FAMOUS flourless chocolate cake

We have long partnered with Oak Avenue Catering for our Friends of Hendry wine club luncheons. Their flourless chocolate cake, when topped with a fruity compote, is a knock-out pairing for our Primitivo. 
Makes one 9-inch cake

1 cup (8 ounces/225 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces (340 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9” springform pan or round cake pan. If using a springform pan, wrap a large sheet of aluminum foil around the outside of the pan, ensuring it’s watertight. If using a cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set the springform pan or cake pan in a large roasting pan.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the butter and the chocolate. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until completely incorporated.

Scrape the batter in to prepared springform or cake pan and cover the pan tightly with foil. Pour very warm water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the outside of the cake pan. Bake until the cake appears to be set and your finger comes away clean when you gently touch the center (the cake will still feel soft at this point), about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool completely.

To unmold, run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. If you’ve used a springform pan, simply release the sides. If you’ve used a regular cake pan, invert the cake onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper and then re-invert onto a serving platter.

Serve with raspberry coulis or pomegranate arils. (Recipe courtesy of Oak Avenue Catering)

Susan’s Simple Braised Short Ribs

A great pairing with any of our red wines!
Serves 4

4 (8-oz) pieces beef short ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium carrots, cut into sticks
1 medium onion, cut into thin slices
2 garlic cloves

½ to 1 cup dry red wine
+/-4 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Heat oil in a wide 3- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef on all sides, turning with tongs, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add carrots, onion, and garlic to oil and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze pan with wine and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Return ribs to pan and add enough stock to cover.  Bring to a simmer. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to oven and braise until beef is very tender, 4 to 5 hours.  Note: this dish can be simmered on the stove top on low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, or cooked in a crock pot or electric skillet as well.  Meat will be tender and fall apart when done.

To serve, remove ribs to a plate and keep warm.  Remove and discard spent vegetables from pan, reduce sauce on stovetop to thicken. Place rib on potato-parsnip puree, spoon sauce over rib.  Also great on wide noodles, soft polenta with garlic and fontina, or plain mashed potatoes.

Potato-Parsnip Purée

Serves 4

2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
3/4 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 stick unsalted butter, or to taste, softened
freshly ground white pepper to taste

In a large saucepan combine the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and the parsnips with salted cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Drain the vegetables, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and force them through the medium disk of a food mill or a ricer into a large bowl. (Can also be mashed if you don’t have a food mill or ricer.) Add the butter, stirring until it is melted, and stir in the white pepper, salt to taste, and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to achieve the desired consistency. The purée may be made 2 days in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated.   Adapted from Gourmet, November 1991


Serves 8


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/2 pound Italian sausages, casings removed

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 3/4 cups chopped plum tomatoes

1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (from about 1 pound), blanched 3 minutes then peeled, or double-peeled frozen, thawed (substitute edamame if not available)

3/4 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut as desired, fresh tagliatelle, or dried egg fettuccine

2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional for passing


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add next 3 ingredients. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add sausages; break up with fork. Sauté until brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine; simmer 1 minute, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes and fava beans. Sauté until tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot.

Add sauce to pasta. Toss over medium heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed if dry, about 2 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons cheese. Transfer pasta to bowl. Serve, passing additional cheese. (Alex Palermo, Bon Appetite)

Herbed Grilled Ribeye, T-Bone or Strip Steaks with Board Dressing


Four boneless or bone-in rib-eye, T-bone or strip steaks

Sea or kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Canola or vegetable oil


¼ c olive oil

4 T unsalted butter

6 crushed garlic cloves (Note: if you prefer a milder garlic flavor, marinate the garlic cloves in the fats and use as a baste as directed here. If you like a stronger garlic flavor, include the raw, crushed cloves in the board dressing below instead.)


6 T olive oil

2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (feel free to improvise here with fresh basil or other leafy herbs as well)

¼ cup finely chopped savory herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano and or sage

Sea or kosher salt to taste

Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper. Dab the meat onto the board to collect any excess. Brush the meat with canola oil, using the first steak to brush oil onto the others. Preheat the BBQ to medium-high. Put the meat on the well-oiled grill. Baste regularly, stacking and/or flipping the meat if the flames get out of control.

Once the steaks are on the grill, chop or crush the garlic, coarsely chop the fresh herbs, finely chop the savory herbs, add kosher salt and olive oil and distribute evenly on the cutting board. (It helps to have a cutting board with a channel around the edge to prevent drips.)

When the steaks are nicely caramelized and charred on both sides, approximately 15 to 25 minutes total, remove from grill. (You can check the temp with an instant-read thermometer; the steaks should register 125°F) Allow to rest for 2 minutes. Place the steaks on the board dressing, then slice the steaks on the board, turning to coat the slices. Serve slices with a spatula to make sure each serving gets a generous dose of garlic, salt, olive oil and herbs. (Modified from BBQ 25, by Adam Perry Lang)

Steak au Poivre

(serves 4)


3 tbsp. black peppercorns

4 (6-oz.) beef filets, about 1 1⁄2" thick

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1⁄3 cup cognac

1 cup beef stock

1⁄2 cup heavy cream


Wrap peppercorns in a clean dish towel, then crush, either by pressing firmly with the bottom of a heavy skillet or by tapping gently with a mallet. (Peppercorns should be cracked, not ground.) Transfer pepper to a plate, then roll filets in it so that they are evenly coated. Season liberally on both sides with salt.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add filets and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer steaks to four warmed plates. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm while you prepare sauce.

Add cognac to hot pan, then carefully ignite with a long-handled match. (Keep lid handy so flame can be extinguished if necessary.) Allow alcohol to burn off, about 1 minute, then add stock. Cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, 3–5 minutes. Season with salt and pour over steaks. via

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