Whip a dip so good you’ll flip! <br />Strawberry Cheesecake Dip - Mulligatawny Soup - Chocolate Mousse Pie </br>Little Piece of my Heart - Dressed to Impress; Mastering Classic Vinaigrette - Pop Quiz! What’s the best way to uncork Champagne?  </br> Michael DeLoach -

Whip a dip so good you’ll flip!
Strawberry Cheesecake Dip

This luscious cheesecake dessert is perfection on a hot summer night. No oven required.

It’s easy, really easy, to make— and so downright addictive you may want to consider a double batch.

I love that my food processor whizzes up the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in under a minute. My only problem here is restraining myself from indulging as the mixture ripens in the refrigerator for a couple of hours—or best yet, overnight.

Serving is a breeze; just spoon the mixture into a bowl and set out lots of ripe strawberries and graham crackers for dipping.

…and later when everyone is asleep, I tip-toe down to the refrigerator to bask in its cool air and the last of this creamy wonderfulness. Forget the crackers and grab a spoon. This stuff is awesome!

Print a copy of  Strawberry Cheesecake Dip for your convenience.

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup

Leftovers—who says that they have to be boring? At my house a juicy roasted chicken and rice one night often means a big pot of spicy mulligatawny soup the next. No one is ever disappointed.

If you’ve never heard of this beloved Anglo-Indian soup, you’re in for a treat. Indian cooks all have their favorite versions, but the soup basically combines a fragrant curry broth with cooked chicken pieces and rice, fresh lime juice and cilantro. Rich and deeply flavorful, it at once warms the soul and nourishes the body.

I learned how to make mulligatawny soup from my late friend Leela Manilal during one of our marathon cooking sessions. We were into the third day of recipe development and had lots of leftovers. Always frugal, Leela stressed the importance of never wasting food but re-working dishes into new and exciting meals the second day.

Everyone at our table that day called mulligatawny “the soup with the funny name,” so Leela patiently coached us in its correct pronunciation. She told us that the name comes from the Tamil language and means “pepper water.” I thought that a tad strange, as there is no pepper in the base recipe (though there is a bit of chile).

Fast forward to my kitchen last Saturday as I prepared lunch for some friends. I find picking chickens for this recipe boring, but am driven forward by the promise of a kitchen filled with the scent of sautéing onions, garlic and ginger. As I stirred in the coriander, earthy cumin, golden turmeric, red chili powder and Turkish bay leaves, my tummy growled with anticipation.

With the soup pot simmering, I decided to set the table on the deck and take full advantage of a small window of warm sunshine on an otherwise dreary day. I covered the table with some beautifully gauzy orange Indian fabric and got out my favorite Jaipur Blue pottery—all hand carried from India over the years. Their brilliant colors and patterns are the perfect contrast for this reddish soup. In this pretty setting, my humble but inspired pot of leftovers became the high point of the weekend; good friends, good food and time to catch up on everyone’s life.

Barbara Adams ladeling Mulligatawny soup.

I ladled the piping hot soup into bowls and…

Barbara Adams spooning rice into Mulligatawny soup.

…encouraged my friends to help themselves to rice. None of the guests had ever added rice to soup this way…

Barbara Adams spritzing limes into Mulligatawny soup.

…or spritzed in fresh lime juice. Some commented on the taste and beauty of the contrasting green cilantro leaves as they sprinkled them on top. We all inhaled the divine scent with each bite, and agreed that mulligatawny soup is sensational.

Could things get any better? Well yes, they did. I brought out a large basket of warm naan, the Indian flatbread, as a special treat. Some guests dipped it into their soup while other simply devoured it. I told them that I found it in the artisan bread section of my local market, but they could also find it in Indian markets and restaurants.

The afternoon flew by as we savored every last drop of soup. One guest looked at me and laughed, “I guess there won’t be any leftovers today, so you’ll have to create something new tomorrow. Can I come for dinner?”

Print a copy of Mulligatawny Soup for your convenience. 

Chocolate Mousse Pie
Little Piece of my Heart

Decadent Chocolate Mousse Pie

 

When I was a kid, Oreos were my favorite cookies in the whole world. Today, they are the dark crunchy crust of my decadent chocolate mousse pie. It’s a bit more sophisticated but just as memorable. This deep, rich chocolate dessert is my Valentine to you.

As an eater, I’m not sure which gives more pleasure: licking the spoon after folding mounds of freshly whipped cream into liquid chocolate infused with espresso and Kahlúa, or just dipping Oreo cookies into an icy-cold glass of milk, then sucking them dry until the next dip. Chocolate love needs no real thought—it just is.

 

Decadent Chocolate Mousse Pie with Raspberries

 

This pie is a showstopper dessert—the “wow!” both at large gatherings and spoon-to-spoon, one-on-one with your special love. And it gets better—especially for you, the cook—because this pie is easy to assemble and can be conveniently made a day ahead.

To start, you’ll need a 10-inch round springform pan to mold and chill the pie. For Valentine’s Day, I used a special heart-shaped springform that I bought at a local kitchen store. These pans have side latches that make removing the pie in one piece fairly foolproof. After all, who wants all that chocolate love on the floor or in multiple pieces of ugly on the serving plate?

Think you’re too busy to try this? Time is on your side as the crust and mousse are ready in approximately 30 minutes. And while the recipe allows for a quick chill of four to six hours, mousse pie is best when chilled overnight. Now if you are new to cooking or never attempted a dessert like this, don’t be shy. Jump right in and refer to my illustrated, step-by-step cooking techniques and tips for help.

The ingredients are easy: double-chocolate Oreos (any style will work, as there is no wrong Oreo), semi-sweet chocolate chips, espresso powder, Kahlúa, butter, eggs and heavy cream—plus decorations of your choice. My personal Valentines get fresh raspberries, but you could pipe whipped cream on top, add shaved chocolate or colorful holiday candies or sprinkles.

On the day I removed my mousse pie from the refrigerator and outlined it with plump red raspberries, I couldn’t help humming a bit of Janis Joplin, “…come on, come on…take another little piece of my heart…it makes you feel good.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Refer to my illustrated, step-by-step cooking techniques and tips:

Make a Crumb Crust
Melt Chocolate
Grease and Flour a Cake Pan
Unmold Your Cake from a Springform Pan

 

 

Dressed to Impress; Mastering Classic Vinaigrette

 

Growing up, bottled salad dressings were the norm at my parent’s house. Italian and Thousand Island mainly, sometimes French. Who knew how long they’d been in the refrigerator because they always tasted the same with their flavor enhancers, stabilizers and additives. I just poured, swished and consumed. Then as a novice cook learning the five mother sauces, I discovered vinaigrettes. Oh my, salads were never the same again.

Vinaigrette’s  in their simplest form use highest-quality oils and vinegars or freshly squeezed citrus juice with a little salt and pepper before whisked into an emulsion.  More complex versions may include a variety of fresh herbs, garlic, shallots, onions or mustard.

There is no definitive vinaigrette recipe. Classically, one begins with four parts oil and one part vinegar, or a more tart mixture of three parts oil and one part vinegar.

When conjuring vinaigrette, think of yourself as a chemist selecting the perfect components, measuring, whisking, tasting, adjusting—ultimately balancing the flavors and seasonings so that your palate sings. First, what greens are you using? A mild Boston or Bibb lettuce calls for a light dressing while crisp Romaine, red lettuce and stronger greens require a more robust sauce.

A first cold-press extra-virgin olive oil is one your best all-around choices because it blends well with many different vinegars. Hazelnut and walnut oils lend a deep, nutty richness to salads with pears and apples. Flavored oils like lemon and blood orange provide a subtle zing, while flavorless vegetable oils add structure.

Vinegars come in a huge variety of flavors and strengths and can make or break your vinaigrette. Experiment with red wine, Champagne, sherry and apple cider vinegars as well as the fruity varieties like raspberry. Remember one cardinal rule: never buy cheap acidic vinegars, as you will get exactly what you pay for— the puckers.

I love salads every day, especially simple mixed greens with freshly picked herbs, torn not chopped. My vinaigrette of choice is three tablespoons of extra-virgin oil with one tablespoon of Cabernet red wine vinegar. Add a clove of crushed garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and I’m in alchemist heaven.

Preparing vinaigrette isn’t difficult, but it does require mastery of a technique known as “emulsion”—vigorous whisking to bring oil and vinegar together into a homogeneous blend. Give it a try.
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1.Place the base ingredients in the bowl as directed in your recipe.

 

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2.Add the oil in a thin, steady stream while whisking the mixture vigorously.

 

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3.If at any time the emulsion begins to look “broken” or curdled, stop adding the oil and continue to whisk until smooth.

 

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4.Continue adding oil very gradually until finished.

 

Toss the greens with vinaigrette.

 

Wash and dry your greens thoroughly before dressing. Excess water will dilute your vinaigrette. Add just enough dressing to lightly coat each leaf.

Vinaigrettes are best made a few minutes before using, but can be stored a day or two and re-whisked. But why? Fresh is best.

 

Print a copy of my How To Make an Emulsion for your convenience.

 

 

Pop Quiz! What’s the best way to uncork Champagne?
Michael DeLoach

How to remove the cork from Champagne.

 

Removing corks from Champagne and sparkling wines used to scare me silly. Face scrunched, heart beating fast, I worked the cork anticipating the familiar “pop” and celebratory locker room spray as those nearby scattered and ducked. My friend Michael DeLoach, president of the Hook & Ladder winery, took pity on my plight and wrote the following instructions for me on how to remove the cork quietly, safely and saving all that spray in favor of actually drinking the wine. Today I cork like a pro! You can, too.

 

 

Barbara Adams Beyond Wonderful How to Uncork Champagne and sparkling wines.

 

Have the bottle as chilled as possible (this keeps the internal pressure lower). With your non-favored arm, hold the bottom of bottle inside the crook of your elbow, firmly against your midsection, with your hand firmly around the neck.
How to uncork a Champagne bottle.

 

While aiming the bottle at a ceiling corner (just in case), completely remove the foil and wire cage from the bottle (NOTE: the cork is now free to leave the bottle without warning — keep a hand or finger on the  cork AT ALL TIMES).

 

How to remove the cork from Champagne.

 

Using a cloth towel, clutch the stopper in an “O” made by the thumb and forefinger of your favored hand. Gently, firmly, slowly and steadily twist the stopper back and forth, about a 1/2 turn at a time. Do not pull; the pressure inside the bottle should start to push the stopper out. Be patient! Jarring motions can break cork stoppers.

CRITICAL AND REQUIRING PRACTICE: As the stopper works its way out, it will steadily begin to accelerate out of the bottle. Your job: hold it in, allowing the compressed CO2 gas inside the bottle to seep out slowly, thus releasing all of the pressure inside the bottle gradually.

 

How to remove the cork from Champagne.

 

The stopper should now be out (without the “pop”, and without the spill), and the bottle ready to pour.

You may also enjoy, wine guru Michael DeLoach’s article, Champagne and Sparkling Wine: Stuck in an Expensive Rut?