Thursday Night Menu: Dinner Guest Edition

Chocolate Pecan Torte

A few weeks ago, LFern and Mr. Fern made dinner for me.  I thought I should return the favor.  The menu is filled with my favorites.  Nothing new here, just some surefire good food.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pasta Caprese
  2. Caesar Salad
  3. Chocolate Pecan* Torte

Pasta Caprese

From August 2010:

Pasta Caprese

  • 9 oz linguine or fettuccine
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 oz cubed mozzarella
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan and large serving dish

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While it’s cooking, mix remaining ingredients together. Drain pasta completely (dab with paper towels, if necessary) then add to tomato mixture. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors blend. Serve warm or you can refrigerate and serve cold. Add a nice loaf of bread for a complete dinner.

I use a fairly expensive mozzarella for this dish because it’s softer, tastier and absorbs more flavors. Any locally produced mozzarella would work. Also, my local farmers’ market has a pasta vendor, who hand-makes many flavors of pasta. This dish works very well with flavored pastas – fire roasted chili, lemon pepper, tomato basil, red bell pepper – the list goes on. You can also change-up the cheese to a Queso Blanco (again, use a fairly expensive or locally produced one), use cilantro instead of basil and use a chili flavored pasta for a whole new dish. The possibilities are endless.

Caesar Salad – would you think less of me if I told you I bought a ‘salad kit’ so I could focus on the rest of the meal?

This is becoming my favorite chocolate cake.

From January 2011:

Chocolate Hazelnut*Torte

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts*
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform baking.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the chocolate, milk and butter together over low heat until a smooth mixture forms. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.

In a blender, beat eggs well. Add sugar, blending until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Add the Frangelino and gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture, blending slowly until combined. Add baking powder, vanilla and nuts; mix until just combined.

Bake for 40 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack until completely cooled. Serves 12 small portions

*I had to make do with pecans because there was not a hazelnut to be found at the grocery store today.  Was there a shortage?  embargo?  and I missed it?

One last note:  This entire meal (minus croutons) was gluten free for LFern.  The pasta is Tinkyada Rice Pasta, you’d never know the difference, it’s good stuff.

4 thoughts on “Thursday Night Menu: Dinner Guest Edition

  1. I need better equipment. At some point we’ll talk about what I should go out and buy. Then there might be more photos. Though I’m not good at taking half a dozen pix when what I really want to do is eat. 🙂


  2. @fromlaurelstreet, ah, thanks, that’s nice to hear. I have to admit, it always surprises me how good this cake is. LFern asked me twice if it had flour (like I’d do that to her!) – it has the texture of a very moist brownie with a crisp crust. I believe it will be my go-to chocolate cake when anyone requests one from now on.


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