Friday, May 21, 2010

What to Do?

You are a person who eats everything.  If it isn't nailed down.  Your very dear friend is coming to dinner.  She is vegan.

Vegetarian?  Doesn't bother me at all.  In fact, I used to BE one - many years ago.  It started when I was working on a catering job that involved prepping chicken for 500 people.  If that's not enough to turn one to the other side, I don't know what is.

But vegan?  Holy crap.  Stupidly enough, I initially thought that eggs would be okay.  Uh, no.  Plant-based, as my friend gently informed me.

Okay, Liz.  You can do this.  No cheese.  Okay.  That rules out risotto.  Maybe I could cobble together some kind of pasta dish.  Maybe not.  It all comes back to that umami thing - the fifth taste.  It's what makes a dish memorable.  Plain veggies just don't cut it.  How do I figure this out without my normal "go to" ingredients, like feta, goat cheese, butter or Parmigiano Reggiano?

And what about dessert?  Okay, fruit is fine and I don't mean to knock it, but plain fruit?  No, dammit, I want something a bit more special but I haven't got a clue.

Then I remembered Ina Garten's chocolate sorbet......

Let me tell you, I have the worst memory in the world.  If it weren't for my mom, I probably wouldn't remember half the stuff my kids did when they were little.  If I am introduced to you at a party, I won't remember your name five minutes later (sorry).  But I have an uncanny ability to remember recipes and where they are located.  Even if they are buried in the most obscure cookbooks I own.  Sometimes I worry about the way my brain works.

So I looked up Ina's recipe.  I knew exactly where to find it. 

OMG.  This is my new favorite dessert.  It will knock you over with its intense "chocolatey-ness" and depth of flavor.  It is an obscene hit of chocolate.  When I served it to my guests, I thought they were going to swoon right there at the table.  Seriously.  And, it is both fat and dairy-free.  If you don't own an ice cream freezer, BUY ONE.  If you never use it for anything else other than this, it will be well worth the investment.

CHOCOLATE SORBET   (from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home")

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup good cocoa powder*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups water
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup Kahlua

Place sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Add water and coffee and stir to blend.  Cook over low heat until ingredients are dissolved.  Transfer to a container and refrigerate overnight until mixture is well-chilled.

Remove from refrigerator and stir in Kahlua.  Place in ice-cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions.  The sorbet will still be soft so place in a container and freeze for at least one hour until firm.  Scoop into glasses for serving.  Serve it to your guests and prepare for major accolades.  Or, eat it all yourself.

Yield:  6 servings

*There are limited ingredients in this recipe, so the quality of the cocoa you use is crucial.  I used Valrhona cocoa which I found at Whole Paycheck Foods.  At the very least, use Droste.  The better your cocoa, the better the end result.

My vegan dinner was pretty good also.  Paella.  I winged it, but if you want the recipe, let me know and I will try to write it.


  1. Sounds great. It may force me to but an ice-cream freezer.

  2. Ok, so I can't type, let's try "buy" instead of "but" in the prior comment. What were you saying about memory, Liz?

  3. I was vaguely thinking of making this over the weekend, but after reading your comments, I've GOT to try it! Something really chocolately and no fat?! Sounds like heaven.