Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Brown Butter Glaze

Looking for an alternative to the pumpkin pie that’s ubiquitous on everyone’s Thanksgiving table? Or maybe you just want a delicious dessert to serve at your next Sunday supper. This moist cake has all the right autumn flavors going for it – from pumpkin to cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and a touch of black pepper too. Plus it’s topped with a luscious glaze made with browned butter that adds a nutty taste, in addition to the maple syrup and confectioner’s sugar.

The recipe comes from the New York Times, and it included toasted pepita seeds on top. I took it a step further and candied them. Just make sure you use either a Silpat mat or a piece of buttered aluminum foil. Otherwise you’ll have a hard time prying the candy from the pan.

Be careful not to touch it until it cools. Once the candy cools and hardens, you can break it up with your hands, then sprinkle it across the top of the cake. The candy is also delicious as a topping on ice cream too.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Brown Butter Glaze
 
 
Ingredients
  • RECIPE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, soft but cool
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons lightly toasted pepita seeds (optional)
  • or candied pepita seeds
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter and flour a 12 cup or larger bundt pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and black pepper until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine brown sugar, butter and olive oil. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds between each egg.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree and the sour cream, and mix until well combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and use a rubber spatula to fold in the dry ingredients until well combined.
  7. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure an evenly mixed batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and firmly tap on the countertop a few times to release any large air bubbles.
  9. Bake the cake until golden and puffed, and a tester in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes.
  10. Set the cake, still in the pan, on a rack to cool, about 20 minutes, then use the tip of a knife to loosen the edges and invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely before glasing.
  11. TO MAKE THE GLAZE:
  12. Once the cake is cool, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter, occasionally scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a rubber spatula, until it turns a deep golden brown and smells nutty. Don't walk away from the pan during this process. The butter can go from brown and nutty to acrid and burnt in mere moments.
  13. Transfer butter and brown bits to a bowl to a heat safe bowl and let it cool slightly. Whisk in the confectioner's sugar, maple syrup and salt until smooth. The glaze should be thick but pourable. If it's too thin, add more confectioner's sugar. If it's too thick, add water. (I added some milk to thin it down a bit.)
  14. Transfer the cake to a serving platter and pour the glaze over the top. Sprinkle with pepitas if desired.
  15. TO MAKE CANDIED PEPITAS:
  16. Place about ¼ cup sugar into a saucepan and heat at medium until the sugar melts and starts to turn a light golden color. Pour in some pepitas (1/4 cup or so) and stir for a few seconds to coat. Then pour the mixture onto a Silpat mat or a piece of aluminum foil that has been greased with butter. Careful not to burn your fingers. The melted sugar will be extremely hot. Let it cool, then break into bits.
 

Quinoa Balls in Squash Soup

Fall is finally here and so is soup weather. And when I think of fall soups, I invariably think of squash soup, since squash is so prolific at farmer’s markets and grocery stores right now – and it’s one of my favorite vegetables.  I’ve posted my recipe for squash soup before – here – and this recipe has a complexity gained from the addition of a pear and an apple in the soup.

But the squash soup in this post goes a step further. It contains quinoa balls mixed with vegetables and cheese, a combination I was served on our recent memoir writing retreat in Italy – “Italy, In Other Words.”  The chefs at “Cavatappi,” my favorite restaurant in Varenna, opened their doors one evening just for our group of twelve people, and served a delectable meal starting with squash soup and quinoa balls.

Back home, I did my best at recreating their recipe. The taste and texture are almost the same, although the chefs told me they started with three types of quinoa, and I used only two – a dark and a white variety.

The quinoa fluffs up to several times its dried state.

Meanwhile, dice the vegetables into small pieces.

Then sauté in a bit of olive oil until softened. Cut the cheese into small pieces the same size as the vegetables, then mix the vegetables and cheese together, along with some egg and cornstarch and seasonings. Roll into balls and refrigerate.

These also freeze very well.

Steam the balls for about five minutes, then gently lift them from the steamer and place a few into each bowl of soup.

They melt in your mouth and are an explosion of flavor too.

