Salsa di Parmigiano

Blythe has a wonderful nanny who cares for her during the day while we are at work.  In addition being amazing with our little one and taking her on all sorts of adventures, she cooks delicious-sounding meals and brings leftovers for lunch that make me wish we could swap lunches.  I doubt she'd trade hers for what I usually pack... 

Recently she made us these Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Zucchini with Shrimp that I never would have made on my own, which were flavorful and unusual, and she introduced me to my newest obsession: vegetable noodles.  

I am now the proud owner of a spiralizer.  I try to avoid purchasing kitchen gadgets that are single use, but I've made an exception for the spiralizer because it makes these long, curly noodles that are fun to eat and cook and healthy.  An added bonus is that Blythe loves them and they are the perfect shape for her to grasp in her little hands.  These noodles actually make me think I like zucchini and I now regret not planting some in our garden. 

Yellow squash or zucchini noodles alone have very little flavor, which makes them the ideal vehicle for whatever kind of sauce you favor.  Usually my go-to sauce in the summer is pesto (made with pine nuts or walnuts), but lately I've been making Salsa di Parmigiano and adding a generous dollop of the Salsa di Parmigiano on the noodles.  It is deliciously cheesy with a kick from the red pepper flakes and I love to double this recipe and keep a Mason jar of the salsa in the refrigerator to put on vegetables (spiralized or not), pasta, or bread.  With the bountiful late-summer produce, this is the perfect sauce to have on-hand.

Salsa di Parmigiano
Recipe from Michael Chiarello via Alexandra Cooks

Ingredients
1/2 pound Parmesan
1/2 pound Asiago cheese
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 2, but start with 1)
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
1. Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses and garlic in a food processor until reduced to a fine, pea-sized gravel. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and stir in the scallions.

2. Add the oregano, rubbing it between your fingers over the bowl, red pepper flakes, 1 cup of the olive oil and black pepper. Stir. If mixture seems dry, add more olive oil by the 1/4 cup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

Random aside - I've been getting emails from The Kitchn Cure, which just started last week.  For 20 days, they send a daily tip for cleaning and organizing your kitchen.  Today's task is cleaning the oven and last week was cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer (all of which are tasks I needed to tackle).

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

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I regularly have ambitious plans to make an elaborate dessert for a dinner party, and often it just does not happen.  Life gets in the way, the guests are arriving in one hour, and I haven't showered, set the table, etc.  Any of this sound familiar?

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For the last few years, this Flourless Chocolate Cake has been my go-to dessert.  I always have the ingredients on hand and it takes no more than 15 minutes to get this into the oven.   While it bakes, you can clean up, do any last minute prep work, and pour yourself a drink.  About 35 minutes later, your home will smell like chocolate and your dessert is ready!  This is a rich, intense cake and it is best-served with something - I like whipped cream and a few raspberries or sliced strawberries.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Adapted very slightly from Alexandra Cooks

Yield = 1 9-inch cake (I find this serves 8 generous slices or 12 slightly smaller slices)

Notes -  This cake is meant to be moist inside so be sure not to overcook it.  As soon as it feels only slightly wobbly but mostly firm, remove it from the oven.  Give the cake time to cool before you dust it with powdered sugar, too, or it will soak right into the cake.  This cake calls for almond flour, so it's not for those who need to be nut-free, but it is gluten free!  

Ingredients

8 oz semisweet chocolate

8 tablespoons margarine or butter 

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon almond extract

4 large eggs, separated

2 large eggs, whole

1/3 cup plus ½ cup sugar

½ cup almond flour

Fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries (if you'd like)

Whipped cream (you could also serve it with ice cream, but I prefer whipped cream)

Powdered sugar (If you serve this for Passover, see Alexandra Cooks for a different option for dusting the cake)

Preparation

1.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Place chocolate and margarine or butter in bowl and microwave on high for one minute (or until melted), stirring once after 30 seconds.  If you don't have a microwave, you can use the oven or a double-boiler (if you use the oven, watch it carefully!).

2.  Coat a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  Line bottom with round of parchment paper, then spray the parchment as well.

3.  Whisk chocolate mixture until smooth, then add salt and almond extract and stir until blended.

4.  Crack 4 of the eggs, separating the whites from the yolks.  Whisk the four yolks and two additional whole eggs (whites and yolks) with the 1/3 cup of sugar just until blended.  Add yolk mixture to chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in almond flour.

5.  In the bowl of an electric mixture, whip the four egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the ½ cup sugar and beat until egg whites become shiny and hold their peaks, but are not too stiff. 

6.  Stir one third of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten.  Then, in two additions, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.  Pour batter into pan and place in oven.  Bake for 35 – 40 minutes.  Cake will rise and have cracks running across it. It should feel only slightly wobbly when gently pressed. Remove from oven and let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing sides and transferring to cooling rack. 

7.  Use a fine mesh colander or sifter to dust the cake with powdered sugar.  Serve the cake with whipped cream and fresh berries if you have them.  I'm sure it will also pair well with ice cream.

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