Monthly Archives: June 2010

Hemingway gave me mussels

I have always loved The Old Man and the Sea. For its poignancy, its simple yet striking prose, its tale of pride, heartbreak, resilience and devotion. But it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, right around the time I took the leap from Food Marketing to English, that I was truly affected by Hemingway’s writing. Ever a fan of The Beautiful and the Damned and The Great Gatsby, I took a class, “Fitzgerald and Hemingway,” mostly for my interest in the former. My own style was word-y, descriptive and exhaustively elaborate (oh, you haven’t noticed?) more akin to the style of Fitzgerald’s flowery prose. I learned so much from that class as we analyzed their contrasting writing styles and studied their writing in context of their personal lives and the era in which they lived and wrote.

Hemingway’s words were a breath of fresh air to me, a slap in the face (in a good way). I was smitten. With his stories and writing style, with the man himself (what girl wouldn’t love a brooding, rugged outdoors-man with a penchant for adventure, writing and food?). I continue to learn so much from his work and his life. I credit my first ‘A’ in creative writing to his theory of omission that “you can omit anything [from a story] if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.” This is a little tidbit of information he included in my very favorite book, A Moveable Feast, his exquisite memoir detailing his early efforts in making a living as a writer in 1920s Paris among other writer and artist expatriates during a time when “he was very poor and very happy.” I envy his days spent fraternizing with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce and his quiet time spent writing and eating in Parisian cafes. What a beautiful life to have lived, there.

So that last part I mentioned about eating in Parisian cafes? Well that’s where I’m headed with the food part of this post. I love the way he approaches food in this work, in particular–the way every humble meal or hunger pang becomes romantic. When I first read the excerpt about him eating paper packets full of mandarins and chestnuts by the fire while he wrote, the only thing that stopped me from dropping everything to run to the market was the sad realization that upon returning home I would have no roaring fire by which to roast said chestnuts or spit said mandarin seeds or throw said juicy peels into its flames to “watch the sputter of blue that they made” or smell the spicy sweet aroma of burning orange zest. Sigh. But then I turned a few pages and he ordered the portugaises, the oysters, at his favorite cafe:

“After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy…As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down, with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

Oysters, clams and mussels are things I had previously veered away from. There is something about the idea of swallowing the things whole and possibly raw, that I couldn’t quite get past. But after reading this beautiful description of tasting the sea in each and every oyster, of washing it down with cold, crisp wine, I wanted to at least give it a try. And so I started small and painless with mussels (the “poor man’s oyster”) and I was pleasantly surprised. They were quite delicious and not scary at all. While I haven’t worked my way up to raw oysters yet, I am quite content with my consumption of clams and mussels, these days. I recently had a delicious shellfish feast at Bridget and Michael’s house, about which I had promised to tell you.

It was one of those epic meals, the drawn-out ones that last as long as the conversation and food and drinks keep flowing, the kind I imagine having more often if I lived in Europe where the art of leisure is embraced and good food and great company is savored. We started in the early evening firing up the Weber to to toast some cheesy crab bruschetta we bought at the fish market. We roasted broccoli and cauliflower brushed with olive oil and sea salt and ate the remainder raw with Greek yogurt and dill. Michael salt and peppered hand-cut french fries for the oven while I cored and marinated pineapple in coconut milk, cinnamon and vanilla sugar to be grilled for dessert. There was no time table, no method to our madness; we ate what was ready when it was ready standing around enjoying each other’s company and preparing the next course. Later in the night, when the mussels began sizzling and popping on the grill, I whipped up a garlicky broth to dip them in and sop up with toasted rosemary rolls. The clams we ate plain, gathered around the grill, plucking them one by one as they cracked open, careful not to spill the salty brine inside. As the shells piled up and the sun went down, I couldn’t help but think what a fabulous meal I would have missed if it wasn’t for Ernest Hemingway.

Grilled Mussels with Garlic Broth
*This is a very loose recipe as I threw a bunch of ingredients together at the last minute on a whim (no specific measurements) which is usually my favorite way to cook. You can use this as a base, but ultimately add what and how much tastes good to you.

