Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

Sometimes you need a dessert that's a snap to whip up but will still knock the socks off of anyone who tries it.  These luscious, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate lava cakes fit the bill perfectly.  I've taken a few liberties with the recipe to make it easier to make whenever the craving for something warm and chocolate-y strikes, but if you have everything called for in the original recipe, you should try them that way, at least once.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

  • 4 ounces good semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli 60% cocoa)
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 C white sugar (the recipe calls for powdered, which make a smoother, more velvety cake, but nobody will complain if you substitute plain granulated sugar.)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • Whipping cream & sugar, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt together the chocolate and the butter in a microwave-safe bowl.  Stir in the sugar and vanilla, whisk in the eggs, and stir in the flour.  Oil 4-6 ramekins or 6-8 cupcake tins and divide the batter between them.  If you're using ramekins, place them all on a cookie sheet for easier handling and in case of overflow.
(If you have some chocolate squares or peanut butter cups or a fancy bottle of merlot espresso chocolate sauce, you might think of augmenting the centers of these treats with a bit of that.  Just a suggestion.)

Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes, until the tops are set but the insides are still jiggly.  Invert the cups on individual plates to serve.  Whip & sweeten some whipped cream and serve in generous dollops alongside.

Makes 4-8 servings.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Pasta in a hurry

One of the common assumptions I've heard about people who cook a lot is that they are somehow fundamentally different, and, well, you are a wonderful cook, I don't know how you do it, I couldn't possibly, I don't have the time/money/fancy kitchen/talent that you have.
I think that's rubbish.  Are you capable of holding a job? Passing a class?  Operating a cell phone?  Congratulations, good cooking is well within your reach.   And sure, cooking your own meals takes slightly longer than popping a TV dinner in the microwave, but not by much.  Besides, that's what leftovers are for.

I know, I know.  All that ranting for one (rather mediocre) picture of some noodles with tomato sauce?  Well, I would've taken a better picture, but this meal was cooked and consumed in less than a half an hour and there wasn't much time to mess with the artful arranging of food nonsense.  So, as compensation for that rant, here's an un-recipe.  Make it for dinner when you don't have much time.  And trust me, it isn't exactly rocket science.

Pasta with Marinara Sauce


  • 1 package pasta, any shape
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (or garlic powder)
  • drizzle of olive oil (or a small bit of butter)
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato puree.  Or ready-cut tomatoes.  Or a combination of the two.
  • italian sausage (optional)
  • splash of wine (optional)
  • basil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • black pepper
NOTE:  All quantities may be adjusted and substitutions may be made based on what you have on hand.


Put a pot of water on for pasta, following package instructions.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic.  Toss them with olive oil or butter in a large pan over medium heat.  If you have sausage, add it now as well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.  If you have an open bottle of wine or some broth on hand, splash a little in now and let it cook for a minute.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.

Add  the tomato, whatever form it happens to be in, and the spices.  Adjust spices to taste.  Cook until hot and bubbly.  If the pasta is not done yet, cover the sauce and turn the heat to low.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Make a green salad by rinsing and tearing up a few leaves of lettuce.  Serve a portion of pasta and top it with the tomato sauce.  Grate some parmesan cheese over the top if you have any.

(NOTE: I prefer to store pasta and sauce separately... not all diners want the same sauce-to-pasta ratio.)