Thursday, April 22, 2010

Warming Meal II: The Almond Cake


I return to the blog so soon.
so soon.
But that is because Warming Meal I is not complete without its counterpart, Warming Meal II:

The Almond Cake

Now, I was in such a hurry to bake this cake and taste it, I didnt really take as many pictures as I usually do.
This is pretty much all I have, save for the finished product…

This cake………………………………………………………sogood.
SURE, its not going to win any beauty prizes, but neither is a bowl of mixed race cauli/brooc soup.
I digress.
I first read of this cake on one of my favorite local (seattle) blogs: The Amateur Gourmet
When the phrases…."crack cake" "a cake that will save your soul" and "sheer perfection" are uttered, I just have to try it.

Almond Cake
Amanda Hesser, Cooking For Mr. Latte

2 sticks butter, softened, more for buttering pan
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measured after sifting)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
7-oz tube almond paste, cut into small pieces
4 egg yolks room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
Confectioners' sugar, for sifting over cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter sides and bottoms of one 9-inch springform pan; line sides and bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the paper. (You may forego the parchment paper as long as you are generous with the butter on the pan itself.) Mix together the sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. Sift the flour and salt into another bowl.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste, a little at a time, at medium speed, and beat for 8 minutes.

Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix until incorporated. It will look curdled; don't worry. Blend in the almond extract and sour cream mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, just until blended.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake about 40-60 min. It is done when you press the top and it returns to its shape, and also shrinks from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool in the pan. When ready to serve, sift confectioners' sugar on top and slice like a pie.

It is natural for the cake to fall a bit in the middle….when something is this good, it can be itself in front of you.

I don't have time to write anything else because I am too BUSY thinking about this cake and how I can simultaneously stay away from it AND eat it at the same time.
For the record, I did have to send the remainder of the cake to Todd's office for fear of eating it all in some sort of ambien induced food binge.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Warming Meal I

Greetings Friends!
It's come to my attention that the weather lately has been so uncertain, I don't know if it's going to rain or instantly become BBQ weather AKA drinking Rosé during the daytime AKA bikini season.
That last one puts me into a cold sweat.
I become paranoid.
I start thinking my cat is reading my diary.

Ok, that last one was a reference to Glee.

On to the warming meal!
For those of you who don't know, my sister and I are famous for creating "warming meals" and we even have our own thriving business.*

*if by business, you mean one day we got bored and created a google account, then, yes, we do have a legitimate business.

Warming Meals can be defined as: any homemade meal that makes one feel that they are getting a hug. Said meal does NOT have to be warm in temperature, but it should warm your heart and you should share it with someone you care about. Do not serve a warming meal to someone you secretly hate. Every time you do that, the WM stock takes a major hit.

Past Warming Meals have included:
Risotto, shroom
Turkey Meatballs
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
Rigatonis (a satellite Rigatoni WM can be had at Palominos as well)
Chicken Caesar Salad with homemade croutons
Summer Corn Salad
Beef Stew
Whole Wheat Pasta

As this indecisive spring weather continues, (is the phrase "indecisive spring weather" a double negative?) I decided to make a combination spring meal and cozy (fall?) desert.

Roasted Cauliflower/Broccoflower Soup and Almond Cake (see WM II post)

Start with a bunch of veggies! I have shallots, leeks and yellow potatoes in as a base for my soup. I chose cauliflower and broccoflower as my main components. Look at this guy below guy!! That crazy 'ol broccoflower. I have been wanting to cook one of these for a while... A broccoflower is a type of cauliflower, also called a "green cauliflower" but actually, the name "broccoflower" is trade marked. bahaha. It should not be confused with Romanesco Broccoli, which is more horned and WAY COOL looking.. You can see if you look close, the broccoflower has a tiny horn.

As a general rule for starting any soup, start by softening your base ingredients with olive oil and perhaps a knob of butter. The knob can be as big as a doorknob…or it can be a a more reasonable 2 tablespoons. I can't believe you were considering putting a doorknob sized portion of butter in this soup!

