Saturday, February 12, 2011

Does it really work?

I hate to throw away food. I hate, hate, hate it. I feel like I might as well drop cash in the garbage.

I recently opened my veggie crisper to find that I had let a stalk of celery age past it's prime. DARN IT! I get so annoyed with myself when I let that happen. Then I remembered reading online somewhere that you can soak stalks of celery in water for 24 hours to rehydrate and revitalize them.

I decided to give it a try:

So...does it really work?

For me, yes and no. Ultimately my stalks were returned to a fair amount of firmness, but I had to let them soak in the water for three days, not one. The stalks weren't super crispy as if they were fresh from the grocery store, but they were firm enough I was able to use them in a couple recipes.

Would I do it again? Probably not. I think I'll just try harder not to let the celery get soft!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day is coming...bring on the chocolate!

I know it's stereotypical to think that all women love chocolate, but they don't. I have two neighbors that despise it and WILL NOT eat it in any form or recipe. May I say, however, that I am NOT one of those people. I love chocolate. I mean I love, love, love chocolate...especially dark chocolate. I will eat it in cake, brownies, candy, fondue, and dip. Simply put, I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!!

Ever since I was young (yes, that means for a LONG time), I have had a love affair with chocolate mousse. I don't know why. I don't know how it started. But, whenever I'm asked what my favorite dessert is, it's not uncommon to answer "chocolate mousse." (I actually have a lot of favorites. I can never narrow my favorites down to one.) I can remember going to Sunday brunches and always going straight to the always dainty pedestal glasses of chocolate mousse before anything else. MMMMM! Just thinking about a dish of that smooth, creamy, rich, decadent dessert is making my mouth water!

Several years ago during a routine trip to the grocery store, I noticed some recipe cards available for the taking on a service counter. (How could I not grab a couple???) One of the recipes was for....cue the angelic chorus now...CHOCOLATE MOUSSE. Since I'd never attempted to make this delicacy myself, I grabbed a card and told myself that I would, indeed, someday, make a big ol' bowl of long time favorite dessert. I tucked the card away awaiting the perfect moment to pull it out.

And then it arrived...VALENTINE'S DAY! The holiday of love, delicious dinners, and chocolate! Mr. C and I talked it over and decided this was the perfect opportunity to pull out the chocolate mousse recipe and GO FOR IT!

On a personal note, let me just say how bizarre it was when Mr. C and I were dating to discover that his favorite dessert is also chocolate mousse. I'd never met anyone else who loves as much as I do. Not only does he love chocolate mousse, he loves Idaho Spud candy bars like I do. I didn't even know anyone else knew they existed. OK, enough of the goofy personal stuff. Time to get back to the pressing matter at hand...mousse!

The mousse came together so quick and easy. I was shocked at how simple it was to make. Then again, how could it not be when it only has 4 ingredients? Let's take a look at the recipe and we'll talk about it on the flip side:

Chocolate Mousse
8.8 oz fine Belgian dark chocolate
6 egg whites
1/2 c sugar
1 2/3 c cream
Melt chocolate. Slightly beat egg whites; add sugar then beat mixture until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites in to the melted chocolate. Fold in the cream. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 10-12. The mousse can be served with whipped topping, berries, and/or chocolate shavings on top.

How simple is that!

Now a couple personal notes. First, for the chocolate in the recipe we used the Hageland chocolate that I refer to
here. It is inexpensive and delicious. In my cooking classes I always say, "You get what you pay for when it comes to chocolate, so don't scrimp." I don't think you have to break the bank, but buy some good chocolate. Don't just pull out the bag of chocolate chips. Second, if you are saying, "But Jackie, I HATE dark chocolate," don't worry. Mr. C despises it with a passion I cannot describe to you here. This recipe has enough sugar and cream in it to ease what some consider bitterness in dark chocolate. The dark chocolate makes the mousse rich, but not bitter. Finally, unless you're feeding a crowd, you may want to cut the recipe in half. When it says "serves 10-12," it's not kidding. The recipe made A LOT. We ate it bit by bit for about a week.

Since Valentine's Day will be here in just a few short days, why not whip up a bowl for you and your sweetheart--or, just for you if you prefer. I'm not opposed to a bowl of my own, a spoon, and a comfy couch!