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An All-Chocolate Menu for Valentine's Day


Abra
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Irishgirl, those sound quite interesting, but we really don't get venison here, so I've never cooked it. Bison, yes, but not venison.

Thanks for the link, snowangel. I don't watch TV at all, but I'll keep my eye on the thread to see what they come up with.

This is another recipe that looks different and interesting, called Mexican Chocolate Soup, although it doesn't use Mexican chocolate and doesn't resemble mole either.

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I've had this blogpost bookmarked for ages, meaning to make it but haven't got around to it: http://blog.foodienyc.com/2006/12/cocoa_pasta_bra.html

This is along the lines of what others have suggested- cocoa pasta with braised short ribs, but it sounds damn good to me!

Also, I don't know if you've seen this Art Culinaire article on chocolate in savory dishes: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_..._74/ai_n6227906

I think cocoa powder can be used sparingly in the batter/breading for a variety of fish courses, and chocolate pairs with those vegetables that have a sweeter side to them - squash, cauliflower, etc. The trick is in balancing the flavors....

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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What a fun idea!

A few thoughts...

A favorite way I like to cook beans like pintos is with lard/bacon fat, beer, chiles and onions. I wonder if some variant of this would be good with dark chocolate added in some way. I think the chocolate could work well with the smokey flavors. One might omit the oinons, and carefully add chile. I didn't approach it from this way, but maybe I'm just thinking of beans in a creamy dark mole sauce which wouldn't be too original! Anyway, I think the beer and chocolate and pork might work together and with earthy beans.

Thinking along the lines of Paula Wolfert's Picada recipe I wonder if some variant on that might work with hazelnuts and chocolate and with addition of cacao nibs for texture. Maybe goat cheese or feta would also work in that mix thinking back to the pear salad. This could be rolled up into pork loin or individual chicken breasts. Seared and then braised and served with a pan sauce.

Some caution against pairing chocolate and wine, but I wonder if one could concoct some type of savory sauce for beef that includes red wine and chocolate and stock.

Chocolate and tarragon are used in some truffles, maybe that is a flavor combination to keep in mind. Along the same lines, perhaps chocolate and curry powder or chocolate and fleur de sel if you paint something with chocolate.

Well, there are an infinite number of dessert ideas, but a recipe I've wanted to make that could be romantic and special in a situation where you are just cooking for two at a leisurely dinner might be Michel Richard's "Hot Chocoalte Truffles".

The recipe is in Julia Child's "Cooking with Master Chefs". Basically you 'bread" frozen balls of ganache with flour, beaten eggs and fine white bread crumbs sweetend with sugar and flavored with cinnamon. Freeze again, then fry in peanut oil at 350 deg F to brown in about 10 sec. (He recommends using couverure chocolate.)

You have to fit cacao nibs in the menu somewhere though!

Well, thanks for letting me "play" although I don't think I added anything too useful this time!

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I think cocoa powder can be used sparingly in the batter/breading for a variety of fish courses, and chocolate pairs with those vegetables that have a sweeter side to them - squash, cauliflower, etc. The trick is in balancing the flavors....

Roasted cauliflower with chili flakes and cocoa nibs is a good combination. It might also work with unsweetened cocoa powder, perhaps make a mix with chili powder rather than flakes and toss the florets with it before roasting.

Also, I often add a square or two of bitter chocolate to reduced red wine or port sauces to go with lamb or beef or even duck, and sometimes a teaspoon of cocoa powder finds its way into ragu type pasta sauces. But that's more to deepen flavours than to really give a dish a chocolate accent, which it doesn't.

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Ok, the cheese course is definitely set! Between the enrobed parmigiano and the goat cheese truffles I'd be an idiot to try to think up anything more exciting.

How interesting, the idea to use white chocolate as a sort of mantecare step, instead of cream or butter. I'd never in my life have dreamed that one up. I'm having a (possibly passing) fantasy of a red wine risotto, made with port, using white chocolate at the end, and a scattering of nibs.

I'm also leaning hard toward a cocoa pasta course, as well as the chicken livers in chocolate in the Medrich book. Probably not together, though. Although the chocolate pizza with spicy lamb is right in there too. And that pear salad. And something fishy. And oh dear, I suppose ineed dessert too.

I'm also starting to think I need to invite another 6 people over, so I can try all these dishes. Hmmm, that might be kind of anti-Valentinical.

oh - I wanted to add that I've had some surprisingly delicious combinations of spices with chocolate, thanks to Chufi's having sent me some Dolfin minis. Cumin chocolate and anise chocolate were two wonderful revelations. And now Ludja's given me that far-out idea using tarragon. And fish and tarragon are often a good combination. Maybe a little crust for a pan fried fish scallop of cocoa nibs and tarragon, paired with some sort of broth with a bit of fennel confit and preserved lemon?

Edited by Abra (log)
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Presentations, projected on three giant screens in a large auditorium, included some concepts that bordered on the bizarre, such as the chocolate mayonnaise Frédéric Bau of Valrhona (the French chocolate company) whipped up to serve with either salmon fillet or smoked salmon on a baguette.

