Friday, December 5, 2008

Haste makes waste - that 5-minute chocolate cake

If you have someone in your life who loves everything that comes into his or her inbox and must pass it along to you, you've probably already seen the 5-minute chocolate cake. I got a copy of it today, and I must say, don't sell your Sara Lee or Hostess stock just yet. Hohos, DingDongs and even the lowly cupcake have nothing to fear from this quickie dessert. If you must try it yourself, here it is, but believe me, the chocolate chips are NOT optional; they may be the only thing that saves this mess.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world ?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More on the no-salt turkey

People have been asking me how the various turkeys turned out, so I thought I'd post a couple of (admittedly amateurish) videos of the fresh turkey we cooked without salt. Betsy Poist, who carefully slid many thin slices of lemon under the turkey's skin, stars with the bird in both shorts. Unfortunately, I was elbows-deep in dinner preparation when the turkey came out of the oven, but it looked great and tasted even better. No one noticed it had not been salted. Really.

Last White House tree for Bush - but not chef

What does a tree have to do with food? Nothing really, but the person in this European Pressphoto Agency photograph by Matthew Cavanaugh is White House chef Cristeta Comerford. My money is still on her to stay on as the Obamas move in, unless she's completely embraced cheesy TexMex (and I'm talking Velveeta here) and can't move on. But I'm betting that she's a heck of a chef and won't be toppled easily.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cookbook review: "Mod Mex"

Here's a review of mine that ran in The Sacramento Bee's Food&Wine section today (Dec. 3, 2008):

Mod Mex? New York City? Don't get a rope, get a fork

By Lori Korleski Richardson

Pace, the San Antonio maker of salsas in a jar, got a big laugh with a commercial that had the cook admitting the salsa he served at the chuck wagon was from New York. "Nyoo York CITY!?" cried cowboys in disbelief, as one darkly intoned, "Get the rope."

For years, one could get almost any kind of food in New York except good Mexican food. So hopes were not high when I picked up "Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Fiesta Flavors at Home" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.95, 224 pages) by Scott Linquist, chef of Dos Caminos Mexican Kitchen, and cookbook author Joanna Pruess. What could a New Yorker possibly impart to us folks, so much closer to Mexico, with Spanish culture all around us?

Plenty, as it turns out. Linquist lived as a child in the heavily Latino city of Covina, near L.A., and grew up making tacos from scratch and "mashing refried beans that weren't from a can."

After graduating from culinary school, he developed what he called Mod Mex, using the traditional techniques of Mexican cooks adapted "to appeal to a generation of food-savvy diners."

The book includes a nice glossary of Mexican food terms, a source list for more unusual items, a list of metric conversions for both dry and wet ingredients, and color photographs by Shimon and Tammar Rothstein that at once look totally authentic and would inspire any cook, regardless of experience.

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 03, 2008 | Page 4D

Recipe: Ensalada noche buena (Christmas Eve salad)

Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 45 minutes / Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from "Mod Mex" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.95, 224 pages) by Scott Linquist. Note: The prep and cook times overlap but does not include cooling time.

2 medium-size red beets, trimmed
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup pine nuts
6 cups baby lettuces, watercress or arugula, or a mixture of all three
1 small (about 1 pound) jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 Valencia or navel oranges, peeled and cut into segments
Citrus-jalapeño vinaigrette
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about ½ cup)
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 ounces goat cheese or queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup), optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap each beet in a piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast the beets until very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 40-45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, let the beets cool completely, unwrap, then use a clean, old towel to rub off the skins. Cut beets into thin strips.
While the beets are cooking, cover the raisins with hot water in a small bowl and let them stand for about 10 minutes until plumped, and brown the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, shaking the pan often so they don't burn.
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce with the beets, drained raisins, jicama and orange segments and toss gently.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, juices, mustard, honey and jalapeño. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and whisk until emulsified. Immediately pour about half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently.
Arrange the salad on individual plates and top with the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and cheese. Serve immediately; pass the remaining dressing for those who desire more.

Choco-almond tarts

If you're on a diet after last week's feasting, skip this entry. But if you need just a little something sweet after dinner, these might fill the bill.

Lori's choco-almond tarts

Makes 7

2 tablespoons almond butter
1 ounce dark chocolate
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 Athena mini filo shells

Put the almond butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and microwave until the chocolate melts. Add the cream and vanilla and mix well. Use a teaspoon to drop mixture into shells. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then serve.

Warning: Each tart is 78 calories, and most of the calories are from fat. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey day postmortem

My favorite line from a Slate article by Regina Schrambling, a New York writer who travels to eat and writes about it for, the Los Angeles Times and other publications:

Every fall, writers and editors have to knock themselves out to come up with a gimmick—fast turkey, slow turkey, brined turkey, unbrined turkey—when the meal essentially has to stay the same. It's like redrawing the Kama Sutra when readers really only care about the missionary position.

I so loved cooking the turkeys this year, and I am thankful they all came out so well. Even the no-salt turkey came out tasting fine. Which just goes to show: Don't overcook it. Turn off the oven when the thermometer hits 170 in the breast, 180 in the thighs. Brining overnight gives the turkey a nice taste but doesn't give it the texture of canned ham. We fed 60 people on the night before Thanksgiving and probably could have fed 40 more with the four big fowl and extra breast.