Italian Chocolate Almond Torte

Are you stressed out of your mind? Have you tried napping / working out / meditation / a good stiff drink or various combinations thereof? It is time to stop "dealing with it" and start baking. Yes, I speak from experience. As an antidote, may I suggest,
Alice Medrich's Italian Chocolate Almond Torte. I swear the woman has done more for me than my health care providers have or ever will. Thank god for Alice.

Heres what I did:
1. Ground up 6 oz chocolate, a pinch of salt, 1.25 cups unblanched almond meal and 1/4 cup sugar. Of all the hair-brained things I've done, reducing chocolate in a recipe is the most heinous. Do not err on the side of miserly. Be generous.
2. Whisked 7 egg whites, a quarter cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to stiff peaks. I used organic cane sugar but plain white sugar will probably do just as well.
3. Fold the almond mixture into the eggs. Do not overmix.
4. Bake in a spring form pan lined with parchment paper at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. The center takes longest to be done. The cake cooks a little as it cools. It is best inverted etc after its has cooled completely.

The verdict:
I loved the recipe because its all nuts, chocolate and eggs. No oil, no butter. The butter in the chocolate and nuts are put to good use. Its a light, fluffy cake. Great texture from the eggs and almond meal. I cut down on the sugar so my version is not very sweet. Perfect balance of chocolate and nuts. Works great with iced coffee. I'm sure I will make this one many times over and will likely up the ante and use fancier chocolate to take things up a notch, especially if I'm making it for company. But for now, this is just right. Full of style and substance, satisfying in every way. Alice never fails. The nerves, formerly a jangled mess, have been restored to a chocolate-induced zen state.

Update: I'm quite in love with this recipe. It has been quite a success whenever I've made it. It goes to Mansi for Healthy Cooking and to Sangeeth for Eat Healthy - Protein Rich.


Passionfruit Sherry Sorbet

Remember the heat wave that baked much of the northeast in a couple weeks ago June? It drove me to seek relief in the arms of this sorbet. A quick raid of the fridge for fruit / fruit-like ingredients yielded passionfruit pulp. Plus I had some sherry on hand. So I took Brilynn's advice. Especially the part where she said, "Alcohol is your friend"!

Heres what I did:
1. Dissolved one third cup sugar in half a cup of passion fruit pulp. Diluted it with a quarter cup water.
2. Warmed it in the microwave to get everything to dissolve.
3. Cooled the mixture and added a cup of sherry.
4. Refrigerated for 4 hours or more.

The Verdict:
Hands down, its the simplest way to make a sorbet. And since I used the microwave to heat up my 'simple syrup', I didn't have to turn the stove on or heat up the kitchen. Yay! The alcohol in the sherry (11-20%) prevents the sorbet from freezing solid. The combination of sherry and passionfruit makes for a nice balance between tart and sweet, tropical and citrusy.

I like making sorbets at home. For one thing you can adjust sweetness and alcohol content to your taste. Previous flavors included a
Pineapple Chardonnay Sorbet. I've also been toying with a raspberry version, inspired by David Leibovitz' legendary Apple Reisling Sorbet.

This one goes to Click for Bri. Godspeed and peace.
Mike at Mike's Table is hosting You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Frozen Desserts! It also goes to Lore at Culinarty who is hosting "Original Recipes"! Join us at the round-up!


Chipotle Bean Dip

Some of fondest memories of graduate school are from when S and I were roommates. One quirk that we shared was a predilection to load the freezer like it was going out of style. My freezer proclivities include flour, lentil and bean storage. Various and sundry jokes and diagnoses have been made, all of which I cheerfully ignore. Nevertheless, it was a common occurrence for ingredients to jump into my hands when I opened the freezer. ahem. For instance, one time a bag of beans jumped into my hands and begged to made into something delicious. They were sick of being thought of as "healthy" or "good for you". They wanted to be beguiling, alluring... lip-smackingly spicy!

Heres what I did:
1. Sprouted one cup of mixed beans. I used
black chickpeas (kala chana) and red cowpeas (red choris, vanpayar).
2. Cooked them till tender with scant one cup water.
3. Blend them with two chipotle chillies and salt to taste. Add a sprinkle of sesame and flax seeds.
VoilĂ  - Chipotle Hummus!

The Verdict:
Chunky hummus-like texture and robust chipotle flavor. Quite pretty. I've served it as a dip for
chili and lime chips and as a spread for a sandwich. Easily combined with other toppings like tomatillo salsa, chopped onions and a squeeze of lime. They seem fairly healthful, what with the sprouts and no added preservatives / oil. At about 20-25% protein, I wonder if they're still pretty carb-heavy though.

I quite like the texture and flavor of this one. It reminded me of hummus and I'd like to send to
Siri for AWED - Middle Eastern Cuisine and to Whats Cooking for Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets?



Warm afternoons beg for a simple, cool snack. And versatility is the flavor of the week! I like foods that can be
"mixed and matched", so I can make one thing and not get bored seeing it in my lunchbox five days a week. This post is vaguely reminiscent of one of those 'New Uses for Old Things' articles in Real Simple. Usually along the lines of... Do the dishes honey 'coz I want to "store art supplies in a dish rack"!! Lets drink that wine up so we can organize our magazines!

Heres what I did:
1. Followed
Raspberry Eggplant's recipe. Simmered a third cup of rice vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.
2. Allow the mixture to cool.
3. In the meantime, chop 3-4 carrots into ribbons.
4. Mix the vinegar mixture with the carrots and chill for a couple hours.

The verdict:
Works nicely as a cool snack. Is also good with cottage cheese or orange sections. Has also been used to jazz up a spinach salad. Is a very good side with a spicy burger. Of course, you can always go the whole hog and make the

This one goes to Michelle for
Snackshots - Salad. Amazingly enough, carrots also lend themselves to face masks! Who knew! DIY, no less! I couldn't help thinking of Diva who is organizing Beauty and the Feast! This round-up promises to be super-fun!