Martha Stewart's Chef Takes the Spotlight The new book by Susan Spungen, the former chef and "food stylist" for the domestic diva's homemaking empire, focuses on low-stress entertaining. Spungen says the book helps readers get in touch with their inner Martha — only without the ankle bracelet.

Martha Stewart's Chef Takes the Spotlight

Martha Stewart's Chef Takes the Spotlight

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Cover of Spungen's book Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook HarperCollins hide caption

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Little Black Dress Cake

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

6 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) ground almonds or hazelnuts (see below)

Pinch of kosher or fine sea salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Confectioners' sugar (optional)

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by brushing the bottom and sides with melted butter and cutting a parchment circle to fit the bottom of the pan. Brush the paper lightly with butter.

2.) Place the chocolate in a small metal bowl. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, turn off the heat, and place the bowl on top. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is smooth. Set aside and cool slightly.

3.) In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with 1 cup sugar using a wooden spoon. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla and nuts and stir to combine.

4.) Gradually stir the chocolate into the egg mixture. Combine thoroughly and set aside.

5.) Beat the egg whites and salt in an electric standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on low speed, increasing it to high as the eggs start to foam. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. You can also do this with a handheld mixer in a medium bowl.

6.) Whisk about one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Add the remaining egg whites and sift the flour over the top. Using a large, preferably curved, rubber spatula, fold the ingredients until well combined. To fold, gently lift and scoop the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl over the top of the ingredients. At the same time rotate the bowl a quarter turn each time you fold. Continue until there are almost no white or chocolate streaks in the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the surface, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it cracks slightly and rises into a slight dome. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely if icing. It will fall a bit as it cools.

7.) To unmold the cake, run a butter knife around the edges and remove the outer part of the pan. To serve as is, slide onto a serving plate and dust the top with confectioners' sugar. If icing, invert onto a flat serving plate, and peel off the parchment.

To grind the nuts, toast them first and cool completely. Pulse in a coffee grinder or mini food processor until finely ground. Be careful not to overprocess into a butter.

Copyright 2005 HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

The new book by Susan Spungen, founding food editor and editorial director for food at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for 12 years, focuses on low-stress entertaining. Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook helps readers get in touch with their inner Martha -- only without the ankle bracelet.

From Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook

Pancetta Chicken with Lemon Fries

Boneless chicken breasts get a little special treatment, rendering them fit for company, but this recipe is so easy, you might make it a family regular. Roasted garlic adds loads of flavor, but this dish is perfectly delicious without it, too.

Pancetta is pork belly that has been cured, but not smoked, with spices and salt for several months. The pancetta for this recipe should be sliced thin but not paper-thin. Don't be shy when you are in the store. Ask the deli person to show you a slice. You should be able to wrap it around your hand, and have it stick. If you can see through it, it is too thin. If it is too thick to wrap around your hand and stick by itself, it is too thick.


6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 head roasted garlic, optional

18 very thin slices of pancetta

16 large sage leaves

4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 3 pounds total), scrubbed

1 lemon, cut in half

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

Coarse sea salt


1.) Wash and dry the chicken. Remove the tenderloin and set aside for another use. Season both sides lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Using a fork, spread the roasted garlic, if using, all over the chicken breasts. On the top side of the breast, lay s slice of pancetta over the lower portion of the breast, wrapping it snugly so it adheres. Lay a sage leaf on the center of the breast, and wrap the upper portion with a second slice of pancetta. Turn the breast over and wrap a third slice of pancetta over the back of the breast. Repeat with the remaining chicken, transferring the pieces to a plate as you go. (The chicken can be made in advance up to this point. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

2.) Preheat the oven to 450 F and position one rack in the lower third of the oven and one in the upper third. Slice the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices, then cut the slices into 1/4 inch thick fries.

3.) Toss the potatoes, lemon, 10 sage leaves, oil, and a pinch of kosher salt and pepper in a large bowl until well coated. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a large baking sheet and transfer to the lower oven rack for 15 minutes. Gently stir and rearrange the potatoes so they brown evenly and return to the oven until they are browned on all sides, tossing several times, about 30 minutes more.

4.) Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat until it is very hot. Drizzle the pancetta-wrapped chicken with oil and place in the pan with the sage leaf side down. Cook over high heat until the pancetta is brown, about five minutes. Turn the breasts over and transfer the pan to the upper rack of the oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

5.) Remove the chicken from the pan, transfer to a plate, and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the wine over high heat. Reduce the wine until almost evaporated, and add the chicken stock. Continue to cook until reduced by half.

6.) Transfer the chicken and potatoes to a large platter. Squeeze any juice left in the lemon halves over the potatoes and sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. Serve potatoes and chicken on a large platter with the pan juices on the side.

Copyright 2005 HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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