Thursday, May 7, 2015

Molten Chocolate Cake (Fondant Au Chocolat) for Mother's Day

Remember Juliette Binoche in "Chocolat" preparing all these sinfully delicious chocolates that put a whole village upside down?
I suppose you suspected it already from previous posts but I'm a confessed and convicted chocoholic.
Maybe it's a legacy from the time we lived in Switzerland, the world's top chocolate consumer.
There I learned that there are worlds within the world of chocolate.
The most common types of chocolate are dark, milk and white chocolate, depending on the proportion of coca used in the fabrication.
The quality of the cocoa beans, the way they are roasted and the quality and proportion of fat and other ingredients used in the process are crucial for flavor, aroma and price.
Of course, chocolate is rich in calories, but oh boy it's worth a try once in a while.
The good news is that chocolate, (especially dark chocolate) if consumed moderately, can be beneficially for your health, stimulates the brain, is considered an aphrodisiac and, most important of all, makes people happy.
Have you ever seen somebody eating a delicious piece of chocolate and looking depressed?
A praise to the Mayas for leaving us this fantastic legacy.
So if you are still looking  for the perfect sweet treat for Mother's Day celebration, look no further.
These mini cakes are so good; they will melt your heart.
Please don't let yourself impress by their sophisticated looks, they are actually quite easy to prepare, the whole trick lies in not overbaking them.
A crunchy rind and a delicious liquid chocolate filling at the center are heaven for chocolate lovers and they are addictive too, no rehab needed.

For the molten chocolate cakes you need:
100g of butter
60g of (powdered)  sugar
150g excellent quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 medium size eggs
2 yolks
2 spoonful of all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1\2 cup of whipped cream
With a brush,grease bottom and sides of six (  FOUR 6 oz.)  standard muffin molds evenly with liquid butter and dust them with cocoa. 

Remove excess cocoa by turning them upside down. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 175 C  (400 F).
In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate over simmering water (water should not boil!)

the color of rich, dark choclate and melted butter

Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the eggs and the egg yolks one at a time
and beat well with an electric mixer together with the sugar

 until the mixtures is pale in color and fluffy.

Then beat in the melted chocolate and flour

  Mix well until the batter is smooth.

 Spoon into prepared cups.

Let me share a little baking secret with you: Place one small piece of choclate in the center of the muffin moldit will help to obtain the chocolate filling liquid in the center of the cakes.

 Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of dessert are firm but centers are still soft. 

(Tops will be puffed.)
Let stand 2-3 minutes.
Run small knife along sides of cakes to loosen.
Invert into heat proofed dessert plates.
Dust with powdered sugar.

 and serve warm with a bit of whipped cream  (optional)   
Serves 6 p.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Restaurant Review:Brunch At The Restaurante Social at the Hilton Hotel, Miraflores, Lima

Lima is a prime gourmet destination and when it comes to restaurants, one is spoilt for choice.
For two years in a row, Lima has won the title of Best Culinary Destination Of  The World.
There a special culinary tours for tourists including Organic Peruvian Coffee tasting, visits to local markets, tasting of exotic fruits and local products, ceviche and Pisco Sour name it.
Lately, we enjoy going out for Sunday brunch and as our son,  who lives presently in Austria, was visiting, we were looking for a place to celebrate.
As he adores sleeping until late on weekends, we decided that brunch would be the right option.
Our choice was the Social Restaurant at The Hilton Miraflores Hotel.
The restaurant opens onto a terrace at street level, creating a nice alfresco ambiance.

 *Picture courtesy of HH.

Brunch here is an all you can eat concept but if you are looking for some fruit and granola in the list, you are in the wrong place.
This restaurant is generally appreciated for it's amazing Peruvian American Fusion cuisine and freshly prepared seafood.
We started with classic Mimosa and of course Pisco Sour (sadly not included)
choice of plated Mini main courses
The selection of dishes is amazing and ranges from charcuterie and cheese selection to freshly prepared Ceviche in all its variations, Peruvian Fusion cuisine and a fantastic selection of small desserts.
As about five percent of Peruvians are of Asian background, there is of course as well the Asian version of Ceviche called Tiradito with no onions included and the fish cut in very thin slices.
I find it a clever idea that everything is served in small portions at the table, so you can try many different dishes and have not to line up for buffet.

Traditional Peruvian mashed potatoes topped with squid slices in black olive sauce and the second one crab meat topped with avocado sauce.

Crabmeat topped with yellow chili cream

Fresher impossible-Ceviche prepared instantly before your very eyes. You choose the ingredients.

In this case prawns, red onion, fresh cilantro and yellow chili cream.

Add your choice of fresh seafood and fish.

And the final results:
Fish only Ceviche with yellow chili cream.

Fish only  Ceviche with boiled and roasted corn kernels (Can you believe the size of the corn kernel?)

Seafood Ceviche

Another variation with prawns, mango, avocados and sweet potatoes.

Delightful sushi, topped with salmon, at the background Peru's favorite soft drink - Inca Cola

Saffron risotto with scallops and topped with a special algae called yuyu.

