Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I don't usually jump on a recipe - often, I'll see something online and let it bounce around in my head for a while before I take the time to cook whatever it may be. But having only recently acquired a bundt pan, it seemed meant to be that I would happen upon this Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake when I had a bundt pan to break in, when I was on vacation, and when Alyssa, the ultimate connoisseur of all things chocolate chip, was in my midst.

This recipe was actually adapted from a fruit and nut cake batter by Dorie Greenspan, only as Bridget over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles pointed out, the ingredients are quite similar to what a classic chocolate chip cookie would call for, so why not replace pears and walnuts with chocolate? Alyssa had multiple pieces over the weekend, so I would certainly classify this one as kid-friendly.

You will need:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ยบ F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately - add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. (If the cake looks as if it's browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a foil tent.) Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.

When you are ready to serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar.

May Daring Cooks Challenge: Gumbo

As a (nearly) life long Southerner, I was ashamed to admit that I am certainly not a gumbo conoisseur, either in tasting or cooking. My roux could have cooked longer (I've heard stories of cooks standing over their roux for an hour plus), I used frozen okra (did you know that "gumbo" means "okra"?), and I did not serve my gumbo with rice, but corn bread. However, Josh brought the large crock pot full of gumbo to a work function the following morning and by the end of the day, the crock pot bowl was quite literally scraped clean.

Our May hostess, Denise of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need from creole spices, homemade stock and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

You will need:

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) store-bought Creole spice blend
2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
2 bay leaves
6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste

Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.

Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper and Tabasco, all to taste.

Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice.

Challenge post here.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I have no witty stories or anecdotes for this recipe - I just happened to remember a can of cherrystone clams in my pantry, and Josh wasn't going to be home for dinner (meaning I didn't have to prepare a side of chicken to fulfill his daily meat quota). I grew up on red clam sauce, but this evening I wanted white. That is all.

I've never made white clam sauce before and honestly wasn't terribly sure where to start. After a quite a bit of trial and error and fixing some mistakes I made along the way, I was quite pleased with this different, satisfying, meatless weeknight meal.

You will need:

4 ounces of dry linguine or fettucine, cooked according to package directions, 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooking water reserved
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 can cherrystone or other clams, minced, juice reserved
1 ounce dry sherry
2-3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, to taste

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute until it begins to soften. Sprinkle flour over the top, and whisk until smooth. Pour in clam juice and sherry, increase heat to medium-high, and continue to whisk. Add pasta water and sour cream based on your preference: if you like your sauce thicker, add more sour cream. If you like it thinner, add more water. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle in parsley and right before serving add in minced clams.

Drain pasta and add to pan, toss to coat. Top each dish with parmesan cheese. Serves 2.