Flourless Chocolate Cake

I have friends, and sometimes guests, with various food allergies. So I’m always on the lookout for good alternative recipes. Here’s a great chocolate cake for those who need to avoid wheat.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup sugar
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons coffee
4 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
powdered sugar for dusting

Grease 6 half-cup ramekins with the 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle the inside of each one with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Place ramekins in a 9×13 baking dish.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, stick of butter, and coffee. Microwave for 90 seconds and then stir until smooth and creamy.

In a mixer combine the eggs, remaining  sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Fold 1/3 of this mixture into the chocolate. Repeat 2 more times, until all the egg mixture has been folded into the chocolate.

Portion the batter into the 6 ramekins. Add enough water to the pan to come up halfway on the sides of the ramekins. Bake about 20 minutes. The edges will just be setting and the cake will have risen slightly. Cool slightly and the loosen the edges with a dull knife. Invert each cake onto a plate and then flip back over so the top is facing upwards. Cover and refrigerate.

Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

St Patrick’s Day is just around the corner!

Many people think everyone in South Bend is Irish, since Notre Dame is known as the Fighting Irish. Well, I don’t know about the rest of the year, but of course we’re all Irish for St. Patrick’s Day!

South Bend hosts many festive events that weekend, including the annual St. Paddy’s Tent Party, to be held this year on Friday, March 12. Then on Saturday, March 13, we have a big parade that ends with the Greening of the East Race.

We have some great Irish pubs in town, including Fiddler’s Hearth, just a few minutes’ walk from the Inn. Start making your plans to come and spend St. Patrick’s Day weekend here in South Bend. It’s only a couple weeks away!

Catering Events at the Inn

I’ve been catering large and small events for over 20 years. Some of that time I had my own business, and some of that time I worked as the head baker for a small college. All that planning, cooking, and serving was great experience for me. Now I cook for guests nearly every day. And believe it or not, I still enjoy it!

Today we are hosting a private breakfast for a group of local bankers. Our beautiful dining room is a popular location for business meetings over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We also often serve private dinners for groups of guests who are staying at the Inn. Many people love the convenience of hanging out together for a weekend with friends or extended family, while someone else does all the cooking and cleaning.

Next time you’re looking for great food, an elegant setting, and a relaxing time, give us a call!

German Pancakes

If you are looking for a way to wow your family for a fun breakfast, this recipe for German Pancakes is just the thing.

2 tblsp. melted butter
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt

Coat a large oven proof  frying pan or a 9×13 baking pan with the melted butter. (If you prefer, you can use 6-8 small ovenproof dishes to make individual serving-size pancakes.)

Combine the remaining ingredients, whisking hard until frothy or using a blender. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake at 400 for about 20 min., until puffy.

For toppings, you may want to saute sliced apples or peaches (fresh or frozen) with cinnamon and butter, or use sliced fresh strawberries. Whipped cream adds a fancy touch. The pancakes are also delicious served simply with warm maple syrup.

Let me know how these turn out and what toppings your family likes.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I just took a batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. Would you like one? Here at the Inn we have homemade cookies every day. I use the Nestle’s Toll House recipe right off the bag. I make up the dough on Monday and keep it in the refrigerator. Every afternoon, right before our guests arrive, I scoop out a few cookies and bake them. Fresh baked cookies make the whole Inn smell great, and most people find them irresistible.

Before we bought the Inn, I would make a batch of dough, scoop the cookies into balls, and freeze them. Then after a busy day, I could still make freshly baked homemade cookies for my family. I know these days you can buy frozen hunks of cookie dough and do pretty much the same thing with even less work. But why not try making your own frozen cookie dough balls? It really takes very little time, and they’re tastier–and more economical–than the premade ones.

And don’t forget you’re always welcome to join us for freshly baked cookies here at the Inn. We still have a few rooms left for this weekend!

Flowers in Winter!

People love to get flowers. And not just on the special days–Valentine’s Day, anniversary, birthday… Flowers are always a nice surprise. Flowers are a great way to tell your special someone, “I love you; I’m thinking of you.”

Here we are, in the middle of a long, snowy winter. Maybe a sunny bouquet is just what your wife needs to brighten her day. Or ladies, perhaps you can do a turnaround and get your husband a rose or a few beautiful flowers from the store you’re shopping at today.

Some of our most popular packages at the Inn include flowers. It’s always fun to see the reactions of the one being surprised with flowers as a special treat. Just remember, it’s always a good day to bring someone flowers!

Lime Salmon

The weekend is coming to an end, and maybe you are thinking about dinner plans for the week ahead. Here is an easy, healthy dinner recipe. The first time I made this recipe for a private dinner party, it got rave reviews. Sometimes simple can be as wonderful as a meal that takes hours to prepare.

Lime Salmon

salmon filets
salt and pepper
4 tblsp. butter
one lime

Season filets with salt and pepper. Melt butter and add the juice of the lime along with the zest. Grill or sautee the salmon on one side and then turn over and brush with the lime butter. Once the salmon is done, brush with more lime butter.

Very easy and so tasty. Serve with some steamed vegetables and a maybe a baked sweet potato and a salad, and dinner is ready!

Relaxing Mornings

A relaxing morning breakfast at The Oliver Inn

A relaxing morning breakfast at The Oliver Inn

Would you use the words “calm” and “relaxing” to describe your typical breakfast? Probably not. We wake up and hit the snooze button, then race around trying to get everyone in the house out the door on time for work or school, and our day starts with a flourish.

Here at The Oliver Inn one of our goals is to help our guests escape the normal morning frenzy. Our dining room table is set with china and lace and beautiful silver candelabras. The grand piano in the library plays soothing music while guests enjoy a gourmet breakfast. In the winter months, there’s a fire going. And the final touch—no clocks in the dining room.

We would love to welcome you to our morning oasis sometime. But if you can’t come to the Inn, why not recreate your own version of a quiet breakast? Turn on soothing music—maybe the radio, a favorite CD, or your iPod. Light some candles and build in a little extra time. It could make all the difference in the rest of your day!

Sausage Gravy and Heart Shaped Biscuits

The weekend is coming! Time to start planning some romantic surprises. I know weekends can easily be swallowed up with errands and projects, but try to add an extra hour in the morning to relax and spend some quiet time with your sweetie. You won’t miss that hour later in the day. Maybe serve breakfast in bed—or if that’s too ambitious, how about a cup of coffee or tea?

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, heart-shaped biscuits and gravy make a romantic breakfast any time. Here’s my favorite recipe for Sausage Gravy. Make your own biscuits either from scratch or from a mix, and cut them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter—or just use the ones that come in a can. (You can still cut them into heart shapes!)

Sausage Gravy

½ lb. breakfast sausage
1/2 stick margarine
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
good dash of Tabasco

Brown sausage and cook until crumbly. Drain and set aside.

Melt margarine and add flour. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on medium until the gravy thickens.

Add the sausage and serve over warm biscuits.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Do you love chocolate dipped strawberries? They’re incredibly easy to make, and you can surprise your loved ones with a treat that will make them feel very special. If you have small children they may want to help.

Combine 1 cup (6 oz.) chocolate chips (I like to use dark chocolate) with 1 tablespoon of solid shortening, like Crisco, in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute, then stir until smooth. If the chips aren’t quite melted, heat the mixture for an additional 15 seconds at a time. Dip clean, dry strawberries in the chocolate and lay them on a sheet of wax paper until set. If you’re in a hurry, you can put them in the refrigerator to help them set faster.

You can dip other things besides strawberries, too–like pretzels, cookies, or other kinds of fruit. Be creative. And be sure to let me know how it turns out!