Cook’s Corner

Chocolate ‘sex’ cake still gets lots of love

 

Main dish

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

1 pound kale greens

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, or to taste

1/2 pound linguica sausage or substitute (see note)

3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 quarts chicken stock

2 (15-ounce) cans beans (cannellini, kidney, navy, garbanzo or a combination), optional

Garnishes: Vinegar, mint or cilantro leaves

Remove thick stems from kale after washing it thoroughly. Shred the leaves thinly and set aside. (You should have about 8 to 9 cups). Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté briefly, until just fragrant.

Slice the sausage into 3/4-inch coins and add to the pot along with the potatoes and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the kale, then the chicken stock. Add beans if desired. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes before tasting for seasoning and serving.

If a thicker soup is desired, mash half the potatoes and return to the pot and stir. For “modern” version, substitute baby kale leaves for the shredded kale and do not add to the pot until just before serving. To serve, pass the vinegar to sprinkle on top. It is traditional to place mint and cilantro leaves in individual bowls before pouring in the soup. Makes 8 servings without the beans, 12 with them. (Nutritional information below is for 8 servings, no beans.)

Note: Linguica is a smoke-cured Portuguese sausage with garlic and paprika. Chouriço is a very similar Portuguese sausage that is more moist than linguica and closer to chorizo, which can also be substituted. In a pinch, use andouille or kielbasa.

Per serving: 364 calories (51 percent from fat), 21 g fat (5.8 g saturated, 11.6 g mono), 32 mg cholesterol, 16.7 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 719 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from recipes by readers, Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray.


Dessert

Chocolate Better Than Sex Cake

1 standard box chocolate cake mix (butter recipe devil’s food preferred)

3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

1 (4-serving) package instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

4 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup coffee or water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:

1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toss pecans and half the chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of the cake mix and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the remaining cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, oil, coffee and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, fold in the nut and chocolate chip mixture.

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan. Pour in the cake mix and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until cake tests done. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn onto wire rack and cool completely before glazing.

To make glaze: Combine chocolate chips with 1 cup water in the top of a double boiler over simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. (Alternately, do this in the microwave). Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Let cool until slightly thickened, then spoon over cake. Makes 16 servings.

Per serving: 510 calories (47 percent from fat), 28 g fat (5 g saturated), 60 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein, 64 g carbohydrates, 0.3 g fiber, 455 mg sodium.

Source: Linda Cicero’s Cook’s Corner archives.


Appetizer

Sweet Chili Sauce Shrimp

1 1/2 pounds jumbo or extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup bottled sweet chili sauce, divided

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

Thread shrimp on metal skewers. Baste shrimp generously with 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce. Grill shrimp over medium heat about 5 minutes, until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with green onion. Serve shrimp with additional sauce. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 186 calories (7 percent from fat), 1.1 g fat (0.3 g saturated, 0.2 g mono), 143 mg cholesterol, 15.5 g protein, 17.3 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 1042 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner from a recipe by Frank’s RedHot.


Maybe it was the titillating title, racy for the ’80s, but ever since Better Than Sex Cake made the column, it has been a perennial reader favorite. It is a dense and triple-chocolate cake, so what isn’t to love?

“This has been our family celebration cake for more than 20 years,” L.M. wrote in nominating it for Cook’s Corner’s Top 10 all-time recipes. “I made it for my son’s first birthday and I just made it for his graduation.”

Added Patty Castillo: “I don’t bake, but this is one cake that never fails and just looks and tastes spectacular.”

Reader Response: Kale Soup

Anna P. asked for help making a kale soup her late mother-in-law made from her native Portugal. She remembered that back in the ’80s, before kale’s “rediscovery,” it was hard to find. Potatoes and chorizo were two ingredients she remembered being used as well.

“The soup inquired about in Sleuth’s Corner is Caldo Verde [literally ‘green soup’],” responded Jace Weaver. “It is a classic Portuguese (and Brazilian) kale soup. It is sometimes made with potatoes, sometimes not. The sausage, however is linguica, not chorizo. Recipes can be found in Portuguese or Brazilian cookbooks and on the Internet.”

D.I. of Miami uses a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who is usually associated with his creative New Orleans Creole cuisine, but who grew up in a Portuguese-American community in Falls River, Mass. He learned Portuguese cooking from his mother.

“I’ve been making this soup since the late ’90s when I first saw Emeril prepare it on the early morning show on ABC News,” D.I. wrote. “It is from Emeril’s TV Dinners [1998].”

While researching his recipe, I learned Emeril has a “new” version of the soup at foodnetwork.com that does not call for long simmering of the kale, but for adding it at the end and cooking just until “the leaves are softened but still slightly crunchy.” I was inspired by this to simply throw baby kale leaves into my soup and just stirring until they warmed through.

To bean or not to bean? Perhaps influenced by my love for Cuban caldo gallego I made mine with cannellini. Emeril’s new version uses no beans, but the old one calls for a mixture of white and red beans. Barb G. sent a recipe from Rachael Ray that uses garbanzo beans.

Quick Fixes

• This super-easy, super-fast sweet chili shrimp recipe is perfect as we embrace barbecue season. Just be careful when you grill to keep an eye on the skewer since the sweetening agent in the sauce will make it go from a tasty burnish to burned really quickly.

For those unfamiliar, sweet chili sauce is a popular Thai condiment made primarily with red chile peppers, vinegar and a sweetener. Once available only in Asian markets, it has moved into mainstream supermarkets and is even bottled now by American brand Frank’s RedHot.

• Here’s a great cupcake decorating tip for graduation parties from McCormick’s: Have ready 24 cupcakes. Stir 1 to 2 teaspoons black food coloring into 16 ounces of homemade or purchased dark chocolate frosting. Dip 24 graham cracker squares into the frosting using a fork, and let any excess drip off. Let stand 30 minutes on parchment paper until frosting is firm.

Use sharp kitchen scissors to cut licorice strips into 2-inch tassels. Trim the tops of cupcakes to level if necessary. Place cupcakes upside down on serving platter. Use a drop of frosting to secure graham cracker square to top of cupcake. Place a licorice strip and a chocolate candy on top of each, securing with a drop of frosting.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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