Chocolate Pate and the Premio Cake Blog di Qualità

My dear friend Barbara at My Italian Smorgasbord, surprised me with this lovely award:

Premio Cake Blog di Qualità

Thank you So much!

I have been in a quandary as to what to post for this award. I have taken far too long to celebrate the honor. For that, I apologize.

Just as I figured out what to make, we went out-of-town to visit friends for a weekend get away.

Lucky them, they got to eat the vast amount of Chocolate Pate I made for this post.

Barbara at My Italian Smorgasbord has a lovely blog full of warm delightful recipes. I encourage all of you to go read her blog and make one of her recipes. You will be back for more!

The “rules” of the game is to share a sweet recipe, tell 7 things where sweet has influenced your life and then pass it along to 3 other fellow bloggers.

I thought long and hard about what to make for this award. Barbara’s Swedish buns were amazing.

What could I make that would be deserving of this award?

Not being much of a cake baker, I looked at other desserts I was known for at my restaurant. It was a toss-up between Chilled Key Lime Souffle and Chocolate Pate with Raspberry Coulis.

Chocolate won. I’ll make the souffle another time.

Chocolate Pate

  • 12 ounces  dark chocolate: get the best you can buy, chunks or chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup raspberry coulis (recipe follows)
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • pinch salt

NOTES:

    •  Do not get any water into the chocolate. Even one drop will seize it up and makes it very hard to get a smooth melt. Make sure your bowl is dry!
    • To make a double boiler, simply place a heat proof bowl (Stainless steel bowl is best) over a pot with boiling water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the top of the water.
    • Check and make sure the flame from a gas stove is not reaching around the bottom of the pot and touching the sides of the bowl. This will burn the chocolate. Use a towel or pot holder to hold the edge of the bowl. It will get hot during the process.
Method:

Melt until smooth

In a double boiler, add the chocolate. If the chocolate is in bar form, break it up into bits for easier melting.

Bring the cream to a boil, add to chocolate. Stir to melt smooth.

Add the raspberry coulis, vanilla, salt, and butter. Stir to  incorporate and ensure everything has melted smooth.

Line your chosen molds with cellophane wrap. Give the wrap a light spray with a pan release spray. This allows the chocolate to be removed from the pan easily once it has chilled.

Line the molds with cellophane wrap

Pour the lined molds with chocolate to the top. Fold the cellophane wrap edges over the chocolate and chill at least 12 hours.

Fill and cover with cellophane. Chill

The chocolate pate will become firm but not hard. Remove from the mold, unwrap, and slice to serve.

You can serve it with Creme Anglaise (Vanilla Sauce) and Raspberry Coulis accented with fresh berries and mint (or basil!) for garnish.

Crème anglaise made from milk, eggs, sugar and...

Creme anglaise made from milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla (in beans) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

raspberry coulis

raspberry coulis (Photo credit: thepinkpeppercorn)

Raspberry Coulis

Use fresh or frozen berries

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar or simple syrup

Place 1 cup of raspberries into a blender or food processor.

Add the sugar or syrup and blend until liquified – 1-2 minutes.

Adjust the sugar content to your taste. You may want more, others less.

Using a fine wire mesh strainer, strain the mixture through, rubbing the seeds with the back of a spoon to extract as much pulp as possible.

The bright pink seedless result is coulis. You can use almost any fruit to make a coulis.

Coulis  is simply pureed fruit or vegetables, strained so it is smooth and full flavored.

Imagine savory coulis . . . with roasted vegetables . . . the possibilities!
Plate set up:

Plated Pate

Spoon a small amount of Creme Anglaise onto a plate; spoon Raspberry Coulis beside the Anglaise. If desired, draw a toothpick, skewer or knife tip through the anglaise and coulis to create a swirled design.

Add fresh berries and a mint leaf to the plate and serve.

Please excuse the quality of the photos; I didn’t have the lighting equipment with me.

7 Sweet Things That Influenced My Life

1) Dulche de Leche – the first time I ever tasted it in Little Havana in Miami, I knew it would be in my life forever. It is one of the reasons I love Miami.

2) Fireball Jawbreakers – As a kid these were my ‘go to’ candy. My molars suffered and have had required dental treatment. My advice is to stay away from jawbreakers and dentist chairs. They go hand in hand.

3) As I love Miami, I love France for their Fleur de sel caramel. ’nuff said. I learned to make them which is a dangerous skill. It means I can have them available ALL the time. oops 😉

4) Short breads are another weakness, especially freshly made ones, with lemon glaze, and a cup of tea. This makes me a very happy girl!

5) Anything with puff pastry or pie dough. I like making them both, making things with them, eating things made with them. There is never a scrap thrown away.

6) Ice cream and sorbet especially home-made ones. Fun thing to do with gatherings of people. I love having just a small “amuse bouche” between hot courses of a meal.

7) This isn’t a like, but really a dislike: cake. I hate cake; making them, frosting them, the way they look, smell, even the sound of the word. Cake, ew. If I had to use a word, ‘gateau’ would work much nicer that ‘cake’.
The last cake I made I punched it down to the ground. Then kicked it. Cake murder. I vowed then never to make another cake. So far, I haven’t had to. YAY!

(Hum, will they take the award away now? The award name has ‘cake’ in it!)

This is where I pass it along!

The Premio Cake Blog di Qualità Now Goes to:

Choco chip Uru

This young lady’s blog is full of fun and delicious creations. She shares what works and what doesn’t with a great sense of humor. Check her out!

Mandy at The Complete Cookbook

Mandy presents interesting foods and beautiful photography. Her new cookbook is also available, ask her about it. Her posts are delightful.

Frugal Feeding

Everything Frugal does is mouth-watering. From his breads, to his desserts and he also estimates how much the dish cost to put on your table. Drop in and see what is on his table today.

Thank you again Barbara, I am flattered.

Carpe Diem, Charlotte, NC

I had to fast yesterday due to the annual physical. The appointment was at 2 PM so fasting from 6AM until then was for the most part, pretty easy. I did drink a cup of coffee with agave and half and half, only one, and then drank water the rest of the day.

The hardest part of fasting was doing lesson plans, reviewing recipes, and writing lecture notes all about food and not being able to have any.

So when the coast was clear after the physical, my friend June and I decided to go out to a restaurant we had never been to before.

We chose Carpe Diem in the Elizabeth area of Charlotte. While passing the restaurant nearly every day, I had never been in to eat. I met some friends there once for a glass of wine and actually it is surprising how long it took me to get back to try the food.

Carpe Diem is quite charming.

The decor is art nouveau style with mahogany doors and window frames, pristine marble floors and copper lighting features. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, enthusiastic and are well trained professionals.  The restaurant itself is clean, charming, well located and the food is downright outrageously good.

We each ordered a glass of wine, the water glasses were kept full, and even though we came in at 5 PM (I was starving!) we weren’t the only early birds there. The Elizabeth neighborhood actually had lots of people strolling, walking through various shops, eating ice cream from Elizabeth Creamery (another post… also well worth blowing your diet for), it was all very engaging.

Fresh warm ciabatta bread was brought to the table. Crispy, chewy, if only the butter had been softer. Perhaps it would have been had we come later. I have often wondered why restaurants serve cold, hard butter with delicate warm bread. Isn’t it easy enough to remove the butter from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before it goes to the table?

We did get a second piece and by that time the butter was soft and perfect.

We shared a house salad with Dijon Balsamic dressing. I knew I wouldn’t eat the whole thing and an entree too so June and I split the salad. Paige, our server, was great in that she had the split done in the kitchen. As you can see, even the split is a generous portion.

The tender greens were accented with a surprise of shaved fennel, sweet grape tomatoes, crisp cucumber, carrots, and beets lightly and perfectly dressed in the vinaigrette.

Our entrees were the Mushroom Bolognese over Tagliatelle Pasta. This is a vegetarian dish. Traditional bolognese sauce is made using diced wild mushrooms instead of meat. The pasta is hand made, cooked al-dente and more delicious than I can ever describe. On the side of the dish were three crispy slices of grilled bread.

Mushroom Bolognese

The smokey grilled flavor only deepened the richness of the mushrooms and tomatoes. Absolutely wonderful with the Malbec chosen to drink with the rich, deep comforting flavors.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breasts with Shallot Black Pepper Cream, Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach was the second dish we ordered. Talk about comfort food! Just reading it on the menu made me feel like sitting on mom’s lap helping shell peas on the porch.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Two golden brown, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, chicken breasts set on top of a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes, nestled next to brightly green sauteed baby spinach. This dish was also very well done and satisfied every taste receptor known to humankind.

The potatoes were creamy, light and fluffy and actually tasted like potatoes; the spinach freshly cooked, tender and not a stem in sight. Taking a fork of each separately, tasting the flavors of each single item, then filling the fork with every combination of the creamy, crispy goodness for each bite allows the diner to experience the dish from many angles. From simple to complex, your taste-buds will be delighted in the play time they get from eating this dish. Believe me when I say buttermilk does magic things to chicken.

Dessert temptations were vast, from white chocolate pound cake with lemon curd and fresh berries, peach and cherry cobbler, vanilla bean creme brulee to chocolate ganache in a toasted pecan crust with raspberry coulis and spicy caramel sauce. We couldn’t resist the chocolate and ordered two more half glasses of wine.

Carpe Diem has half glasses of wine!

Chocolate Ganache in Toasted Pecan Crust

You must have red wine with chocolate like this. Rich, smooth dark chocolate, crunchy toasted pecans, the counter of the slight bitter-sweetness of the raspberries takes your tongue on another journey that makes your eyes roll back in your head.

We started out wanting to just go get something to eat but ended up with a wonderful, amazing culinary adventure at a terrific restaurant on 1535 Elizabeth Avenue in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The menu features several vegetarian options, fish, poultry (chicken and duck) and beef items on the menu. Each and every one sound very good. It was hard to choose which is a good thing since it means I will be back, and soon.

If you want a light snack or linger over wine in the lounge, they offer appetizers, salads, lighter fare and a cheese platter which I was tempted to order just because I wanted to see it. Sometime soon, I’ll find a reason to meet some people in the bar for a glass of wine and share that cheese platter. It sounds too good to wait very long.

The prices are quite reasonable so don’t let the fine dining appearance keep you away. If you like food, you owe it to yourself to get there sometime real soon.

Carpe Diem, simply stated, GO! Don’t miss it.

Here’s their website: http://www.carpediemrestaurant.com/

I almost forgot, between courses we were treated to an amuse bouche of passion fruit sorbet.

Served in a frozen glass dish as a palette cleanser (this will be discussed another time), the flavor exploded in your mouth. It was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.

Happy Eating!