Never fail recipes for beginners
What a great idea! A talented creative cook, who works with glass, pottery, book making and cooking, to name just a few of her hobbies (she has a full time demanding job on the side) called to say that she was making a book for her bride-to-be niece and would welcome a few recipes from friends.
Whether we are beginning cooks or accomplished chefs we are always looking for recipes that are easy and foolproof. It is nice if they taste good, too. Here are a few favorites that I sent to her because I have used them over and over through the years. My recipe cards have the spots and stains to prove it!
Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette
An emulsified pungent salad dressing that is great on salads from a leafy green, to pasta, to potato salad. I also like it just drizzled across slices of tomato and onion. And it keeps almost forever in the refrigerator. If it finally separates just give it a few shakes to recombine the oil and vinegar. Makes 1 1/2 tangy cups.
1/4 cup wine vinegar
Whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Whisk in oil a few drops at a time and when the mixture thickens add in a very slow stream. Whisk in sugar, salt and pepper until you like the taste. You can probably make this using a blender or small food processor. I've just always done it by hand as it doesn't really take long and it is fun to see it emulsify.
Jamie Sue's Broccoli Salad
Crunchy, pretty and easy, this can serve as a luncheon main dish, or accompany dinner or snuggle up to a sandwich. It is a nice dish to take to a potluck or buffet as they are usually long on potato and pasta salads but a bit short on vegetables. It doesn't get limp and soggy so leftovers are delicious, too. Generally makes 6 to 8 servings.
3 heads broccoli, cut in florets*
1 cup mayonnaise (low-fat is fine)
*If you use the broccoli stems, peel first and slice thin. Combine salad ingredients in a bowl, saving the sunflower seeds and some of the bacon to garnish the salad. Dressing: Stir dressing ingredients together in the order given and toss with broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and bits of cooked bacon.
Chocolate truffle cake
This cannot fall and fail as it never rises. It is between a brownie, truffle candy and a flourless cake (though it does have flour). I use a small baking pan and get 1 1/2 cakes from the recipe--1 to take and 1 to keep. The glaze makes enough for 2 cake layers. I keep any that I don't immediately use and spread it later on cookies, cupcakes or brownies. It is so easy and fail-proof. When you don't want to trouble with icing, place a paper doily over the cooled cake and shake confections sugar through a sifter or tea strainer over the openings in the doily. Carefully lift the doily straight up and you will have a pretty pattern on the cake. Surround it with berries and a bit of whipped cream. Makes 16 slices.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Cake: Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line bottom with waxed paper or parchment, grease paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Melt chocolate and butter in top of a double-boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until smooth; set aside to cool. (This can be done in microwave on low power if you remove and stir now and then until it is smooth. Do not overcook.) At high speed in mixer beat eggs for 2 minutes. Then beat in chocolate and then flour mixture. Scrape into prepared pans. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 45 minutes. Remove cake from pan and peel off paper. Cool completely before applying topping.
Glaze: While cake is cooling, heat chocolate and cream together over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Set aside for 15 minutes. Pour over cake. Transfer to serving plate.
Garnish: While cake is baking, melt chocolate in top of double boiler (in microwave). Spread thinly on a baking sheet. Let stand until chocolate is nearly firm and reaches room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a spatula knife, scrape chocolate into loose thick curls. Let harden completely. Use toothpicks to lift and arrange curls on cake. Leave as is or you can dust the cake with sifted confections sugar and/or sprinkle with berries.
If you think any of these have failed--just say it is supposed to be this way.