July 21, 2012

Individual Meatloaves with Gorgonzola Mushroom Gravy

Being a huge blue cheese fan, I was so excited to make these mini meat loaves for a recent dinner party. The recipe is actually a mix of several I found online and I was glad it turned out ok. The gravy was delicious and the meatloaves were very moist and flavorful. I fed 15 people the night I made these so don't let the portion sizes in the pictures throw you off the recipe below which yields 6-8 individual meat loaves.

1. Be careful when making the meatloaf not to mash it too much or the meat loaves will come out too dense.
2. You may want to consider making extra gravy as this is the star of the dish and your guests may want an extra serving.

1 Tbs olive oil
3 small yellow onions, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup canned chicken broth
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (At least 80% lean)
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
10 to 12 cremini (baby portobello mushrooms), quartered
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 pound Gorgonzola
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan.
3. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown.

4. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.

5. In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don't over mix.

6. Divide the mixture into 6 (about 10oz) portions and shape each portion into a small loaf on a sheet pan.

7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 155 to 160 degrees F and the meatloaves are cooked through.
8. Serve hot, smothered in gorgonzola mushroom gravy (recipe below).

1. Heat olive oil in large skillet.
2. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until dark and tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Add salt and pepper and chicken stock and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.

4. In a medium saucepot, melt butter over medium heat.
5. Add flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes to make a roux.
6. Whisk in milk and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

7. Reduce the sauce a few minutes to thicken a bit.
8. Add milk sauce to the mushrooms.
9. Stir in Gorgonzola cheese until melted to desired consistency.

10. Plate and serve.

July 16, 2012

Citrus Lemon Bundt

Confession. This is not a gourmet recipe. I think you'll agree when you see the ingredients listed below. That being said, it tastes amazingly gourmet and that's why it's here. This is always one of the favorites at dessert parties as the cake is incredibly moist and the glaze has a perfect balance of sweetness and tart lemon. From start to finish in about an hour, this recipe yields about 12 good sized servings. Enjoy!

1. You can use any citrus soda drink - just pick your favorite.
2. Be sure to butter and flour the bundt pan well to ensure it releases nicely after baking.
3. Wait until the cake has cooled before applying the glaze or it will be too runny.

18.25 oz box lemon cake mix
3.4 oz box instant lemon-flavored pudding mix
12 oz can citrus soda
¾ cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs

1 ½ cups confection sugar
3 Tbs Lemon Juice
2 Tbs unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Butter and flour a 12-15 cup fluted pan
3. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix
4. Add soda, oil and eggs

5. Beat at medium speed until smooth
6. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45-50 minutes

7. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes
8. Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack
9. Combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and drizzle over the top of the cake

July 7, 2012

Chocolate Soup

While in Denver on business several years ago, I was treated to a meal at the historic Brown Palace Hotel. The highlight was one of their famous desserts, Chocolate Soup. Thicker than hot chocolate, thinner than chocolate mousse, this was heaven in a bowl. It had a slight hint of citrus so of course I had to ask the chef the ingredients; Heavy cream, four kinds of chocolate and a splash of orange liqueur. In the recipe below I substitute orange juice and after several versions, the one below is a near match and serves 6. Enjoy!


1. The ratio of chocolate bars does not have to be exact. You can even substitute your favorite flavors or go heavier on one kind over another. For the white chocolate, I like to use Hershey's Cookies and Cream bars as the tiny cookie pieces remain in the soup to give it a nice crunch.
2. You can accompany the dessert with any fresh fruit but strawberries pair nicely. Whipped cream with chocolate shavings work well too.

3.5 oz Dark Chocolate Bar
3.5 oz Orange Chocolate Bar
3.5 oz White Chocolate Bar
3.5 oz Milk Chocolate Bar
2 cups Heavy Cream
½ cup Orange Juice

1. Break up chocolate bars and place in a bowl.
2. Scald heavy cream over medium heat.
3. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces, stirring until well combined.

4. Slowly add orange juice.
5. Serve immediately or chill in individual serving bowls overnight.


July 3, 2012

Gateau Basque

Two of our friends, Matt and Bonnie Hargreaves, both served missions in France and Matt shared with me a few years ago his memory of a french dessert called "Gateau Basque." I did a little bit of research on the cake and finally got around to making it using fresh cherries from Bonnie's dad's farm. This cake or tart hails from the Pays Basque region of France and is typically made with cherries but can also include other ingredients like pastry cream. I was amazed at how this cake came together considering that there really is no batter. Instead, it is created using thick cherry jam surrounded by two disks of dough. The dough rises and expands around the jam and makes for a delcious treat. The recipe below, found on NPR's website, yields one 8 inch cake, good for about 8 servings. Enjoy!

1. Start the jam about 45 minutes before taking the dough disks out of the refrigerator.
2. If you let the dough disks sit too long after removing them from the fridge, they will become too soft and brittle and will be difficult to place.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup thick cherry jam (see recipe below)
1 egg beaten with a splash of water, for the glaze

Cherry Jam
2 cups cherries, chopped
2 Tbs lemon juice
¾ cup sugar

1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep at hand.

2. Working in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until smooth.

3. Add the egg and beat another 2 minutes or so, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Add vanilla and mix for about a minute more.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two or three additions, mixing only until they're fully incorporated into the dough.

6. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper on your work surface and put half of the very soft and sticky dough in the center of the sheet.
7. Cover with another piece of plastic or wax paper, then roll the dough into a circle just a little larger than 8 inches in diameter. As you're rolling, turn the dough over and lift the plastic or paper frequently, so that you don't roll it into the dough and form creases. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

8. Put the dough on a cutting board or baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
9. Preheat the oven to 350.
10. Generously butter a 2-inch high, 8-inch round cake pan.
11. Remove the layers from the refrigerator and let them rest on the counter for a couple of minutes before peeling away the plastic or paper. Fit one layer into the bottom of the pan.
12. Spoon some of the jam onto the dough, leaving one inch of dough around the border.

13. Moisten the bare ring of dough with a little water and then top with the second piece of dough, pressing down around the edges to seal.

14. Brush the top of the dough with the egg glaze and use a fork to etch a cross-hatch pattern on top.

15. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
16. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 5 minutes before carefully running a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. Turn the cake over onto a cooling rack and then quickly and carefully invert it onto another rack so that it can cool to room temperature right side up.

Cherry Jam
1. Combine cherries and lemon juice in tall sauce pan.

2. Cook on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, until cherries are soft and tender.
3. Add ¾ cup sugar and continue to cook on medium high for 5-10 minutes until bubbles slow and jam is thickened.

4. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.