 

Quinoa Balls
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup white quinoa
  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup zucchini, finely diced
  • ¾ cup butternut squash, finely diced
  • 1 T. butter
  • a few sprigs of parsley, minced
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, finely diced (or fontina or taleggio)
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • salt, pepper
Instructions
  1. Use your favorite recipe for making squash soup or follow the one I have in the archives here.
  2. Cook the quinoa in boiling water, covered for about 7 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the pot covered for 10 minutes.
  3. When the quinoa has cooled, put it into a bowl.
  4. Sauté the zucchini and butternut squash in the butter for a few minutes until it starts to slightly soften.
  5. Add the vegetables and all the rest of the ingredients to the quinoa and mix well with a spoon.
  6. Using your hands, form the quinoa mixture into balls (the size of a meatball) and steam for three minutes on the range. If you don't have a steaming pot, sauté for a couple of minutes with a dab of butter, turning all the while so it cooks on all sides.
  7. The cheese should start to melt.
  8. Remove from the heat and place a few quinoa balls into the soup. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
 

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta

What a wonderful surprise I got last week when a friend dropped off some wild mushrooms at my door! It brought back memories of childhood when my dad and brother would come back from foraging in the woods for morels or chanterelles. No one in my family does that any longer, and while I eat plenty of supermarket mushrooms, they’re quite bland compared to the woodsy flavor of a wild mushroom mix. My friend Polly bought these for me at a farmer’s market in Chestnut Hill, Pa., and they include half of a lobster mushroom (the red one), shitake mushrooms (the brown caps), oyster mushrooms (the kind of frilly ones) and enoki mushrooms (the white ones with teensy caps).The big question was what to make with these beauties? Risotto, mushroom stew, pasta with mushrooms? So many ideas swirling in my head, but in the end I decided to chop them up and make wild mushroom bruschetta. They would be a perfect accompaniment for the rest of the meal planned for dinner, but they would certainly make a fine appetizer on their own to have for company too.

After sautéeing the mushrooms in butter with some shallots, garlic and herbs, I combined the mixture with some grated fontina cheese and spread it over some toasted bread. Then I popped it under the broiler for a few minutes.

The result was a bruschetta with intensely flavored mushrooms smothered with melt-in-your mouth fontina cheese. Make them on smaller toasts for individual canapés to have with drinks. But make sure you use a good quality sturdy bread for these.

How can you resist digging into this?

 

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta
 
 
Ingredients
  • mixed wild mushrooms - I used about two cups chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup dry white wine (or dry sherry)
  • salt, pepper
  • a small amount of minced herbs - I used rosemary, thyme and sage
  • ½ - ¾ cup grated fontina cheese
  • Slices of good sturdy bread, toasted
Instructions
  1. Sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon butter until softened, and add garlic.
  2. Cook for a couple of minutes over low heat.
  3. Add the chopped mushrooms and another tablespoon of butter.
  4. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat and when they start to shrink, add the white wine and turn up the heat to high.
  5. Stir over high heat for a couple of minutes, then lower heat and add the salt, pepper and herbs. Remove from heat and mix in the grated fontina cheese.
  6. Pile onto toasted slices of bread and put in the broiler until cheese melts.
 

Cheese Making

Cheese Making

I’ve rolled pasta, baked bread, canned fruits, jarred jams and fermented vegetables. I’ve fried cannoli, stretched strudel and brined turkeys. I’ve cleaned squid, octopus and even fed snails for a day to cleanse them before cooking. I’ve pounded lemon grass and ground spices for curry in Thailand, made macarons in Paris and caught cephalopods off the coast of Sardinia. But one of the things I’ve wanted to try, but hadn’t until last week was cheesemaking.

All that changed at the Farm Cooking School in Titusville, New Jersey, where I learned how to make four different kinds of cheese – mozzarella, ricotta, crème fraîche, and goat’s milk cheese. The class of about eight people gathered to learn from Ian Knauer, founder of the school, which I’ve written about in the past here.

I’m not going to describe the process in detail, although there is a recipe at the end, using one of the cheeses we made. But for those of you who live within the tri-state area of New York-Pennsylvania-New Jersey, I hope you will seek out this cooking school and take the class — or any one of the myriad they offer — from butchering to bouillabaisse. Ian and business partner Shelly Wiseman, both veterans of Gourmet magazine, hold classes mornings and night, and even offer week-long culinary vacations in the beautiful countryside around the Delaware River Valley.

The cheesemaking process is similar for most cheeses – bring the milk up to a certain temperature, add rennet, let it stand until curds form, and strain through cheesecloth. For mozzarella, the curds are stretched and pulled in hot water until they meld together into a ball shape.

Crème fraîche is made with heavy cream to which a mesophilic starter culture is added. Alternately,  simply add a tablespoon of purchased crème fraîche to a cup of heavy milk inside a sterilized glass jar, and heat it inside a pot filled with warm water. For goat’s cheese, you start with goat’s, not cow’s milk (naturally) raw or pasteurized — not always so easy to find.

