This past week I cooked and served a dinner in James Altucher’s home. Not to drop names, but on the top list of financial influencers — underneath Bill Gates and Richard Branson — Mr. Altucher is NUMBER FOUR! He’s been called the Oprah of the internet. (I was most impressed by his big hair, as you can imagine, having big hair myself.)
Honestly, before this dinner I didn’t know who this financial wizard was. James and his family generously opened up their home to host a party for another client of mine and I was asked to cater the event. His podcast, The James Altucher’s Show, as well as his weekly Question Of The Day podcast, are apparently pretty big deals. Despite often being interviewed as a guest on podcasts, I’m not a podcast listener.
I’m much more of a reader. Full disclosure, I have not stopped reading words written by or written about this man since I left his home. I am not a fan of the descriptive ‘junkie,’ i.e “Spiritual Junkie” or “Fitness Junkie.” But you all know that I am focused on inspiration and slightly obsessed with optimism, right? I have been a kid in a candy store reading the content of James Altucher. (And he’s a minimalist!)
Which brings me to this All Good Things post title...
It’s Valentine’s Week! I’m all for roses, chocolate, and smooches. Victorian paper cutouts and candy hearts make me swoon. But every year, whether I’m in a relationship or not, I treat Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to up my self-love game.
I treat myself to massages and pedicures. Facials and acupuncture. I make my favorite meal for myself. I take myself to the movies or a museum. I sleep in. I write a love letter to myself. I buy myself a little present. I go to the spa…
I mean, if I can’t love myself, how can I expect someone else to? Investing in myself with self care, alone time, and healthy indulgences is really just making me better for all the loves of my life. My partner, my family, my friends.
I already knew I was going to write this week’s blog post sharing how I choose myself every year for Valentine’s day. But wouldn’t you know that James Altucher has a book with that title! Serendipity!
Choose Yourself is James’ personal-empowerment manifesto that ranks among the 12 Best Business Books of All Time. In his own words, he says the book “shows readers how they can succeed despite their flaws, not because of a lack of flaws.” That’s a Valentine we all need, right?
“If you don’t choose the life you want to live, chances are, someone else is going to choose it for you. And the results are probably not going to be pretty.”
I ordered the book and it is scheduled to arrive in my hot little hands on Valentine’s Day! I can’t wait.
On the food end of things, I’m sharing a recipe for Sylvia Fountaine of Feasting At Home’s dark chocolate cake bundt cake with blood oranges. On her website Sylvia says, “All I can say is, make it... it is the best cake I’ve ever had. Truly. Make it with love in your heart, and it will be magic. Is it possible to weave a love spell into food? I’d like to believe so. Love changes everything…even cake.”
Choose Yourself, my friends, and weave a Valentine’s love spell with cake!
Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake With Blood Oranges
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 2 tablespoons for dusting pan
3/4 cup brewed coffee
4-5 Blood oranges (1 cup blood orange juice plus zest of two blood oranges) you can sub regular orange juice.
¼ cup triple sec, or orange liquor
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering pan
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour ( or fine pastry flour)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
10-inch bundt pan ( 3 quart-4 quart)
Chocolate Ganache Icing:
1 heaping cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk (or cream)
Blood orange Syrup- optional
2 blood oranges
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Butter bundt pan very well (take your time to do this well) then dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
Heat coffee, orange juice, zest, orange liquor, vanilla, butter, in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat, whisking, until butter is melted, then whisk in cup of cocoa powder. Remove from heat, then add both kinds of sugar and whisk until dissolved, about 1 minute. Let cool.
While chocolate mixture cools, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then, temper the eggs by pouring a little of the melted cocoa butter mixture to the eggs, whisking, a tablespoon at a time, to gradually warm them. After about 4 tablespoons, add this into cooling chocolate mixture and whisk well.
Add the chocolate-egg mixutre to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined (batter will be thin and bubbly). Pour batter into the greased and cocoa dusted bundt pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Loosen cake from pan using tip of a dinner knife, then invert rack over pan and turn cake out onto rack.
Melt the chocolate chips and milk in a small pot over very low heat. Whisk until combined, then pour over the cake.
To make the syrupy blood orange slices – very thinly slice one blood orange. Place in a pot with one cup water and simmer 20 minutes, until water has reduced to about ¼ cup and orange peel becomes tender. Add in sugar, and stir until dissolved. Squeeze the juice of the other orange( I used ½) into the mix, and simmer gently for a couple minutes. Taste, add more sugar if you want. Let this cool. Spoon over the cake after cutting into it, topping with a blood orange slice.