Boca Negra

White Chocolate Cream
12 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon (or more to taste)

Cake
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces, at room temperature
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Prepare the cream at least one day in advance. Put the white chocolate in the work bowl of a food processor or in a blender container. Heat the heavy cream until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and process until completely smooth. Add the bourbon, taste and add up to a tablespoon more if you want. Turn into a container with a tight-fitting lid and chill overnight. (The cream can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for up to a month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper; butter the paper. Put the cake pan in a shallow roasting pan and set aside until needed.

Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and keep close at hand. In a 2-quart saucepan, mix 1 cup of the sugar and the bourbon and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a full boil. Immediately pour the syrup over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Piece by piece, stir the butter into the chocolate mixture. Make certain that each piece of butter is melted before you add another.

Put the eggs and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until the eggs thicken slightly. Beating with the whisk, add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Gently whisk in the flour.

Baking the cake: Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan, running your spatula over the top to smooth it. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake for exactly 30 minutes, at which point the top will have a thin, dry crust. Remove the cake pan from its water bath, wipe the pan dry and cover the top of the cake with a sheet of plastic wrap. Invert the cake onto a flat plate, peel off the parchment and quickly but gently invert again onto a serving platter; remove the plastic.

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with the chilled white chocolate cream.

Storing: Once cooled, the cake can be covered and kept at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated for up to 3 days. Wrapped airtight, the cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Swedish Visiting Cake

1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan.

Pour the sugar into a medium bowl. Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Whisk in the salt and the extracts. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour. Finally, fold in the melted butter.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar. If you’re using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it. You can serve the cake warm or cooled, directly from the skillet or turned out onto a serving plate.

Swedish Apple Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
1 extra-large egg or 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 to 1 1/2 apples (I used Fujis), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
Apple, quince or ginger jelly or preserves, for glazing the cake (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. (Ann says 345°F, but my oven doesn’t do that.) Generously butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate or a similar sized cast-iron skillet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, if you’re using it, and keep at hand.

Working in a mixing bowl with the whisk, beat the egg(s) and sugar together until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla, if you’re using it, and then the melted butter. The mixture will be smooth and shiny. Stir in the dry ingredients and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Top with the apples, making a spiral pattern. Leave some space between each slice, so the batter can puff up between the wedges – it looks much nicer with the puffs.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack.

If you want to glaze the cake, warm a few spoonfuls of jelly and a splash of water in a microwave oven (or a saucepan) until the jelly liquefies. Brush the jelly over the hot cake.

Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes, or wait until it reaches room temperature, before you cut it into wedges to serve.

Storing: Cooled and covered, the cake will keep overnight at room temperature, but it’s best served shortly after it’s baked.

Scallops with Mango Tomato Salsa

SCALLOPS WITH GINGERED MANGO-TOMATO SALSA
Makes 4 servings
4 strips bacon (optional)
2 large scallions, finely sliced (or finely sliced red onion)
About 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 preserved lemon, finely diced (optional)
1/2 jalapeno or other chile, seeded and minced
1 or 2 limes
1 large mango, ripe but firm, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 pint (or more) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
Chopped cilantro, mint or basil (optional)
Arugula and/or mixed greens
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops, muscle removed, patted dry
Olive oil
Vinaigrette
Butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

If you’re using the bacon, cook it in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (you’ll use the same skillet for the scallops) until it’s crisp. Pat the bacon dry and, when it’s cool, chop it and keep aside. Pour off most of the fat; leave about 1/8 inch of fat in the skillet. (You can do this a few hours ahead.)

For the salsa, toss the scallions (or onion), ginger, preserved lemon and chile into a mixing bowl. Season wtih salt and pepper, pour in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, grate the zest of one lime over the mix and give everything a good stir. (You can make the salsa up to this point a few hours ahead; cover and leave at room temperature.)

Just before you’re ready to cook the scallops, finish the salsa by stirring in the mango and tomatoes. Squeeze the lime juice over the salsa, season with salt and pepper and taste for more juice and/or olive oil. Sprinkle over the cilantro, if you’re using it. Once you add the lime juice, you’ll want to serve the salsa within 15 minutes … max.