But even if you don’t make your own cheese, you’ll want to try the recipe at the end of this post using good quality purchased cheese. Of course, nothing compares to freshly made, but still, the recipe can be adapted using store bought cheese.

None of the dishes we ate contained meat. (For strict vegetarians, you might think twice about eating cheese, since rennet, used in most cheeses, is an enzyme made using cow’s stomach.)

The lunch lineup included this delicious salad of kale, cooked beets and the goat cheese we made and crumbled on top.

We also roasted shishito peppers and served them with the mozzarella balls we pulled.

The lentils were cooked and mixed with the crème fraîche, then topped with sweet roasted carrots, dill and mint.Dessert was simple but wonderful – apples poached in white wine, sugar and cinnamon and served with  fresh ricotta.

If getting to The Farm Cooking School is impossible, here’s the next best thing — a cookbook Ian and Shelley have written that is due to be released in a few weeks. You’ll find many of the recipes and techniques here that you’d learn at the school, and you can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

Lentils with Spice-Roasted Carrots and Crème Fraîche
 
Author:
Serves: 8 to 16
 
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds carrots, peeled
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 pound lentils, black or green
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup dill (or cilantro) and mint leaves
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
Instructions
  1. Toss the carrots with the oil, coriander, paprika, cumin, 1 t. salt and ½ t. pepper.
  2. Spread the carrots on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Reserve the carrots.
  4. While the carrots roast, cover the lentils in a saucepan by 2 inches of water.
  5. Stir in the onion, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Boil the lentils until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain the lentils and toss with the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place the lentils on a serving platter and top with the carrots, herbs and crème fraîche.
  8. Serve.
 

 

Egg Filled Acorn Squash

Egg Filled Acorn Squash

If you’re like me, you’ve served your fair share of frittatas, bagels, muffins and similar foods when organizing a breakfast or brunch at your home. I was expecting a group of relatives yesterday morning, but decided I wanted something a little different. As soon as I saw Marie’s Instagram post last week, I knew I had found it. My friend Marie, of Proud Italian Cook, has one of the best food blogs going, and you can always count on her to provide delicious, easy recipes and mouth-watering photos too.

You can do some of the prep work ahead of time for this one — including roasting the acorn squash the night before. Just slice the squash, smear it with some olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and seasoned salts (that I make each year by drying my fresh herbs and mixing them with coarse salt). Roast in the oven, flipping once.

When your guests arrive, just spread a little butter or oil in a skillet (one that has a lid — I used my electric skillet that holds six of these squash rings). I placed a few spinach leaves inside the squash rings, then dropped an egg into it. I also scattered a few sage leaves in the pan, as added flavor.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the lid on the top. Cook them at low heat until the whites set and the yolks are still runny.

I can’t really tell you how long it takes since it depends on how large your eggs are and how hot your skillet is. I know I had the heat on for about five minutes and it cooked the yolks a little more than I had wanted. I prefer them more runny than the photo shows. But that didn’t stop everyone from finishing every last morsel. Thanks Marie.

Egg Filled Acorn Squash
 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • three acorn squash
  • olive oil
  • seasoned salt
  • black pepper
  • spinach leaves
  • 6 eggs
  • minced rosemary
  • sage leaves
  • butter
  • parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Slice the acorn squash in slices about ½ inch thick.
  2. Place the nicest rings on a baking sheet and smear with olive oil. (save the other pieces for another meal.)
  3. Sprinkle seasoned salt and crushed black pepper on both sides
  4. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes on each side, flipping once.
  5. Add about 1 T. butter to a nonstick skillet
  6. Put the squash slices in the butter, then place some spinach leaves inside the hole.
  7. Carefully drop a whole egg into the center of the squash, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Scatter some sage leaves and minced rosemary around the squash slices.
  9. Place a lid on top and let them cook at low temperature until the whites are cooked, but the yolks are still runny. This could take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Keep checking.
  10. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and more minced rosemary.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