It roasts the cauliflower and the broccoflower, or it gets the hose again.

Now, combine the goodness into your pot!

For this recipe, I used the following:
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced thinly
3 shallots, sliced thinly
2 yellow potatoes, cut into small chunkers
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and roasted
1 head broccoflower, ditto
6-7 cups chicken stock
dash of sherry vinegar
S&P to taste
'lil butter and a 'lil olive oil

I used a fancy immersion blender, but you can use a regular blender or a food processor to make as smooth or as rustic chunky as you would like. I opted for the rustic chunky, and I left a few whole pieces of cauliflower in for mouthfeel. Plus, it was really hard not to gobble all the roasted flowers…with their salt-pepper-olive oil crunchy bits.

A note about the color….if you want a pure pedigree soup of a more vibrant color (green or white) use broccoflower or cauliflower respectively. I, however, was confident in the flavors so I did not mind that it was an indecisive color of spring.
You like how I tied that phrase again in, don't you. hehehe.

Sprinkle with a rare salt, a turn of pepper, and drizzle with your finest oil. I used a coveted bottle of olive oil that I received as a gift last summer in Tuscany: oil made from the olive trees at Tenuta la Bandita. Some krispy fried shallots might be good on top or ideally, a drizzy of white truffle oil. Word.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eating Garbage: COMPOST COOKIES!

Since when, dear friend, I am getting recipes from the Regis and Kelly Show?
What madness is this?
In the show's defense, sometimes they channel Martha and have a spotlight on a celebrity chef or someone who is not all that talented but it's funny to see them in a kitchen environment. My point is, the Pork recipe listed above is from Daniel Boulud and I apparently watch a lot of daytime TV.
Not long ago, Reeg and Kelly had done a profile on a cookie that is made at Milk Bar in NYC. It was PURE genius.

Peep This:
Make a sugar cookie base and then add in SNACKS!
S: sugary
N: not approved for daily use
A: addictive high fructose corn syrup
C: candies
K: krunchy
S: salty
1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups Your favorite baking ingredients!
(Kelly used mini chocolate chips, raisinettes, rollos & cocoa krispies)
1 1/2 cups Your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc)
(Kelly used goldfish, ritz, & fritos)

Here is what I used:

  • Coco Pebbles
  • Animal Crackers
  • Goldfish Crackers (original flavor BUT there were basketballs mixed in with the fish. Stupid March Madness)
  • Peanut Butter filled Pretzels (a Costco oldie but goodie)
  • Corn Nuts
  • 1 Twix
  • 1 Almond Joy
  • 1 Snickers
  • 1/4 cup of Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate discs, chopped (thought I would class it up here)

You may find the actual directions on the link provided above. I must say that the base is quite ordinary with the exception of creaming the butter and the sugars for 10 full minutes.

THIS is what makes the fluffy nature of the cookie. The batter allows all the scrumptious goodness of snacks to shine with some sort of junk food umami sensation. That, and you have successfully compacted 8-10 junk foods into your mouth in a doughy sugary vehicle.
The reason I mention umami is because after serving these at a certain law firm in Wenatchee, a person commented that I MUST have put a butterfinger bar in these cookies. No, friend. I simply created a magical usage of different snacks that were so complex, not even a great legal mind could comprehend them.
BTW, this batter is HIGHLY addictive. I have not tasted such good raw cookie batter since the first time I tasted cookie batter. So….

It is imperative that you refrigerate the dough before baking. These cookies are so laden with snacks that their integrity would be compromised if they were simply thrust into the oven at room temperature.

On my next batch, I am DEFINITELY going to use the following in no particular order or quantity:
Cheese Its!
Potato Chips
Butterscotch chips
Golden Grahams
Rice Krispies
Cut up Easter Peeps (for some color)
Mini Jawbreakers
Werther's Original
Sour Cherries

The possibilities are endless!! The sugar high is inevitable.
Make these.