|Photo by Nicole Lang.|
My friend Jada Jackson is a salty one, with a wit as sharp as the lid of a freshly opened #10 can.
When Jada cooks, she means business. You can taste it when you dig into anything she’s made, be it her chocolate paté, or the vegan and vegetarian fare she prepares as a production cook at our local natural food market, Ellwood Thompson’s. I swoon over her butternut squash risotto cakes with coconut milk.
Her name is pronounced Jah-da, by the way. I know she’d want me to make that distinction.
Jada has cooked in many kitchens here in RVA. She tells me she’s experienced some difficulties in being a female cook in a man’s world. “It can be challenging. Sometimes you're the only woman in a kitchen. You constantly have to prove yourself. But, once you get past all that, and you are treated as a respected peer, not because of who you know, but because of what you know, it's pretty satisfying."
|Photo by Holly Brown.|
Born in Charleston, WV, and raised up in Reston, VA, Jada moved to Richmond almost 20 years ago. She began working at a bakery in the Carytown neighborhood, because "it was close to my apartment, and I already knew how to bake because I had helped my grandma growing up."
Jada's grandma kept it simple and seasonal.
“Most of the fruits, veggies and herbs came from her garden. So, when it was time for a blackberry cobbler, she'd send me out to the bush to pick them," Jada recalls.
Now when Jada cooks, she likes to keep food simple, too.
“I experiment a lot, but I do not over-complicate things. I’ll practice classic techniques with trendy ingredients, but I'm practical. I ask myself, 'will this dish eat up my whole day?' If the answer is yes, I skip it. That may go back to my grandma: Simple. Tasty. No fuss.”
Below is the recipe for one of Jada’s most beloved desserts. Her friends—myself included—always hope she’ll bring it to a dinner party.
Says Jada, “I used to make this at an old place I worked. It's a combination of a few different recipes I tried. If you're on a diet, don't make it. Don't even look at it. It’s pure evil.”
Chocolate Paté w Espresso Whipped Cream
24 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 pound unsalted butter
6 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
well buttered loaf pan (pound cake pan or a cake pan)
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt butter and chocolate in top of a double boiler stirring occasionally. Whip whole eggs and yolks until lemon yellow and fluffy. Once chocolate is melted, pour hot water from double boiler into water bath. Whip egg whites into a meringue. Once chocolate is cooled to room temperature, fold egg mixture and meringue into chocolate.
Pour into pan and place pan into water bath. Bake for one hour at 325. Thirty minutes in, rotate the pan. (Be gentle!)
Cool completely in the fridge. Slice and serve with whipped cream.
Espresso Whipped Cream
Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant espresso in 1 tablespoon warmish water.
Let it cool.
Add 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and one pint heavy whipping cream.
Whip it up!