Chocolate-covered Pomegranate Recipe

This recipe is guaranteed to break the ice at parties…

But seriously, I Skyped with my sister earlier today, whom we introduced to this recipe over the holidays. She told me that she has since brought chocolate covered pomegranate to several social. The result has been incredible, she raved. It’s almost too successful. Here’s the knockout punch… it’s only two ingredients (and I bet you can’t guess what they are). Aside from needing (to improvise, if you’re me) a double-boiler, this recipe couldn’t be easier.

As you bite into it, the decadent, bitterness of the chocolate is punctuated by refreshing bursts of tangy sweetness as the pomegranate seeds literally explode in your mouth. Salivate much?

Ingredients:

1 bag dark chocolate chips
1 pomegranate

Directions:

Open the pomegranate and remove the seeds. Melt the chocolate. Pour the chocolate over the seeds. Done.

No seriously, that’s it. However, I’ll elaborate on our method. First off, deseed the pomegranate. You want to discard all of the husks and membranes. Place the seeds on a clean towel and gently blot dry. Next, set your oven to the lowest temp, and put a cookie sheet in it. (I’ll cover why in a moment). Melt the chocolate using a double-boiler. If you don’t have one, take a small saucepan and float it in a larger pan of barely boiling water. Place the chocolate chips in the saucepan. Be extremely careful not to get any water in the saucepan. Stir the chocolate frequently while it’s melting to prevent it from burning. (Trust me, burned chocolate is less than tasty). Once the chocolate has completely melted, remove the warm cookie sheet from the oven. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on the cookie sheet, and spread the pomegranate seeds in a single layer as close together as you can manage. Pour the chocolate over pomegranate seeds until they’re all covered. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the chocolate has fully hardened, cut it into chunks like peanut brittle, or just break off chunks and eat it.

A few remaining notes. 1) If this isn’t completely consumed within about 30 minutes, you should begin seriously questioning your sanity. Please see a mental health professional immediately. 2) Dark chocolate is an absolute must! Don’t even think about varying. The darker, the better. 3) Pomegranates are seasonal, so this is a winter delight only. It’s tragic, I know. Buy ’em while they’re still in season! 4) What is with the warm cookie sheet? I’m glad you asked. It keeps the chocolate warmer for a few minutes longer than a cookie sheet at room temp. Spreading the chocolate needs to be done quickly or else it starts hardening before you get all the seeds covered. (Thanks to mi madre for this innovation).

Thanks to Lindsay for this recipe. You should be proud to know that it’s becoming a sensation at all of the finest social events in New York City. (At least the ones my sister attends).

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February 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

Chocolate Pomegranate Scones Recipe

So… this… this just works. They’re fluffy and moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside. The seeds burst with tangy sweetness when you bite into them, and the chocolate chips add a rich bitterness. If you need a break from dry toast for breakfast, this certainly will get the job done.

Ingredients:

2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, cut into small chunks, frozen
1 large egg
1/2 c milk
1 c pomegranate seeds
1/3 c dark chocolate chips
1 egg white
Sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Sift the flour and add the sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add in the butter, egg (not the egg white) and milk and mix until smooth. Add the pomegranate seeds and chocolate chips and knead until just mixed. Flour as needed. Because the batter is so thick, I found that they didn’t easily mix in. The best way I found was to pile the seeds and chips in an indentation in the batter, fold the batter over it, and knead a couple times. If any seeds fell out, make another indentation in the batter, and repeat. Don’t knead any more than is necessary to mix them all in. There will be plenty exposed on the outside of the batter when you’re done. If you lose a few here and there, you could always eat them!

Work into a 1″-thick round, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cut into 8 wedges, and separate them by a half-inch or so. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. The egg white will give it an attractive glaze and the sugar will caramelize. Bake for 20-30 minutes until it starts to get a nice, toasty brown on the peaks. Remove, recut the pieces if necessary, and enjoy with a cup of Charles Towne English Breakfast.

Variations:

Substitute pomegranate seeds with pretty much any dried fruit or berry. Substitute the chocolate chips with nuts. Some combinations that were recommended to me: apricot/walnut, cherry/dark chocolate chips, cranberry/white chocolate, blueberry/pecan. Let your imagination go nuts!