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons scallions
1 tsp hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 bottle of beer (roughly 6 oz of your favorite)
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup butter (4 tbsp)
black pepper to taste

To make the sauce, saute the minced garlic,1 tbsp of chopped scallions and red pepper flakes in the olive oil over medium heat until browned and fragrant. Add the beer and deglaze the pan by scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow beer to simmer for 2 minutes before adding the chicken stock and butter. Stir until the butter melts and the sauce begins to simmer again. Add remaining scallions and black pepper to taste (mussels give off their own seawater when opened so salt is not really necessary in the sauce).

To cook the mussels, you must clean them first to avoid any sandy grit when they open. After cleaning, you can throw them on a hot grill on high heat (as we did) or steam them. If grilling, close the lid for 4-5 minutes or until mussels open. Discard any mussels that refuse to open. Place cooked mussels on a platter and pour sauce over them. Serve with crusty bread.


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Not-so-hot child in the city

I have some very exciting news, today. Maybe not so much for you, but I have been jumping for joy without breaking a sweat. And that, my friends, is because we finally got some AC in our apartment! After a month’s worth of stuffy days and listless nights, making salads, ordering in, and otherwise avoiding the stove at all costs, we finally got our act together and one Home Depot credit card later, we have air conditioners. How do you think I celebrated this event? Obviously, I ran to the market at the crack of dawn, grabbed what was fresh and pretty, then ran home to turn on every single burner on the stove and get to work in an icy cool abyss. So really, you should be excited too, because now I have lots of wonderful things to share with you. First up, sour cherry sauce.

Sour cherries are, well, just that–sour. They are so pretty, you’ll be tempted to eat them plain, but one pucker face later, you won’t be asking for more. Unless you add some sugar, which is exactly what I set out to do. I thought about cherry pie, cherry turnovers, even cherry preserves, but I happened upon the simplest of preparations, “sour cherry sauce” over at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. Maria Rodale, the CEO of the publishing company bearing her last name and family tree, is a savvy businesswoman, a dedicated organic food advocate (read her Organic Manifesto ) and from what I’ve been reading, an informative and entertaining blogger, among other things. So thanks to Maria for my sour cherry sauce. The *organic* almond pound cake I served it with thanks you, too. It needed a little kick.

The sauce is super simple and can serve as a base to most cherry desserts; in fact, the most difficult part of making it might be locating the sour cherries (also known as tart, pie cherries, or red cherries). They have a very short harvest season, usually July, and you won’t be finding fresh ones in your local supermarket. I went to my green market rather early and there were only 3 pints available. If you can’t find sour cherries, you can still make a delicious cherry topping with a sweet cherry variety, just skip the sugar.

Next up, do you have a cherry/olive pitter? Me either. It’s not that difficult to do with your bare hands and I’m not sure that using a fancy tool makes it any easier. Once you remove the stem, it’s fairly quick and painless to ease out the pit while leaving the cherry mostly intact. As Maria mentions, discard any fruit that is more brown than yellow and look out for pesky little worms. Thankfully, I didn’t find any of those.

I covered one pint of washed pitted cherries with about an inch of water. According to Maria’s recipe, you should use 1/4 cup of sugar per cup of fruit. To my 2 cups of cherries, I added a 1/4 cup of sugar and a healthy glug of Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liquer) which both compensated some sweetness for the missing sugar and added a deeper dimension to the already beautiful crimson hue of the swirling sauce. A dash of lemon later (I find that almost every time a dish is “missing something” a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice does the trick)
to brighten it up, and we are finished with the ingredients. Cook it down, let it cool, and enjoy. Summer tastes good (with or without AC).

Sour Cherry Sauce

*This recipe easily doubles or triples; freeze some sauce for the dead of winter when you’re wishing for warm summer days.

1 pint sour cherries
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 tbsp Creme de Cassis (Chambord works, too)
juice from 1/4 fresh lemon
enough water to cover the cherries

Bring water and cherries to a boil over medium heat, adding sugar, liquer and lemon. Stir until sugar is dissolved, lowering the heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced (about 15-20 min). Serve over pound cake (almond pound cake was a wonderful complement), ice cream, yogurt, whatever you like.