Source: RS on Identità Golose

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I'd better get with the program here, only two more days!

Ok, so maybe Chocolate Pancakes for breakfast, probably without the sauce.

Mexican Chocolate Soup for lunch, along with a mole tamale.

A great cup of chocolat chaud for an afternoon snack.

Some variant of the Roasted Pear and Chocolate Salad, followed by Chocolate Pizza with Spiced Lamb Sausage for dinner. To me a perfect ending would be the chocolate dipped Parmigiano Reggiano and chocolate goat cheese truffles with a good dessert wine. But my husband would probably rather have cake. Hmmm, what to do? It's already sounding like way too much chocolate! And kinda lowbrow, huh?

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It is getting close to V-day... I had a potential idea for a seafood dish. Somehow I was picturing a combination of polenta, dark chocolate and shrimp. I think that the corn component, in the form of polenta/cornmeal and butter might work well with both shrimp and with chocolate and could serve as a sort of linking flavor bridge.

Specifically, I was thinking of rounds of firmed-up polenta browned in butter. Make a polenta sandwich using two rounds and dark chocolate in the middle. Serve with sauteed shrimp.

I guess one question would be if and how to season the shrimp beyond salt and pepper--even something simple like parsely or garlic might not work, but perhaps just butter and salt and pepper would be sufficient. Another alternative to pan-fried polenta cakes would be non-sweet or very slightly sweetened cornmeal pancakes/blinis...

The chocolate/tarragon/scallop dish sounds interesting as well.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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We started the day off with these

gallery_16307_4211_92533.jpg

chocolate pancakes. Photogenic they're not, but they were very good. I made them with Pernigotti cocoa, which is very red, and gave them an intense look.

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We started the day off with these

gallery_16307_4211_92533.jpg

chocolate pancakes.  Photogenic they're not, but they were very good.  I made them with Pernigotti cocoa, which is very red, and gave them an intense look.

Except for the maple syrup ( :wacko: ), they look pretty good and closely resemble the dark and white chocolate cookies that I'm staring at here in Air Canada's lounge. Damn! now I have to have to have a cookie.

Didn't realize that you were going to do every meal with chocolate too. This is going to be an interesting day of posts...

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Oh yes, all chocolate all day. My Valentine's gift to my husband was a collection of chocolates from around the world, and that was followed by this

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Mexican Chocolate Soup. This was very interesting. I did tweak up the recipe a bit by adding corn and a little ground chipotle, but the basic recipe wasn't quite like anything else I've had. With my eyes closed, I'm not sure I would have been able to identify the chocolate, but it did have a deep, dark deliciousness that I found tantalizing.

This soup, or something based on it, will be putting in an appearance as the first of the five courses for tonight's dinner. We're having two friends over, each of whose spouse is unavoidably far away today, so I'm consoling them with chocolate.

Ludja, did you decide to go with the polenta and chocolate? Based on this soup, which just cried out for corn, I'm guessing that would be a nice combination.

Edited by Abra (log)
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I am never eating chocolate again! At least, not anytime soon. The soup was followed later in the afternoon by a cup of chocolat chaud and I probably should have stopped right there. But dinner guests were arriving, and the chocolate parade continued.

I served the soup again as the first course, and if anything, it tasted better after a few hours' rest. Next up were Alice Medrich's Chicken Livers in a Cocoa-Sherry Pan Sauce on walnut toast.

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This might have been the most surprising flavor of the day, and I can't see any reason to make chopped liver ever again unless it's like this. If you have the book Bittersweet do yourself a huge favor and try this one right away. I served these with

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orange cauliflower roasted with cocoa nibs and piment d'Espelette. The nibs were a bit lost as a flavor, but it's hard not to love roasted cauliflower.

Next was the roasted pear salad with chocolate dressing that merstar linked to above. Somehow, inexplicably, I managed not to take a picture of the salad. I followed the recipe, except that instead of the chocolate goat cheese component I used the chocolate-dipped Parmigiano that SwissKaese linked to as little croutons. The salad was delicious, and chocolate salad dressing got a lot of oohs and aahs. The croutons were, well, different. Kind of good, kind of too sweet.

Then came David Lebovitz's Chocolate Pizza with Spicy Lamb Sausage.

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This is really good! I think we all had the same experience, first bite: hmmm, ok, not bad, and then better and better with each successive bite. Again, chocolate was an almost subliminal component, and again, the flavor of the cocoa nibs wasn't prominent.

And last, even though it wasn't exactly prudent

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Milk Chocolate Pudding with a praline of cocoa nibs and toasted pecans plus the chocolate goat cheese truffle that jende linked to.

This proved to me once and for all what I've been suspecting for a while now - if there's no sugar involved, we really don't recognize the flavors of chocolate. There was a lot of "wow, this has chocolate in it?" going on all day. All in all, a fun and surprising day of cooking and eating.

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