Monday, August 25, 2008

The Hot Mess

Some of us are Nigella Lawson and some of us are not. I am in the latter category. Nigella Lawson, aka The Domestic Goddess herself, aka the almost anti-Martha - can somehow make me feel insecure about not being able to follow a recipe as well as she can not follow a recipe. Make sense? Yeah, I know.

I watch her cook on TV - throwing and thrashing together ingredients with abandon - in no discernible order, going against ALL the baking rules set forth by all other know-it-alls. All the while, there she is smiling like a Cheshire cat, flirting with you, daring you to throw around your own ingredients, don't bother with this, don't bother with that, who has the time for it, and besides my boobs are awesome! She makes everything seem easy and adorable and delectable and a delight to make, doesn't she? I swear the woman could sell me ocean property right here in the desert, where I live. The saucy minx.

Well anyway, I've seen the little tart make this certain cake a number of times and it was on my list of "To Bake". We were craving something chocolate and I was flipping through my brain files for something different and recalled this crazy chocolate cake Nigella raved about. So I made it.

I think it's the ugliest fekkin' cake I ever made. It's a heinous slab.

But that's just so Nigella. It's a glorious loaf of delicious, messy, chocolateness. It ain't pretty, it isn't graceful to eat, it's not easy to serve right away - it's just one HOT MESS. Remind you of anyone?

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

This is a very yummy, ugly chocolate cake. Moist, chocolaty, dense, rich - and I think it goes without saying, decadent. I think the best parts of this cake were the areas where the syrup reached the cake - OH MY - extra moist and the flavor was so deep and perfect. I like my cake "fudgy" - and the areas where the syrup met the cake were where my taste buds went wacko. I think the most charming thing about this cake is it was probably the easiest dang thing I ever made in my life - i.e., toss in processor, blitz, done. That's just so Nigella.

1 2/3 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cocoa
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 T. vanilla
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. mini chocolate chips

1 tsp. cocoa
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water

2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped or curled, for garnish

Equipment: Loaf pan - approximately 9.5 x 4.5 x 3 inches, lined with greased foil, overhanging at the top. Preheat oven to 325F and place baking sheet on middle rack.

In processor, add flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream - blitz until smooth. Scrape down batter and process again while pouring boiling water down the funnel. Turn off, remove lid and add chocolate chips, using spatula to combine.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place on baking sheet in the oven; cook for about 1 hour. The cake will be done when the loaf has risen, split down the middle, and a cake tester comes out fairly clean.

About 10 minutes before the cake should be done, put the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan and boil for 5 minutes (it won't thicken much).

When the cake is done, place it on a cooling rack (still in the pan) and pierce here and there using a kabob skewer, cake tester, or chop stick. Pour the syrup over the cake, letting it soak in. Allow the cake to come to room temperature, then remove it from the pan and remove the foil. Sprinkle generously with chocolate garnish. ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

That One Damn Book

Ann: I'm running to the book store, I'll be back later.
Tony: Can you pick up that one book Eric is reading?
Ann: Yes. I'll walk up to the help counter and say can you point me in the right direction? I'd like to buy that one book Eric is reading.

Funny, I don't recall psychic abilities being part of the marriage vows.

However, it is quite endearing that he thinks me either so omnipotent or omniscient, or just so capable, that I can take the above information from him, and nothing else, and FIND THAT BOOK.

There was one day when I swore I was seeing his aura and I told him I thought it was indigo. Or was that his shirt and it was just after my eye appointment where I had my pupils dilated? Well, either way - the guy believes in me like there is no tomorrow and I'm going to find that damn book Eric is reading.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Flueberry Frumble Frie

One of the things me and Tony really love doing is laughing at each other and ourselves - it's a constant hobby and one we thoroughly enjoy. Plus, since we're really such bumbling fools-at-heart, there is really no end to material - it just rolls on in. One of Tony's specialty areas is the way in which he is forever reinventing names for something I've cooked in the past. On the weekends especially, he is always asking if I'm making this, that, or the other thing - because he is clearly calorie deprived and it is the weekend after all, hint hint.

So, these are some of the items he is constantly asking me to make:

Cloofette [That would mean the delectable Clafoutis.]

Scuffle Cake [Yeah, that's actually Souffle. I know.]

Oofda Eggs [Uh huh. This is Oeufs en Cocotte - sounds a bit more elegant the latter way, oui?]

Geejooblah Chocolate [Okay. Not self explanatory. Translation IS! Gianduja. Sinful.]

There are SO many more, and now I wish I'd written them down because I can't tell you how entertaining and mind boggling some of them are - I mean, Scuffle Cake? Almost a travesty. But not in this household. I'm not sure if it's just Guy Speak and he's determined to NOT remember the name of any fancy schmancy dish on purpose, or, if he's just trying to invent the most preposterous name he can possibly think of - to chap my ass and then make me giggle. Either way, it obviously works, huh?

Well anyway, I made a Flueberry Frumble Frie - better known to most of you as Blueberry Crumble Pie and is was so damn good I ran down the street without my pants on. Similar to the cherry dish that I just made - I asked Tony ahead of time if he liked blueberries. Well, what do YOU think? NO, of course - doesn't like them, never has, never liked blueberry pie, and blah blee blah blee I didn't even listen to the rest of it because what is the point. And afterward, of course, what do YOU think? He frickin' loved it. So then he ran down the street without his pants on.

Flueberry Frumble Frie (aka Blueberry Crumble Pie)

We adored this pie and it didn't last long in the house, it was such a treat. The filling is very sweet and satisfying - the touch of lemon zest is just divine. And the crumble topping? OH THE CRUMBLE TOPPING. Heavenly. Perfect. Lovely. So much better than a typical pie crust topping. The only downside to the pie is that we couldn't leave it alone - it was one of those desserts that when you have it around, it's addicting. So - you love it, but you hate it. Which means - it is really, really, REALLY good. And makes you run down the street without your pants on, apparently.

2 pints blueberries
2/3 c. sugar
3 t. cornstarch
1/2 t. finely chopped lemon zest

3/4 c. AP flour
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
6 T. butter, cut into small pieces

Use this crust recipe, with baking instructions below

Crumble: combine flour and sugar in processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms a crumble, don't over mix. Keep in fridge until ready to use.

Filling: in large bowl, combine all ingredients. Using back of a large spoon, crush about 20% of the blueberries to release the juices and thicken the filling.

Pie/crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Take your prepared pie tin (with dough in the tin, ready for baking, make sure you've poked holes in bottom of crust w/ fork) and line the dough with aluminum foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crimped edges are firm, about 10 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Fill the crust with berry mixture and top with the crumble. Place on a lined baking sheet and baked until filling starts to bubble, 1 - 1 1/4 hours. Remove, and cool on a wire rack. Adapted from Martha Stewart. ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hit Me Baby One More Time

I know, I know. Another tag/meme. Shall I say this is my last one? Tell me if I should. I'm guessing folks are getting tired of reading these - if so, my apologies. I was hit once more - and it was by a fellow blogger whom I really enjoy reading - so of course I will play, who wouldn't? It's my buddy Morton of 21st Century Fox and When It Rains. His first blog has some one-liners that will slay you - especially in this post, where you must read the part when he tells his wife he's going to Best Buy. His other blog is mostly poetry that is chock full of emotion and imagery - a great read that sticks to your bones.

What is your favorite quotable line from a movie?

Yeeeeaaah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and quote from Office Space [didja GET the memo?]. The entire movie is one long quote, but how about:

"You've been missing a lot of work lately..."
"Well, I wouldn't say I've been missing it...."

Who is the most famous person you have spoken to?
In my dreams, I've spoken to almost everyone - so I'm really quite ubiquitous. But, in the early 90s when I was involved in the music scene, I probably met about 50 famous and/or cultish musicians. I tried typing some names and just can't bring myself to do it - it feels too weird.

How many bags of chips are consumed at your place in a month?
We are strictly a white-corn tortilla chip household, now that I consider the subject at length. I'd say we buy about 4 bags a month. Little piglets we are. [I feel like I structured that last sentence while channeling Yoda from Star Wars, what happened there?]

Who is your favorite all time cartoon character?
Probably Pepe Le Pew; he was so charming with that accent and all - such a ladies man. Or, there was a little, blue dog that used to eat dog treats, and afterward - he'd rub his belly while saying "yum, yum, yum" and float to the ceiling - I LOVED him as a kid. Who was he? Did I imagine him?

What foreign food dish do you prepare from scratch and serve?
Besides a slew of desserts? I make some pretty good coconut-curry steamed mussels.

What is your favorite section of the supermarket?
I love the accoutrement section - gazing at all the kitchen tools...tool porn. And the bakery, but of course! More food porn for Mama!

What was your high school's team mascot and what were the school's colors?
Yeah, let's just bring up the worst years of everyone's life, shall we? The years where we tell kids "these are the BEST years of your life!" - and afterward you go "if those were the best years of my life, no wonder all those people drank the Kool-aid in Jonestown for chrissakes"! But I digress - it was the eagle; purple and white. In other words, a fashion disaster that knew no bounds. Good times. DON'T drink the Kool-aid! Those are not the best years of your life!

So, that's all I got. And don't worry, I won't tag any of you - so stop hiding in the corner back there. If you do feel like using the tag - cool, I'd love to see your answers - so let me know if you use it on your blog. Otherwise, feel free to share a little secret of your own right here. You KNOW how I eat it up.

