Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Party Hearty

Chez nous has been party central over the past few days. Kiddlette's birthday party on Sunday kicked it all off. It was a convivial scene, between the uproarious antics of Rogow the amazing clown/magician, the Tinkerbelle themed decorations, and the menu dictated by all of Kiddlette's favorite things: freshly made grilled cheese sandwiches, a pound cake topped with whipped cream frosting, and cups of yummy hot chocolate. Kiddlette was thrilled by the mound of presents she recieved, not so thrilled by my decree that she may only open one a day...
By the party's end the house looked like a trashed Disney float- sagging streamers, deflated balloons, shredded Tinkerbelle tableware. A sure sign of a rollicking good party among the Pre-K set.
As soon as the last goody bag was dispensed, I headed straight back into the kitchen and began preparations for last night's Italian themed dinner. My friend C. was on the guest list, and the inspiration behind the menu. A few weeks ago we were to meet for dinner, I suggested Italian, she dismissed the idea saying that "there's no good Italian around here". I stuck my nose in Lidia Bastianich's fine Italian cookbook, and didn't resurface until I devised an appropriate menu. I started with a rich and flavorful tomato bread soup, moved on to a simple chicken cacciatore that comprised of just 4 ingredients: san marzano plum tomatoes, chicken cut in 8ths, olive oil, and fresh fragrant rosemary- simply good. I also made a meat ragu sauce that was just fantastico! It utilized 2 cups of red wine, and reconstituted porcini mushrooms, it percolated on the stove for hours and filled the house with a hearty and robust aroma. Served with hefty rigatoni pasta- I half expected the table to burst into a round O Sole Mio. Dessert was where I departed from the theme and probably shouldn't have. I baked a chocolate chip cookie pie that just wouldn't set, not sure why... I wasn't going to serve it, but was cajoled into bringing it out- it was like eating warm cookie dough, which I'm not bananas about, but our guests seemed to enjoy.
Today I made a chocolate cake that almost made me cry. Not because it was beautiful to behold, although it certainly wasn't an eyesore. It was chocolate cake that you could wrap your soul around. Deep, dark, chocolate flavor, moist texture, there's nowhere to go but Happy when you're savoring this cake. And the ease of this recipe takes you from Happy to Relieved.

Beat together chocolate cake mix, 1 package chocolate instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1 8oz. conainer sour cream, 1/2 c. vegetable oil, 1/2 c. water, and 1 tbsp. vanilla extract. Stir in 1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour into greased bundt pan. Bake in 350F oven for about an hour, or until it passes the toothpick test.
Chocolate Glaze: mix 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. milk, and 3 tbsp. butter in saucepan on med. heat. Stirring constantly, bring to boil and boil for a minute. Take off stove. Stir in 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until chips are melted and glaze is smooth and glossy. Pour glaze over cooled cake.


Alexa said...

Your Italian menu sounds divine.
Happy birthday to your little girl. She's lucky to have had such a delicious cake.

Katie said...

Well thank you!

Now you've got me aching for Italian food and chocolate cake :)