the last couple of years has done a fleur de sel/truffle salt that's pretty good and only offered during the holidays.

The second thing to try is to use small pretzel sticks instead of the large ones. My idea is to, instead of smashing them up with a knife, break them in to smaller pieces. I think, with little or no justification for the thought, that the skin of the pretzel might be a bit more resistant to moisture, and that by breaking it, I'm minimizing exposing the white flesh of the pretzel innards to the pie and am thus increasing the chance that it might survive chilling in the pie.

Of course, I could always teach myself how to make pretzels and customize them in the size that I want. The basics of it aren't difficult, the tricky bit is the timing how long you put them in the boiling baking soda water, or at least that's what I gathered from the Great British Baking Challenge a couple of months ago. There's also the challenge of baking at high altitude: we live at 9,000'. Got about 6-8" of snow yesterday/last night.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
You're probably used to my meandering before coming to the point, this post is no different. The middle of next week is my birthday, we're going out tonight since it's the middle of the week. When we were in Germany, for some reason I was really jonesing for a dark chocolate-covered pretzel, probably because they have such terrific pretzels there.

I never found what I wanted.

The other day I was thinking that it'd been a while since I'd made a chocolate mousse pie (I make an AWESOME chocolate mousse), perhaps for my wife's birthday in October. I don't remember.

Then I remembered the pretzels....

Last night I hit La Groceria and snagged a bag of pretzel sticks, and also a bag of peppermint candies. Turns out that a food processor is no good for breaking up pretzels, but it does a good job with the peppermints, rending both powder and chunks. So I broke up a half dozen pretzel sticks, twenty peppermint candies, and blended most of both in to the chocolate as I was folding in the whipped cream and egg whites. I gave the bowl to Russet to lick, and she liked it, but she couldn't identify the peppermint! Normally when I go with odd flavors, orange is the first to go in, and she suspected orange, but I didn't this time. I think that threw her.

And I wouldn't tell her what I'd done!

She might find the bags of pretzels and peppermints, but if not, we'll pull the pie out after we get back from dinner as it takes 3-4 hours to set properly.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
There's a program on some cable providers called Embassy Chefs, I rather like it.  The host goes to various embassies in DC and gets their chefs to make them a national meal.  One ep featured Fiji, and they had a dish that really intrigued me.  Dirt simple to make.  They took a whole chicken, covered it in oyster sauce, then covered it in minced garlic and ginger.  I mean covered it.  Baked it in the oven, the traditional style was in a pit covered in soaked banana leaves.
We made it tonight using some medium organic chicken breasts.  The oyster sauce has a lot of salt, but a lot of it runs off the chicken.  I don't know if they make low-sodium oyster sauce, it might be out there.  We used a Pyrex large rectangular dish with about a tablespoon of olive oil in it to keep the chicken from sticking, three chicken breasts, slathered on the ingredients, then spooned more sauce over the garlic/ginger as some pushed off during application and covered the dish with foil. 350 degree oven, I had a probe thermometer set to alert when the chicken hit 165 but it didn't trip and we caught it at 180.
It was great, and wonderfully simple to make.  The chicken was moist, fully cooked, and the ginger and garlic were no where near as strong as you'd anticipate from the smell when applying it.
Recommended.  Assuming you like lots of ginger and garlic.
thewayne: (Default)
Happy Thanksgiving.

We went to Phoenix, my dad had a surgical procedure last week and is having some problems, so I figured I'd help out and fix dinner for them. I got all the groceries, did some prep last night (including making pomegranate molasses), and this morning I have a cold.

I might be OK to make stuff, as long as I only handle things in the pre-cooking stage, the long cooking times should be enough to destroy virii. I can certainly clean and cube potatoes for the mash. I'm not sneezing, just a mild cough. But I'll probably make my wife work harder. There's two mildly complex dishes to make.


To my non-USAian friends, I hope you have a pleasant day, not having to have much in the way of business dealings today with USAians.

Here's this year's new recipes for me:

Dressing with pancetta, apples, and mushrooms: three different breads!

Roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranates and vanilla/pecan butter:
thewayne: (Default)
Bleh. Got a virus. Had it since last weekend, it's still dogging me. I really wish it were a cold, I'd be better by now, and I've got surgery to get my left hand done on the 16th! If we can't make that date, it's really going to screw things up because of Russet's schedule.

So yesterday I'm doing some errands, the plan is to pick up a couple of things from the grocery store, take 'em to work, get some Mexican food, then do some more shopping. Pulled in to the Albertson's lot, and a water bottle rolled across my reading glasses, popping out the lens, and the screw was lost when I picked 'em up. So forget work and eating, now must go to mall and get glasses fixed. THEN work and additional shoppage. I hadn't planned on going to the mall yesterday.

What's sad is I'm not congested, but I go out for Mexican food and I can't taste the flavors!

But on the good news side, I made some meatballs last weekend (and the one before), and they were amazing! They're baked, not fried, and have lots of flavor. Going to have to make some more tomato sauce, finished up the original batch. The tomato sauce was improv'd off a recipe, I'll do the same for this batch. Here's the meatball recipe (if you make 'em small, say just under 1", I think a pound of meat will give you probably 3-4 dozen balls), I was going to do this lasagna this weekend, but I just don't feel like doing much in the kitchen right now.


So it's been a weekend of lie around and sleep, as opposed to lots of weekends of lie around, play Warcraft, and sleep.

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