And, now for some gratitude. The extremely and eternally lovely Jennifer from Thursday Drive has given me the Arte Y Pico award! A huge thank you to Jennifer! If you have not visited her blog, it really is a must - it is a daily visit for me and you'll quickly see why. I know I am supposed to pass this on to 5 more people, but feel unprepared at the moment - plus, there are so many blogs I read, I just can't imagine whittling it down to five (I never was able to the last time someone gave me this award either, I'm hopeless). For now though, I want to pass along my gratitude.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Violating My Rights

First of all, can someone please tell me what happened to Monday through Thursday? They occurred? Because I'm not sure I was present for any of it. My migraine could tell you more, but screw it - it has monopolized enough of my week already.

So anyway, I get up this morning and schlep toward my loving espresso machine (oh, gawd how I love and adore THEE), make my magic elixir, and head toward the bathroom to kitten up. As I'm slathering lotion on my face - which IS my eternal routine, pre-shower - Tony proceeds to schlep behind me toward the shower....and SO, I start to angle MY way toward the shower....

Tony: What are you doing? Are you trying to SHOWER BLOCK me?
Ann: Dude, I was the FIRST one UP, I have shower rights!
Tony: You're shower blocking me - you're walking over here, eyes closed, rubbing crap on your face - trying to block me from getting in the shower!
Ann: I totally have shower rights, I was first up, I have my espresso right here - CLEARLY the shower is mine!
Tony: I just turned on the shower, too late for a shower block - it's mine.
Ann: Wow. You just totally violated the 1st Amendment of Shower Rights. I was first UP...

Okay....I was UP FIRST, did I or did I NOT have shower rights? I think I totally did. OH the conditions I must live under in this household. The CONDITIONS!

Friday, August 1, 2008

It's All About The Cherries

A = Ann / T = Tony

A: Cherries are in season.
T: Riveting. Thanks for that, I'll be sure and throw that down in the locker room today.
A: Okay, Dennis Miller. AnyPOOP, my point was - I was thinking of making something with cherries. Pie?
T: I don't like cherry anything, cherries just don't do it for me, they're just *eh*.

[3 hours later]

A: Can you taste my cherry thingy?
T: Honey, I hate to tell ya - but I think someone already took care of that initiation for you years ago...
A: OH.MY.GAWD. Shut the pie hole. You are TERRIBLE. I should post that for the world to see. Your MOTHER reads my blog!
T: Yeah, and she'd read it, speed dial Aunt Peggy, and boast about her son who talked about his wife's cherry, who then wrote about it on her blog.
A: ...God, you're right. She'd love it. Sick, isn't it? And we love it, don't we?

[Hi little Cherry Man in back, you cute little focker YOU!]

A: Well, will you JUST taste this dang cherry mini-cake-thing already?
T: ...Wow. This is. Really good.
A: You like it?
T: I better try another one.
T: These are REALLY good, I mean they're really good. Lemme have another one.
A: But you really like 'em?
T: Yeah, I mean I don't like cherries, but these are awesome.
A: You don't like cherries, but you're loving these?
T: Yeah!
A: Uh huh. So do you like cherries now?
T: No. I don't really like cherries. Never have.
A: ....???

Cherry Mini-Cakes

These are so adorable, I could NOT stop taking pictures of these darlings. Inside the little cake-let is a cherry - stem and pit - so, be sure and forewarn folks of the pit. Right out of the oven and well afterwards, the cherry is warm and oozy. But, they are at their very, very best the day after they're baked - at which point, some of the juice from the cherry has soaked into the crumb and the cake is moist and soft and filled with deepening flavor. These are not, by any means, overly sweet - they are subtle and easy and fresh. They're kind of like a cross between a tea cake and a muffin. They have a lovely, fragrant, cherry, almond flavor - and could not BE more adorable. And if you like cherries? Perfect. And if you don't like cherries? Perfect...

10 T. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 c. AP flour
1 1/4 c. finely ground almonds (unblanched)
1 c. + 2 T. sugar
1 t. coarse salt
5 large egg whites
4 tsp. kirsch (cherry brandy)
30 sweet cherries

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter and flour muffin tins (yield is about 30 cakes).

Melt butter in medium pan over medium high heat until it begins to sputter; reduce to medium. Cook, swirling occasionally until butter has lightly browned. Skim foam from top and remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt. Add egg whites and whisk until smooth. Stir in kirsch. Pour in butter and whisk to combine - let stand for 20 minutes.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin tin, filling about half way. Place a cherry into each tin, keeping stem upright. Using a small spoon, smooth some batter over top of cherries to cover. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean and cakes are golden, 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife edges to loosen and unmold. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately or store in airtight container. ENJOY!

OH! Hi little fella in the middle, in focus! How adorable are YOU, you little SCAMP?!