Sunday, January 31, 2010

cake for breakfast

i found this chocolate in one of my favorite international markets. it is columbian and this is the unsweetened chocolate, they have a sweetened one too and it is very similar to ibarra but not quite as good in flavor. i had picked up a bar a while back and while scavenging in the pantry closet, i found it and decided to use it.

version 3.0 of the chocolate mashed potato casserole cake. potato casserole cake??? yes, potato casserole cake. the potatoes make a moister cake and add structure as well. but casserole, who makes a casserole cake? that is just a reference to the dish i used to bake it in. it could be baked in a regular 9"x13" pan but around here lots of cakes get baked in glass casserole dishes when they are going to be served at a pot luck dinner. why do the usual, why not try something new?

yummy chocolate cake and light fluffy frosting. the breakfast of champions-or a couple of snowbound nashvillians...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

come on baby light my fire

because of the snowy weather, i left the cafe early yesterday. since i was home earlier than expected, i decided to put the time to good use and test some recipes. sounds good in theory but i was a bit distracted and didn't get started on things until mid afternoon. i finally got the cake i wanted to test in the oven and then had to move out of the way so darry could cook dinner. we have a small kitchen and there just isn't the space for two professional chefs to work side by side. well, not these two any way...

so there i was, sitting down at the table watching him cook while i waited on the cake in the oven and it was taking longer than i wanted it to. as i waited, i watched darry prepare the chicken for the stirfry he was going to make and we chattered about the day and the weather and who knows what else. and as i sat there, i became aware of what looked like a little black insect flying through the air. a spider? no maybe a fruit fly...a fruit fly in january? then i saw another and another. at this point i asked darry, "what is that black stuff?" his reply, a very loud "OH @*#%!!!" ( you should understand this), the grease is on fire!"

at this point, it was mayhem. he grabbed the teapot which was on the back burner so that he could slide the pot off the heat and proceeded to drop it into the hot grease. he then grabbed the teapot again, tossed it in the sink and moved the pot of grease off the burner but by now, the flames were really big. i ran and grabbed the fire extinguisher, yes we actually have two, and stood there dumbstruck. as many times as i have read the directions on it, i have never had to use it. he grabbed it from me and said i know how to use it and he did just that. he quickly put out the fire and i checked on the cake in the oven...just another day at our house. considering all that we do in the kitchen, that was a first for us in 25 years together.

then it was clean up time. what a mess that made. the extinguisher probably contained about 1/4 cup of fire suppressing powder which in theory isn't very much. put that into a pressurized container and watch out. it was everywhere. a fine yellow powder coated the entire counter, stovetop, wall and there was even some in the oven because it went into the vent. darry and i spent the next hour cleaning it up.

so as you can see, there is never a dull moment here at our house. even after 25 years, we still have something to talk about each day. but i may have to declare a moratorium on any culinary procedure that requires a large pot of hot oil. oh by the way, the cake was terrible and that was no surprise. version two was better but still not a winner. version 3 took the blue ribbon and now it is time to test the frosting out...

Friday, January 29, 2010

apple turnovers

after testing the recipe at home, i decided to add the apple turnovers to the menu at the cafe. so far, they are selling well and i am glad that i included them in the book. while they may seem like a difficult dessert to master because of the puff pastry, they are really simple to make if you buy the dough frozen. don't think for a minute that i couldn't make my own dough. i have many times in the past and it isn't that hard to do. what it is is time consuming and that is why i like to buy the dough frozen and in prerolled sheets. for one thing, it saves the time of rolling it out. it also is cost effective-little labor and no waste. the best part-it is consistent! each sheet rises high in the oven giving you wonderful, flaky pastries!

the granny smith apples are nicely diced and tossed with some sugar, flour and cinnamon. no need to add lots of spices, a little cinnamon goes a long way as far as flavoring is concerned and if you use a small amount, you allow the flavor of the apples to shine through.

thaw the dough and cut it into squares. using a ruler and a pastry wheel makes this an easy task.

pile the apples into one corner of the square.

a little egg wash on the seams and fold it over. a little more egg wash for some shine and a generous sprinkle of sugar.

mmm...warm, flaky pastry and cinnamon apples

Thursday, January 28, 2010

weather alert

hey everyone, sorry i don't have anything to post today. with the impending doom looming on the horizon (read that as rain/snow/ice), i have had a horrible time with the sinuses. too painful to do much since the handful of ibuprofen i choked down didn't help at all. if the doomsday preachers are even somewhat accurate, i will be housebound for at least a day and you can be sure that i will spend a good portion of that day in the kitchen baking up a storm of my own!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

chapter one

and so it starts. after many months of negotiations, i am off and running. the book needs to be finished in may so i am working as quickly as i can but not so fast that the recipes are substandard. as i finish some recipes, i feature them in the cafe so be sure to stop by and check out the daily dessert list.

writing recipes seems easy. it is if you are making soup. not so when you are making cakes. it is easier to make lousy cake recipes than you could ever imagine. the slightest change in the ph balance can wreak havoc on a cake! so can oven temperature and the size or shape of a pan.

this cake tested me. after about 6 different versions, i finally found the right balance.
sour cherries, vanilla cake and struesal-works for me! i really like it in the square pan rather than the old stand by-round.

the original version baked in a round pan in the cafe. what a time i had trying to duplicate it at home with different ingredients sources, a home oven and a square pan.

little pear tarts

now this wouldn't be a loveless cafe dessert book without pies and believe me, there are lots of pies in this one.

check back regularly to see what's baking in the oven!