Monday, 19 December 2011

Martha is Just Going to Have to Wait

I am sure that Martha is never ever kept waiting, but in this case she is just going to have to cool her heels!  Anyone know where that expressions comes from?  It's so odd...

So Martha is on the back burner (that's a more appropriate clichĂ©) until the holidays are over.   Yesterday I had my family over for a little brunch.  Kind of a pre-Hanukkah  brunch because I made potato latkes.   I only make these once a year because they are such a mess to prepare and I don't like to fry my food.  That said, it is well worth the fuss and fried potatoes are delicious!  

I  had brought back Montreal bagels from my trip to Montreal last weekend, so I served those with cream cheese and lox.  The catch is that my brother-in-law, who was born in Toronto, has never acquired a taste for them which frankly confounds I also bought some Toronto buns with a hole.  My daughter Lilyan printed little flags from each province that I put on top of the respective baked goods so that we can tell  just what side you are on.

When planning the menu, I wanted to show off my newly found baking skills, so I made a Quiche Lorraine (retro is the new black).  I made my own pastry and was very pleased with the results.  I also used green onion instead of white and half and half instead of heavy cream.  The result was a much lighter egg filling.  With of course a lot of bacon! Please don't ask about the calorie or fat content. Please.

What is a brunch without fresh from the oven cinnamon buns?  So I made those too.  My daughter and it turns out my brother-in-law both don't like raisins, so I substituted chocolate chips.  With almost every  bite you found a  little pocket of brown nuggets in the buns.  

Lastly, I made these awesome and I mean AWESOME  Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies.  They are so easy and quick to make and one of the most delicious cookies ever.  You make a stiff chocolate dough with rich cocoa powder that you chill in the fridge or freezer.  Once chilled, you wrap about a tablespoon of dough around a Rolo candy and then roll in sugar (I used a large crystal sugar for a festive holiday look).  They only need 8 minutes to bake and voilĂ  a cookie that is crisp and crunchy when you first bit into it, which then becomes softer and gooier
as you get towards the centre.  

I was proud that it was a nice brunch and that everything turned out well.  Next week is Jewish Christmas where we celebrate with Jim's side of the family and eat Chinese Food.  It is good to be a multi-cultural family!

Happy Holidays to each of you and I look forward to a healthy, happy and sweet New Year.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

I finally began the cake section - the one section that I have been dreading the most.  "shudder"
For those of you who you do not know why, go back through some of my earlier posts and look for the one where I describe the cake that my sisters and I made for our parent's anniversary.  Go ahead...I'll wait.

See what I mean?   Since then I have attempted a few other  cakes with varying degrees of success.  The bundt and coffee type cakes are not too much of a problem, it's those darn layer cakes...birthday cakes with luscious frostings that hurt your teeth because they are so sweet.  The ones that you separate so that you can eat the frosting first, yes those cakes.  

Martha must think that everyone is as talented with an offset spatula and piping bag as she is, so she begins the chapter with a classic yellow butter cake with dark chocolate frosting. She had me at dark chocolate, but I digress.  So I say to myself - classic = relatively easy.  Right?  
Right!  It really was not hard at all.  I read all her tips and tricks before hand and now understand that to make a perfect layer cake, you have to have perfect layers.  Therefore, you need to trim the tops with a serrated knife to make them perfect. Ohhhhhhhhh.  I see now.  I also learned by reading lots of baking tips on the internet that you DO NOT open the oven during baking. Not even to rotate the cake pans as Martha insists.  Opening the oven door lowers the temperature which in turn makes the middle of your cake sink - something that used to happen to me consistently. Not this cake - it was perfect. 

So guess where the "yellow" from yellow cake comes from?  You got it - the "B" word.  Half a pound of it for one 9" layer cake.  But that is nothing compared to the frosting!!!  To make enough frosting (there was some left over, I admit) for that one cake the ingredients include:
ONE HALF POUND OF BUTTER - ONE ENTIRE POUND OF CHOCOLATE AND 1/2 CUP OF ICING SUGAR.   Yes, I am shouting to be heard over the angry mob of health conscious vegans pounding on my door.  Oh look - Bill Clinton is out there.

Putting all that aside, and being thankful that I am going out of town this weekend and will not be baking, my cake was both beautiful and delicious.  In the second photo it looks a bit crumbly, but it really was moist and delicious.  I can now look smugly at  those people in the grocery store who are picking out Betty Crocker cake mixes and canned frosting.  

Until next time...stay sweet.