Chocolate Tasting

Araya Artisin Chocolate

One day last week when I returned home from work, I was greeted by a small parcel left on my doorstep.  I was anticipating its arrival since my dear friend, Elizabeth Pons, called me one day to tell me how excited she was to have me try something completely new.  Upon opening the package I found the most beautiful box tied exquisitely with a silver satin bow.  Inside were a dozen chocolates; each held snugly in place so that no damage occurred in route to my door.  These special treats came to me all the way from Houston, Texas.  Elizabeth, an amazing chef and spiritual goddess, found these very special chocolates while visiting family in Houston.

At first, I noticed the intricate design of each individual chocolate.  It was a pleasure to see the careful attention paid to aesthetic design.  Visual cues entice our palate.  The colors were attractive, appropriate and exciting! The accompanying guide identified each unique piece with a description that made my mouth water.  The chocolatiers, originally from Venezuela, have selected single-origin Venezuelan chocolate and only all natural ingredients.  Choosing ‘single-origin’ exposes the maker to flavor flaws that can be repaired by blending beans from multiple sources.  Cocoa beans, similar to coffee and grapes, are heavily influenced by the region in which they grow.  These confectioners have taken a risk that has paid back in some of the most delicious chocolate I have ever tasted.  Thank you Araya for introducing me to something completely new!

“Chai Spice – A dark chocolate ganache spiced with an infusion of black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves”.  My taste buds tingled in anticipation.

I place the Chai Spice artisanal bonbon on my tongue and let it sit a moment to take in the perfectly smooth surface.  As the outside layer of chocolate came to body temperature, it began to melt and gave way to a delicious ganache center .  The flavors described in the guide came to life in my mouth, each one announcing itself on my tongue then giving way to the next.  The flavors were intense, spicy and satisfying.  The mouth feel was silky.

I’ve never been a fan of white chocolate.  After all, darker chocolate has all the flavor.  Why partake of the fat miss out on flavor?  The Cappuccino piece helped me see the light.  White chocolate is not the same and should not be compared to its brown cousin.  White chocolate is about texture and creating a canvas for other flavors to shine through.  This piece did that and more.  Easily melting on my tongue, it revealed the most delicious coffee flavored ganache with a touch of cinnamon!

Thank you Elizabeth!  Once again you have brought light to my life!  Click the Araya Chocolate link for information on purchasing.  They will send cooled packages to you anywhere in the US. Tell them Chef Roger sent you!

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Relationship Healing and Braising a Brisket

I have learned that relationships grow like people.  Sometimes apart and sometimes together.  The most difficult thing I ever did was move out of the house where my children and their mother lived when she and I divorced.   I missed out on many good-night stories, weekday breakfasts and daily current events.  I did it because I needed to do some much needed personal growth and my children deserved to experience a life at home free from the tension of feuding adults.

In my exile, I spent many an hour having self-pity parties; worrying about what they thought of me, what their mother was telling them about me and if they would or could ever love me again.  I missed them and tried time and again to bring them closer to me but not always in the right way.  Each time i thought i would lose them, I would tighten my grip only to have them run screaming away from me.

And after many years, I came to believe that there was a power greater than me that could restore my relationship with my kids.  And if I were to ever be blessed with them in my life again, i would have to release my strangling grip of control.  With great trepidation, lots of support and amazing faith, i did just that.  I let them go.

Recently, like the winter snow reveals the spring of a new generation, the ice melted and my kids have begun their journey back to my home.  The answer was taking the focus off “how to get them to come to me”  and turn it to “how to take care of myself”

I stopped worrying about the future and got myself involved in my culinary passion.  In the end, it was my passion for culinary that brought my kids back to me.  Last night my son and my youngest daughter joined me for a Passover Primer lesson.  We made matzoh balls, brisket, flourless chocolate cake and even Raspberry Pate de Fruit!  We cooked together, laughed together and ate together.  I am so grateful to have them back in my life.

Follow your passion and life gets better!  Come cook with me at Camaje!  www.camaje.com

 

Here are some pictures of what we made:

Passover Primer

On Saturday April 16, I will be teaching a great new class at Camaje in Greenwich Village.  Tonight I had my official recipe testers, Noah and Lia, come help me work out the details.  We made Matzoh Ball Soup, Brisket, Asparagus, Pate de Fruit and Flourless Chocolate cake.  The results were a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.

If you’d like to cook with me, register at http://www.camaje.com !

#passovercooking #chefroger #camaje #abigailhitchcock #passover

Around The World in 80 Sweets

It was heaven and it was hell!  A receiving line of white coated chefs complete with toques applauded me as I made my way through the golden gates of sweets.  Awaiting my arrival; a plethora of sweets, a variety that easily exceeded 250 unique preparations,  from the 4 corners of the earth, prepared by the best pastry chefs in the world, laid out by region and  indicated by monumental sculptures of pure chocolate and all I had was 2 hours and one stomach.  

From the cavalcade of welcoming chefs to the key note speech from Francois Payard, the evening was magical, the sweets insanely delicious and the crowd was very French!!  

Chef Roger now appearing at Camaje Bistro on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village

camaje

I am delighted to announce that I will be working alongside Chef Abigail Hitchcock at her restaurant, Camaje Bistro, teaching hands-on cooking classes. To find out more about classes and the bistro, visit Camaje Bistro.
Camaje Bistro uses seasonal, local and organic (where possible) foods. Chef Abby’s menu is French-American but she also includes her love of the exotic to add some surprises. “Simplest is best” are words Abby lives by. There’s no need to over complicate good ingredients. As a sommelier, she chooses wines from France and America to complement the her menu. And, she jokes that she has more teas than tables in the restaurant.
Abby has been offering hands-on cooking classes for 14 years. One reason for their huge popularity is that they run while the restaurant is open! For the last 8 years, Camaje has hosted Dinners in the Dark Events (formerly known as Dark Dining), sensory feasts served to blindfolded diners. Wine dinners, Tastings, Ladies Afternoon High Teas, Kids Cooking Classes, Corporate Team Building Events, Private Parties are just a few of the other types of events that keep Camaje fresh.
Find out more: http://www.camaje.com

Chocolate Bundt Cake

I was just chatting with a friend and she asked for an easy dessert recipe.  This chocolate cake recipe is perfect for entertaining.  It is easy to prepare, goes well with vanilla ice cream and freezes very well!  In fact I’ve been know to serve frozen slices in the heat of the summer.  Just seal it up in plastic wrap and aluminum foil so it doesn’t dry out.

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Bunny’s Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Dry Ingredients

1 box Devils Food Cake Mix

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

¾ teaspoons salt

½ cup cocoa powder

Wet Ingredients

1 1/3 cups water

1/2 cup canola oil

1 ½ teaspoons real vanilla

1 cup sour cream

3 large eggs

 

12 Ounce Bag of Chocolate Chips

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 325 f
  2. Grease and flour a Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt® Pan or similar. See Williams-Sonoma to purchase a Goldtone version!  (Or spray pan with Bakeeze also available at Williams-Sonoma)
  3. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until well blended
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the wet ingredients
  5. Combine and beat wit electric beater for 2 minutes
  6. Fold in chocolate chips
  7. Pour into prepared Bundt pan
  8. Bake on center rack in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. This recipe is better if it is slightly under baked as opposed to over baked.