Monday, April 23, 2007

A weekend of food, fun, friends and laughter

I apologize in advance for this being such a lengthy post, but there was much to write about and I was unwilling to do more than one post. I can say that it's shorter than, War and Peace....

I love when I have weekends that can be marked by friends, fun and especially food. It was a rather lazy weekend and I quickly decided that the weekend would not include any demands on myself. I had my list (yes, I am a list person) going of all the things I had planned to accomplish over the next three days ( I have Monday off too). But, as I type this post, the list is less than half completed...(sigh).

On Friday, I left work an hour early to get a jump on the traffic and run a quick errand. As I pulled my car onto the freeway, I was met with a parking lot. What are all these people doing on the road at 3:30? Don't they work? They couldn't possibly have the same idea I did.... So, I settled in my lane with my right foot bouncing back and forth on the gas and the brake. Of course, all the people in the carpool lane were flying past me. I started to take a look into the cars to check out the passengers and noted one driver and the passengers....a baby in a car seat. That baby shouldn't count. The whole point of the carpool lane is to avoid two or more people driving solo. So, unless that baby has a license...that driver is really stretching the definition of a carpool lane and a passenger.... If that's the case, then my dogs should count as extra passengers as well. Add a letter to the Department of Transportation on my list...

After the stop and go traffic, I completed my errand and headed over to the wine bar for some much needed rejuvenation. As luck would have it, friends started to trickle in and soon Colin, Irene, Dennis, Mike and Gen had joined me. It was a fun evening of cheese plates, wine and laughter. I was having such a good time, that I completely forgot to pull out my camera...so, no visual of this evening.

The next day, I did actually mark off a few items on my list. I met a friend for a quick walk, came home and did some yoga, caught up on some reading (I am one of those people that juggle the reading of multiple books at any given time) scrubbed my kitchen from top to bottom, and made some delicious hummus with Kalamata olives. As the rain really picked up, I headed over to Tanya's for dinner and a movie. The original plan was to go to Whole Foods Market to purchase a ridiculous amount of food, make a four course meal, take tons of pictures and blog about our decadent evening... In my head, it was running like our little version of Babbett's Feast. However, Tanya wasn't up to such an evening, so we tweaked our plans a bit. I headed over to Freeport Bakery and picked us up a slice of Tiramisu and Lemon Cooler. Then I popped over to Trader Joe's and picked up a plant to brightened Ms. Tanya's day and an extra bottle of wine...just in case (wink, wink). We dined on a delicious veggie pizza, a beautiful salad with avocados and this fabulous Green Goddess Dressing that Tanya made. After dinner we settled down to enjoy some "Sex in the City" and dive into dessert. Kody was quite taken with the dessert as well.....

Kody "jonesing" for our treats.....

On Sunday evening, Craig and I were invited to Colin and Irene's for a dinner party. Since all of the guests were bringing various items to the party, I decided to make dessert. At first, I decided on a flourless chocolate torte with some fresh cream. However, when I got to the store, there were these beautiful blueberries and raspberries in the produce section. So, I decided to make two desserts; the chocolate torte and fresh berry parfaits with lemon cream....Yum! Normally, I will make the parfaits in martini glasses...but there were going to be 10 people at the party. So, I headed over to Ikea to pick up some dessert glasses for the parfaits. As luck would have it, I ran into my old friend Bart. He had just recently purchased a house in our neighborhood and was buying a very large rug. After catching up with one another, I invited him over for dinner on Monday...Leg of Lamb, it will be.

Back home, I whipped up the parfaits and the torte. Since I have already shared the preparation of the parfaits with you, we can just dive right into the torte! So, to speak...


Berry Parfaits in my new dessert glasses from Ikea

Measure out four ounces of bittersweet chocolate. I used Scharffen Berger.

Chop up the chocolate for easy melting.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl with one stick of unsalted butter. I use a stainless steel bowl over a small pan of water on the stove at low heat.

After the chocolate and butter have melted, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in 3/4 cup of sugar. Add 3 large eggs and whisk.

