Posts made in May, 2013

Rich, Rich Chocolate Dessert

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Desserts | 1 comment

Rich, Rich Chocolate Dessert

“Much of the pleasure from dessert is visual.”--Emalee Chapman Fifteen Minute Meals 1981

At that time I was a Sunday personal chef before the term was created.

My client was the matriarch of a wealthy family known globally for developing an innovative engineering and construction company commencing in the 1920’s.

Meals were formal and prepared for two.

Speedy meals were not the lure of the cookbooks I often referred to--but the recipes were designed to serve two. Perfect!

I don’t recall if I made dessert for Margaret and her nurse.  Now and then when I am not baking big and want a small simple sweet I go back to this vintage volume.








The recipe calls for 6 ounces of chocolate.  I used two types of dark chocolate--one slightly spicy.  This is best right from the oven.  Have it preheated and the ingredients hanging out.  Slip away a few minutes before you want to serve it.








I melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave at 30 second intervals.








Stir in the sugars








and flour-- I tossed in a teaspoon of instant espresso powder deepening the intense chocolate one more bass level.








While the chocolate cools slightly, separate the eggs.  Whip the whites; add the yolks to the chocolate









then fold in the beautifully airy whites.

















Add the batter to a well buttered 6-7 inch (pretty) skillet.







The outer edge is cake-like and the center like a melted chocolate bar!

Every bite fools you.  








Cake and warm melting dark chocolate mousse with vanilla gelato and cacao nibs.

Small details on Friday night after dark.












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Peak of Perfection

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Pasta | 2 comments

Peak of Perfection


Imagine walking into your home and thinking you have landed in an Italian kitchen at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.

A stash of homemade slow cooked marinara on hand means you are always ready to share that aromatic let’s eat moment with your family or guests.



The ingredients are basic, the San Marzano tomatoes are essential-- the outcome spoils you forever.

These superior tomatoes are picked at their peak in the Campania region of Italy, where they grow in volcanic soil.  I used to buy them by the case when they were on sale.  When Trader Joe’s began selling Cento tomatoes I lost my breath and took a photo of the towering display.

This distinct marinara sauce has become a staple in our freezer.

Pizza, Pasta, Mousakka, Braciole..... Eggs!








Natural sweetness from onion, carrot and red pepper balances the acidity of the tomatoes.








The onion is sauteed in oil for a couple of minutes on its own before adding the seasonings, chopped garlic, and remaining vegetables.

The purple carrots are amazingly sweet!

I cover the vegetables and let them sweat for 5-7 minutes.








The glistening peeled tomatoes are piled on top.








Normal people break the tomatoes up with their hands.  My less messy secret weapon is the edge of the tomato can.  Leave it attached by a few inches.  Bend it out and use the edge to chop the tomatoes.  They slice beautifully without bursting.








Is it safe?  Works for me... see?








Add the bay leaves and give it a stir before covering and simmering the sauce for an hour.








Select fresh herbs.  I use basil and oregano.








Cook a few more minutes before you apply the magic wand.








Pureeing it with an immersion blender which is less messy seals the deal—it becomes a luxurious tomato sauce worthy of eating right from the pot.







Return the sauce to a simmer.  Adjust seasonings  Let it simmer and bubble uncovered until thickened.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a week.  MP divides the sauce into portions designed for different dishes and vacuum packs it in his fancy machine.

Then he scolds me for not making colossal cauldrons of my scrumptious sauce.







Simply justified.

Basic Tomato Sauce


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans Italian crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh oregano (optional)
  • 2 dried bay leaves


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over moderate heat. Add onion; a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, celery, carrots and red pepper; then season with another pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and sweat the vegetables, stirring occasionally without browning them, until all the vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and bay leaves; simmer covered on low heat for at least an hour or until the tomatoes are soft. Remove bay leaves. Add basil, oregano and adjust seasoning.
  3. In a blender or using an immersion blender, blend sauce until thick and smooth. Return to simmer and continue to cook until thickened to desired consistency.
  4. Makes 6 cups
  5. © Copyright 2013 Peggy Barrett Lunde
  6. All Rights Reserved


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A Sure Sign of Spring

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Pasta | 2 comments

Passing by Fava beans at the spring market triggered thoughts of being uncool. I knew the window for this ancient and honorable springtime favorite was closing.  With a nudge from my ramp and fiddlehead fern friends and because I was feeling very Italian one day, I bought a handful.  I also understood the commitment I had made to these broad beans.