Grilled octopus in balsamic reduction

A selection of mini desserts

Impossible to resist - just watch my sons hands

Cheesecake with Andean caramelised fruits

All in all a wonderful culinary experience with very good service.
The only suggestion would be to improve the decoration of the terrace, the plants on display look a bit depressing in a country where you have an abundance of tropical vegetation.
Hope you enjoyed the visit, thanks for acompanying me
* This is proudly a non-sponsored review.
Address: Hilton Lima Miraflores, Av La Paz 1099, Miraflores Lima 18, Peru
Restaurante Social
Sunday Brunch from 12m to 16pm.
S75./  (Peruvian Soles) per person 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Seared Scallops With Passionfruit Sauce



Ever heard of social cooking? This is a new phenomenon in the world of foodies and it does sound like fun.
And this is how it works:
A small group of people get together through social networks, meet in a private department   and learn to cook by socializing and learn to socialize by cooking - as you like it.
It's all about cooking, sharing and socializing - no age, status or other differences.
I'm thinking of joining a group one of these days and will tell you about the experience - can't wait, I'm so curious already.
As summer is coming slowly to an end for us in the Southern hemisphere, I wanted to prepare a little farewell to summer dish and thought that golden browned scallops with an exotic passion fruit sauce would be perfect for this occasion.
Passion fruit is one of my summer favorites. I love its bright yellow color and wonderful aromatic flavor.
It works great in combination with fish, seafood and white meat.
*Tip: When buying fresh passion fruit go for the ones that are already a bit wrinkled on the surface, these are the ripe ones, full of flavor. No Botox needed :)

For the Passion fruit sauce you need:

3 cups of fresh (or frozen) passion fruit pulp
2 spoonful brown sugar
1 spoonful fresh lemon zest
1\2 spoonful freshly grated ginger
1 spoonful slightly salted, very cold butter, cut in cubes

Slice the fruit in half, spoon out the pulp and strain in a non-aluminum sieve and with the help of a spoon press to extract juice.

 Place juice in a medium pan, heat over medium heat and stir in brown sugar, lemon zest and grated ginger.

Bring to a quick boil, reduce haet and let simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes or until juice is reduced by half and has slightely thickened.
Turn off heat and stir in the ice cold butter cubes until sauce is glossy.

For the seared scallops you need:3 cups of scallops, rinsed with cold water and patted dry
3 spoonful olive oil
1 spoonful butter
1 spoonful chopped parsley
Remove the tough abductor muscle from the side of each scallop (some scallops are sold with the muscle already removed).
Season scallops with salt and pepper.
In a small skillet heat oilve oil and butter.
When hot add scallops and let sear over high heat until brown and crisp, then turn using tongs and sear until the other side is golden brown.

Transfer on a warm serving dish and cover to keep them hot.
Sprinkle with choppedparsley and serve with hot passion fruit sauce.
Serves about 4p.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From France With Love - Ratatouille

Do you remember the singular dialogue between the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey and her butler Carson when being presented with a new, strangely decorated dish at dinner:
"Carson, is this what I'm afraid it is?"
And after trying the dish: “I wish it would have been what I thought it was."
So far the irreparable Lady Violett Crawley on food styling and mental delusion at the table.
For me, a beautiful presentation of food is definitely important because eating is a multisensory experience and we all are "eating with our eyes" as well.
It's about creating expectation and not disappointing it, of course.
Reading the papers some days ago, I stumbled about an article discussing a new movement called
"We Want Plates".
The movement defines itself as "Crusading against food being served on bits of wood and roof tiles.
Chips in little buckets, peas in flowerpots and jam-jar drinks can do one too"
And dam right they are.
I was LOL looking at the incredible pictures frustrated foodies made of their meals presented in every imaginable accessory but not on a plate.
If you want to know more about it and join the fun go to:
Of course there are certain plates that are difficult to present.
The one I'm going to post today, the wonderful French Ratatouille, is one of them.
Ratatouille is one of the typical plates of Provence, a region in the south of France that celebrates its fantastic veggies and herbs by elaborating stunning classics like Ratatouille.
The secret lies in its simplicity, no artificial flavors added, all natural and superb.
As a bonus it is really easy to prepare, suitable for health and fitness fans, vegetarians and vegans and the subtle flavors blend together perfectly.
It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish for grilled chicken,fish, meat and works great with pasta.
Here we go.

You need:
 1\2 cup of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 yellow capsicum, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 large eggplant (about 250g), cut into small cubes
1 large zucchini ( about 250g), cut into small cubes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large ripe tomatoes ( about 400g), peeled and seeds removed, cut into large cubes
1 Bouquet garni ( 8 sprigs parsely,2 sprigs fresh thyme and one bay leaf, tied together with cooking twine)
2 spoonful of coarsely chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, heat half of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the capsicum.
 Remove from pot and drain over kitchen paper.
Add a bit more olive oil to the pot and sauté eggplant and zucchini.
Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is  translucent.

Then add the bouquet garni and tomatoes, bring to a boil,  cover the pan with a tight lid and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

 Just looking at the gorgeous colors is a pleasure.

Serve sprinkled with fresh basil.
(Ratatouille can be served as well cold, delicious on a hot summer day with grilled meat or fish.) 
Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a light dinner or main course.



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