June 22, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on German Chocolate Cake, which may or may not be the case, but I did have my own throwdown between Bobby Flay's recipe and the Best of Show Cook's Illustrated recipe. If you recall, it was a split decision.

So for Katie's birthday cake, I decided to try combining my favorite parts of each recipe into one hands-down winner.

German Chocolate Cake

I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe for the cake itself, but for the filling, I used Bobby's cajeta filling recipe. That cajeta is so delicious that I like to eat it by itself. I've also served it atop chocolate or vanilla ice cream. When I started making this batch of cajeta, I accidentally let the caramel base get too dark. Knowing it would make the cajeta bitter, I decided to make a fresh batch, but I drizzled designs on wax paper with the burnt caramel to make some decor for the cake plate. Um, ye-ah, that kind of worked, but not really.

I also made Bobby's coconut whipped cream and some ganache. The change I made was serving both on the side. Bobby's recipe instructs you to put ganache and toasted coconut and pecans on top of the cake. The ganache topping drew some complaints last time, so I put all those elements on the side of the cake plate so people could control the chocolate distribution.

German Chocolate Cake

I thought the result was a winner. This was one of the best cakes I've ever eaten.

June 21, 2010

Happy Birthday

Remember when I became an aunt?

Nancy Kay, 6 months

Now that baby is six months old and I can't believe it. Now I completely understand about everyone thinking their baby is the best, because Nancy Kay has all of us wrapped around her little finger. Katie is only just beginning to feed Nancy solid foods, but I secretly started sneaking her tastes of ice cream weeks ago.

Nancy Kay, 6 months

Nancy is already cooking with me. That is, I hold her while I'm flipping pancakes or eggs or chicken or whatever, and she supervises expertly. I'm determined that this kid will grow up with excellent food taste. No children's menus for her, with boring chicken nuggets or pizza. Isn't that what raising kids is all about? Teaching them to be just as wonderful as you are.


June 20, 2010

Fadduh's Day

When you think of Father's Day, you probably don't think of hoity toity French brunch food. Heck, you probably don't think of food period. But to me, a good holiday requires good food. I do have other vices besides gluttony, but that one happens to be my favorite. This Father's Day, I decided to go with something besides steak or grilled meat.

Daddy and I recently watched an episode of Good Eats together called Age of Asparagus. Asparagus is probably my favorite vegetable. Alton's recipe for Roasted Asparagus was very similar to my standard method, but he added lemon zest and fresh grated nutmeg. Alton also suggested serving the asparagus with a fried egg on top. I'd served asparagus with hollandaise before but never with a plain egg.

I decided to work the recipe into the Father's Day menu. I made Croque Monsieur sandwiches (Croques Messieurs?), which are hot ham and cheese sandwiches, the cheese being Gruyère, and there's also a Mornay sauce involved. I used this recipe for Croque Madame, but put the fried egg on top of the asparagus instead of the sandwich.

Croque Monsieur

For dessert, I tried a recipe that was new to me, Peach-Frangipane Tart. The markets are filled with glorious berries and stone fruit, and it makes me crave fresh fruit. I used a combination of yellow and white peaches for the tart. The tart has an almond base, peaches, and a peach preserve glaze. The hardest part is slicing the peaches thinly and cleanly. The rest of the recipe is a cinch.

Peach-Frangipane Tart

I did a couple dozen white and dark chocolate-covered tuxedo strawberries, too. Steak and potatoes it wasn't, but this menu was fabulous. I ate too much today. I have a great dad and had lots of reason to celebrate!