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A perfect piece of fruit

It’s an exciting time of year to visit your local farmer’s market. I’m a bit biased to the summer growing season and while I credit that partly to my confusion by rhubarb and chestnuts, general indifference to peas and cauliflower, and penchant for heirloom tomatoes, berries and zucchini (the warm weather doesn’t hurt, either), I have to say I think it stems mostly from my parents’ backyard. As a little girl and into my teens, my dad loved to plant summer veggies whenever he could, cultivating bumper crops of cucumbers and tomatoes and piles of bell peppers, eggplant, and zucchini over the years. We always had an abundance of mint, some basil and chives, and a number of wild black raspberry bushes existed just within reach beyond our back fence. It was my own mini paradise.

There is something magical about watching something grow (sans chemicals and pesticides), seeing it sprout and flower and produce delicious unspoiled fruit for your table. When the method in getting your produce is so pure, my natural inclination is to avoid any muss or fuss in the preparation of the food, to refute any process that could mar the perfection of what was just picked from the plant. In the late summer months when ripe tomatoes are plentiful and perfectly sweet, I could eat the fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit, don’t forget) like an apple, dashed with a little sea salt and nothing else. I feel guilty at the thought of peeling away the shiny aubergine skin of an eggplant or roasting zucchini until it’s soft and browned and unrecognizable next to it’s plump, grass-green counterpart. I realize this line of thinking is a bit silly, but garden-grown loot is precious, after all; there exists a limited amount for a fleeting time before it’s back to the grocery store where tomatoes and peaches may have trecked a few thousand miles to meet me.

While I haven’t had space or soil for a garden of my own in quite some time, I find myself giddy like a little girl again for the next best thing, any chance I get to ditch the supermarket and buy local at a farmstand or market. And lucky for me, these days, I’m within walking distance to fantastic one. Last week, at the Union Square greenmarket (Have I not mentioned this place enough, yet?) that’s where I found it: the perfect piece of fruit. Red Jacket Orchards was selling APRICOTS! I read somewhere recently that 95% of the fiery-blushed fruit grown in the U.S is produced in California. Well THIS piece of fruit was grown right here in NY and was a beautiful thing as a result. It was already ripe with the colors of a sunset when I bought it, fragrant and both sweet and tart.

I know I didn’t grow and pluck these apricots myself (nor do I think I will ever have an apricot tree) but they looked so perfect, I still felt a little twinge of guilt when I decided to slice up the last remaining piece I hadn’t munched right off the pit to macerate in balsamic with a handful of strawberries. Perhaps it’s just that word, macerate. It certainly sounds ugly. Can’t you just picture me with a sledgehammer pounding the sweet apricot flesh to a pathetic mealy pulp? Or hacking away at the peachy pink skin with a butcher knife reminiscent of the movie Psycho? Well, for those of you who aren’t familiar and think I’ve gone bonkers, macerating is a technique more akin to soaking the fruit in a soothing bath–a sweet and syrupy one, that is.

Macerating infuses the fruit with the flavor of the soaking liquid (often a liquer or wine), softening the fruit and drawing out its natural juices. It’s a simple process that yields incredible, tasty results. When I waitressed at what was once Carmine’s Creole Cafe in a Philadelphia burb, the chef macerated strawberries in balsamic and sugar, adding a dollop of mascarpone cream to serve for dessert. The strawberry juices and sugar mellows that acidic bite from the vinegar and the mascarpone provides a creamy canvas for the melding flavors. For the recipe below, I used strawberries and my last lovely apricot, but take advantage of peak berry season and toss in some raspberries, too, if you like. I took one mouthful of this heavenly summer dessert, and any shred of guilty conscience I was carrying melted away like the sugar in this syrup.

Macerated Summer Fruit with Lemon Mascarpone

1 pint strawberries, sliced
2-5 apricots, sliced (I only had one when I made this, but 2 is better and 4 or 5 is best if they are the small variety).
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
zest from one lemon

Combine sliced fruit with balsamic vinegar, sugar and lemon juice in a large non-reactive bowl (glass or plastic do fine) and stir to combine. Let sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours up to overnight. In a separate bowl, stir lemon zest into mascarpone cheese and store in refrigerator. When serving, spoon both the fruit and syrup into bowls, topping each portion with a dollop of the lemon mascarpone.

