Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bombs and curd, by j

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I was bored on Friday.  I had planned for a day hanging out, starting by turning on the news at 8am.  Like the day before they were talking about the Boston Marathon bombing.  But Friday morning was different.  It was constant.  A whole city on lock down.  A frightening story and seven hours of every single television and radio station talking about it non stop.

There was not seven hours worth of coverage.  Reminded me of our day in St. Catharine’s on Wednesday where we had an absolutely amazing evening watching crappy coverage with someone we’ve missed for a loooong time.

I needed a distraction.  It just so happened that my mom was having company for dinner and I took that on as my personal project for the day and I decided to bake again (are we seeing a trend?).

And in the grand tradition of being my mother’s daughter I decided to make something I’ve never made before: Angel food cake.

But here’s the problem with making an angel food cake- the yolks.  What do you do with the yolks?  It’s usually meant rice pudding (which I adore), but it’s spring!  SPRING.  I don’t want rice pudding.  I want fresh, I want bright.  And after dreaming about it for a few weeks I decided that a sweet and tart curd was the way to go.

So there I was, watching to Boston be under marshal law, making a fairly labour intensive dish.

I figured it was going to turn out amazing or really pathetic.  And I was right.

Let’s start off with the cake.  I have been using my friendly “Pinterest” page to find the right recipe, but decided to use a America’s Test Kitchen Recipe.  ATK made about 100 angel food cakes and decided this recipe was the best.

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
12 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cake ingredients
Now hold up.  Cake flour? I don’t make a lot of cakes.  Or I don’t just yet, my current limbo state might see me baking a helluva lot of cakes.
So get this:  I made cake flour.
cornstarch
For every one cup of flour, put in two tablespoons of cornstarch and fill the rest up with flour.  Be sure to whiz it up in the food processor or sift it all together.
Now you have cake flour.  Tada.
Also, let’s talk about separating eggs.  It can be delicate work.  I should know I just spent two years in graduate school.
People who use the shells to separate yolks from whites are fools.  Fools!  You’re gonna crack something fierce and get yolk in your whites.  And then your life is over ’cause your cake will be all sad.  So use your hands.  They’re gentle, no sharp edges. and you end up with this:
egg separated
Set those lovely yolks aside.
Now raid your mom’s equipment, because angel food cake needs some muscle.  Now I did once whip egg white by hand and it was a bitch.
equipment
To start you have to take your sugar (all of it) and whiz it in the food processor so it’s all light and stuff.
Take about half of the whizzed sugar and reserve it.
Then take your salt and cake flour (that you made) and add it to half the sugar.
flour to sugar
Whiz that stuff.
Egg white time.  Put them in the mixer with the cream of tartar (not sure what it is, but it pretty much makes egg whites beat up all nice).  Whisk for one minute until it gets “frothy”.  Not sure what the technical definition of “frothy” is but bubbles and foam is a good indication.
Add in the reserved sugar:
sugar to egg whites
And whiz it again until you have soft peaks (about 6 minutes).
A word about soft peaks: again we’re getting really technical.  You should be able to make the egg whites stand up and flop over.
Now it’s time to fold!  Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites.
Don’t do this:
Instead do this:
folding ingredients
For god sakes be careful.  You spent all that time putting air into the egg whites.  Don’t do anything stupid.
Get your pan out.  And get it ready.  That’s a joke, you don’t need to do anything to the pan.  Don’t grease the pan.  For god sakes don’t grease the pan.
pan and ingredients
And then put it into an oven at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes:
oven
Stop right here.  You see the middle rack that it’s sitting on?  That’s correct.  You see that rack directly above the cake?  Yeah, that’s going to be a problem in about thirty minutes.
I should have taken it out earlier, but I didn’t.  Instead  the top of my cake (which is actually the bottom, thank goodness) gets a little shaved off.  Angel food rises, folks. And I swear, just a little.
Time for those yolks!
Gather your curd making ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter (10 tablespoons), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

curd ingredients

Curd frightened me the way creme brulee did.  It’s one of those suspicious recipes that only has a few ingredients.

Step one: combine all the ingredients (minus the butter) and whisk in a pot off the heat.

curd mix

Now, this will happen quickly so,

Put it on med-high heat and add butter, whisk until the butter is melted.  Then keep cooking while whisking constantly.  Do not stop whisking.  Do not walk away.

Talk it off when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Then take it off, keep whisking and take it to the water bath you set up before you put it on the heat. Run it through a sieve:

curd in water bath

Keep stirring, it will thicken as it cools.

Try not to eat it all, because you will be tempted.

The curd literally took about 20 minutes.

Tada!

cake

Take the cake out when a toothpick comes out clean.  And invert it and let it cool.  It said for three hours, but it came out PERFECTLY after one hour.

This is how I felt:

PERFECTION.

And take that amazing curd:

curd in jar

And eat it all together with some blueberries:

final product

Then go find yourself a job, otherwise you better figure out how to make this website into a profitable food blog.

Sugar Rush, by j

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Saturday night was my graduation party with my fellow students.  This is how it started:

double glasses

And then this is the last thing I remember:

shot

Apparently I made a lot of travel plans.

Anyways.

While I should have been writing papers, I decided to do something much more delicious.  Baking.

My lovely auntie was coming for a very exciting visit and emailed me a recipe with a demand: make this for me.

Usually I’m up for anything, but this particular request was a little terrifying.  You see, I’ve tried to make this before- and it was a disaster.  I haven’t tried since Thanksgiving 2003.  The failure was utterly devastating ten years ago.

You see, my aunt sent in a recipe for creme brulee.

Creme.  Brulee.

My absolute favourite thing ever in the world to eat for dessert.  I was given a torch for my birthday.  It was going to be amazing.  It was a soupy mess.  Even on my scale it was less than a 1.  It was a -10.  Inedible.

Tragic.

But, I do like this auntie.  And I did not want to disappoint.  And I was bored of writing about social enterprise.

So I went for it:  Coconut Creme Brulee.

ingredients cb

Here’s the tricky thing about this evil recipe: it only has four ingredients.  It appears incredible easy to make.

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

200 milliliters of whipping cream

200 milliliters of unsweetened coconut milk

Coconut flakes

8 tsp sugar

Totally easy.  Totally make-able.  Sign me up.  I could totally make French food better than any other pastry chef west of Paris.

I was determined.

sugar and eggs

custard wet

 

Cream sugar and egg yolks.  Perfect.

Make breakfast with left over egg whites.

Heat cream and coconut milk.  Don’t let that stuff boil.  Bad news.

Tidbit: Don’t buy “lite” coconut milk.  It’s a waste of money for basically watered down coconut milk.  Just water it down at home.

But don’t use “lite” coconut milk.  Also, don’t buy things that spell light wrong.

Then add in the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks.  Be careful.  The last time I tried doing this I made scrambled eggs, and was horrible.

Then get your mom’s ramekins and fill those suckers up.

before cooking in ram

At this point you have to learn from my mistake.  BE CAREFUL.  Don’t put the water in before you put it in the oven.  You will spill and you will be devastated.

Once it’s on the rack in the oven pour in some hot water from a kettle.  For you cosmopolitan folks this is called a “bain marie”.  Literally “Mary’s bath”, which according to cooking sources is described as “whose proverbial gentleness can be likened to the gentleness of this cooking technique”.  It is the holiest way to bake a dessert.  Baking like a virgin.

water into ram

Here’s the tricky part.  It said to cook it at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Or until custard is set.  Here’s the problem I ran into, at 25 minutes it was still soupy.  It reminded me of my previous failure.  So I let it keep cooking for another 20 minutes.  Then I took it out.  I was terrified that I had ramekins full of scrambled eggs.

cooked cb before sugar

But at this step I feel as though I have committed.  No looking back- we’re going to the end.

When you bring them out, let them cool, and put them into the fridge, then carefully transport them to home.

And here’s where I decided to make some decisions on my own.  I personally hate when I have creme brulee and the custard is cold.  It doesn’t taste right, it needs to be room temperature, but creamy.  So I decided to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I burned that sugar.

cb sugar before

Last time I did this I had a kitchen torch to use, but it is packed away.  This time I used the broiler to make it all nice and burnt.

cb sugar burnt

What the what?  It looks good.  But I was slightly terrified.  Let’s get some coconut toasted.

creme brulee

I was more than terrified to crack into it.  But I was delightfully surprised.

creme brulee inside

Not bad.  If I had to critique my own it would definitely be a huge improvement from the last time.  It would be at least a solid 5/10.  We could improve it.  But at least it wasn’t a soupy mess.

DONEDONEDONE, by j

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I’ve submitted by final paper.

I’m already having second thoughts about my paper. Right now I’m wavering between “I can’t believe I submitted that piece of shit” and “WAHOO! I’m done! She can suck it for all I care!”.

It’s an odd place to be. But generally this is how I’m feeling-

Worried about my last paper:

How I feel when I realize that I don’t have any more group work:

What I’m really thinking when someone asks me about registering with the college:

Trying to think of extra “special skills” for my resume.  This is what I come up with:

What grad school taught me to ask at the beginning of every meeting:

My general feeling about five terms of full time tuition at 3am:

How I want to answer whenever a person asks me (for the one billionth time) “What are you going to do now?!”:

But what I want my real plans to be:

But what I really do is:

And when people don’t understand why that question freaks me out and asks me “What’s wrong with you?”:

My reaction when I found out I didn’t get an interview for a job I SO SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN:

How I’m feeling right about now:

How I acted after leaving my last class:

But how I really felt after an amazing final class:

My realization now that I am no longer a student:

How I feel the world is treating me:

How I pretend I’m feeling now:

The one thing I am sure of: