August 2009 Archives

 

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. The Dobos Torte is composed of six layers of thin, delicate sponge cake, five of them encased in rich chocolate buttercream and the last drenched in lemony caramel and set jauntily atop the torte.

Once again, heat and humidity made this project a little trying, but it turned out much better than I expected given that all my sticks of butter turned molten mere seconds out of the fridge. You can probably tell that the buttercream was a little on the soft side, but the flavor was sublime. Meanwhile, the sponge cake layers puffed up like a dream, and the caramel was thin enough to spread but thick enough to crisp perfectly on cooling.

What most surprised me about this recipe was the amount of lemon juice in the caramel. It added quite a tang to the cake's flavor profile, and really kept it from being too cloying. I loved the combination of crunchy caramel and tender cake, at once insubstantial and sticky between the teeth, with flavors both mild and bold. Delicious!

More good news (although what could be better news than chocolate buttercream and caramel-coated spongecake, I don't know): it looks like things are going to be settling down around here in the next couple weeks. I'm even planning to start some serious kitchen projects this weekend, and I can't wait to blog about them. So hopefully The Brave Potato's long silent summer will be at an end very soon.

 

This month posting has been intentionally slow, but this post is unintentionally late — we had a prolonged internet outage, but service is back now, so I can tell you about this month's Daring Cooks Challenge. This month's host is Olga from Las Cosas de Olga (Spanish) and Olga's Recipes, and she chose a Spanish recipe, Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes by José Andrés.

I made a few substitutions on this recipe: baby artichokes for regular, arborio rice for paella rice, and I didn't see any cuttlefish (although I admit I didn't look terribly hard), so I substituted a mix of squid and baby octopus. I also made a second batch with whole chicken thighs. I'd never made paella, or anything paella-like, before, and I was particularly impressed by how quickly the rice cooked up. Both the chicken and the seafood versions were delicious, although I found that I was adding much more sofregit that the recipe called for to boost the flavor — I actually think my sofregit was a little on the bland side because i didn't let it simmer long enough.

After we had some of each version of the dish for dinner with some salad and bread, I mixed the two together and have been eating the leftovers for lunch. Yum!

 

The French Laundry Cookbook's veal stock has been on my to do list since before I started this blog, but apparently it wasn't enough of a challenge on its own: I had to put off making it until conditions were particularly difficult. When we first returned from Asia, in May, we sublet a studio apartment for a month. The apartment was lovely, in a beautiful neighborhood, and was endowed with a kitchen that we probably could have fit into the suitcase we were living out of. Seriously, I could barely fit my copy of The French Laundry Cookbook in there with me &mdash I tried putting it on the floor, but then there wasn't room for my feet. If I had two copies, I could have re-tiled the whole room.

But I had the veal bones, the stock pots, and, most importantly, the time. Plus, I had the model provided by one of my fave bloggers. So I plunged ahead, spending the better part of two days simmering, straining, and simmering again.

Of course, I also failed to locate any of my homemade tomato paste, so I had to resort to canned... without the help of a real can opener. Can you tell from the photo that I was never a boy scout?

Somehow it all worked out, however, and I ended up with a beautiful, sultry stock that perfumed the small apartment. Unfortunately, all of that chopping on a floppy cutting board balanced on sink edges, moving stock pots in and out of the hallway, and having to walk out into the other room to consult the cookbook temporarily exhausted my patience for tiny kitchens, and rather than cook anything with the stock, I froze it for later. It promptly became too hot to even think about anything that you would ever want to do with veal stock. The mere mention of braising, for example, causes me to break out in heat rash. But the stock will return! And I'm thinking French onion soup.

 

Things have been a little slow around here, and I'm afraid they're only going to get slower for the next few weeks. I just accepted a new job (hooray!!), and I think cooking and blogging will fall to the wayside while I am getting settled there. I have some very exciting projects lined up for when I get my new schedule sorted out, things that will really get back to the DIY kitchen spirit that got Brave Potato started, so please stick around!

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