January 17, 2011 at 10:40 am 2 comments

Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe

This recipe was passed to my mom while I was in high school. We had recently moved to the Czech Republic and were desperately missing some good ol’ Campbell’s tomato soup to got along with our grilled cheese on winter Sundays after church. I live in the States now and can buy Campbells whenever I want. Truth be told, this recipe is good enough to overcome my childhood nostalgia. For those of you know me well, this is no small feat. I hold rigidly (obnoxiously?) to some of my childhood traditions.

Ingredients:

2 T butter
2 T finely chopped onions (I usually puree in the food processor)
1 clove garlic, minced (again, I food processor it)
2 T flour
6 oz can tomato paste
2 c milk
2 c water
2 t sugar
Dash of oregano, thyme and basil
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until golden. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring quickly until it forms a thick paste. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add water in small amounts, stirring vigorously until it is absorbed by the flour. Add the milk and heat but do not boil. Add sugar, herbs and salt & pepper.

Variation:

Add 1 T of curry powder. This is how Wifey’s mom always prepared it growing up. For years, Wifey couldn’t figure out why Campbells tasted so much better when her mom made it instead of her friend’s mom. They both came out of the can, so why did her mom’s taste so much better? She found out years later about the addition of curry.

January 17, 2011 at 10:18 am Leave a comment

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe

Wifey and I decided to hold a cooking extravaganza this weekend. On Saturday we cooked and froze enough food to feed us for more than two weeks. Since she’s in grad school and I work full time plus freelance, these frozen meals should be a lifesaver for us. All total, we made 2 lasagnas, 4 calzone pizza doughs, 4 batches of homemade tomato soup, 3 pizza doughs, and homemade pasta noodles. (We also ate a calzone).

In order to accomplish this, I made a quadruple batch of whole wheat pizza dough. I want to share the recipe because we were sorely disappointed by the first 5 recipes we tried. They were all tasted like crumbly cardboard, were hard to difficult to work with, and generally resembled partially set-up cement more than pizza dough. Then we tried this recipe. It decimates the competition. I’d even argue that it can hold its own against white dough.

This is–hands down–the best whole wheat pizza dough.

Ingredients:

2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c white flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2c warm water (110˚F)
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg dry yeast

Instructions:

Dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the warm water. In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat and white flour and the salt. Once the yeast is activated and starts foaming, mix it into the dry ingredients. Knead 10-15 min. Transfer to a large, greased bowl, cover with a clean, dry towel, and set in a warm, dark place to rise. After doubled in size (usually 45 min. – 1 hr.), punch down and cut the dough in half with a sharp knife. (If I’m planning on freezing the dough. I just pop them in a Tupperware at this point and toss it in the freezer). Reform the halves into balls, place on a floured surface, cover and let rise once more. Once doubled in size again, roll the dough out on a well-floured surface and start making your pizza.

Makes 2 large, thin pizzas.

January 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm 1 comment

Chick Pea & Cilantro Cakes Recipe

Another recipe from the flurry of cooking this past weekend.

Ingredients:
1 scant cup of chick peas
1 1/2 c cooked brown rice
1/2 c uncooked oatmeal
1t whole cumin
1t whole coriander
1t powdered turmeric
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 chile pepper, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro including stems, chopped
3T Greek yogurt, plain yogurt or sour cream, plus extra for garnish
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1T salt
3T olive oil, divided

Instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, toss chick peas, rice and oatmeal. In a large, non-stick, ungreased skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until aromatic. Transfer to mortar and grind. Add with turmeric to mixing bowl. Add 1T of olive oil to the skillet, and saute the onions, garlic, celery, chile and cilantro stems until tender. Add to mixing bowl along with salt, yogurt, lemon juice and zest, and cilantro leaves. Blend all in food processor until rougly mixed and form into 8 – 12 balls. Heat 1T olive oil in skillet until hot. Place several balls in the skillet and flatten with a spatula. Cook each side for 5-6 minutes or until crispy and brown. Repeat, adding more oil as necessary.

Serve hot with extra yogurt for dipping!

