|Amusing herself while waiting for the latest prescription!|
Julia's garlic mashed potatoes were a different story. They were extremely labor intensive. I had to boil about 30 cloves of garlic, and then peel them (ouch! hot on my fingers!) Then I had to slowly cook them in butter (without browning them? That was challenging.) Then I had to add flour (so... not gluten free here) and let the flour foam. Then I had to add boiling milk and cook. Then I had to puree. This was like pureeing wallpaper paste. My immersion blender wasn't doing it and I thought about putting it through the Vitamix, but then I questioned whether I'd be able to get the sauce out. I finally settled on pressing it through a sieve as Julia suggests. Then I had to rice the potatoes. And after it was all done, I was not impressed. The princess tried to throw hers on the floor. (This was not a critique of the food. Every meal has about a 70% chance of getting thrown to the dog.) Today the potatoes had a very garlic-y flavor to them and they are much better in very small doses. Perhaps the dinner itself was richer than I'm used to.
And then we got to the birthday cake. I have this cookbook called Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. I like this cookbook. I have made several cakes out of it and they have all been delicious. But I've only tried fairly easy cakes. I made the Irish Currant and Raisin Cake, the High Ratio Pound Cake (Lemon variation), the High Ratio Fresh Ginger Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze, and the Coconut Raspberry Layer Cake (easy because I already knew how to make a buttercream. I've made this one twice.) I frequently look at the pictures of the fancier cakes and mentally think about making them, but then I get intimidated and put the book away. Yesterday, though, I decided to be daring. Yeah, I miss the Daring Bakers and Lis. And I decided I would give one of the "scary" ones a try. I decided to try a meringue cake. Actually there's a picture of the Hazelnut Dacquois at the beginning of the meringue cakes chapter so I had a rough idea of what it was supposed to look like.
My only troubles with the recipe were "user error" type personal problems. They were that I could not find whole hazelnuts at the local Walmart and with sick baby I'm not traveling to the next county to look for hazelnuts (rural life problem anyhow). And the chopped hazelnuts were not skinned. This was not as big of an issue, I think, as it sounds. Maybe they weren't as pretty? Maybe they added a little bitterness? The other issue I had is that I think I don't know how to fold right. My egg whites got really deflated when I added the nuts and I had tons of Japonais batter left over. (It was delicious and I made little rounds and ate them. So I'm not really complaining about that!) I also somehow managed to undercook the Japonais layers. I think it had something to do with running out of parchment paper and wanting to get the roast in the oven. Also, my espresso powder was kind of old and when I mixed it with hot water it sort of smelled like beef bullion. It was fine when I added it to the buttercream. I just kept reminding myself of the Daring Baker challenges and how they didn't always go 100% perfectly.
|Very rich so cut small slices.|
Anyhow, I persevered. And this cake is super delicious! Like whoa! I think now that I've had some experience with the whole Japonais thing and now that I know this type of cake is not one I can fly through making while worrying about the napping princess, the next cake I make like this will be much better. Interestingly, while I was thinking about my sister because this was another gluten free recipe, I was also thinking about my brother. My brother's son is allergic to nuts and every time I make something with nuts I think about him. It is kind of nice that cooking makes me think about my family. I think about my mom every time I make pot roast too (but that's sort of a family joke.)
This is seriously one of the best specialty cookbooks I've got. I'm happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and made this cake. I'm also happy that it's in the back of my car being chilled by the second coming of the polar vortex and that I can take it in to work and leave it in the teacher's lounge. Otherwise, I could (and would) eat the whole thing.