Monthly Archives: August 2007

Cooking Update

‘Cause in my journal, it’s all about the food 🙂

So, I had mentioned making a dulce de leche cake last week. Basically, you make a sturdy sponge cake using whole eggs, and it’s flavored slightly with cinnamon. You poke lots of holes in that and you pour a mixture of milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and caramelized sweetened condensed milk over it and let it sit overnight to allow the liquid to be absorbed into the cake. Then you top it with a whipped cream icing. Sounds great, doesn’t it? So how did it turn out?

Not well. Not that there was anything wrong with the cake or the icing or even, I suppose, the milk mixture. But it was just too rich. Even the smallest piece was overwhelming, and pretty much all flavors got lost in the richness. Imagine drinking a nice tall glass of heavy cream, and you’ll be getting close to the feeling of eating some of this cake. Sadly, I had to declare the recipe a failure. I’m not sure what could fix the recipe, but I’ll keep an eye out for other approaches.

Tonight we’re going to try something else new and different, this time from the pages of Cook’s Illustrated. Since we’ve been huge fans of the chicken tikka masala at the Indian restaurant in Gurnee, we’ll be trying a recipe for that which appeared in the most recent issue. This calls for you to marinate boneless skinless chicken breasts in a whole-milk yogurt paste, then put the lot under a broiler. You top it all off with a tomato and cream sauce with some tasty Indian spices. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this works out.

I also have a bunch of cherry tomatoes sitting in the fridge that I need to use up. I’ve seen a recipe where you cut the cherry tomatoes in half, thinly slice some shallots, and roast the lot on a baking sheet for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Since takaza‘s not a fan of chunky tomato sauces, I’ll try pureeing the mixture; it should come out pretty tasty! I’ve got some nice cavatelli to serve that over, and maybe we’ll add some Italian sausage.

Hmm, I seem to be hungry. I wonder why?

Friends, Flooding and Furniture

Ugh. It appears that both takaza and I were afflicted with insomnia last night, during different parts of the night. That make for slow canines this morning!

The weekend was quite entertaining, for all that it started inauspiciously. On Saturday morning I had to make another visit to my podiatrist (cut for those not interested in medical details)

Well, that was fun

So last night was, theoretically, August Game Night at our place. The storms sort of caused some issues with that, though. The biggest problem was that first Metra shut down all service between 3 and 4 PM, then slowly brought things back online. takaza was supposed to catch his regular train at 5:11 PM, but it was delayed by 30 minutes…then it wasn’t moving at all due to a power line across the tracks in Des Plaines, which stopped all service on the North Central Line. His train didn’t actually get moving until sometime after 7 PM and he got home at around 8 PM, two hours later than usual (there’s more to the story, but I’ll let him post about that).

Unfortunately, because of the weather pretty much everyone but steviemaxwell had to cancel, and it’s certainly understandable. We had fun anyway, though. Stevie and I got to chat for a while, then when Dan texted to let me know he was on his train heading northbound we drove down to Jimmy John’s and picked up some subs. The rest of the evening was spent chatting, watching Robot Chicken, and playing poker, where I learned that Omaha is a pretty fun game, and I accidentally won all the chips 🙂

The good news is that all the trains are running as they should today, at least up our way. We were spared the worst of it, with the hardest hit areas being between us and Chicago. 250,000 people are still without power, though we never had any problems there. But hey, there’s more storms on their way today, so who knows what the day will hold. The good news is that we’re on relatively high ground and far away from any large water source, so flooding isn’t an issue near us. It might make getting around interesting for the next few days, though!

You Don’t Have a WHAT?

So I was thinking this morning about a recipe I’m going to be working on tonight and I was reminded that one of the steps calls for microwaving something. Well, that’s a problem. See, we don’t own a microwave. We haven’t owned one since, um, I lived in Joliet, I think. The main reason is that I’ve never really had much need of one. I used it primarily to melt butter (which takes only a hair longer on the stove) and to boil water (which takes about as long as the electric kettle we have). I’m vastly amused because our lack of this appliance seems to boggle many of our friends.

A secondary reason is that, for me personally, having a microwave encourages lazy cooking. Call it a remnant from my chemist father (“I work with chemicals all day long, I don’t want to eat them, too!”) – I tend to avoid processed food whenever possible, which means steering clear of frozen dinners, meals in can or boxes, and that sort of thing. Sure, it took me an hour and a half to make chicken and dumplings last night when I could have just picked up a package of Swanson Frozen Chicken and Dumplings and microwaved it in five minutes or less. The big difference to me is that first, there is a sense of pride of having Made Something, and second, my dinner was actually (for me) edible.

Please don’t take this as a condemnation of how others eat and cook, though – this is what works for me. I know that I’m lucky to have the time and knowledge to cook like this. One of the big influences on my tastes is the couple of years my parents spent living in France, where their refrigerator was the size of a tall dorm fridge and it was the norm to go grocery shopping every day for the freshest meat and produce. I certainly don’t have the inclination to shop every day, but I do only tend to shop for three or four days at a time.

Anyway, enough of that little digression. Oh, the recipe that I’m working on tonight? Dulce de Leche Cake (from Cook’s Country magazine). Basically, you make a sturdier-than-usual sponge cake (using whole eggs instead of just whites), poke holes into it and pour a Dulce de Leche mixture over it and let it soak for 3-24 hours, then frost with a whipped cream frosting. The recipe calls for the Dulce de Leche mixture (a combination of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and vanilla) to be microwaved for several minutes to cook it. Fortunately, they offer an alternative where you pour the mixture into a pie plate, put it in a roasting pan and pour boiling water around it, and cook it in the oven for 40 minutes (and apparently 80 minutes will reduce it to the thick, gooey Dulce de Leche sauce that goes so well over ice cream – we’ll need to try that too!).

Oh, you want to try some of the cake? You’ll need to come to Game Night, then 🙂