Tag Archives: chocolate

One of Each: Dessert Tasting at J Betski’s

Gentle Readers, sometimes choosing is too hard. My dining companions, upon learning that I had a food blog, insisted we order one of each dessert on the menu at J Betski’s. For those of you who are math inclined, there were three of us and five desserts. I do like those odds.

The Remains of the Day: Dessert Graveyard

The Remains of the Day: Dessert Graveyard

I met the dessert I want to marry. Typically, I am not a big fan of chocolate and orange. However, I love bread pudding, and I love chocolate and walnuts. But milk chocolate and walnuts and orange?

Hello chocolate bread pudding. No, I don't want to share you.

Hello chocolate bread pudding. No, I don’t want to share you.

It was pure unicorns. Run, don’t walk.

Chocolate hazelnut (blech) bacon sea salt dessert. The bacon made me do it.

Chocolate hazelnut (blech) bacon sea salt dessert. The bacon made me do it.

We also tasted gingerbread and carrot cake and a bacon chocolate sea salt number (marred only by hazelnuts, which loyal readers know I believe were created by the devil) and a strudel of sorts. But they were dead to us after tasting the bread pudding.

Spicy Gingerbread

Spicy Gingerbread

Sometimes, you just have to try them all to decide. Have you ever ordered one of everything? Do tell, it will be our secret. Try the comments box below, it doesn’t bite.

Strudel!

Strudel!

Special thanks to my DessertOps dining companions. I look forward to the next round. Apologies for the delay of game on the potato chips. I’m too full of sugar to edit video right now.

Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake!

Send black coffee, good ideas, and cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus, Travel Edition

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Weekly Menus: July 4th Edition (week of 7/1/2012)

Gentle Readers, so this week we shall break tradition at The Practical Cook. Yes, there are so many places to go to find recipes for red, white, and blue food. If that’s your quest, I encourage you to go forth and prosper. If you have a minute and a cup of coffee, let me tell you my strategy.

Celebrate your independence from hothouse tomatoes! Bring on summer!

Celebrate your independence from hothouse tomatoes! Bring on summer!

I plan to buy the following this week:
trash bags, a gallon of milk, dishwashing detergent

I am putting the the CSA on hold and leaving much to chance. There will be some field research conducted at an undisclosed location. I plan to file reports. Yes, it is time to take a break for a week! I am going to eat picnics, put myself in the hands of friends for guidance, and celebrate my culinary independence.

Chocolate with Ancho Chile Powder FTW! It was like fireworks in my mouth.

Chocolate with Ancho Chile Powder FTW! It was like fireworks in my mouth.

One of the things I love about food and being a food blogger, there are no borders. I get to chitchat about my favorite topic with colleagues (more guest posts coming from the world of high-tech), and pastry chefs in bars (new idea borrowed from her, coffee ice cream with candied bacon, the chocolate above is her brilliance), and even while I have a beauty moment (step by step instructions on making Pho and the differences in Vietnamese food culture and American food culture).

Here’s my July 4th Weekly Menu Guidelines:

1. Watermelon. Sliced, chunked, in a salad. Whatever. Best eaten outside. As was the below, to celebrate the launch of The Local Palate, a new regional food and culture magazine. It was inspiring to be amongst my Southern foodies, fan in hand.

Watermelon Salad with Feta from Fearrington House.

Watermelon Salad with Feta from Fearrington House.

2. Grill out. Do I need to elaborate? This picture of the grilled burrito takes me to a happy happy place.

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

3. Dine al fresco when possible. That’s fancy for outdoors.

Even macarons taste better outside.

Even macarons taste better outside.

4. All coffee will be iced.

Iced coffee is my iced tea. Not sweet, never sweet.

Iced coffee is my iced tea. Not sweet, never sweet.

5. Tomato Sandwiches.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

Are you declaring freedom from the kitchen? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way. I will be mobile, remote, and ready to field questions for Wednesday!

Send your queries, questions, and challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up on Wednesday, Reader Questions Answered!

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Can this chocolate be saved? How not to have a seizure when your chocolate does.

Gentle Readers, late last night The Practical Cook dipped over 50 strawberries into melted chocolate. It sounds like fun, until about 3/4 of the way through, things went terribly wrong. The chocolate seized. Something got in there, and my emergency measures turned it into ganache. Coated in chocolate, I had a back-up bag of chips (always come prepared to a chocolate party), but what to do with the fudge-like mass that was meant to be smooth creamy dipping chocolate?

Emergency Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Candy Bars

Emergency Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Candy Bars

Make candy bars. The chocolate could not be saved for dipping berries, but it was in fact still chocolate. Though I need more chocolate and peanut butter combos like I need a hole in the head, here’s what I did.