Look for smooth bright mostly unblemished pods that are 6-7 inches long.  The beans inside the pod are the protected prize—so they shouldn’t be bulging or popping out.








The preparation of Fava beans requires time. 








People who need people to








snap, string, sing, shuck, shock,








whistle, parboil, and peel.









The wondrous result of this pursuit is worth every idle or meandering conversation going on in your head.   








Ah, the Fava bean--meaty, nutty and buttery bites-- whether scattered over salmon, arugula and polenta, pureed for crostini or








tossed with spinach, asparagus and fettuccine.

So cool!

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Relish or Salad?

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Party Drinks and Appetizers | 3 comments









Memorial Day is only 2 weeks away!

As the weather heats up and more cooking goes outdoors or is packed up for the beach—I pickled up.

I vaguely recall one of my sons’s being a pickle juice drinker—in high school.  You know who you are!

The spicy mix of pickled vegetables that land alongside an authentic plate of tacos and beans are a similar version of Italian giardiniera.  They also ride pretty well with sandwiches or burgers.








This quick recipe combines my favorite vegetables.  Choose the ones you like for a batch that keeps well in the refrigerator or may be packed into glass jars for hostess gifts.








Begin by bringing the pickling liquid to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar.  I added only 1/2 teaspoon of crushed pepper.  If you were a Chew host you would add lots more.








The remaining task is to systematically blanch each vegetable.







Four minutes seemed the right time lapse for the dense vegetables before fishing them out








and tumbling them into ice water.









Pour the hot liquid into a large bowl.








Let the vegetables drain and dry on a  clean dish towel.








Plunge them into the hot liquid.








I added Peperoncini for my pickled pepper loving son.  You might add cherry peppers or jalapeno.









Toss the the mixture well before







adding a plate and a weight.  This keeps the vegetables submerged while they hang out and chill for the next 24 hours.











Countdown to grilling season starts now!

Quick Pickled Vegetables


  • Pickling Liquid:
  • 2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • Vegetables:
  • 1 head, (2 pounds) trimmed cauliflower florets (6 cups)
  • 1 red pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut into squares
  • 3 large carrots cut into thick slices (3 cups)
  • 1 cup drained whole Peperoncini
  • 1 cup large stuffed green olives
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted


  1. Bring pickling liquid to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have another large bowl of ice and water ready to cool vegetables. Add cauliflower to the pot and boil until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Continue to cook remaining vegetables in the same manner. Drain the vegetables and spread out onto a kitchen towel to dry.
  3. Add cooked vegetables, Peperoncini, and olives to the pickling liquid. Mix well. Weight the vegetables with a plate to keep them submerged, then chill, covered, at least a day.




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Chocolate Hazelnut Spread Smackdown

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Desserts | 3 comments

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread Smackdown

The first jar of Nutella (originally called Supercrema) a creamy hazelnut chocolate spread left the factory in Alba, Italy in 1964.

It became wildly popular when the creators led consumers to believe it was part of a nutritious breakfast—well the hazelnuts—I suppose.

After being sued in a class action suit in the USA (of course) the spread is now marketed as part of breakfast when you spread it on multigrain toast and  add a glass of milk with fruit.


This month Food and Wine published a recipe for Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread which reproduces the creamy, nutty and chocolaty delight without the added processing ingredients.









Izzy is a fan of Nutella with apples as an occasional  treat although she prefers Trader Joe's Cocoa Almond Spread.

I am remembering bright boxes of animal cracker cookies in a circus box with a string handle.








Ferraro brings it to Target--with their version of Nutella a go-go...








Izzy helped with the R&D.








Pretzel sticks are conveniently nestled next to the compartment of Nutella.








Her bona fide reaction?  Duped!  The section holding the spread was only half as deep as the side containing the dippers.

Food and Wine's version will stand up against Nutella on Mother's Day.








Sweetened Condensed Milk



Dark Chocolate

Unsweetened Chocolate








The nuts are toasted in butter for 2 minutes and finished in the oven.








The messy part is rubbing off the skins. The bits of toasted skin definitely add another dimension to the taste.








The warm nuts are added to the chocolate and processed until the nuts are finely ground and the chocolate is melted.








The milk is heated before adding it








to the nut and chocolate mixture.








Butter instead of palm oil is combined with a touch of boiling water to finish the creamy spread.








It makes 3 cups and will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.








I am adding smoked chili salt and peeling a banana...








Have a blessed day celebrating generations of mothers!

xo coco

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