Daniel's Dish: Entertaining at Home With a Four-Star Chef
by Daniel Boulud (Filipacchi Publishing, 2003)

2004_12_food_boludbook.JPGAh, the holidays. Parties to go to, drinks to drink. Gothamist's friends always have great potlucks where we get to eat all kinds of different foods, all lovingly prepared by our friends. But there's only so much time in the day, especially around the holidays, so multitasking is key. In this case, multitasking takes the form of making a pound cake recipe that makes three loaves at once. The sophisticated yet light combination of chocolate and ginger (a combination recently deemed hot by Bon Appetit) is so versatile that you could take it to a brunch, a dinner, a cocktail party, or all three. Best of all, it's like a fruitcake, but good! Rich and dense, with flecks of tart, spicy ginger, we hope it becomes a new holiday tradition. The cake batter takes absolutely no effort to make, but do leave some time-the cakes have to be in the oven for 70 minutes.

2004_12_food_bouludcake.jpgIncidentally, speaking of multitasking, Daniel's Dish: Entertaining at Home With a Four-Star Chef would make a great gift for any home chef, whether they have kitchen skills or only aspire to make a decent potluck offering. The pictures are gorgeous, the instructions are clear, and the recipes, some from his "Daniel's Dish" column at Elle Decor, some new, are imaginative and enticing. And if you're lucky, at your next potluck, they could show up with Artichoke and Radicchio Clafoutis or a Mediterranean Tomato-Lemon Tart.

Chocolate-Ginger Pound Cake
Makes 3 mini-loaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2T vanilla extract)
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup chopped candied ginger
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Vanilla ice cream for serving

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325°F.

2. Coat three 5 3/4 by 3 by 2-1/2-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Stir together the buttermilk, espresso, and 1/4-cup room-temperature water in a liquid mea­sure. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla-bean seeds on medium speed with an electric mixer un­til light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mix­ing well after each addition. On low speed, add the dry ingredients, alternately with the buttermilk mixture, in three batches, ending with the liquid. Stir in the ginger just until combined.

4. Divide the batter among the prepared loaf pans, smoothing each surface with a rubber spatula. Bake about 70 minutes, until a small paring knife inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the wire rack, re­move the pans, reinvert, and cool completely. Dust the cakes with confectioners' sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream.