Chocolate Cassis Cake and Fun on the Lake

August 29th, 2014

Pennys on lake


We had a wonderful evening on the lake with our dear friends Penny of The Comforts of Home and her hubby.  The weather was near perfect and I had an easy meal planned.  David had made smoked shrimp on the grill as an appetizer before we hit the water.  Unfortunately I did not get a picture of them or any part of the meal that followed the boat ride.

Silver linings 3


The lake is magical in the evening. It is true what they say about clouds having a silver lining.  When the sun is going down, sometimes this awesome phenomenon occurs.  Lake pictures courtesy of Penny.

Silver Lining 2


We headed back to the cottage before it got dark and had dinner on the porch with lively conversations and good cheer.  It was a lovely evening.

Chocolate Cassis Cake 1


I photographed the chocolate cassis cake this morning.  Chocolate Cassis Cake is an Ina Garten recipe.  It is a decadent flourless cake that incorporates creme de cassis, a black current liqueur.  Sam of My Carolina Kitchen has also made this cake.  Her pictures are heavenly.

Chocolate Cassis Cake 3V


Penny brought me a jar of fresh herbs from her garden.  I will make good use of them.  This cake is worthy of a celebration amongst friends.

CHOCOLATE CASSIS CAKE  (The Barefoot Contessa)

For the cake:
Baking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons crème de cassis liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the glaze:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons crème de cassis liqueur
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To serve:
2 (1/2 pint) boxes fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons crème de cassis liqueur

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round spring form pan with baking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray it again with baking spray.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the cocoa powder, flour, cassis, and vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Off the heat, whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread over just the top of the cake.

Fifteen minutes before serving, toss the berries gently with the sugar and cassis. Cut the cake in wedges and serve with the berries on the side.

Printable Recipe

Prosciutto Breakfast Rolls

August 21st, 2014

Prosciutto Breakfast Rolls 1


Do you occasionally buy convenience items like refrigerated crescent roll dough?  There are many things you can do with it besides rolling the triangles into crescent rolls.  I do like this take on a different way to handle crescent roll dough.  Instead of separating the dough into triangles stop at the rectangles, pat the seams closed and you have the perfect size for a slice of prepackaged prosciutto.  It fits like a glove.  Then all you have to do is roll it up and slice the log into two pieces.

Prosciutto Breakfast Rolls 2V


Viola!  An easy roll up for breakfast.  To guild the lily,  brush a mixture of grainy mustard and honey on the rolls before you bake them.  This made a great change from our usual Canadian bacon and English muffin breakfast.  Although homemade is best, an occasional easy option is nice to have on hand.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 (8-ounce) packages refrigerated crescent-roll dough
8 thin slices prosciutto

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons country-style or grainy Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray heavy large baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Open 1 package of rolls.  Unroll crescent dough and separate into 4 rectangles ( do not separate dough into triangles; press perforations together).  Top each dough rectangle with 1 slice prosciutto.  Starting at 1 long side, roll up dough rectangles jellyroll style.  Cut each crosswise in half.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet, seam side down.  Repeat with second package of crescent rolls. (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

Whisk honey and mustard in small bowl to blend.  Brush tops of rolls with honey mixture.  Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Printable recipe


Glazed Red Pepper-Fennel Almonds

August 18th, 2014

Glazed Amonds 2


Dorie Greenspan says that everyone should have a favorite flavored nut recipe; a specialite de la maison so to speak.  Nuts on their own are rather bland, but the possibilities are endless for flavoring them.  What would be your specialty of the house?  This combination that I found in Bon Appetit Magazine is certainly a contender in my house.  It starts with simple whole almonds.  They are combined with a sugar, fennel, red pepper and salt mixture.  A little water is added and the mixture is put in the oven so that the sugar will melt and coat the almonds.  I love the kick from the red pepper flakes and the unique flavor of the fennel seeds.

Here are a few of the nut recipes from food authorities.  Dorie adds sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne to her nut recipe. Ina has a recipe using maple syrup, brown sugar, chipotle powder and rosemary.  Giada has a curried version of nuts that sounds very interesting.

Glazed Almonds 3


The next time you have people over for cocktails, why not put out a bowl of flavored nuts;  your specialty of the house .  I would be curious to hear what that might be.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole almonds
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a heavy baking sheet with foil; spray with nonstick spray.  Combine sugar, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and salt in medium bowl.  Mix in almonds and 1 tablespoon water.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet in single layer.  Bake until sugar melts and almonds are deep golden brown and glazed, stirring often, about 22 minutes.  Separate almonds with fork; cool completely on sheet.  Transfer almonds to bowl and serve.  Can be prepared 1 week ahead.  Store in plastic bag.

Printable Recipe


Chicken and Andouille Sausage Ragu

August 15th, 2014

Chicken and Andouille Ragu 1


After spending a few days in a kitchen that left a lot to be desired, it is good to be home in my own efficient kitchen.  I was in the mood for a quiet afternoon of slow cooking.  I love breaking a recipe down and doing all of the prep work, so that I have my mise en place; little bowls of chopped vegetables, meat and herbs.  It is relaxing to chop meat, carrots, onions, garlic and herbs.  At least that is my take on cooking.  Some would find it a chore, but the precision of getting everything ready to cook is therapeutic to me.  It must have something to do with my need to be in control.  Once the grunt work is done, the cooking is a breeze.  Because the weather had been dreary (better now), I felt like a hearty,but not too heavy, stew.

Chicken and Andouille Ragu 2


This chicken and andouille sausage stew is not difficult.  The cooking time is not long, so it is an easy week night meal if you do a little prep ahead of time.  The original recipe came from Bon Appetit Magazine but I have adapted it to my own taste.  It was suggested that it be served with pasta, but I liked it better with a bed of rice.  Using boneless chicken thighs and flavorful andouille sausage assures a succulent kick to the chunky carrots and diced tomatoes. The Ragu even improves with a rest in the refrigerator overnight.  I will be adding this to my go-to recipes.

Chicken and Andouille Ragu 3V


Enjoy with a Rioja, Syrah or any medium-bodied red wine.


6 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 pieces longwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 andouille sausages or fully cooked spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup mixed herbs, chopped (I used rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme naturally, it was what I had.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, from one whole lemon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 oz can)  fire-roasted diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup low-salt chicken broth

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, saute in pot until brown, about 6 minutes per batch.  Transfer to bowl.  Add sausage to pot and saute until brown, about 5 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with chicken.  Add carrots and onions to pot and saute until onions are tender and golden, about 10 minutes.  Stir in herbs, garlic, lemon peel, and crushed red pepper; saute 2 minutes.  Add wine and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes with juices and broth; bring to boil.  Add chicken and sausage and any accumulated juices from bowl.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken and sausage to bowl.  Boil liquid in pot until reduce, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Return chicken and sausage to pot.  Spoon ragu over rice or pasta.

Printable Recipe

Montaluce Winery

August 11th, 2014

Montaluce 1   Spending a day visiting wineries is always a pleasure.  We loved the wineries in the Loire Valley when we were in France last year.  We also spent an idyllic week in Napa Valley a few years ago.  I have great memories of the beauty of the acres of grape vines, the wonderful food that seemed to be an extension of the wine experience and the stately wineries where the tastings were held. North Georgia has more than 12 different wineries.  It just so happens that the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Georgia have the perfect terrain and soil to produce wines very similar to the wines produced in Italy’s Piedmont Region.  I have been wanting to visit there since I read the post that Sam of My Carolina Kitchen wrote a few years ago.  The fact that we have wineries of this caliber so close to home makes me very happy. Montaluce 2   I chose to visit Montaluce Winery because of the beauty of The Tuscan style tasting villa.  The winery abuts the Etowah River and the Chatahoochee National Forest.  It is just outside of the college town of Dahlonega, Georgia. Montaluce 3   It has sweeping views of the vineyards where they grow 10 different varietal European style grapes.  This is the view from the table in the dining room where we had lunch.  The restaurant, Le Vigne, was the other reason I wanted to visit.  Executive Chef, Austin Rocconi, has designed his menu around the organic ingredients grown in the Montaluce garden and from purveyors participating in the Farm to Table movement. Montacuce 5   My lunch was something I could not resist.  It was a BLT, but not just any old BLT.  It included Benton’s bacon.  Yes, that’s right Larry, the bacon from your neck of the woods in Tennessee and your very favorite.  Also on the sandwich were some of the best fried green tomatoes that I have ever had.  It was further garnished with heirloom lettuce and a delicious ramp aioli.  The bread was also made in house.  A very good BLT indeed.  Right up there with the sandwich that David Scott and I made from the Benton’s bacon that Larry gave him. And you are not seeing double, triple or more.  I had a flight of 5 different Montaluce white wines.  I especially liked their 2012 Viognier. Montaluce 4 David was not too hungry because he had stopped for a late breakfast after trout fishing.  He had a small plate of house cured smoked salmon, creme fraiche, whipped goat cheese, pickled okra and smoked blueberries. But he did end up eating 1/4 of my sandwich and several of my house made chips.  Plus sips of my wine flight since he ordered just one glass of the Viognier. Monteluca 6   Here is a view of their outside eating area.  Since it was a hot day, we ate in their beautiful inside eating area. Montluca 6   This is a view of the the tasting area. Montaluce tasting area   Another view of the tasting room.  We had a tour of the winery after lunch and only wished that it was harvest season, which will start in a few weeks, to see the activity of the pressing of the grapes. Montecuce 7   After leaving the winery we visited the organic gardens.  There are still green tomatoes on the vine. Monteluca 8   The garden is in transition now between summer and fall crops. Montaluce vineyard   It was a special day and we came away with good feelings about the direction that this area of our country is going.  The fact that exceptional wines can be produced from land in Northern Georgia is a promising development.  Terroir is a word that sums up what is happening here. Loosely translated it means a sense of place.  The combination of soil, climate and geology of a region results in crops that are unique to that particular place.  The wines of Northern Georgia have won awards for their excellence.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.

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