Emergency Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Candy Bars

1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips (the microwave should work, unless it doesn’t, as in my case)
1 Tablespoon Karo syrup
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup peanut butter
2 or 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup crispy rice cereal, corn flakes, etc. (any plain crunchy cereal will do)

If your chips were melted for another purpose, now is the time to take a deep breath, or utter some curses. I’ll pause while you choose the best method for you. Now, while the chips are still melty and warm, add the syrup, butter, and peanut butter, and stir. Reheat to combine if needed. Add the sugar and form a fudgy ball.

Press onto a wax paper covered plate or into a small dish. Sprinkle rice cereal on both sides (use the wax paper to turn it over), pressing the cereal into the chocolate. Chill in the fridge until it firms up. Eat with wild abandon.

I recommend it with apple slices, so you feel like you’re having a fruit snack. So the chocolate wasn’t salvageable for dipping, but it makes for some fantastic candy bars. These are so good, I sort of wish I hadn’t created them.

What are your tricks for working with bad-tempered chocolate? Post a comment below!

Deep thoughts, strawberries, and actual questions can be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Strawberry Almond Pancakes.

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Chocolate and Fruit: Where Do You Stand?

Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook is fond of chocolate, deeply fond, she does not think it goes with every fruit under the sun. Yes, there, I said it. There are some fruit/chocolate combinations of which I’m not fond. As the Golden Globes are going on, let’s nominate our favorite fruit and chocolate pairings, shall we. And in some cases, it is not an honor to be nominated.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

In the category of fruits that pair well with chocolate, we have:

1. Strawberries. This is a clear winner. Easy to make, delicious to eat. Love them. Dearly. Here’s a simple recipe for chocolate-dipped strawberries.

2. Cherries. A favorite since childhood. I would show you a picture of the box I got for Christmas (thanks Mom!), but I ate them all.

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

3. Bananas. Banana splits, I put them in my chocolate yogurt, they’re frozen and dipped in chocolate for the fair! A clear front-runner.

4. Apples. Rolled in caramel and then dipped in chocolate and a variety of candy. Brilliant invention. Yes, please.

The Caramel Apple That Eats Like a Meal

The Caramel Apple That Eats Like a Meal

5. Boysenberries. Just trust me on this. I had a chocolate torte on a black walnut crisp with boysenberry sauce. It was as good as it sounds.

For fruits I don’t want near chocolate, we have:

1. Oranges. Yeah, you heard me. Though I have admittedly consumed several pieces of chocolate orange from the holidays, it was a matter of chocolate desperation, and I was unhappy with myself. This combo doesn’t work for me.

Chocolate peanut butter, chocolate orange, chocolate mint.

Chocolate peanut butter, chocolate orange, chocolate mint.

2. Raspberries. I know, you can boo me off the stage on this one. I think it goes back to the days of the Whitman’s sampler, when I would always manage to get the “raspberry gel” no matter what. Ugh and double ugh.

Whitman's Sampler

3. Peaches. This just came to me as an extremely unfortunate pairing. Having never tried it, I can’t say for certain. I would add kiwi and mango to this category as well.

Okay, the nominations are in, it is time to vote! Post a comment below, or Tweet with #chocofruit as the hashtag.

Questions, suggestions, chocolate? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, speaking of cheesy, it’s Veggie Nachos Perfected!

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The Practical Cook on Location at the Chocolate Tree (with video)

Gentle Readers, this post is nothing short than a love note to chocolate. It wouldn’t be practical to make it myself, for so many reasons, so I must go forth and sample the chocolate the world has to offer. The Practical Cook hopes you appreciate her sacrifice. Roll the tape.

While on location in Beaufort, SC, The Practical Cook always visits The Chocolate Tree. It’s amazing. These folks are creative and skilled, sitting happily at the crossroads of humor and chocolate.

Turtle-Shaped Chocolate Turtles

Turtle-Shaped Chocolate Turtles

Today’s post is a gratuitous bunch of chocolate shots:
5 Reasons to Visit The Chocolate Tree

1. Selection.

The Selection at the Chocolate Tree Is Vast

The Selection at the Chocolate Tree Is Vast

2. It smells like chocolate inside. (Hard to photograph that, so here’s half a turtle to compensate.)

Headless Turtle

Headless Turtle

3. Cute boxes.

Box of Chocolates

Box of Chocolates

4. Creativity.

Deviled Egg or Of the Devil?

Deviled Egg or Of the Devil?

5. It’s really, really delicious.

Dark, milk, white chocolate, I love it all.

Dark, milk, white chocolate, I love it all.

Watch the video to see the infamous white chocolate deviled egg consumed. It was good, but surprising. Do you have a favorite local chocolate shop? Post a comment or send a Tweet.