Sift 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa over the batter and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared (recipe below) 8-inch cake pan. Batter will be similar to a thick brownie batter.

After the cake has completely cooled. Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Then the fun starts.... Colin and Irene had invited Craig, myself, Lori and Mike, Bob and Sondra and Dennis. We had a delicious dinner of grilled tri-tip, fresh green salad and roasted baby potatoes. And since Bob and Sondra own the wine bar, many bottles of wine were introduced and enjoyed.


Dennis, Mike and Lori sharing wine bar gossip

Bob and Dennis perhaps conspiring on how to keep the Stag's Leap District Cabernet all to themselves.....

Bob takes the next step in the plan as he deftly grabs the coveted bottle...

Irene and Craig enjoying themselves and the wine.

That must have been some kick ass wine. The Riedel broke in a way I have never seen before....

Looks like Colin can add writing a letter to the Riedel Glass company on his to-do list....


Flourless Chocolate Torte

4 ounces of high quality bittersweet chocolate
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for finishing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom of pan with a round of wax or parchment paper. Butter the paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into the pan and bake in middle of oven for 25 minutes or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate.

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder after the cake has completely cooled. Serve with fresh whipped cream, gelato or coconut sorbet.

12 comments:

doggybloggy said...

thats the basic idea behind my pirate cake except I beat the whites till stiff and add the yolks to the melted chocolate...mmmm good. Michele you needed to talk Tanya into Babettes Feast, I would love to see what you would have prepared.

pinknest said...

that looks like so much fun!! i want to be there. *sniff* the cake looks decadent and delicious!

Mushy said...

Long...but worth the read...my mouth is watering.

Thanks for the visit...I suppose I'll have to link you on my cooking blog.

Thanks.

Tanya Kristine said...

not that i didn't appreciate teh dessert you brought over but WHERE THE HELL WAS THAT CHOCOLATE TORTE SATURDAY NIGHT???

buffalodickdy said...

Sounds like a weekend to remember-for all the right reasons! I haven't had alot of cause to bake anything lately, and a few of you out there are making me feel like I'd better get with it again!

Joe said...

If you have any of those deserts left over, feel free to send them my way.

Michelle Ann said...

Doggy-I completely agree about the "Babette's Feast". I think it would be a blast.

Pink-Everytime I read your blog, I want to be where you are too!

Mushy-Thanks for enduring my long post....glad it was worth the read.

Tanya-had we not altered our plans on Saturday, I had chocolate souffles on the menu. We definitely need to reschedule our feast.

Buffalo-That cakes is made in one bowl and take about 45 minutes from start to out of the oven. It's super easy!

Joe-with all the food bloggers out there, I wish we could package up our goodies and send them to our blog compadres! It would be so "amuse bouche"....

Carrie™ said...

I've never met Kody, but I love him. :o) Incredible cake girl! And berry parfaits too. Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!
Too bad about the glass. I am quite clumsy so I buy more Spiegelau than Riedel. It's not as traumatic for me when I break one. (I don't dare tell you how many)

snowelf said...

Oh my gosh, another chef! I really need to start hanging around more often!

Thanks for stopping by the other day. Your blog is fun to read!
And hi to the pooches!

--snow

SSC said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. I am new to the blog scene and I am jumping from page to page from other bloggers pages. AHH if that makes sense. I found your blog through Joe’s and your stories intrigue me and make me laugh. Even though I have children I agree with you in regards to the whole car pool thing, except when I am running late for work!!!!

Dan said...

You bewitch me with photos of chocolate. First rule of blog posting. If you put photos of chocolate in your post, Dan will have trouble actually reading the post.

Michelle Ann said...

Carrie-I have given up grieving over broken glasses...However, we do have some $90.00 glasses and I am scared to death everytime we use them...

Snowelf-welcome! I enjoyed reading your blog as well.

SSC-I am just envious of the carpool lane. I am considering purchasing a fake baby and a carseat.....

Dan-one thing I cannot eliminate in life...chocolate.