First of all, welcome to the new design of Ciao Chow Linda.
After nine years, I thought it was time to say goodbye to the “blogspot” following my web address, design a new distinct logo and give a cleaner, more modern look to my blog.
I hope you like it as much as I do.
Please note that I also have a new email address: linda@ciaochowlinda.com, if you want to contact me.
And if Ciao Chow Linda is listed as a link on your blog, please change the address to the new one: http://ciaochowlinda.com
I hope there won’t be too many glitches with the new domain, but if there are, please be patient with me. There’s a bit of a learning curve for me.
Here’s the very first post under my new blog domain:
**********
 When your garden gives you a bounty of peppers, it’s time to get stuffing.
We left most of this year’s peppers on the plant until they turned from green to red, imparting more sweetness as they ripened.
With these four peppers, you can feed eight people, provided you have another side vegetable, like corn, as I did, or a salad.
Of course, that’s assuming you have a normal appetite.
But if eating a whole pizza by yourself is normal for you, then you’ll want two halves per person.
The stuffing is mostly ground beef, but with a bit of brown rice and some tomato sauce mixed in to give it a little more flavor.
The peppers release a lot of water after they’ve been cooking a while, but I give it a head start by pouring in a small bit of water on the bottom before covering the whole thing with aluminum foil. It also means you don’t need to grease the pan.
Bake covered for a half hour, then remove the cover and bake for another half hour. If there’s too much water on the bottom, remove the peppers and drain most of the water.
Near the last ten minutes of cooking, top with more sauce and slices of fontina cheese and place back in the oven to melt.
Serve with another vegetable, like corn on the cob, green beans, or a salad, for a complete meal.
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.
Stuffed Peppers
 
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
 
Ingredients
  • Stuffed Peppers
  • 4 large red (or green) peppers
  • ½ cup raw brown rice, cooked in 1½ cups water (I use short grain brown rice)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 T. minced parsley
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1½ cups shredded fontina cheese, plus a little more to place on top
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, plus another cup for pouring on top
Instructions
  1. Cut the peppers in half.
  2. Remove the ribs, drizzle a little olive oil on the inside and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make the stuffing mixing all the ingredients, including 1 cup tomato sauce.
  4. Stuff the mixture into the peppers, and place in a casserole.
  5. Put a shallow amount of water on the bottom of the casserole and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for ½ hour.
  6. Remove the foil, and most of the water that will have accumulated on the bottom since the peppers will release a good amount in the cooking.
  7. Be careful not to burn yourself.
  8. Cover the peppers with tomato sauce and place back in the oven for another ½ hour.
  9. Remove from the oven and place a slice of fontina cheese on top.
  10. Place in the oven again for another five minutes or so until the cheese has melted.
 

Fish And Corn Chowder

Fish and Corn Chowder

 It all started with about six ounces of leftover salmon and 1/2 cup of cream. I’m not generally a fan of leftover fish, but as I was driving one day thinking about what to serve for dinner, it occurred to me I had the basis for a creamy chowder sitting in the fridge.
So before I made it home, I picked up six scallops and six large shrimp at the fish store — and a couple of ears of corn at the local farm market.
I had two large cherry tomatoes and a green pepper at home, so that got thrown into the pot too, along with some diced potatoes and herbs.
The recipe is simple – Simmer the base ingredients for about 15 minutes, then add the fish in the last  few
minutes. The scallops and shrimp will need only about 4-5 minutes of
cooking in the hot liquid, and since the salmon was already cooked, it will
need only a minute to heat.
I thickened up the soup a bit by adding another potato that I boiled and mashed.
If you want to eliminate the cream entirely, you can replace it with water and another boiled and mashed potato.
But there is no substitute for that silky feel you get when heavy cream is used.
Leftover salmon never tasted so good.
The winner of the giveaway on my last blog post, a copy of Jamie Schler’s new cookbook, “Orange Appeal,” is Faith Bahadurian, chosen by a random number generator. Congratulations Faith.Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Fish and Corn Chowder
Printable Recipe Here

1 six-ounce piece of leftover salmon (or start with a fresh, uncooked piece)
6 large raw shrimp
6 large scallops
2 ears of corn on the cob, scraped of the kernels
3 small potatoes, two of them diced
2 T. butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green pepper
1 large garlic clove
water
1/2 cup heavy cream
parsley
thyme
salt, pepper
Devein
the shrimp and put the discarded shells into a pot of water (about two
cups), along with one small potato. Cover and cook until the potato is
easily pierced with a fork. Remove the potato and set aside, and discard
the shrimp shells, retaining the water.

Melt
the butter in a large pan, then add the onion, green pepper and garlic
and cook until softened. Add the water from the discarded shrimp shells
(it will be less than two cups of water after simmering) and the two
diced  (and raw) potatoes. Let the potatoes cook until almost soft, then add the
corn and cream and simmer on low for a few minutes. Add the herbs and other seasonings,
then put in the shrimp and scallops and cook for about four or five
minutes until almost cooked through. Add the cooked salmon (or if using
raw salmon, add it when you add the other seafood). Let everything cook
together gently for a few minutes without a lid, then serve.

