Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chocolate Mousse

It seems it is the time of year where everyone is watching their weight.  At work, people gaze at the menu even longer than usual, trying to count calories in their mind.  They cringe at the bread bowl offering and reluctantly choose the apple, of which I throw away later when clearing their trays.  Yes! it is Spring.  

This is also the time of year where I, admittedly, gain my weight.  A really bad timing on my circadian rhythms, but alas, it is true.I have every intention of going on a fruit and vegetable detox diet for a week.  However, if my mind is not set on it, it won't happen.  To watch people fight what they really want to order is quite amusing to me.  They know they want a broccoli cheddar bread bowl and a panini, but they won't let themselves have it, and  they instead order the salad or soup with the least calories.  Sometimes they are pleasantly surprised, but most times I throw out the rest of their food.  This gets me thinking a lot about the way I live my life, or try anyway.  

In an effort to improve my life, improving my eating habits, and becoming a "modern hippie," as John and I call it, we have come up with some basic ground rules when it comes to eating.

1.  Substitute healthier staples then what you grew up with (barley for rice, whole wheat for AP flour)
2.  Dress up already healthy things
3.  Let yourself splurge when you need to

Now, to be fair, sometimes I take number three a little too far.  But there are also times, when a big chocolate cookie does much more for my psyche than my body, and for that I am grateful.  Sometimes you just need it.  It's ok.  I certainly can't eat a healthy quinoa and bean pot every evening.  That would be boring.  And it is in this mindset that I present you with this chocolate mousse recipe!

Perfect Chocolate Mousse:
adapted from Julia Child's recipe

6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup dark brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons dark rum
1 Tablespoon water
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

3. In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer.)

3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick, as shown in the photo above. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.

5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

6. Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

By the way, I also thought the idea of making a mousse would be daunting, but this was incredibly easy. Just follow the steps.

Friday, March 23, 2012

From the "Garden"

My 4'x4' "garden" is the top platform of my external staircase.  It has grown from a simple basil pot to an array of spring bulbs, bromiliads, oregano, my living Christmas tree, and the newest addition of Strawberry plants and poppy seedlings.  This may quickly become a passion in my life.