Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fires, Books, Chocolate

I am so glad I don't live in California, they are having really bad problems right now with fires. Yesterday it was raging around Montecito and a lot of multi million dollar homes were destroyed. Oprah Winfrey has a palace home there, but that is no doubt one of several and it wasn't destroyed, but there were others who lost everything as it was their only home. The fires are spreading and people in Santa Barbara are being asked to evacuate. We get fires all over North America, it is in fact a natural thing, but when people build their homes in amongst the trees, these kinds of disasters are bound to happen. I remember many years ago visiting North Carolina, before we lived there, driving along a road with trees alight on both sides of us - the men in the car wanted to stop and take pictures, the women wouldn't let them!! On our return trip we saw someone barbecuing a steak in his yard with burning trees all around him. He didn't need to fire up his barbecue at all he could have walked to the nearest tree. Me, I would have been out of there. They are using fire planes in California, but although I am sure they carry a lot of liquid, it looks such a tiny drop when they release it over the fires. They need rain which, at the moment, we are having quite enough of. It has been dull, wet and miserable for a couple of days or so, enough to depress the happiest of natures. I have just finished reading the ebook of Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a book written from the POV of the dragon and describes his adventures and his feelings. As you know, I love dragons. This is the first in a series (Age of Fire) apparently, so I will look forward to reading more. I picked up three books in the library yesterday as I was running out of reading materials and found a book II that looked good, so ordered book I and will get the second one once I have read it. Matt was watching Everyday Italian with Giada di Laurentis yesterday and I came in the room at the tail end when she was making what looked like a scrumptious dessert (well it was chocolate!). I immediately checked on the internet and got the recipe which I am passing on to you. Chocolate Sformato with Amaretto Whipped Cream 2 cups whole milk, divided 1 cup sugar 1 tsp vanilla 1 packet gelatin 4 eggs, lightly beaten 1 (12-ounce) bag bittersweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds 1 cup whipping cream 1 Tbs powdered sugar 1 Tbs almond liqueur (recommended: Amaretto) 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 2 In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 cup cold milk and let dissolve for 2 minutes. Combine the cold milk and gelatin with the hot milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 5 minutes. (Heat the milk gently if the gelatin is not dissolving easily.) When the gelatin is dissolved add a little of the hot milk to the eggs to temper them then pour the egg mixture back to combine the eggs with the warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or small pitcher. 3 Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted gradually combine the milk and egg mixture with the melted chocolate, stirring between each addition to create a smooth chocolate mixture. 4 Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the almonds. Place the casserole dish in a larger dish or roasting pan. Add hot water to the outer pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the sides are firm and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes. 5 Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer. Add the sugar first and bwhip then add the almond liqueur and whip more to combine. Spoon the sformato into individual serving bowls and dollop the top with the almond liqueur whipped cream. Servings: 4 - 6 My Note: On the TV Giada put all the milk in the pan with the sugar and vanilla extract then sprinkled on the gelatin as it warmed in the pan. Have a great weekend.


  1. That looks seriously yummy, Jo, and I want some. It looks like the sort of thing they might serve Oprah in her palace:-)or nice enough to cheer you up in the rainy weather. It sounds as you'r getting an Engliash November!

  2. Right now we are getting a dollop of that white stuff. Supposed to have 3-4 cm by the end of the weekend. Its lying on the ground but not on the roads.

    Yes, I plan to make that dessert at my next dinner party, I thought it looked delicious. Easy enough to do too. Even you could do that one Satima. Marilyn might like it too but she is not "reading" at the moment.