Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best Food Book Ever

I know, that's a pretty subjective statement so let's just say that Eating India: An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices is easily the best food writing I've read in a very, very long time. I thought I was going to read this one cover to cover in no time, but I forced myself to savor it like good chocolate. I rationed it out, a chapter at a time, going back for seconds and thirds as often as I pleased.

My knowledge of Indian cooking is so much greater after reading Eating India. Sure, we all know about the Mughal influenced North Indian specialties, but this book takes the reader on a comprehensive tour of numerous Indian communities starting in the author's own Calcutta and wandering all over the subcontinent. No recipes, but lots of interesting tidbits to chew on.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chocolate Truffles

It's an annual thing around here: chocolate truffles for Valentine's Day. It wasn't quite as fun to make them on our own (we usually have the company of good friends) but The Princess and I had quite a lovely time making them on our own and tucking them into shiny paper wrappers.

Truffles don't take long to make. You still have time to make a lovely Valentine's Day gift if you hurry. The recipe is here. Make sure to use a chocolate that you really love. The coatings are up to you. I used ground toasted hazlenuts, finely ground coffee mixed with cocoa and sugar, and toasted coconut shreds. Give them a try and bring a smile to your valentine's face.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chocolate Orange Cake

Don't you just have to love a cookbook with an entire chapter dedicated to chocolate cakes? Nigella Lawson's Feast has just such a chapter and it's filed with all kinds of delightful looking possibilities. Since my Fridays have just gotten considerably less complicated, I was able to sit a and plan and then cook a proper Shabbat dinner for the first time in a very long time. We even invited guests, which hasn't happened in I can't tell you how long. Clearly a cake was in order.

I'd long wanted to try the chocolate orange cake in Feast. I can't think of a better combination of flavors and I loved that this recipe included and entire orange, skin and all. The orange is boiled first to soften it then mixed with ground almonds, eggs, cocoa powder, and sugar. I topped it with some strips of candied orange peel and it was quite lovely. Not being super sweet or dripping with icing, the cake wasn't a huge hit with the kids but that's why I was able to enjoy the final piece as my breakfast.

It has a wonderful, slightly nubbly texture and a bright orange flavor above the chocolate. I hope you'll give it a try. Folks from my tribe might even want to keep it in mind for Passover as the recipe can be made kosher-for-Pesach. In that case I would omit the baking powder and soda, separate the eggs, and beat the egg whites until stiff before adding to the batter. That should work in terms of leavening. The recipe is here--Enjoy!