The story of the Restaurant owner, and chef-instructor of the evening classes, Lillian, and her childhood relationship with her mother, reminded me a bit of Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone, Growing up at the Table. Especially the cover photo of a young Ruth, standing at the stove cooking. I loved that book. I loved this one too. So, why did I have such a hard time trying to decide what to cook? Everything they prepared in the cooking classes sounded so fantastic, I want to make it all. And, I will! Being as the idea here was the importance of simplicity and the best of ingredients, I asked myself, what is just about your favorite ingredient - an essential, in other words? The answer would have to be chocolate.
I have my own tree, process the cacao and incorporate the product into my cooking occasionally. Though mostly I just use it for a morning cocoa drink or homemade truffles, since buying the equipment necessary to get cacao nibs to chocolate factory smoothness, is not going to happen.
Another essential ingredient for me would be whatever delicious fruit is happening, fresh and ripe at the moment. That right now would be our fabulous Hawaiian white pineapples. Must really be tasted to appreciate fully. Stop by, and I will let you try some.
I used Rachael Ray's recipe from her Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals, just for reference, so I felt more secure, but it's so simple you don't even need a recipe. What you need are really good ingredients. The best chocolate you can buy, and the best cream. And, of course, the best fresh fruit. Bananas are also good here.
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (organic preferably) (reserve 1/4 cup to thin fondue, if necessary)
4 bittersweet chocolate bars 31/2 oz. each, chopped (14 oz. total)
2 tablespoons Frangelico or Amaretto liqueur (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds (optional)
fresh pineapple, cut in large dice
bananas, cut in chunky slices, pieces of shortbread or cake
That is her recipe - I didn't include the optionals, keeping to simplicity, and letting the essentials shine.
Heat the cream in a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until cream comes to a low boil. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, allowing it to stand in the hot cream, 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk together with the cream. Stir in the liqueur and or chopped nuts here, if you are adding them. Transfer to a fondue pot or set the mixing bowl on a rack above a small lit candle. If fondue becomes too thick, stir in reserved cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.
Arrange your fruits on a platter by the chocolate fondue with fondue forks, bamboo skewers, or seafood forks for dipping. Oh Boy. Let me at it.