Sunday, February 28, 2010

I believe!

Okay, a little melodramatic I know, but what a great day! The Olympics are over! Hahahaha!

It was capped off by an unbelievable, nail-biting, euphoric win by Team Canada over Team USA. I watched the action at home, right where I wanted to be!

Without further ado...

This week's featured recipe, as illustrated above was a Whipped Cream Cake, recipe care of The Modern Baker. Want to give it a try? Check it out here. Although the original recipe is for a layer cake, I decided to dust off my angel food cake pan (or tube pan, if you will) and give it a try in that form. It worked - but at double the cooking time! It is a really moist cake, as it is pretty much half whipped cream. So I guess it kind of turns into a pudding-cake type of baked good. But boy did it smell good. I was tempted to cut a slice while it was still warm - it was very moist with the crunchiest top (high white sugar content) but I held off until after decorating.

After making the cake, I doused it with a mixture of Frangelico and Triple Sec and sealed it in with a coating of dark chocolate and almonds.

(left: Cake in progress. right: Cake swathed in chocolate.)

After a brief chilling I coated the cake with a white chocolate ganache (previously used on coworker birthday cake) and then coated the sides with toasted almond slivers. Mmmm. Good eats.

(left: Cross-section of cake. right: An avalanche of almonds! I'd like to be trapped under that!)

I have to say the recipe worked out pretty well, it yielded a delicious, moist, and dense cake and the white chocolate ganache was thick and set very well. I'm not sure if I posted the recipe source for it, but here it is! Very good instructions and nearly fail-proof. The first time I tried it, I halved the recipe - but this time I made a 2/3 portion. I would stick to a portion as close to the original as possible, halving it created slightly mixed results (a little bit too wet), but this time I did add more white chocolate to add stiffness to the final product. Either way - like the recipe says, it turns out like butter (like buddah) and goes on nice and smooth. Do not succumb to the fear of white chocolate! She is a fickle beast, but when it's's goooooood.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blueberries 'n Cream

Like a bolt of lightening, it struck me. Inspiration! The latest "It" chef of the moment has to be David Chang of the Momofuku restaurant group. Chang has definitely become the hottest commodity in the New York food community, and with the publication of his cookbook - the hottest commodity in the foodie community internationally. He has been making the requisite appearances on mainstream television shows such as No Reservations and the Martha Stewart show, both discussing the evolution and theory behind his cuisine and demonstrating the true complexities of his vision.

Amateur gourmets like myself have been dissecting the Momofuku cookbook and posting their failures and successes online. One particular site is Momofuku for 2, a foodie's adventures of attempting every recipe in the cookbook. It is through reading her progress and others' that you realize the passion for food runs deep - it is the commitment of sourcing obscure ingredients and sitting and watching your egg poach for 10 hours (or something like that, it's a slooooow poached/boiled egg).

Anyway - the recipe was for Blueberries and Cream cookies from the Momofuku Milk Bar, (which can be found on the Martha site) was the subject of a recent post and caught my immediate attention while on the bus ride home. I love the idea of duplicating tastes and to mimic blueberries and cream, in a cookie no less, was for me - enlightening. This recipe was unlike your typical butter-sugar-eggs-flour-mixin combination, well...sort of I guess (all cookies have to contain some permutation of that sequence of ingredients), but it involved a more complicated step of creating a 'milk crumb' to duplicate that milky/creamy taste. Did I mention that the milk crumb also has white chocolate? Hubba hubba!

The results:

(left: Batter up! right: Milk 'n cookie? )

I think this is another case of "it tastes better than it looks!" When I heaved the tray out of the oven, I was less than impressed. "Why, they look like bland little cookies!" I exclaimed. But the outer crunch gives way to a surprisingly rich and dense interior without being too much work for the teeth. The sweetness of the milk crumb comes out well and contrasts well to the sour tang of the fruit. Dried blueberries are expensive, yo! So I bulked up to the 3/4 cup line with dried cherries, which was a nice addition. It added a bit more depth to the cookie as well as a nice residual chewiness. The true test will be tomorrow when the cookies have had a night to sit - are they going to retain that nice crunch or go right to soggy-ville? Or over-crunchy-land?

I will definitely make these cookies again, but with a different twist. I am thinking chocolate and nuts! Dark chocolate and toasted slivered almonds...mmmmm....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Oldie, but a Goodie

Continuing on my Kitchen Resolutions path, I decided to attempt a recipe I haven't tried before. On one hand - inspiration can come very easy, whether it's a new recipe in the latest Martha or Bon Appetit or discovering frozen blueberries in my freezer. But sometimes, it can be like pulling teeth. This occasion was somewhere in the middle - I didn't have a new recipe I wanted to attempt and I had a craving for something familiar. Like chocolate chip cookies. Or classic raisin oatmeal ones.

Last year, I took a trip with T and another friend down to Portland to check out the local food scene and shop. At Powell's ( :0...... <--- that's me with drool dripping down, haha! Powell's is an amaaaazing bookstore.) I picked up some classic and not-so-classic cookbooks that I've had my eye on. A modern-take-on-classic Chinese, a Rick Bayless (new Mexican, or should I say - nuevo Mexican?), and a Maida Heatter classic.

(I just painted my nails...I'm just showin' off the manicure a bit :P)

The recipe of choice was the Belgian Almond Cookie - a thin, crisp cookie studded with almonds. The end result I envisioned were the kind of cookies that are a medium nutty brown, with the cross-sections of almonds interspersed. Usually crisp but very delicate - almost like a thick tuile. Ya know what I'm talking about? I'm not sure if the cookie really was ever meant to be like that - for starters, I should have ground the almonds more! The recipe did as for a finely ground almond meal, but mine was visibly chunkier. But I kind of liked that - at least you knew where your cookie came from. These are kind of like fancy "slice 'n bake" cookies - but you have to make and form the dough before freezing, slicing, and then baking. One advantage is that very little dough yields quite a few cookies! (They are thin, after all!) The disadvantage? I have about 3/4 of the original log still in my freezer.

I guess that's not such a bad thing.

(A stack of cookies. I was having trouble shooting in my kitchen - the lights are NOT forgiving, and it was night so....I had to make do with partially shading the shot with my hand. Not recommended. Must get some vellum to soften the light.)