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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spiced Orange & Cranberry Snacking Cake

I read cookbooks the way some people read novels. Actually, I read novels, too. I don't usually buy novels, though. I borrow them from the library and return them in a mostly timely manner. I buy cookbooks. Sometimes after pre-screening from the library, sometimes not. I take solace in knowing that I have a friend or two who suffers from the same compulsion.

I bought four new cookbooks last week. I don't need four new cookbooks, necessarily, but I convinced myself that I needed them. One is Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman. These aren't "production" cakes. Rather, they tend to be simple, perhaps one layer or loaf or bundt, maybe with a glaze or a sprinkle of powdered sugar. The type of cake you'd keep on your counter for mid-week nibbling.

Good thing they're simple too, because I was able to bake one in the early morning hours today, even before I'd run, to have for Sunday dinner tonight. And although it was the easiest dessert I've made in months, everyone ate seconds and some people had thirds.

Spiced Orange & Cranberry Snacking Cake, served with orange sherbet

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Gack. Baking a pie wasn't on my agenda this weekend! But I learned late Friday night that Saturday would be National Pie Day, so how could I not? I baked the crust and filling yesterday, and made the meringue this afternoon in time for Sunday dinner.

Lemon Meringue Pie, Fine Cooking #38

Friday, January 22, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Muffins

FoF. Also known as "Fear of Failure". There. I publicly admit it. I have managed to work myself into a state over a silly B race.

To divert my attention and to be sure that I eat something Sunday morning, I threw together a healthy-ish batch of muffins.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

"You take pleasure in making me miserable!" Have truer words ever been spoken?

My stated objective is to master the art of homemade pie crust. That's never going to happen if I don't practice. Therefore, even though it's not exactly pumpkin pie season anymore, I set out to make Cooks Illustrated's version of pumpkin pie.

Why oh why oh why? If the objective is the crust, I could have poured in any ole filling, right? But nooooo. I had to go with yet another fussy recipe, as if Saturday's lesson wasn't recent enough. *sigh*

This crust is much flakier than the first recipe I tried. And the filling, while fussy, is quite good. That, from someone who doesn't particularly care for pumpkin pie.


EDIT on 01/21/10: Upon further reflection (and a few more sample bites), it should be noted that this recipe will go down in history as the pumpkin pie that changed my mind about pumpkin pie.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake

After reading so many positive reviews of this cake, and being eager to bake more from this book, I made this yesterday to take to a birthday breakfast today.

It's fine. Really. It's fine.

But I wouldn't make it again. I've made other sour cream coffee cakes that were just as good and less fussy.

Fussy #1: It calls for an odd-sized bundt pan, not the typical 10-cup pan that most of us have. And then you're supposed to make 2 cupcakes with the extra batter, because all together it's not enough to fill up a regular pan. Or you can make 12 cupcakes. Then it's not really coffee cake, is it?

Fussy #2: It calls for 8.5 ounces of sour cream. A standard container is 8 ounces. Do I really need another half ounce? Seriously?

Fussy #3: It calls for an egg plus an egg white. Oh come on. Can't I throw the other yolk in there, so I don't have to think of something to do with it other than making a trip to the compost pile?

I think I had a Fussy #4 and maybe a Fussy #5. But for now, Mike said I could have a nap once it was past noon (it's past noon!!!) and I haven't soaked my sore feet yet.

Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake, Rose's Heavenly Cakes

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seared Tuna

These days, I blog so much about baking that many people think that's all I do. In fact, I cook more than I bake. And it's been far too long since I've used the blog to sing the praises of my fishmonger Mario. I love that man! He carefully chooses everything he sells to me, examining shrimp one by one, each individual mussel, perfectly trimming every portion of fish. If I ask for 2/3 of a pound, he gives me exactly 10.67 ounces. He always asks me how I'm going to prepare it, and gives me hints & tips.

A few weeks ago, he wasn't behind the counter and some kid was packing up what I needed for that night's cioppino. Mario returned from his break and asked what I was making. When I told him, he got all excited and told me to wait there while he went to the freezer.

He gave me, no charge, a pint of crab stock that he'd made! I told him that no way was I putting it in my cioppino, that I would save it for crab bisque. I made the bisque for Sunday dinner two weeks ago and OMG, that was the best soup ever!

Sorry no photo of the bisque, but here's a photo of last night's seared tuna. It was fabulous.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Angel Food Cake

Recent discussion about whether to be "race weight" for a B race when my A race is still 3+ months away.

[An explanation for my friends and family who are not athletes: An "A" race is a very important race, one that you work hard for and want the best result possible. A "B" or "C" race could be for fun, it could be a test of current fitness and reasonableness of goals, or it might be for experience.]

Now that I think about it, it wasn't even so much a discussion as a proclamation not to.

Decision made, or proclamation issued, or seed planted, or whatever you wish to call it. Nevertheless, as I planned Sunday dinner this week, I chose a light dessert. Because let's be honest, we all know what happens to most of the leftovers: I eat Ginger Cheesecake for breakfast.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ginger Cheesecake

The cheesecake itself is perfect, in my opinion. Just the right texture. The flavor doesn’t scream “GINGER!”, but is delicate and floral.

Unfortunately, my gingerbread people were too tall. That's the sort of thing that would normally bring me to frustrated tears, but today I was calm. I simply broke them at the waist and proceeded to nibble the extra bits.

Ginger Cheesecake, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, Rose Levy Beranbaum