Season the greens with salt and pepper and toss with a little vinaigrette — you don’t want to over-moisten the greens. Line a large shallow serving bowl or a platter with the greens.

Put the skillet with the bacon fat over high-medium heat and, when it’s hot, toss in a tablespoon of butter. If you didn’t make the bacon, heat a combination of olive oil and butter in a skillet. When the bubbles have just about subsided, put the scallops in the pan — don’t crowd them. Cook, without turning, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they’re nicely browned on the bottom. Flip the scallops over and cook for another minute or 2 to brown. When done, the scallops should be firm on the outside and opalescent and still a little jiggly in the center. (If you like your scallops more done than that — cook away.)

Turn the scallops out over the salad. Give the salsa a last stir, then spoon it over the scallops. Top with the chopped bacon and serve.

Pasta Risotto

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 3/4 cups chicken broth (or 3 3/4 cups water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 1/3 cups tubetti (my preference) or elbow macaroni (traditional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 1/2 tablespoons mascarpone

Melt butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Toss in onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. (Or, if you’d like, go ahead and cook the onion until it’s golden.) Pour in chicken broth or water and bring to a boil; if you’re using bouillon cubes, drop them in now and stir to dissolve. Add pasta, stir it around, and let it cook at a steady simmer until it has absorbed almost all the broth, 20 to 25 minutes. (There should be just 1/4 inch or less of liquid bubbling at the bottom of the pan.)

Pour in cream and allow it to simmer for about 3 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Stir in Parmesan and mascarpone, cook for 1 minute, and taste for salt and pepper (it should be generously peppered). Pull the pan from the heat, cover, and let rest for 3 minutes before serving.

You can certainly serve this as a side dish to a roast of almost any kind, including chicken—think of it as a fancy macaroni and cheese—but it’s elegant enough to come out on its own as a starter or main dish. It can be eaten plain or with a dusting of parsley or a little more Parmesan; of course, if you have some truffles to grate over each portion, go for it.

Cheddar Chive Quick Bread

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (it depends on what cheese and add-ins you’re using)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (or more to taste; you could even add a pinch of hot pepper)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces coarsely grated cheddar or other cheese
2 ounces cheddar or other cheese, cut into very small cubes
1/2 cup minced chives or other herbs
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)

Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl and whisk the ingredients together to combine.

Put the eggs in another mixing bowl; whisk for about 1 minute, until they’re foamy and blended. Whisk in the milk and olive oil.\n\n3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a sturdy rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, gently mix until the dough comes together. There’s not need to be energetic?beating the dough toughens it?nor do you need to be very thoroughly. Just stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Now, stir in the cheese, grated and cubed, the herbs and the toasted walnuts, if you’re using them. You’ll have a thick dough. Turn the dough into the buttered pan and even the top with the back of the spatula or spoon.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and a slender knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack, wait about 3 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the loaf over onto the rack; invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

Bacon, Cheddar, and Chive Biscuits

6 thick-cut bacon slices
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus melted butter for brushing
2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
Honey (optional)

Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds.Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).

Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.

Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.

Bacon-Cheddar Quick Bread

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese plus 1/2 cup 1/4-inch cubes extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces total)
1/2 cup finely chopped moist dried pears (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
Combine bacon, all cheese, dried pears, walnuts, and sage in medium bowl. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in large bowl to blend. Whisk eggs, milk, and olive oil in another medium bowl to blend. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Add bacon-cheese mixture and stir until incorporated (dough will be very sticky). Transfer dough to prepared loaf pan; spread evenly.

Bake bread until golden on top and slender knife inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool bread in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic, then foil, and store at room temperature.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes
Pinch of fleur de sel or fine sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
1 or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme, optional
1 or 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed, optional
About 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone baking mat.

Cut the tomatoes in half – I cut cherry tomatoes horizontally (around their waists) and grape tomatoes from top to bottom – and place them cut-side up on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. There’s no need to use a lot of oil – just enough so that the tomato tops glisten.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the tomatoes for about 3 hours. When they’re done, the tomatoes will be shriveled and a little dry looking, but press them gently and you’ll see that they’ve still got some juice.