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Gone Fishin’….

Will return next week after a quickie vacation. Why don’t you enjoy a refreshing margarita in the meantime?

Until I nail the recipe for Dos Caminos’ Calle Fresca margarita with fresh muddled mango and cucumber with ancho salted rim (yum!), try this other spicy sweet concotion from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill.

Pineapple-Chile Margarita

2 cups fresh pineapple juice
1 cup coarsely chopped pineapple
1 fresno chile, coarsely chopped
6 ounces reposada tequila (such as Hornitas)

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve over crushed ice. Don’t forget to salt the rim and enjoy!

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Not your mama’s potato salad

Me and mayonnaise, we don’t mix. Like oil and water, baby. Since I was a little girl, I’ve eaten dijon on my BLTs and sour cream in my dip. I generally steer clear of any two-part food ending in the word salad: tuna, chicken, seafood, egg, macaroni. To be fair, I should disclose that within the last few years, I have let aiolis slip in there. Although, to me, the two are completely different animals. It’s mostly a mental thing, I’m sure, but the thought of the spread being homemade and whisked with healthy olive oil instead of some unknown has helped it squeak past my mayo radar. Also, aioli is made with garlic and is often found chock full of other herbs or spices, too, giving it a flavorful kick that tastes anything like the infamous white stuff in a jar.

Aiolis aside, there is one ‘salad’ that I haven’t given up–perhaps the humblest of them all–potato salad. Growing up, there were always two kinds of potato salad in my house and neither of them incorporated mayo, or at least that’s what I was told. One was made with sour cream and chopped egg–the yolks for my mom, the whites for everyone else since she was allergic–and one made with vinegar, olive oil and parsley. The latter is my favorite version. If you pour the dressing on the potatoes right out of the pot, they will absorb all the wonderful flavors as they cool.

Picnic season is upon us and while you might be tempted, in a pinch, to reach for that yellow-tinged tub behind the deli counter, spare yourself the blah-factor, calories and threat of food poisoning by opting for this zesty recipe, instead. It’s my own version of Nana’s olive oil potato salad. The vinaigrette is full of fresh herbs, shallots, lemon juice and dijon mustard. It tastes fantastic on the baby reds and pencil-thin asparagus I picked up just in time at the local farmer’s market. Peak season for asparagus is coming to an and end so I grabbed what I could from the market’s dwindling supply. Leave the skin on the potatoes, just be sure to give them a proper bath and cook them in plenty of salty water. You can blanch the asparagus first or leave them raw if you prefer. Mine were so thin and delicate I pretty much dunked them in the boiling water and took them right out. I finish the salad with a drizzle of truffle oil, an intoxicating flavor that brings out the natural earthiness of the potatoes. I like to serve it warm next to grilled chicken or fish when serving indoors (honey mustard glazed salmon, last night) but letting the ingredients meld together in the refrigerator overnight does wonders for the flavor (the cold leftovers for breakfast were exceptional!) and is fabulous for an outdoor affair. So skip the mayo on this one; I promise you won’t miss it.

Warm Truffled Potato & Asparagus Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

1 1/2 lbs baby redskin potatoes, boiled and halved
1 medium bunch of asparagus, blanched and chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces (the thinner the stalk the better)
3-4 tsp truffle oil

For Vinaigrette

1/2 of one large lemon, juiced and zested (about 3 tbsp juice)
2 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard, (my fave is Maille’s Rich Country Dijon)
1 large shallot, minced
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
1 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup of olive oil
fresh cracked pepper and salt, to taste

Make the dressing ahead of time. Combine lemon juice, zest, mustard and herbs, blending well. Stream in olive oil and whisk until fully incorporated. Add shallots, salt and pepper.*

Place well scrubbed potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water. Boil until fork tender but still firm (you don’t want the potatoes falling apart in the dressing). Remove potatoes from pot with slotted spoon and allow to cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, bring water back up to a boil and blanch the asparagus. They should be bright green and still rather crisp. Immediately transfer asparagus to an ice bath to stop them from cooking. Halve the potatoes and chop asparagus into roughly 1 1/2 inch pieces. Combine with vinaigrette. Drizzle truffle oil immediately before serving.

