July 1 – July 7, 2019
Monday: Company Mushroom Soup
Tuesday: Garlic-Rosemary Burgers with Taleggio Sauce (Practice Round), Cucumbers and Tomatoes
Wednesday: Fettucine with Fried Capers and Bread Crumbs
Thursday: Crostini with Whipped Ricotta and Tomatoes / Deviled Eggs / Garlic-Rosemary Burgers with Taleggio Sauce (Championship Round) with Pickles and Lettuce / Corn Salad / Chocolate Torte
Friday: Margherita and Spiced Turkey Pizzas
Saturday: Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
Sunday: Dinner with Jim and Maureen at Acorn [The meal of the week was this dinner with my college roommate, Jim Hart and his wife, Maureen. I think that only upper Midwesterners combine intelligence with the modesty and sheer friendliness that Jim and Maureen brought to Pittsburgh.]
Yes, that’s right – I cooked the very same thing on Tuesday and Thursday (July Fourth). So, okay, one of my secrets is that I test new recipes before inflicting them on unsuspecting family and friends, especially when the new recipe infringes on one of my strong suits. Grilled burgers is a strong suit, and changing up my method for something new requires a certainly youthful sense of adventure not often found in codgers such as myself. And thank you for noticing.
(We codgers also require a pat on the back from time to time – but my own family, ever vigilant to ensure that my head doesn’t swell beyond its already considerable tumescence, is not into patting me on the back, hence the regular huzzas and encouragements you will notice in this blog from time to time . . . well, almost all the time.)
That burger, which I learned about in Milk Street Magazine, is absolutely worth cooking. But I’m going to share with you another secret, instead: I bake. I know, you think of me as a manly sort, chopping wood to feed an industrial-sized grill over which I preside with a martini in one hand and tongs in another, flipping, poking, and seasoning sides of beef, haunches of venison and the occasional goat, until they reach carnal perfection.
But the truth is, that my grill is probably the same size as yours, I use Kingsford charcoal, I’ve given over the martinis for Amstel Light, and, damn it all, I bake – bread, tarts, and, on the Fourth of July, a cake. [I have not stooped to cookies as of yet.]
This cake was so good and so easy that I have to share it with you. By all means, look up that burger with Taleggio sauce on the web, and buy Deborah Madison’s In My Kitchen to get the recipe for Company Mushroom Soup. But, for sure, the next time you have enough family or friends or occasion to justify dessert, cook this cake. Serve it with some good ice cream and you will be as happy as those you’re cooking for.
CHOCOLATE TORTE WITH MARSHMALLOWS
(adapted from PPG “Food & Flavor,” July 3, 2019 – actually, they called it a ‘S’mores Torte,’ and I just can’t bring myself to do that)
Timing: 85 minutes – includes 35 minutes for cooling
Ingredients: Serves 12, easily, maybe more
3 Hershey’s milk chocolate bars (the regular size – 1.55 ounces each)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten (to bring to room temperature quickly, submerge in warm water for 6 minutes)
8 ounces of graham crackers crushed, beaten, smashed to crumbs. (8 ounces is about 15 slabs of graham cracker – the slabs that break into four pieces)
1 ½ cups of mini marshmallows
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease an 8-inch spring-form pan with cooking oil spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and then grease the surface of the paper with butter.
Put a small saucepan over medium and add the butter.
When the butter is about half melted, add the chocolate.
Cook this, stirring until the mixture is fully melted, smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat.
Into the chocolate mixture, add the sugar and the vanilla extract. Now add the beaten eggs and stir until no trace of the eggs remain.
Now add the graham cracker crumbs and the marshmallows and stir until evenly distributed.
Put this mixture into the cake pan and spread out evenly.
Bake for 35 minutes (check at about 30 minutes – home ovens vary in true temperature) or until edges are browned and set. The center will be puffed and jiggle a bit. [Our oven runs hot, and I did not check at 30 minutes, and our center did not jiggle. And our cake was just wonderful.]
Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. [The cake will deflate some.]
Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and cool for an additional 15 minutes or longer before serving. I strongly suggest serving this with a superior vanilla ice cream.