Late one night I was sitting at home thinking to myself how incredibly fun it might be to start some sort of social group with local friends. But I wondered, w hat kind of social group would really be something to look forward to and do time and time again? Book clubs seem a little overdone (and boring. and I don’t have time to read anything more than what I do) and wine clubs are a little too “high class” for me, even though I do love a good glass (or bottle) of red wine. But then I thought about cooking. To be sure there are others out there that enjoy cooking enough to join together in some sort of cooking group. And then it hit me – an Iron Chef party. Awesome!!! But since my kitchen isn’t quite the “Kitchen Stadium” as the one on TV, how about a way to prepare food in advance? So then the idea of an Iron Chef Potluck Party was hatched. I emailed a few peeps I thought would be interested and to my delight, they all were super excited, if not super duper excited, about it.
It’s as simple as this: the first host chooses the “Theme Ingredient” and emails it to the attendees the day before the Battle. Then the guests prepare 1 dish (or more) to “support and enhance” that ingredient. We judge in the style of Iron Chef (10 points for taste, 5 for presentation and 5 for creativity) and at the end of the night the reigning Iron Chef is announced! The prize, as if participating isn’t prize enough, is choosing the next ingredient. Who hosts gets figured out along the way.
So the first Battle was held last weekend and it was a BLAST. We had a whole bunch of great dishes and (I’m not lying here) they were all really good. The hard part was judging in terms of the theme ingredient and NOT on the taste alone – otherwise they would have all received high marks! Getting started was sorta funny – we all scurried towards the table to eat, plate in one hand and scorecard in the other. Some ate and then scored while others ate and scored simultaneously. I was in the latter group, but could only go for about two dishes at a time before I got all frazzled.
I made a couple of dishes and a beverage.
Overall, it was good times. We decided to Battle every month, which should be really fun. I’m sure others will join as the popularity increases! The next “Battle” will be on April 4th. Since I won with the above cake/ice cream combo, I get to pick the next Theme Ingredient – yay!! Stay tuned! I’ve got a pretty long list of possible ingredients, so luckily I have a while to pick.
Chocolate Basil Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from Camilla’s blog (You might recognize her from some Food Network Recipe challenges.)
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar and a little less than 1/2 cup Baking Splenda)
1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (more for garnish)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup hot water
1 recipe chocolate sour cream, frosting (below)instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick baking spray. Place the sugar and basil in a food processor. Process until basil is chopped fine and uniformly green in color (it will look slightly wet).
In a large bowl whisk the melted butter, cocoa powder and basil sugar until well-blended. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, until blended and smooth. Stir in the baking soda, vanilla, orange, and salt. Gradually add flour to bowl, stirring just until blended (do not overstir).
Add hot water to mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 22-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (mine was 22). Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool completely, meanwhile prepare sour cream frosting. Spread over cake and garnish with basil leaves. Cut into 12 servings.Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
6 tablespoon reduced fat sour cream
1 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl whisk the powdered sugar and cocoa powder; set aside. In a separate medium bowl beat the sour cream and melted chocolate with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Gradually add sugar mixture to sour cream mixture, beating at low speed until well-blended. Add vanilla and beat well for 1 minute until very smooth and creamy.
Basil Ice Cream
Adapted from various places
2 cups reduced fat milk
1 cup packed fresh basil
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)
Bring milk, basil, 1/4 cup of sugar to simmer in saucepan and remove from heat. Steep basil in mixture for 30 minutes. Transfer to blender/food processor until well blended.
Beat yolks and remainder of sugar in bowl until well blended and pale (using electric mixer is handy). Add milk mixture in slowly, stirring constantly. Pour into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until spoon is coated with mixture (do NOT boil). Remove and chill, either in fridge or in ice bath, depending on timing.
Once chilled, pour mixture into ice cream freezer (1 gallon), according to instructions (~20 minutes).