Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chocolate Cream Tart; Tuesdays With Dorie

This tart, chosen by Kim, of Scrumptious Photography, was luscious. It is perfect for a day that is only 50 degrees, after several 80 degree days that made me feel like summer. It is perfect for a day after your basement is flooded and your grandma, who lives there, is being a nervous-wreck-basket-case (understandably so). It is perfect for a day when your dryer isn't working and you hang laundry out on your new clothesline that you are thrilled to have, only to have it rain non-stop. It is perfect for a day when you are being a nervous-wreck-basket-case with PMS. Today I NEEDED chocolate, and this tart delivers the chocolate. Some of my fellow TWDers expressed the opinion that this may be too chocolately. I really can't wrap my head around such a concept, but they are entitled to their (crazy) opinions. For me, it was exactly the right amount of chocolate.

There are three components to this tart: The crust is dark and crisp, almost bitter. The cream is velvety and rich. And the topping is light and sweet. It is a veritable menage a trois triptych of flavors.

For the recipe, lots of pictures, and even nutrition info, please go to Kim's site. The recipe is on pages 352 and 353 of Baking, from My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Eight hours is a long time to be behind the bar when you have a total of eight customers in that time frame. I thought maybe my boss would come have a drink, so I stuffed some blue cheese olives. I cleaned everything that could be cleaned, even though it was already clean. I did the waitress side work for the evening. The owner's decorator was in taking some pictures of different elements he had done, so I watched him and his assistant work for awhile. I thought they left and after awhile when I couldn't think of anything else to do. I was sore from standing, but also tired of sitting on a cooler. I thought, "I'd probably feel better if I stretched, or got some exercise."

I went to the side of the bar where the club was not open. (There are two rooms to the club and the bar is in between.) I went to a spot where I could see if anyone was coming in the door and decided to do some yoga. I was somewhat limited because of space, and because I a new to yoga and don't know a lot of poses, and because I was wearing a corset. I started in Warrior II, then did what I think is called an angle, or an arrow, I'm not sure which. I did several of what I'm sure are called sunflowers. Back to Warrior II facing the other way. I saw someone was coming in, so I walked around to the other side of the bar feeling a little better.

I waited on the customer, then saw the decorator standing there. He asked me if I could turn off a TV, so I asked which one. "The one you were just...ummm.... standing... under." He had been up in a VIP suite behind two-way glass, where he could see out to the bar, and the TV was in the background of his pictures. And the crazy bartender below the TV. At least I wasn't doing Happy Baby.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

I made my first bread pudding, and my first brioche in the process. Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle (soon to be A Baking Blog as she moves to the Upper West Side) chose Dorie's Chocolate Bread Pudding for our Tuesdays With Dorie recipe. Usually, I pretty much wait until the last minute to do everything. It's not something I'm proud of, but it is something I accept as part of my personality. Occasionally I try to overcome it and plan ahead a little. I am glad that I was in that mode this week with this recipe, because although there are short cuts, you want to start with a good bread, and let it get stale, before you make your bread pudding.

So luckily I started several days in advance by making the brioche dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I realize Dorie has a brioche recipe, but I was intimidated by her story of making brioche with a wooden spoon when she "huffed and puffed harder than when I had run a half marathon". She suggests not using a hand mixer because "in all likelihood, the mixing will wear out the motor". I don't have a stand mixer, and I knew the spoon mixing would wear out my motor. Someday I will try Dorie's brioche, but because I am a wimp and because I have been loving my Artisan Bread in Five book and want to make every recipe in there, I made a batch of brioche that makes four, one pound loaves. I baked a loaf, sliced it, and set it out to stale.

Isn't that gorgeous? I did also toast it in the oven for ten minutes to make sure it was dry enough on baking day. This recipe was very easy. I had some half and half I needed to use, so I used it in the custard.

The custard gets poured over the cubed bread.

Someone in the TWD problems and questions described this looking like a dish of mud...or something worse. I wasn't sure if I should take it to a party I was going to. It didn't seem like a party type food, and it wasn't super attractive.

Since I am a procrastinator and had nothing else to take, I took it to the party. Some of the guests became too intoxicated to have dessert. But one guest, S, whom according to the hostess, and I quote, "most likely has an attractive penis" (she was not drunk when she said this), ate about half of the dish. A couple others who tried it also liked it; even my husband, who does not like bread pudding. I have been eating the leftovers chilled for breakfast. I will definitely make this again.

And with some of the leftover brioche dough, I tried my first braided bread:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chocolate Amaretti Torte; A Grown Up Cake for a Grown Up Kid

Yesterday was Big E's 16th birthday. I was not totally prepared for it. (Well, emotionally, of course I was not prepared; it seems like just yesterday that he was a little, ten pound baby!) With the kids being home all week, and with the holiday, and working extra hours at my temporary online job, and with my general failure as a mom, yesterday morning arrived and I had no presents and no cake. I actually was going to do these tasks Sunday night while Big E was spending the night with Jennifer's kids. (And I wonder where he gets his procrastination tendencies from.)