December 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm Leave a comment

Fresh Whole Wheat Linguine with Rainbow Chard and Sweet Onions Recipe

It’s been dumping snow in buckets all day, keeping us mostly cooped up in the house. To relieve our boredom, wifey and I have been cooking up a storm. Last night we made homemade pasta. My parents gave us a Marcato Atlas pasta machine for our wedding. Pasta-making can be a time consuming process. However, it’s well worth the wait. The taste of fresh pasta is incomparable to the dried, cardboard-flavored, box pasta you get at the grocery store. It also makes for a wonderful at-home group activity. It takes a couple hours, and there’s always something to do, but it’s never rushed.

This was my first experiment with whole wheat pasta. The results surpassed even my highest expectations. I’ve made spinach- and tomato-flavored pasta before with marginal success. With the whole wheat, I was worried that something might go awry with the glutens. However, while making the dough, things seemed to go rather easily. (The only difference was that the dough seemed a little dry. I wet my hands and kneaded the dough until the water absorbed. I wasn’t expecting this because white flour seems more absorbant than whole wheat in my experience).

I thought I had gotten off too easily, so when it came time to roll out the pasta, I was nervous. However, the pasta rolled out and cut perfectly fine! In fact, it was probably the easiest batch of pasta I’ve ever made. I haven’t excluded the possibility of beginners luck, but I’ll say this… I doubt we’ll ever make white pasta again. It went so well, that I saved half the dough in the freezer. I have no idea if you can freeze pasta dough and use it later, so I’ll report back sometime later as to how that worked.

A pasta machine is well worth the investment, in my opinion. We’ve already gotten great use out of ours, and it provides a level of precision and accuracy that would be virtually impossible to achieve with rolling and cutting by hand.

Pasta Recipe:
100g flour per person (I used 2/3 white, 1/3 whole wheat)
1 egg per person
1 t olive oil per person
1 pinch salt per person

(4 people = 400g flour + 4 eggs + 1T oil + 1t salt)

Rainbow Chard and Sweet Onions:
2 large onions thinly sliced
2 T butter
1/2c dry white wine
6ish stalks of rainbow or swish chard chopped into 1/2″ strips
1/4c crumbled feta

Pasta Instructions:

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix in the egg and olive oil, and knead until smooth. (You can do this by hand. It’s extremely messy and way more fun! See an example here). Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for an hour. After an hour, unwrap and run through the past machine in fist-sized segments. It can sometimes be tricky to get the right moisture level in the dough. Too dry and it will crumble on you. Too wet and it won’t cut properly. If you need more detailed instructions on how to do it right, ask me and I can recommend a book or two. Or better yet, come over for dinner and we’ll to it together sometime. After you’ve cut the pasta, drape it over chair backs to let it dry. (If you have cats or dogs, keep a close watch on them during this process!) To cook the pasta, bring a large pot a water to a boil. Fresh pasta cooks much quicker than box pasta. Linguine cooks in about 4 minutes. Angel hair virtually needs only be placed in the water before it’s ready.

Rainbow Chard & Sweet Onions:
Thinly slice the onions. In a large skillet (important: one with a lid), melt the butter. Place the onions in the skillet and mix until coated in butter. Cover tightly and cook on the lowest setting for an hour. (Do this while the pasta dough is resting). Cooking the onion slowly allows the sugars in it to thoroughly break down. We used Vidalia onions, grown only around Vidalia, GA. Vidalia onions are known for being sweet; they have more sugar than an orange. After the onions have sweated for an hour, remove the lid and add the wine. Replace the lid, but leave it slightly tilted. After another 20-30 min., the onions should be brown and well-caramelized. Add the chard and cook another 10-15 minutes until tender.

Toss the onions and chard in with the pasta, crumble the feta over the top, and enjoy!

December 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkin and Black Bean Enchiladas with Mole Negro Recipe

I made mole last night for the first time. It took 4 hours and was fantastically spicy, smoky and sweet. I had a bunch left over, which means some killer leftovers for later on! I’d definitely recommend making a giant batch and portioning it out in the freezer. Because it takes so long to prepare, the directions below are written to minimize the time. You certainly don’t have to follow that, if you like taking your time!

Mole recipe:

5 ancho chiles
5 guajillo chiles
1/2 c almonds
2 med. onions (unpeeled)
4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
4 tomatillos (unpeeled)
1 large tomato
2 cinnamon sticks (about 3″ each) broken up in the smaller chunks.
1/2 bunch (about 2 dozen sprigs) or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 c fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 c sesame seeds
16 whole cloves
14 allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 c raisins
1 c breadcrumbs
4+ T olive oil, divided
1/2 c dark unsweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli extra-dark 70% cocoa)
1-2 c chicken or veggie broth as needed

Enchiladas recipe:

1 small pumpkin
2 cans of black beans
1 can of corn
1/2 to 1 c chopped cilantro
3/4 c goat cheese, divided
1 T fresh lime juice
2 T olive oil
10-12 large tortillas

Mole instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Wipe off the peppers, remove the tops, saving the seeds. Arrange chiles and almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven, rotating the chiles occasionally. Toast the almonds for about 10 min., chiles for about 20 min. The chiles should be starting to blacken. While those are toasting, heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Blacken the pepper seeds. Be careful for the fumes when you do this. Once they are blackened, soak the seeds in hot water (changing the water occasionally). When the almonds and chiles are done, place them in a bowl to cool. (There will be a lot of “setting aside to cool” in this recipe. I just had one or two large bowls on the counter that I would throw things in while I was waiting). If you’re making enchiladas with pumpkin, increase the heat to 375. Half the pumpkin, scoop out it’s guts, put it open-side-down on the cookie sheet, and put it in the oven. It needs to cook for at least 45 minutes, so do this now while you’re working on everything else. In the heavy skillet, toast the sesame seeds, shaking frequently. Set aside to cool. Add onions, garlic, tomatillos (all still with their skin) and tomato to the skillet. Pan-grill these, moving around occasionally to cook on all sides. The garlic will be soft and starting to brown (about 10 min.) Tomatillos will start to char on the outside and become soft (about 15 min.) The tomato will become soft with charred skin (15-20 min.) The onions’ skin will start to char (20-25 min.) When each is done, set aside to cool. While the veggies are cooking, prep the spices, chopping the thyme and oregano if fresh, and grating the nutmeg and ginger. Once the veggies are cool enough to handle, peel them and set aside. When all the veggies have finished cooking, heat a liberal amount of olive oil in the skillet until shimmering. Fry all of the herbs and spices, stirring often, until heavily aromatic (2-4 min.) (Warning: Something reacted pretty strongly when I added it to the hot oil. I think it may have been the nutmeg, but I’m not sure. Regardless, something started popping and exploding, like bacon but way more intense. Be careful when you add the spices). Set aside to cool. Finally, heat a couple more tablespoons of oil and heat until shimmering. Add the breadcrumbs and raisins, stirring often. The breadcrumbs should turn golden-brown, and the raisins will plump up a bit. Remove from heat and cool.

Whew! Good job. You’re almost there. All of the ingredients for the mole are now cooked! At this point, check on the pumpkin to see if it’s tender when pierced with a fork. Remove it from the oven and set it open-side-up to cool. Now it’s time to make the mole into a sauce. If you have a gigundous food processor, you could just throw it all in and blend. Mine is small, so I did it in batches. Either way, start with the chiles, and save the tomato and tomatillos for last. Grinding them into a powder. (You may want to cover your nose and mouth for this. Breathing chile = lots of coughing). Start adding the drier ingredients (almonds, sesame seeds, spices, pepper seeds, garlic and onions). If the mixture starts getting too pasty, throw in one of the tomatillos or a chunk of tomato to give it enough liquid to move around a bit. You want the consistency of a thick sauce. Transfer batches to a 3-quart pot. Save the breadcrumbs, raisins and tomato (or what’s left of it) for last. (The smoother you can get the overall mix, the better. If you have a hand blender, you can use that if you want to once it’s all in the pot). Heat the entire mixture, and add the chocolate. Simmer for at least 3o minutes (but the longer the better), stirring occassionally. Add stock as needed if it starts getting too thick.

Enchiladas instructions:

Remove the skin of the pumpkin and chop the meat into 1/2″ cubes. Drain and rinse the black beans and corn. Chop the cilantro and crumble 1/2 c of goat cheese. Toss all together in a large bowl with lime juice and olive oil.

Line the bottom of a baking pan with a thin layer of mole sauce to keep the enchiladas from sticking. Fill tortillas with squash, black bean mixture, roll, and line them up in the pan. Spoon a liberal amount of mole oever the top off the enchiladas to cover. Crumble the remaining 1/4 c goat cheese over the top. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.

November 6, 2010 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

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