Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June's No Recipe!

Earlier this month my grandmother celebrated her 80th birthday. I'm fortunate to still have both sets of grandparents alive and well. We took the opportunity to celebrate Nana and tell some funny stories about her, all shared with her closest friends and family. Two grandchildren were missing from the festivities and my brother was reluctant to speak, so I volunteered to give a short speech highlighting her best moments and stories. I began with a story involving her, a swimsuit, and ending up topless. The reaction on her face was priceless! I'm sure she was rather embarrassed to have the story told to so many people. She genuinely had some belly laughs and wide smiles. Above is a picture of Nana and Papa. Nana was a nurse during her working years, but even retired she's logged some hard hours helping Papa recover from many surgeries. My mom, also a nurse, without missing a beat would proclaim it's the reason we still have Papa. They are both remarkable, loving, generous (thanks for paying my college tuition!) and in love with their family.

What's a birthday party without food? A dud! This one was FILLED with food. Even though it was all catered I didn't mind. I was spending the weekend in my hometown enjoying the foods I grew up eating. Nana requested BBQ (she's a farm gal after all) from Shyler's, which is an Evansville must. After everyone had left and we cleaned up there was still untouched trays of BBQ, cut vegetables and cheeses. My mom packed a cooler for us and I knew a tasty pizza was in my future.
I've posted the recipe for this crust before and really it's the only directions you'll need. That's why I love making pizza so much - anything goes! I had some tangy BBQ sauce that I used as a substitute for tomato sauce. Then laid leftover BBQ chicken, caramelized onions and peppers on top. A healthy dose of sharp cheddar finished.

A celebration indeed!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Almost Fudge Gateau

While flipping through my copy of "Baking" I noticed I had everything on hand for this incredibly easy and delicious cake. As the name suggests, it really does have a fudge like consistency, which was my favorite part. I added some more coffee and loved the extra kick it gave. I made the glaze with white chocolate for contrast.

Almost Fudge Gateau
5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water (use coffee!)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you'll think it's done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn't shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto anther rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

First, turn the cooled cake onto another rack so you'll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven - the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don't worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake - it will just add it its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature.