November 29, 2010

baking therapy: chocolate chiffon cake

I recently purchased the Tartine Bakery cookbook and it is wonderful! The recipes are well written and clear, the photos are beautiful and now I get to learn the secrets behind of the tasty delights from Tartine that I love so much!

For our second Thanksgiving dinner with Jordan’s parents, my parents and their neighbors, I spearheaded the dessert course armed with my new cookbook. There are so many wonderful things to choose from, but I decide to go with something relatively easy.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Vanilla Pastry Cream

I’ll briefly describe the recipe. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix egg yolks, water, and oil. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add lemon juice and zest. Fold these three mixtures together and pour into a springform pan. Bake for about an hour in a 325 degree oven. Let cool and then unmold.

You’ll end up with a four inch tall, very impressive looking cake. I was pretty proud when that puppy came out of the oven … and didn’t collapse.

The pastry cream is like making any sort of custard. Whole milk, salt, eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, and cornstarch plus heat. Also fairly easy, but requires a great deal of attention. There is no going back from burnt milk or curdled eggs!

Conclusions: The cake was good – chocolatey, moist, of the appropriate density. The vanilla bean pastry cream might just be my new favorite accompaniment. I can’t really think of anything that wouldn’t be good with it! A sprinkling of fresh berries would have made this dessert outstanding. Next time!

-Emily

quick cauliflower

We’ve been getting really into cauliflower lately … sauteed cauliflower, baked cauliflower, broiled cauliflower, maybe even braised cauliflower … perhaps because it’s cheap, but certainly because it’s delicious.

We made this quick side dish last night with ingredients we had languishing in the fridge.

Cauliflower with Fontina, Chives and Chili Flake
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 T olive oil
Salt, pepper, chili flakes
Chives, sliced
1/2 -3/4 cup grated fontina cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flake. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, or until fork tender. Turn oven to broil. Sprinkle with fontina. Melt cheese under the broiler for a few moments. Sprinkle with chives and enjoy!

-Emily

brunch

I have a complicated relationship with brunch: I love breakfast foods. I love lunch foods. I love waking up late and still getting to enjoy breakfast in the company of friends. BUT… I hate waiting in line. I hate even more waiting in line for mediocre food (as brunch food out often is). I’ve struggled with these dueling desires for the last few years, especially during my stint in Washington D.C. where brunch is oh so fashionable. Last weekend I decide to host a brunch for a few friends hoping to maximize the elements of brunch I enjoy and minimize those that I don’t.

The Menu

Fresh Berry Tart with vanilla bean pastry cream (recipe courtesy of my new Tartine Bakery cookbook!)

Breakfast Pizza with fontina, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, eggs and chives (recipe by Jordan)

Hash Browns

Orange-Cranberry Scones (baked expertly by Jeff Quinn)

And of course, mimosas

(That goopy brown bit in the upper right is the hash browns. While not visually appealing, they were tasty).

Jordan and I diligently prepped all we could the night before and the cooking went splendidly that morning. Everyone showed up! The food turned out wonderful! The dishes were simple, but very satisfying. It was fun and relaxing – a perfect brunch! And the best part … No lines!

And perhaps one of the best compliments I’ve received lately from my dear friend Jeff: “… and I thought the gays had a monopoly on brunch!”

And just one more picture of my tart …

-Emily

pizzeria delfina

It’s no secret that Jordan and I both love pizza. We’ve walked by Pizzeria Delfina (18th and Guerrero in the Mission), and its sister restaurant Delfina several times and always been jealous of the diners. The food looks and smells incredible, there’s great outdoor seating and always a crowd waiting. So after a Greyhound happy hour at Doc’s Clock (21st and Mission), we decided to treat ourselves to pizza. We strolled over, put our name in and were seated outside with our pup almost immediately. (I was shocked that we were seated so quickly, but I guess we just had perfect timing because a serious crowd had formed as we finished our meal).

The waitress brought us breadsticks and a little dish of parmesan, chili flake and oregano to start (and a bowl of water for Willow – very sweet). We ordered two pizzas – the margherita ($12.5) and the special funghi ($16), which had maitake mushrooms and fontina cheese.

The pizzas were wonderful! They both had a nice balance between bread, sauce, cheese and toppings. For me, the funghi pizza was out of this world. The mushrooms were so earthy and they paired perfectly with the fontina cheese. Overall, I really enjoyed the whole experience – great atmosphere, wonderful food, a well-behaved dog.

We stopped by Bi-Rite Creamery for a gigantic soft-serve ice cream cone ($3) for dessert. The vanilla was delicious, the chocolate mint was a little overpowering. I’ll stick with just vanilla next time.

Conclusions: We’d go back to Pizzeria Delfina in a second. I kind of want to go again tonight!