Send your ode to chocolate to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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In an effort to, ahem, get back on track healthwise, tomorrow will feature Garlicky Roma Beans with Tomatoes.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 7/3/2011

Today’s weekly menus indicate a transitional period. The Practical Cook is still blogging remotely from a vacation spot, and the CSA ended last week. It’s possible that The Practical Cook’s parents will greet her return with loads of vegetables they “saved” for her (read: no other way to offload their zucchini).

Deviled Egg Illusion: Actually White Chocolate (with Paprika Sprinkles!)

Deviled Egg Illusion: Actually White Chocolate (with Paprika Sprinkles!)

So what follows are some guidelines and thoughts for next week’s menus. I should also note that I’ll be blogging about a chocolate shop I just visited in the coming weeks, which would also explain the high level of vegetarian or vegetable-rich meals listed below.

Chocolate Turtles from the Chocolate Tree

Chocolate Turtles from the Chocolate Tree

Weekly Menus: 7/3/2011

Sunday: Attending Pool Party with Burgers and Dogs
The trick here is to not eat what is not good. I’ve fallen prey to this party mentality before. I have nothing against burgers and dogs, in fact I love them, but only when they rock out. Otherwise, I’ll eat side items.

Monday: BBQ Chicken
An American Classic. Easy on the grill, super easy on the stove. Will blog my method at some point.

Tuesday: Whole Foods Family Meal
This is my Punt! upon returning from trips. It’s one of the least-expensive Whole Foods options, and is a main, two sides, and a salad that doesn’t cost a Whole Paycheck. Check it out.

Wednesday: Vegetable Melange
This is fancy for “I wonder what will be in my house when I get there.” Perhaps it will be an omelet or something on a tortilla, but I crave serious veggies after a trip. Somehow travel becomes a meat-fest.

Thursday: Dine Out!
Friends are in town, and there are some dietary restrictions. I’m thinking the local Indian joint is a winner. If not, I’ll Punt! and report about it.

Friday: Pasta Toss!
Clearly, I’m enthusiastic about getting back into the kitchen, what with the joyful punctuation. I need some parsley and tomatoes, and then anything else that sits still will go in. Possibly with some Golden Sherry, my new deglazing obsession.

Saturday: TBD
Usually we dine out, but I may sit this one out, since I have to travel again right away. Even I can only do so much field research, and another week away from the Practical Cook Test Kitchen may kill me.

But rest assured Gentle Readers, there will be many ears of corn and sliced tomatoes consumed in the coming weeks. And let’s not even talk about the cucumbers and onions. It is summertime, and the eating is easy. What are you eating this week? Post a comment here, or Tweet away.

Send your weekly menus to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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In honor of the Fourth of July, 3 Things I Want to Declare Independence From. Yes, more confessions are coming.

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Summertime Snack Series: Popsicles (Chocolate Almond Cherry Edition with video)

With advance apologies to our readers who are yet to feel the stinging heat of summer, but down South, this is a timely post. The Practical Cook loves popsicles in theory, but is not a fan of the limited orange, cherry, grape ones that are readily available. A child of the 80’s, I wanted to get back to my Bill Cosby roots and have something more like a pudding pop.

Modern Day Pudding Pop

Modern Day Pudding Pop

Fast forward to modern times, and a local paleta shop call Locopops opened. It was a revelation. Their flavor combinations are limitless, and in two main categories, water and cream-based. Hurray. That will be a guiding principle here as well.

As recipes are developed, they will be shared here, so keep the suggestions coming!

Chocolate Almond Cherry Popsicle Recipe

There are some techniques that will help you reach popsicle success. For the tips and tricks, watch the how-to video here.

2 cups plain or vanilla flavored yogurt, or chocolate or vanilla pudding (if you use anything but plain yogurt, omit sweetener)
1/2 cup frozen sweet cherries
2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional if using plain yogurt)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup toasted almond slivers
chocolate syrup

1. Put yogurt, cherries, optional sweetener, and almond butter in a blender (or food processor). Blend it!

2. Put a spoonful or so of almond slivers in the bottom of your popsicle molds (or paper cups, if you must).

3. Pour the blended mixture in the molds until they’re half-full. Add a dollop of chocolate syrup into each mold. This creates the squishy center. Fill the molds to the top with the remaining popsicle mixture.

Fill the popsicle molds halfway.

Fill the popsicle molds halfway.

4. Freeze for at least 1 hour.

5. Loosen from mold with warm water. Eat.

Are you a popsicle fan? Do you chomp or lick? Post a comment here and share your popsicle stories!

Thanks for all of the flavor suggestions so far. Send pictures of your popsicle creations to Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today! Thank to everyone for helping to earn our very own name: facebook.com/practicalcook)

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Coming up tomorrow, the world premiere of Goaty McBeet Burgers.

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