Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
As it turns out, it's just a good thing that Jenny and Abbey's recipe was not felonious, because this cake became one of the desserts at a co-worker's baby shower. I didn't attend, just the cake did. I didn't even bake it with the intention of donating it to the shower; I actually had forgotten the event was scheduled for lunch that day. Conception/Shower/Cake...it was all so serendipitous. (Please note, I'm trying to squelch the unfounded cynicism that I have regarding baby showers...hey, I gladly donated a cake.) The lemon mirror on the cake was a lovely shiny yellow, which apparently is one of the approved colors for baby shower things. If I had known that it would be a baby cake before I left the house that morning, I really would have decorated it with delicate, beautiful little baby things...see, my cold cold heart just melted a bit.
Baby showers, bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties...I'm sorry, I don't know what it is, maybe I'm just too darned egocentric to buy into these events, maybe it's the lame "oppressed by a straight world" thing, maybe it's a foreign tradition for which I haven't any cultural schema, but they just don't work for me. Yes, yes, yes, I know, it's not about me -- I should appreciate the joy that the guests of honor are experiencing. And I do. I genuinely love that young couples have babies and get to experience the nervous thrill of decorating a nursery. Really, I get that. I've done that. And I fully understand the thrill that goes along with getting dressed up in a gown/costume/drag and throwing a big party. I really know that feeling. And, yes, a celebration of two people in love is very sweet and touching. See...please take note that I did not include weddings on the list of personally questionable celebrations...Nik might have, but I didn't.
Vanilla Sour Cream Cheesecake...on an almond-coconut crust...with a lemon curd topping. I know, long name...with two prepositions. I can explain. It was going to be a Mango Swirl cheesecake, but I hadn't gotten to Food City to the the good/cheap mangoes. So then I though about an Almond Joy/Mounds cheesecake...hence the almond/coconut crust. But I didn't have any dark chocolate like I thought I had. What I did have were lemons...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
So I'm flipping through the recipes and keep stopping at the rosemary bread. It doesn't require a biga - which I had not prepared the previous night, it sounds delicious, it doesn't take any ingredients that I don't have, and it's easy - which usually is an exclusionary criteria for me but I had a helluva spasm in my neck, had actually called in sick to work because of it, and the muscle relaxant had quite effectively removed all motivation from my body and mind. So rosemary bread it would be.
Quick story about rosemary. It, I think, is Nik's mom's name. Yes, I know...one would think that after all these years I should know my mother-in-law's name (ok, she's not legally my mother-in-law but just because we don't live in Vermont or Iowa doesn't mean that I can't have a pseudo-mother-in-law) Anyway, the reason, or reasons actually, that I am not sure about her name are because 1) she's German, 2) her handwriting is old school European style, and 3) Nik is stubborn.
Let me explain...1) Say the name Rosemary aloud with a German accent -- see, it sounds like Rosemarie, 2) Old-school European writing is beautiful and quaint, reminiscent of days gone by...a time before e-mails and blogs, back in the days when communication was slower and less efficient, a fact not helped by the fact that old school European writing is virtually illegible because it looks like an uppercase letter followed by a series of w's. For several years I would study the signature on the birthday card she sent me, and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that year after year it looked like this...Rwwwwwww, 3) Just ask Nik what his mom's name is, you might suggest. Mmm hmm, like I never thought of that...his answer for 20 years has remained unchanged. I ask/insist, "TELL ME, is your mom's name Rosemary or Rosemarie?" He answers - cooly, consistently and aggravatingly, "Yes." (It has occurred to me that he really doesn't know either.) The solution?...I just call her Oma, as in, "Come on, Oma, let's go in here and drink schnapps till we are silly."
The recipe is not difficult. I used fresh rosemary (which now has a bizarre double-meaning since I just talked about Nik's mom) because the rosemary bush (aargh) needed trimming anyway, but the original recipe says that dried can be substituted for fresh. I didn't make any substantial modifications to the recipe except I decreased the yeast and added about 1/3 cup more water to the dough.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
It’s not a mantra, or slogan, or personal motto (though I guess it could be), but for Nik it is an oft-made statement. Certainly rice is a starchy side dish, but more often than not, at our house, it becomes the bottom of the one bowl meal. Chicken mole on rice, Vegetable curry on rice, Pipian on rice, stir-fried vegetables on rice, Indonesian Spiced Rice, etc etc etc on rice.
But last night I realized that rice might be an indicator of yet another of the great distinctions between people…the Savory/Sweet Division. You know what I mean, it’s the classic battle…the chips people vs. the cookies people.