*If serving salad warm, it is best to make the dressing a few hours ahead of time so flavors have time to incorporate. If serving cold, let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

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Oh, sweet summer, you’ve only just begun

In the last week and a half, I have only been home in NYC (is that the first time I got to say that?) for approximately 2 1/2 days. I spent a lot of time in buses, on trains and in the driver’s seat, shuttling between business and pleasure, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Good times. The only confection I had time to whip up was a quickie chocolate mousse which means I have loads of catching up to do, friends. Let me start by giving you a few foodie highlights of my escapades.

I spent three days of sand and sunshine at the shore, reading, chasing sea gulls, flirting with the waves and of course, finding something scrumptious to eat. The boardwalk boasts a plethora of diet-busting goodies and I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of my early morning run past billboards for fried oreos and french fries, the smell of bacon and coffee wafting at me from numerous breakfast joints. Luckily for me, I find exercise to be a natural junk-food deterrant. Unluckily for me, I skipped my run the next morning and devoured three pieces of Mack and Manco’s pizza as a result. This fall off the wagon was inevitable, though. I can’t go to the shore without eating some of this pizza and I can’t eat some of this pizza unless it is fresh out of the oven and you can’t get it fresh out of the oven unless you order a whole pie, and the boyfriend and I can’t seem to order a whole pie without consuming the whole thing: 5 for him, 3 for me. And it’s not just us: people line up outside all three locations all hours of the day and night. Like I said, it is a sad, limp slice that is not right out of the oven, the only air conditioning consists of a few ceiling fans or the occasional sea breeze that survives past the heat of the pizza ovens and they don’t let you use the restroom (isn’t there some law against that?)! So what is it about this place that is so addictive? The tradition. The cheese. The birch beer. In that order, I think. This place has been open since 1956 and who wants to go to the new guy down the boards when you’ve been coming to this place since before you were old enough to see over the counter? Then, the cheese. It’s salty and stringy like mozzarella yet tangy and melt-y like white cheddar; there’s a mix going on there, and it’s delicious. And they serve birch beer! Nothing cools cheese lava burns better than the earthy sweet bite of birch beer. Enough said, I’ll be coming here for years to come.

Aside from the pizza, there are two specific things I crave when in Ocean City: crab claws and, oddly enough, a chicken wrap from Spadafora’s, the no-fuss seafood shack found in the parking lot below my boyfriend’s family’s condo. The sweet blue crab claws are straightforward and fresh, served cold with cocktail sauce and dijon mustard for dipping. Chicken is probably the last food item I think about when I’m near the ocean, with the exception of this chicken wrap. We order it blackened and grilled to juicy perfection. They throw on some lettuce and jersey tomato for good measure but the important condiment, here, is the orange slices on the side. I have a feeling these are meant strictly for garnish, but a healthy squeeze of fresh OJ lingering with the spice and salt is what makes it so memorable. My trip to the shore was short and sweet, just long enough for sun-kissed shoulders and a few tasty meals.

During the rest of my travels, I stopped long enough to fill in some recent holes in my spice cabinet with dried lavendar, celery seed, candied ginger and a vanilla sugar and cinammon grinder. Ok, that last one is a new acquisition and is used for the recipe I’ll give you in a hot second. I also shared a few lovely days and a warm summer evening at the grill with my sister and brother-in-law. We made quite a feast of grilled crab brushetta, veggies with yogurt-dill dip, grilled broccoli and cauliflower, homemade baked french fries, a large pot of mussels and clams (which I’ll tell you about another day) and marinated grilled pineapple. I’ve grilled pineapple before until it was warm, sweet and caramelized, but I never thought to add anything to it. It is delicious grilled pure, but this recipe is pretty fantastic too. I was given a free sample and the recipe at The Fresh Market, where I promptly bought the novel grinder containing vanilla-scented rock sugar and bits of cinnamon stick. If you don’t have one near you, you can make your own vanilla sugar. See the second recipe below. Yes, it’s time to break out the grill (or for many city dwellers like me, grill pan). Cheers to summer.

The Fresh Market’s Grilled Pineapple Spears

1 package of fresh pineapple spears or one whole pineapple cored and sliced into spears
1/4 cup coconut milk
vanilla cinnamon sugar
3 tbsp fresh chopped mint

Pour coconut milk over pineapple and coat thoroughly; allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Dip spears into ground cinnamon and sugar to lightly coat. Grill spears for 10 minutes on each side. Garnish with chopped mint.

To make your own vanilla sugar and cinnamon:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

Split the vanilla bean lenghtwise with a sharp knife. Bury the vanilla bean with the sugar in an airtight container for about three weeks before using so that the vanilla permeates the sugar. If using for the recipe above, mix 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar with about 3 tsp of cinnamon or to taste.


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Better than a brownie

Chocolate. What a fabulous discovery. It is hard to imagine any ingredient (or mood for that matter), that is not improved by it: milk, peanut butter, strawberries, mint, coffee, coconut, raspberries, oranges, champagne, chilies, potato chips! I could go on forever. Whether it’s the main event (chocolate souffle, anyone?), a welcome sidekick, (chocolate chip cookies) or even that je ne sais quoi (holy mole!), chocolate always steals the show and makes everything better, tastier, happier.

As I’ve said before, I’m a salty kind of girl. Make me choose between a plate a hot crispy french fries and a towering bowl of ice cream and nine times out of ten I’ll be licking the leftover salt from my fingers before giving that bowl a second glance (unless there is a third option where I’m allowed to dip the french fries into the ice cream for salty sweet perfection). But for those occasions when I do reach for that bowl of sweet cream, it better be chocolate.

And so it happened earlier this week when I stumbled upon this tantalizing recipe for Nutella blondies. I will save my ode to Nutella for another day, another post. While I have already filed this recipe away for a rainy day, my initial reaction was, I want to make it chocolate! I’ve had brownies on the brain for days now but just can’t bear to turn on that tiny chrome nob and endure the inferno that is sure to follow. Today, I thought of the perfect summer-friendly substitute: chocolate mousse. What I was really craving about that Nutella brownie–deep dark creamy chocolate–is exactly what a rich chocolate mousse could deliver. So when I found a mousse recipe enriched with espresso and topped with orange mascarpone whipped cream, I knew I had to make it–immediately.

The espresso in this chocolate recipe doesn’t stand out as a complementary ingredient to create, say, a mocha mousse; instead the conservative dash of espresso powder serves to intensify the flavor of the chocolate. The whipped cream is only lightly sweet and is flecked with bitter strands of orange zest that contrasts that richly sweet dark chocolate flavor. We’ve already established that chocolate complements so many other flavors and this particular combination is perfection. The result is cool and creamy, bittersweet and tart and deeply chocolatey. This summer heat wave brings good things after all.

For chocolate mousse, this recipe is a little unorthodox without the usual suspects: no butter, no heavy cream, no egg yolks but is so simple to make, I broke out the good chocolate and never looked back.

This recipe comes from Giada’s Kitchen Cookbook

Espresso Chocolate Mousse with Orange Mascarpone Whipped Cream

For the mousse

1/2 cup whole milk
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large egg whites

In a small saucepan over medium heat stir together the milk with the sugar and the espresso powder until the milk is hot, but not boiling, and the sugar is dissolved. Place the chocolate chips in a blender.

Pour the hot milk over the chips. Run the blender on high until combined, a few seconds. Add the egg whites and run the blender on high until light, about 1 minute. Transfer the mousse to 4 small serving cups. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, about 3 hours.

For the whipped cream

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp grated orange zest

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the mascarpone cheese and the orange juice until smooth. Add the cream, powdered sugar, and orange zest. Whip until the cream has soft peaks, about 1 minute. Whip the cream just before serving the mousse or cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

*I don’t have an electric mixer and made the whipped cream by hand. It helps to chill the bowl, whisk and cream when whipping by hand. You should work for your dessert!

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