Unfortunately, I spent that time in the ER with Gram instead, until 2 a.m. Grandma was fine, but birthday morning I felt like I was operating in zombie mode all day. Stress and lack of sleep made it difficult to think or function or make a cake. I knew I also had to do my Tuesdays With Dorie project, Chocolate Amaretti Torte (chosen by Holly, Phe*MOM*enom.) Luckily this cake is also called "Fifteen Minute Magic" and Eli told me he wanted a cheesecake or an ice cream cake. I knew what I could do. I sure as heck wasn't making a cheesecake (like I did for little E's birthday, just now remembering). Dorie says this torte is good served with coffee ice cream or vanilla ice cream. Big E likes coffee ice cream and vanilla ice cream. I decided to make this fifteen minute magic torte into a thirty minute magic ice cream cake.

It is called a fifteen minute magic torte because you just throw the ingredients into the food processor, put in a pan, and bake it. Super Simple.

I had Jennifer's torte on Easter and knew what it tasted like and it was very delicious.

Jennifer's torte

I baked the cake in an 8 inch springform, took it out, and cooled it. Then I put it back in the springform, topped it with Breyer's coffee and vanilla ice cream, then froze it a little and topped it with the chocolate glaze. I thought I would try to make a white chocolate "16" for the top. I couldn't really make my 6 look right.

In my sleep deprived, zombie mode I started feeling like a demonic candy maker.

It was not the most attractive cake, but it was really good and Big E liked it.

Everyone else, except for my husband liked it as well. Husband only ate a few bites and threw his away. I retrieved his piece from the garbage and finished it for him. (It was sitting right on top and was not touched or contaminated by the other garbage and I was really sleep deprived.) This reminded me of a really sophisticated brownie sundae.

Big E said he had a nice birthday. We wanted to play a game together and he picked poker. Here is a picture of him and grandma:

This is literally 30 seconds later, when he sat down to play cards:

Quickly transformed into his poker face, just how he seemed to grow up in an instant.

You can find the recipe for the super delicious and easy Chocolate Amaretti Torte on pages 276 and 277 of Baking, From My Home To Yours, and on today's post at Phe*MOM*enomom.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Cream Pie, Tuesdays With Dorie

This week, Amy, from Sing For Your Supper, chose Dorie's Banana Cream Pie, on pages 342 & 343 of Baking, from My Home To Yours.

Jennifer made this pie and brought it to our book club meeting Sunday, so I got to taste how good it was. I really liked the fresh bananas and the pastry cream was sooo good. It had a nice complex flavor, with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I adored the topping, which had sour cream in it, so it was not too sweet. I actually convinced myself this is a healthy snack or breakfast. It has lots of protein and vitamins and minerals from the 6 egg yolks and 3 bananas, and is not too sugary. I mean, it is definitely more healthy than eating a doughnut for breakfast.

I really hoped my pie would be better than as good as Jennifer's. But unfortunately, I made a mistake with the crust. Why do I do that?!? I always mess up one little thing. Also, I have never understood the expression "easy as pie", because I think one of the major components of pie, the crust, is not known for being easy. (Well, maybe with the exception of among the TWD bakers. I'm sure many are experts at pie crust.)

Actually this crust was pretty easy (thanks, Dorie!), and I was pretty confident that it was going to be a success. The suggested technique of rolling it out between sheets of waxed paper made that part easy peasy.

(I actually rolled it thinner, a little past the edges of the waxed paper, after I took the picture.) I think I got it into it's plate pretty OK.

So far, so good. Then I didn't bake it long enough. After the 25 minutes and taking the foil off, I thought it was supposed to be done. It didn't look done. So instead of checking the recipe to find out I am supposed to cook it for ten minutes more, I just thought "hmm, I'll put this in for another 5 or 6 minutes."

Then I took it out and filled it.

It was only this morning, while having a slice for breakfast (healthy, remember?), and instant messaging Jennifer about my crust being gummy, that I realized my error. So, I think I will scoop the filling into some bowls and serve it sans crust to the rest of my family this evening. If you want to try this pie, you can get the recipe on Sing For Your Supper.

(Note- undone crust, argh)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another thing to not do in a strip club

Last night, when I opened the bar I had one customer and one dancer. The customer sat at the bar while the dancer was on stage, then asked if I would send her over to him if he moved to a table. I called back to the dressing room and had her go see the customer, who was sitting against the wall furthest from the bar. She came hurrying back to the bar and said "I don't know where that guy is from, but someone should tell him he can't smoke in here." I sent a security guy to go tell him to put his cigarette out. It turns out, it wasn't just a regular cigarette. He was smoking a joint. He seemed really shocked that we thought this was a big deal and made him leave. It is not like this was a smoke filled bar, jammed with people, where one might be able to take a few hits without anyone noticing. (I remember a certain bachelorette party with a couple of local bloggers, when the bride-to-be was in a club smoking a bowl at our table, and my friend kept screaming hysterically. Even then, it was so crowded and smoky and loud, no one noticed.) He was the only customer in a big room, in a non smoking bar. He came back later and the manager made him leave. He was really baffled as to why he couldn't be there and wanted his money back.