Use the tomatoes immediately or cool them on the baking sheet. If you don’t need them now, pack them in a jar along with the garlic and herbs, if you’ve used them, and cover them with good olive oil. Topped with oil, the tomatoes will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

In addition to pulling the tomatoes into service to give pasta a little more punch, put them and a little of their oil over chicken, salmon or tuna, steamed vegetables and anything else that needs a little color and an extra hit of flavor.

Mustard Batons

All-purpose flour, for rolling
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (each about 8½ ounces), thawed
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 large egg
Poppy seeds, for topping (optional)

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Have a ruler and a pizza cutter (or sharp knife) at hand.

Working with 1 sheet of pastry at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle that’s about 12 x 16 inches. If necessary, turn the dough so that a short side of the rectangle is closest to you. Measure the length so that you can find the middle, and spread ¼ cup of the mustard over the lower half of the dough, stopping about 1/8 inch from the side and bottom edges. Fold the top portion of the dough over the bottom and, using the pizza cutter (or knife), with your ruler as a guide, cut the pastry from top to bottom into strips about 1 inch wide (I actually use the width of the ruler itself as my guide), then cut the strips crosswise in half. (If you prefer, you can leave the strips long.)

Carefully transfer the batons to one of the baking sheets and chill or freeze them while you work on the second batch. (You can make all the strips to this point and freeze them on the baking sheets, then pack them airtight and keep them frozen for up to 2 months.)

Lightly beat the egg with a splash of cold water and brush just the tops of the strips with this glaze. If you’d like, sprinkle them with poppy seeds.

Bake the batons for 8 minutes. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes, or until the strips are puffed and golden brown. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the batons rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Unbaked batons can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months and baked while still frozen. Brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with the poppy seeds, if using them, just before baking.

Tapenade Batons. Can be made with tapenade instead of mustard, Before folding over the puff pastry, sprinkle the tapenade with grated lemon zest and/or grated Parmesan; other good add-ins are teensy slivers of roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, paper-thin slices of onion, and toasted sliced almonds.

Chicken-in-the-Pot

Approximately 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 heads of garlic, broken into cloves, but not peeled
16 shallots, peeled and trimmed, or 4 onions, peeled, trimmed and quartered, or 4 leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise
8 carrots, peeled, trimmed and quartered
4 celery stalks, trimmed and quartered
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
16 prunes, optional (apricots or dried apples are also good in this dish)
1 chicken, whole or cut-up
1/2 small (2 lbs or less) cabbage, green or red, cut into 4 wedges (try Savoy cabbage)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine, or another 1/2 cup chicken broth
About 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, for the seal
About 3/4 cup hot water, for the seal

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Set a large skillet over high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss in the garlic cloves and all the vegetables, EXCEPT the cabbage – you might have to do this in two batches, you don’t want to crowd the skillet – season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned on all sides. Spoon the vegetables into a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid – you’ll need a pot that holds at least 5 quarts. Stir in the herbs, lemon zest and prunes, if you’re using them.

Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon or so of oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides. Put the chicken in the casserole, nestling it among the vegetables. Fit the cabbage wedges around the chicken.

Stir together the chicken broth, wine and 1/2 cup olive oil and pour the mixture over the chicken and vegetables.

Now you have a choice: you can cover the pot with a sheet of aluminum foil and the lid, or you can make a paste to seal the lid. To make the paste, stir the flour and water together, mixing until you have a soft, workable dough. Working on a floured surface, shape the dough into a long sausage, then press the sausage onto the rim of the casserole. Press the lid into the dough to seal the pot.

Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 70 minutes. If you need to keep it in the oven a little longer because you’re not ready for it, don’t worry – turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and you’ll be good for another 30 minutes or so.

The easiest way to break the seal, is to wiggle the point of a screwdriver between the dough and the pot – being careful not to stand in the line of the escaping (and wildly aromatic) steam. If the chicken was whole, quarter it and return it to the pot, so that you can serve directly from the pot, or arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter.