Sunday, November 13, 2011

I must have that recipe!

Today marked the first Slow Food University event that I have organized: a book talk and potluck with local author and culinary adventurer, Nani Power. She's my kind of woman. In fact, we have quite a bit in common:

1. We share a persistent search for meaning, love, and community through food.

2. Food is officially an obsession.

3. We find cooking therapeutic.

4. We are both just itching to get ourselves to India, primarily for the food.

We probably share a lot of ideals that I don't even know about yet. I need to get myself a copy of her latest work, Ginger and Ganesh, which tells the story of her life-changing experience learning to prepare authentic Indian cuisine from women all around her native Northern Virginia -- a two-year adventure which began with a simple ad on Craigslist offering to supply ingredients + $10 per hour for in-home cooking lessons from Indian women. Yep, I do believe this may be next up on my reading list. And I'm pretty sure quite a few of the 40-some folks at the gathering were thinking the same thing as we stacked chairs and bid our adieus at the end of the event.

So, yes, in spite of the past 48 hours of hand-wringing... and fear that nobody would show up... or that a bunch of people would arrive but wouldn't have brought any food... or that the guard would be home sick and hadn't unlocked the building... or... I swear I'm not a worrier (that's dad's specialty)... it was a resounding success. It's not just my own impression, either, I swear. Our esteemed speaker asked if I might be able to gather some of the recipes for the food offered by our humble Slow Food DC community this evening. A number of attendees seconded the request.

As I await the recipe for the divine coconut burfi made by my friend (and former teaching colleague) Carol, I offer my own Indian-inspired concoction. No, not the curried chickpeas with sweet potatoes and kale. (What can I say, I was worried people wouldn't bring enough food, so I made a few dishes.) I'm talking about the

Dark Chocolate Torte with Cardamom and Ginger Whipped Cream

...which is not so much authentic Indian as inspired by Indian spices...

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Brush an 8 or 9-inch cake pan with butter and dust with flour.
Melt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently:
  • 7 oz dark chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 TBSP) butter, cut into pieces
Remove from heat and whisk in:
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • seeds from 6-8 crushed cardamom pods
  • a dash of ground allspice
Let cool for about 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, beat together until thick (6 minutes or so) with an electric mixer:
  • 5 large farm fresh eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup raw/brown sugar
Gently fold chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until just mixed (uniform color). Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes.
Cool in pan, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen if needed, and then turn out on a wire rack or plate to slice.
Serve with fresh whipped cream beaten with:
  • a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar
  • a dash of ground/powdered ginger
Yeah, pretty delicious. Let me know if you try it at home!

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