July, 2008 Archive

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

chocolate sorbet

chocolate sorbet

I’m going to take a brief break from your food phobias today to tell you about my newest one. It lives in the freezer. It controls my mind, and at times, my spoon. And at the rate we’re going, it will be the very end of me. Or my waistline. Or my husband, as he leaves me for the Paris-dweller who envisioned this masterpiece.

chocolate sorbet

It goes by the innocent-sounding name chocolate sorbet but even typing those words was enough to send my resistance into a tailspin and I had to go into the freezer to get another taste, cursing Lebovitz the whole way there and whispering sweet nothings into my spoon on the way back.

I suppose you could say I’m having a Chocolate Weak Week, except it started last week when I was getting a pedicure and they had these tiny chocolate brownie nuggets out and I wasn’t even hungry but the entire 45 minutes of buffing and rebirthing my feet into the kind The Other Half walk on I was thinking “There’s a tiny bite of chocolate brownie in the corner. There’s a tiny bite of chocolate brownie in the corner…” ad infinitum. (When I finally swooped down on my prey an hour later, it didn’t even disappoint.)

it melted fast, but i ate it faster

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, July 10, 2008

chopped vegetable, watermelon and feta salad

chopped salad with watermelon and feta

Wow, just wow. You sure know how to give a girl performance anxiety! I mean, how do I top a wedding cake? Am I going to have to mill my own flour? (Do you “mill” flour? Should getting the lexicon right be the first step?) Should I buy a cow so I can get the milk for free (oh, how I crack myself up…) and make butter and yogurt and mm, creme fraiche? How will a simple salad keep you interested now?

Pondering this the last couple days has gotten me back to a question I started kicking around last fall with the Pie Crust 101 instructional, but I confess got lost in the grind of holidays and the crushing business of work, work work.

chopped salad with watermelon and feta

Yet with my new, slightly-more-flexible schedule, I’m once again itching to ask you this burning question: What are you afraid to cook? I will not judge you. Here, I can start: Rice is not my forte. Oh, I can follow instructions and not-stir, not-stir and it’s manageable, possibly even edible, but I bet you would think that a girl who baked a wedding cake and enough bread to make Atkins roll over in his grave would have something like rice down pat.

But this isn’t about my myriad cooking woes–it’s all about you! No cooking fear is too small. No technique is too simple. Let’s all air this out and what I hope to do is have a sporadic series of posts in which I attempt to make it better. If I’ve posted about that food before, I’ll go back in more detail. If I haven’t, well then it is clearly time. And if I don’t know how to make it either, I might just call another guest into the smittenkitchen, if, like Torrie, they promise not to laugh at the grime we are–yes, still–in an undignified standoff with in front of the counter.

Sound good? Tell Doctor Deb your cooking fears in the comments below.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

project wedding cake: ta-da!

cake, smallcake top, small

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction, Mango Curd, The Cake is Baked and Swiss Buttercream]

Oh, I’m sorry. Were you looking for me? Was I supposed to tell you something? It’s just that I left this wedding at 5 p.m. on a Sunday so exhausted, I’m pretty sure I stormed home in my 3-inch gold heels, promptly fell asleep on the sofa and didn’t wake up until 8 this morning.

But here I am, all caffeinated and human again! And look! Someone took some pictures of the wedding cake. (What, you expect me to remember the camera? I thought remembering all three cake tiers and some offset spatulas was enough!) And, lo, we had a wonderful time and the cake was great and there are smiles all around.

And the rest is history.

cutting the cakecake, plated, small

Wait, you want more details? Well then here’s my attempt at a run-down that you can feel free to skip if the details of cake assembly rightfully bore you.

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, July 5, 2008

project wedding cake: swiss buttercream

swiss buttercream triumph

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction, Mango Curd, The Cake is Baked]

Oh, hi. Are you still out there? Oh, right, it’s the middle of a holiday weekend and you’re probably a) at the beach, b) sleeping on a hammock in a backyard or c) taking one of those media breaks the kids are so into these days. And believe it or not, I had a few days off too.

egg whites

Because of my overly-paranoid baking schedule, I was actually able to not work on the wedding cake for a few days. Once I made a big vat-of-curd, I was pretty much done for a few days, on one of them even making dinner. Like, from ingredients you buy at a store. True story!

egg whites

I made also made a tiny practice batch of Swiss buttercream, frosted it onto an even tinier cake and declared it my new favorite frosting. All of your advice was tremendously helpful in getting me through the oh-my-god-this-isn’t-working-FAIL period after I added the butter to the egg whites and once again ended up with a bowl of curdly soup. But with my laptop on the counter, I read what you all said–in short, “whip, whip, whip!”–and you know what? It worked. In a span of about 2 seconds, this frosting turns from slosh to, well, a mayo consistency which I know sounds revolting but I can assure you is anything but.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

project wedding cake: the cake is baked

the wedding cake is baked!

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction, Mango Curd]

That’s right, folks. The. Cake. Is. Baked. I mean, sure, it’s not filled. Heck, I haven’t even tracked down Indian or Philippine mangoes yet, bought the chocolate for the ganache filling or successfully tackled Swiss Buttercream, but we’ve got time for all that–FOUR WHOLE DAYS in fact. Pshaw, it should be nothing at all.

12-inch chocolate cake

But the cake is baked! I made the 12-inch square chocolate cake layers on Saturday and the 10-inch and 8-inch vanilla cake layers on Sunday, which if you’re keeping track at home is nine squares of parchment paper, washings of the Kitchen Aid bowl and beater, nearly four pounds of butter, three boxes of cake flour, a five-pound bag of sugar and at least one minute and twenty seconds of projecting Bakers Joy spray, which was indeed the Joy of my cooking this weekend. They are each frozen and wrapped in triple layers of plastic wrap and separated by cake boards.

cake flour

All of the dishes are done and the cleaning lady will hopefully not break up with us when she sees what this process has done to the kitchen floor. And walls. And surfaces.

eggs, eggs, eggs

Continued after the jump »