Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowjam Cooking Marathon, Part 1

It’s Wednesday and I should be frying chicken at Watershed.  Instead, I am hunkered down in my house with Henry, waiting for the ice storm to subside and praying like hell that we don’t lose power like so many others in Georgia right now.  Also in the mix is the fact that our street is one very long hill which takes forever to thaw when iced over.  It means we’ll be lucky if we can escape the reservation by Friday afternoon.  

Captive in my own house!

What to do, except embark upon a cooking marathon?  Again.  You may remember this is Atlanta's second Snowjam in as many weeks.  (C'mon, you didn't miss Jon Stewart on that one, did you?)  For the last one, I made Black Pepper Gingerbread, Turkey Chili, No-Knead Bread and Chocolate Oatmeal cookies. No wonder Henry thinks I am trying to kill him.

Chef Joe

Up first this go-round:  Chef Joe’s Chocolate Terrine.  Joe Truex is our Executive Chef at Watershed and I have never eaten anything he prepared that I didn’t swoon over.  His chocolate terrine is no exception.  It’s a lovely offering for Valentine’s day and in will, in fact, be on Watershed’s menu that evening.  Since I’m not likely to get out of the house by then, I figured I may as well make it in my own kitchen.  If you are planning a romantic VD dinner at home, you can’t go wrong if you make this one!

CHOCOLATE TERRINE     (adapted from Chef Joe Truex)

½ lb. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 oz. (60 percent) dark chocolate, chopped (see note below)
8 eggs, separated  (I used extra-large)
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted (I used Valhrona)
½ cup heavy cream
Best quality extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Toasted pistachio nuts

Line a 5 x 8-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap to overhang all sides.  Set aside.

Place the butter in a medium saucepan and distribute the chopped chocolate over the top.  Place over low heat and melt, stirring frequently until mixture is smooth.  Be careful not to scorch the chocolate.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk 4 of the egg yolks.  (You will not need the remaining 4 yolks, so save them for another use).  Whisk them slowly into the melted chocolate/butter mixture.  Stir in the sifted confectioner’s sugar and cocoa and combine thoroughly.  Remove the mixture to a medium-large mixing bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the 8 egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Fold this into the chocolate mixture.  Whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks and fold this into the chocolate mixture as well. 

Pour into the prepared loaf pan.  Smooth the top with an offset spatula and wrap the entire pan in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 8 hours.

To serve, unmold terrine and cut into small slices.  Garnish with the olive oil, sea salt and toasted pistachios.  The terrine can be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days (if you have electricity, that is!)

Serves 12

*  At minimum, use 60% chocolate.  If you want to amp it up a bit, use a combination of 60% and 70% bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate.  

*  The chocolate will melt faster than the butter, which is why I put the butter in the pan first, with the chocolate on top.

*  Pay attention when you fold the whipped egg whites and cream into the chocolate mixture.  You don't want to deflate it by overmixing, but at the same time, you want to make sure there are no white streaks remaining.  It's a fine balance!

*  The beauty of this recipe is that it requires no baking.  As long as you don't scorch the chocolate or overmix it, you really can't screw it up.  On the downside, however, it does contain uncooked eggs so keep that in mind and don't make this for women who are pregnant, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system.  Just use your good judgment.

*  For serving, Chef Joe uses a cutter to make a small hole in the terrine and fills it with extra-virgin olive oil.  If you don't want to take this extra step, you can simply drizzle it directly over the terrine, letting it pool along the sides.

*  Use a good quality sea salt, preferably flaky or coarse.  I use Maldon sea salt flakes.

*  I love the taste and the crunch of the olive oil, sea salt and pistachios in this dessert as they take front and center with the chocolate as a creamy backdrop.  If you want to make the chocolate a little more prominent, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of raspberry coulis instead.

Alrighty then.  Stay warm, everyone.  If my electricity holds out, I will be spending the next few days in my kitchen.  Be forewarned!