Birthday Beef and Espresso Orange Panna Cotta with Chipotle Cocoa Whipped Cream

We welcomed a bevy of newcomers to CEC this week, and they are delightful! We got along like a house on fire and jabbered on about travel and food and crazy experiences as if we were old friends. I love that. :-)

It is Don's birthday this week and we celebrated in style with Cameron and Darren's amazing smoked prime rib and flank steak. Cameron rubbed in all manner of spices then packed the prime rib in a paste of rock salt and brown rice flour (we try to be gluten-free as much as possible), wrapped it in cheesecloth and smoked it at low heat for HOURS until it was infused with flavor and tender as can be.

Prime rib before slicing. 

Cameron fanning the newly sliced prime rib. 

Smoked flank steak, hot off the grill. 

Flank steak sliced and fork tender.

Selwyn made brightly colored Stuffed Sweet Peppers filled with a decadent mixture of cream cheese, garlic cheddar and bacon. 
Don marinated plump spears of asparagus in lemon, olive oil and spices, the grilled them to toasty goodness.

Two of our newbies, Terese and Beka, brought bottles of wine and the other two made stuffed mushrooms. One was gluten-free, filled with cream cheese, Parmesan and garlic, the other was baked and filled with a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, onions, Parmesan, Vermouth and other deliciousness.

Lara brought chewy, warm Kalamata olive bread.

We closed our birthday meal with not one, but TWO desserts!

I made Espresso Orange Panna Cotta with Chipotle Cocoa Whipped Cream, served in tiny little espresso cups I found in Portugal years ago.

And Kat made a scrumptious Tiramisu Toffee Cake. 

Happy Birthday, Don! :-)

Cameron's Smoked Prime Rib 


4.5 pound prime rib

For Rub:

garlic flakes
celery seed
onion powder
Worcestershire sauce

For Crust:

Rock salt
brown rice flour

  1. Combine all of the spices and rub liberally over prime rib. 
  2. Mix rock salt with rice flour and water to form a paste. Coat prime rib and wrap tightly with cheesecloth. 
  3. Smoke at 225-250 degrees for 5.5 hours. 
  4. Remove cheesecloth and brush off extra rock salt/flour mixture.
  5. Finish off in oven at 300 degrees for one hour to crisp up the outside.
  6. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Baked Stuffed Mushrooms
(From Cooks)


1 stick butter
1 small onion, minced
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sweet Vermouth
1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 lb. mushrooms (remove stems and finely chop)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano

  • Melt butter in skillet. Cook onion until translucent. Add chopped stems.
  • Stir in bread crumbs, seasonings, and cheese. Brown lightly.
  • Add sweet Vermouth last. Toss lightly to combine well.
  • Stuff mushroom caps with mixture.
  • Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.
Gluten-Free Mouth-Watering Stuffed Mushrooms
(From All Recipes)


12 whole fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic. Set aside to cool.
  3. When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Mixture should be very thick. Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

Selwyn's Stuffed Sweet Peppers


16 oz of cream cheese, softened
8 oz of shredded garlic cheddar cheese
8 oz of chopped cooked bacon
Paprika or cayenne pepper
15-20 sweet mini-peppers, washed, halved and seeded

  1. Combine cream cheese and cheese and blend until smooth. 
  2. Stir in bacon and mix in until incorporated but still in bits. 
  3. Spoon into halves of sweet peppers and dust with either paprika or cayanne pepper.
  4. Note: If using plain cheddar, add garlic powder or minced garlic to mixture.
Krista's Espresso Orange Panna Cotta with Chipotle Cocoa Whipped Cream
(Adapted from Tyler Florence)


Cocoa Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I used cocoa powder with ground chipotle peppers)
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Espresso Panna Cotta:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon espresso beans, roughly ground
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 orange, peel only
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin

  1. First add the cocoa powder to the heavy cream for the cocoa whipped cream. Stir well to combine then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Begin preparing the espresso panna cotta by placing the heavy cream, ground espresso beans, sugar and orange peel in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and steep for 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the powdered gelatin and using a whisk stir over low heat to warm the mixture and dissolve the gelatin. Do not let it simmer. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve (this not only removes the peel and espresso beans, but also any undissolved gelatin) then pour into individual espresso cups. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
  4. Once you put these in the refrigerator you can finish preparing the cocoa whipped cream (alternatively, you can do it just before you serve the panna cotta). Whip the cocoa cream until it begins to thicken and then add the confectioners' sugar. Whip until soft peaks form and serve a spoonful over each of the panna cotta servings.
Kat's Tiramisu Toffee Cake
(Adapted from All Recipes)


1 (10.75 ounce) package frozen prepared pound cake, thawed and cut into 9 slices
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered English toffee, chopped

Arrange cake slices on bottom of a rectangular 11x7 inch baking dish, cutting cake slices if necessary to fit the bottom of the dish. Drizzle coffee over cake.
Beat sugar, chocolate syrup, and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add whipping cream; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with chocolate-covered toffee candy.
Spread frosting over cake. Sprinkle with toffee candy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 24 hours to set dessert and blend flavors.


  1. This makes me very very hungry and makes me swoon far too much over food ;)

  2. Oh my goodness, this is making my stomach rumble. It sounds like a good celebration was had by all.

    More delicious recipes to try.


  3. lol! I know what you mean, Frugal! ;-) I woke up the next day craving that Toffee Tiramisu Cake. :-)

  4. It was a splendid evening, Flower Lady! :-) I hope you enjoy making whatever suits your fancy. :-)

  5. My birthday is coming soon!!!!!

  6. HOORAY, Janelle!!! :-) I know you will do something fabulous and amazing. :-)

  7. Happy birthday to Don and what a way to celebrate! you are coming over for my birthday next year and are bringing that tiramisu cake. It looks heavenly!

  8. I would be honored, Joanne! :-) It was ridiculously good. :-)

  9. Holy cow! That meal looks amazing. Don knows how to pick his friends :-)....Beautiful.

  10. Lol! I'll tell him how lucky he is, Velva. :-) I'm so glad you like it! :-)

  11. That's one amazingly lucky guy getting all of that delicious food! :o That beef looks amazing, I'm drooling and it's another 1.5 hours until dinner :P

  12. OH MY...what a feast! The meat is cooked to perfection! But the Chipotle Cocoa Whipped Cream has me very interested! Love hot, spicy with chocolate!

  13. Oh my goodness, that is so delicious. I envy you your group of people and this wonderful food (in a good way lol).

    I just love visiting you, you have such a beautiful, peaceful, friendly vibe.

  14. He sure was, Lorraine. :-) It was all so very yummy. :-)

  15. Thanks, Michelle! :-) The people I warned about the Chipotle loved it, the people I forgot to warn were startled. :-)

  16. Oh thank you, DJ. :-) That means a lot to me. They're a lovely bunch and I feel very lucky to have them. :-)