 

Chocolate Orange Marble Loaf Cake And A Giveaway

Chocolate Orange Marble Loaf Cake and a Giveaway

I’ve been trying to stay away from baking all summer (that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of ice cream however).
But when a new cookbook arrived and I started flipping through it, my resolve quickly dissolved.
The next day I baked this cake — one of the most delicious cakes I’ve had in a long time, with rich chocolate and subtle orange flavor, a tender crumb and a luscious chocolate ganache topping.
Fortunately, later in the day I was meeting some board members from an Italian cultural institution I’m part of, who offered to lend with our annual mailing.
I lure them each year by bringing food, and they happily stuffed envelopes and slapped on stamps, sustained by this cake from Jamie Schler’s new cookbook, “Orange Appeal.”  Several of them took slices home too, leaving me with just enough cake to give my dad the next day.
It’s definitely a cake that will make appearance after appearance in my kitchen.
The photos are beautiful too, by Ilva Beretta, who also collaborated for two years with Jamie on the blog, Plated Stories.
Jamie now lives in Chinon, France, from which she writes the blog “Life’s A Feast,” and where she also runs a hotel (Hotel Diderot) — a place I’m longing to visit at some point.
With her busy life, I don’t know how she found time to write a cookbook, but it contains a plethora of recipes that include oranges in some form or other — not unexpected for someone who grew up in Florida.
I’ve made my share of candied oranges, but never tried orange powder, orange sugar, or orange salt. But with Jamie’s instructions from the book, they’ll be on my to-do list as soon as citrus season rolls in here in the Northeast U.S.
The book contains many savory recipes as well as sweet ones, and I’m really looking forward to trying the sweet-and-sour marmalade-glazed oven baked chicken next.
I’ve also got my eyes fixed on the glazed blood orange yogurt loaf cake and many others too, but they’ll have to wait until I make this chocolate orange marble loaf cake again, this time for my husband to try.
After you mix the batter, it gets divided in two parts. One is for the chocolate mixture, and into the other go the orange peel and orange juice. The raw batter was so delicious I had to restrain myself from licking too much off the spatula.
I swirled the chocolate batter into the white batter using a knife.
The kitchen smells divine while it’s baking. Let it rest for a few minutes before removing it form the pan.
The recipe says the chocolate glaze is optional, but for me it was an absolute necessity (especially if you’re using a Lindt chocolate bar that contains orange bits).
It’s a good thing I had a meeting to take this to, or I’d have eaten half the cake myself.

 

I did have to eat one slice before taking it to the meeting (you know, quality control and all that stuff).
Now I’d like to offer one of you a free copy of “Orange Appeal” so you can try this and all the other recipes in the book.
Just leave a comment at the bottom of the blog post (not in email), and a way for me to contact you if your name is chosen.
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.
Chocolate Orange Marble Loaf Cake
From “Orange Appeal” by Jamie Schler
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces/230 g) all-purpose flour
2 Tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces/175 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/8 cups (225 g) granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large orange, zested
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 packed tablespoons (18 g) unsweetened cocoa powderPreheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).   Butter a standard 9 x 5 x 2 1/2 inch (23 x 13 x 6 1/2 cm) or 8 cup 2 l) loaf pan; fit a piece of parchment paper in the bottom.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, and then beat in the oil. Beat in the flour mixture until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Divide the batter evenly between 2 bowls. Beat the zest and juice into 1 portion of the batter, and the milk, vanilla and cocoa into the other portion of batter until well-blended.

Spoon large dollops of each mixture, alternating the batters, into the prepared loaf pan. Drag a skewer or a long, sharp knife blade back and forth through the batter in swirls to create a marble pattern. Smooth the surface if necessary.

Bake for 55-60 minutes, until the cake is set in the center and just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a sheet of foil for the last 5-10 minutes of baking time to over over browning, if necessary.

Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before sliding a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and turning it out onto a cooling rack. Remove parchment paper from the bottom, allowing the cake to cool, top side up, on the rack.

Drizzle chocolate orange ganache over the top. (recipe below)

Chocolate Orange Ganache 
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces/100 g) coarsely chopped orange-infused 70 percent dark chocolate, such as Lindt Excellence Orange intense
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy creamPlace the chocolate into a medium heatproof mixing bowl. Slowly heat the cream in a small saucepan until it comes just to the boiling point. Pour the cream immediately over the chocolate and stir until it is smooth and creamy. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a drizzling consistency before spooning over the sponge cake.

Eggplant Napoleons

Eggplant Napoleons

It’s been the summer of eggplants for us, with the purple vegetable growing in abundance in our garden.
We’ve been enjoying grilled eggplants as a side dish for dinner, and have taken them to take to parties in the last month too. They’re delicious hot off the grill or at room temperature.
 Start by slicing the eggplants, then salting them and letting them sweat on a paper towel for an hour or so. It removes the bitterness and gets rid of some of the water too. I pat them dry, then toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and an herb – usually mint, but thyme is nice here too. Grill them until they’re browned on one side, then flip and brown on the other side.
We usually have more than we need for one dinner, so I gave some of them new life by making eggplant Napoleons.
Just take a slice of the grilled eggplant, smear a little tomato sauce on top (I had fresh tomato sauce thanks to my dad’s and my niece’s gardens). Then place a slice of some fresh mozzarella over that and continue with two more eggplant slices until you finish with eggplant and sauce on top. Place it back on the grill for just a minute to melt the cheese, (with the lid closed) – or place it in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
They make a great meal all by themselves, but they’re nice alongside a piece of salmon and some garden fresh green beans too.
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.
Eggplant Napoleons:
 
grilled eggplant slices
fresh mozzarella
tomato sauce
To grill the eggplants, slice each eggplant about 1/2 ” thick, then place on paper towels and salt both sides with table salt. Let the slices sit about an hour. Pat dry, then toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped mint (or thyme).
Place on the grill and grill until each side has browned. Then in a heatproof pan, or aluminum foil pan, place a slice of eggplant, a slathering of tomato sauce, and a slice of fresh mozzarellla. Top with another slice of eggplant, more sauce and another slice of mozzarella. Finish with a final slice of eggplant and more tomato sauce. Place the Napoleons back on the grill (put them on a tin-foil pan first), close the lid and cook until the cheese melts – another five minutes or less. Alternately, put the Napoleons in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes.
Summer Veggie Pizza

Summer Veggie Pizza

There are so many reasons I love summer, including the delicious sweet corn that grows prolifically here in New Jersey. We’ve been eating it at least once a week, just boiled in water for three or four minutes.
With one of the leftover ears, I was inspired to make a summer pizza using more terrific Jersey produce – (we are the “Garden State” after all!) after seeing something similar on my friend Stacey’s blog. 
The first time I tried it, I also added some zucchini and a bit of anchovy – just enough to give it a zing.
I can just hear those of you who are anchovy averse turning off at this point. But wait – the second time I made it, I added small cherry tomatoes and pancetta in addition to the corn and zucchini. In both cases, I used fresh oregano and basil (and mozzarella cheese of course).
For all you vegetarians, you can skip the anchovies or the pancetta and it will still be delicious, provided you have sweet corn in season.

Although I used a perforated pizza pan to bake the pizzas at a high temperature, the bottom crust just wasn’t getting browned enough. So after about 12 minutes at 475 degrees, I slipped the pizza off the pan and slid it directly onto the lowest of the oven’s wire racks for a few more minutes. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

It worked beautifully and created a crispy, crunchy bottom crust, without burning the toppings.

So take your pick and choose either surf (anchovies):

or turf (pancetta). In either case, you’ll want to try this corn pizza while fresh corn is at its peak.
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Summer Veggie Pizza
pizza dough (your own recipe or store-bought)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (or several balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced)
1 ear of corn, kernels scraped (either raw or leftover boiled)
1 small zucchini (or half of a large zucchini), sliced thinly and salted
either – 2 anchovies in oil or 6 thin slices of pancetta, fried until crispy
8-10 red or yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
fresh basil
fresh oregano
black pepper
olive oil
Whether using your own homemade dough, or store-purchased dough, put it in a bowl smeared with oil and let it come to room temperature and rest for about an hour. Punch it down and spread it out over a large perforated pizza pan.
Scatter the mozzarella over the dough, then place the zucchini and corn kernels and/or cherry tomatoes on top .
If using anchovies, lay them in a few places across the pizza. Do the same if using the pancetta.
Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake at 475 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If the dough is not browning on the bottom, slide the pizza from the pan directly onto the lowest rack of the oven. Let it bake for another 3-5 minutes, checking to make sure it doesn’t burn.