THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 c. Scharffen-Barger cocoa (or other good cocoa), plus extra for dusting pans
½ c. strong black coffee, boiling
1 c. whole milk, room temperature
2 ¾ c. cake flour (not self-rising)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 ½ c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ c. sugar
1 T. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
Chocolate frosting (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter 2 eight inch round cake pans. Line pans with parchment, then butter and dust with cocoa powder.
Sift cocoa into large bowl. Add boiling coffee and milk. Add cake flour, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time. Mix well.
Pour the batter into prepared pans (about 4 cups of batter in each pan).
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove and cool in pans for 30 minutes
To assemble, using a serrated knife, cut the rounded tops to make them level. Place cake on serving plate and ice and ice top, then place second cake on top and ice sides and top. Serve.
3 ½ c. powder sugar
1 c. cocoa powder
1 ½ sticks butter room temperature
½ c. milk (at room temperature)
2 t. vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth and lump-free.
POTATO LEEK SOUP
8 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 T. canola oil
2 3/4 T. water
5 leeks, chopped and diced
3/4 c. red bell pepper, minced
1 1/2 bunches escarole, chiffonade cut
1/12 c. sour cream
1 1/2 pint milk
2 3/4 T. fresh dill, minced
2 t. curry powder
Combine the potatoes, onions and garlic in a large pot with enough water to cover; bting to a simmer.
Simmer gently, covered, until the potatoes are quite tender, about 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan with the water; add the leeks and sweat them, covered, for five to ten minutes, or until wilted, stirring occasionally.
Add the red pepper and escarole, then cover and steam until the escarole is tender, stirring occasionally; this will take about 10 minutes, depending on the variety of the escarole and the thickness of the leaves. Add a bit more water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.
While the pepper and the escarole are steaming, transfer the potato-onion mixture with its liquid to a food processor, and puree until smooth. Return this to the soup pot.
When the leeks and escarole are done, stir them into the soup pot; stir int he sour cream and the milk.
If the soup is too thick, add a small amount of water. Season to taste with fresh dill, curry powder and salt.
THAI CHILE INFUSED VODKA MARTINI
1 1/2 ounce chile-infused vodka
1/2 t. ginger simple syrup
1/2 t. orange juice
1/2 t. lemon juice
Garnish: red chile