“I don’t usually eat dessert” vs “Is there any more of that chocolate cake?” A quick screening to determine which you are…at the movies, which do you tend to buy…popcorn or candy? I’m not implying that we all don’t cross to the other side on occasion, but more often than not I find that we are quite loyal (or are we trapped?) in our snack preferences.
I am a Sweet. I admit that and see nothing wrong with it.
Nik is a Savory. And yet we have nearly 2 decades of snacking together under our belts (literally) and all is well with our world.
I suppose there are those evolutionary biologists who might suggest that these preferences are DNA based, but for the life of me I can’t think how nachos vs. M & M’s might have saved only one of us from a hungry velociraptor. (I know – epochs apart, but I like the imagery.)
Anyway, at dinner with Martie last night, we were discussing the shameful yet common sin of throwing away perfectly good food (more on that at another time), and the topic of rice came up. She commented that she often uses leftover rice as the basis of a delicious warm breakfast cereal, adding warm milk and raisins and nuts. A kind of a quick rice pudding. I said, yum. Nik said, yuck. Hmmm. Which led, obviously, to the broader rice pudding conversation. Love it/Hate it – guess who was who.
Well, it just so happens that I had baked quite a conundrum just the day before...
Ok, enough is enough, here’s the recipe…
AP Flour..................1 ½ cups
Baking Powder..........1 tsp
Cold Water..............3-6 Tbl
1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in food processor.
2. Add butter and pulse a few times but break up butter.
3. Sprinkle in 3 Tbl water, pulse a few times. Adjust with more water if too dry – dough will not come together.
4. Turn dough into large bowl or on counter. Knead briefly until it comes together. Pat into a disc, wrap well, and chill for at least an hour.
5. After dough has chilled, roll into circle, place in 9-inch tart pan. Chill.
Jasmine Rice..................½ cup
Water..........................1 ½ qts
Lemon Zest....................2 tsp
Almond Meal...................½ cup
AP Flour........................1 Tbl
Vanilla Extract................1 tsp
1. Bring water to a boil. Add rice and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and return rice to pan.
2. Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to rice. Bring to a boilm reduce heat and let cook until thickened, approx. 35 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. Preheat oven to 350°.
4. Puree in food processor. Add lemon zest, ground almonds, and flour. Pulse briefly.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing briefly after each addition.
6. Pour into prepared crust.
7. Bake 35-45 minutes, until filling is set and beginning to brown.
8. Cool before serving.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Other collections (according to Nik's definition of the word) include diplomas, Ipods (though one is broken), sisters, nieces, favorite songs, cookbooks, occupations and hobbies. I used to have a huge collection of used wine corks (hundreds of them, in fact) but Nik made me get rid of them when we moved. I know - what was up with that?!
Anyway, what got me thinking about all this was the pound cake that I made over the weekend. I found the recipe stowed away in a file in the file cabinet. I realized, while I was thumbing through the hundred or so other "Cake" recipes in that file, that I have gathered quite a collection of stray recipes over the years - most of which I have never tried. It's what we do, right - I'm sure if there was a recipe in the Sky Mall magazine I would tear it out and file it away.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
I did a 20 minute autolyse after the initial mix, but the dough was too stiff, so I added another 3/4 cup water, then did the final mix. It's a pretty sloppy dough, but with two folds during bulk fermentation it tightened up somewhat.
Finally, it came out of the refrigerator and sat in the bowl in the kitchen all morning to warm up, then I divided in in half, preshaped it, rounded it and plopped it into the floured baskets for the final rise...
Saturday, April 4, 2009
F'rinstance, today I did nothing hockey-like, not by any stretch of the imagination. I took The Mother out of the 'fridge, she'd been hibernating on the bottom shelf for a couple of chilly weeks, fed her, and now she sits on the counter fermenting and occasionally burping.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Tim loves biscuits and, maybe even more, he loves strawberry shortcake.
(Yes - this is/was Tim) Now, some people might not think twice about this news, but to a food-and-flour-freak like me, this is like an insight into someone's soul.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Bread Flour... 4 oz
Wheat Flour... 4 oz
Instant Yeast... 1/8 tsp.
Water... 5 oz
Mix, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 12-16 hours.
Biga... All of the above
Wheat Flour... 1 lb.
Bread Flour... 1 lb.
Salt... 1 Tbl.
Instant Yeast... 1 tsp
Water... 1.5 lb
Ferment 1 hour. Fold. Ferment 45 minutes.
Divide in half and preshape.
Form two batards. Place in linen-lined baskets.
Cover and let rise 1 hour.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 450.
Next Time: decrease/omit the yeast in the final dough, increase the percentage of whole wheat flour, retard the dough for bulk fermentation overnight.