Monday, September 20, 2010

Another apple enthusiasm

After using up the Paula Reds (see below) in applesauce, bought the next bag to catch my eye at the local grocery in MI: Ginger Golds from Friske Orchard which is about 40 miles from us. Good eating out of hand. Small apples, kinda yellow but not as bright as Granny Smith. Very nice sweet tart flavor. Not something our ancestors enjoyed as are apparently a 20th century apple, created when an orchard crashed in VA due to Hurricane Camille and the owner found an accidental hybrid sometime later. Nice accident.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Beware Californians bearing fake cake

As we were wined and dined at their cottage last summer, our neighbors from the LA area and who spend 4 weeks in Northern Michigan each summer, were invited to dinner at our house last week. Husband Bob "caught" some really nice fresh salmon at the Tiki Fish Market. I roasted the home grown baby potatoes the tile man had gifted us with, ditto some green beans and threw together a lovely green salad with ranch dressing. But the piece de resistance which I was hugely proud of and salivating over all day, was going to be The Driskill's 1886 Room Chocolate Sheet Cake (Driskill = historic Austin TX hotel), which has got to be the best chocolate almost anything I have ever put in my mouth. In case you want to slam down the laptop and go to it right now, here's the recipe from Texas Home Cooking:


1 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup water

1/2 heaping cup cocoa (secret #1: Hersey's dark)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs beaten lightly

1 cup buttermilk (secret #2)

2 teaspoons vanilla (have used liquer of some sort before eg Cherry Herring, Cointreau)

1 heaping teaspoon baking soda


1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 heaping tablespoons cocoa

3-4 tablespoons half and half

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans toasted (yes, you need to do this step)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat over to 350. Grease and flour 9X13 pan.

Melt the butter in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add water and cocoa, stir well. Sift together flour, sugar, salt and stir into the chocolate mixture. In another bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda and add to the chocolate mixture. Pour into cake pan and bake 30 minutes oruntil toothpick comes out clean.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Melt butter with cocoa in another pan (can be smaller) over medium heat. Add the half and half, heat. Mix in the remaining ingredients ie nuts, blend well and remove from heat. Pour over cake while both are warm hopefully covering cake somewhat evenly but icing will flow to lowest points.

Unfortunately our guests arrived - bearing a (so called) chocolate cake! Turns out this was a Weight Watchers version made from (wait for it...) black beans and (I am not kidding) chocolate cake mix! The flavor was OK but the texture was something like chewing on chocolate erasers. I dutifully put a small piece of it next to the real thing on each plate although no one (even the Weight Watcher herself) opted to forego the real thing. Can't ever see making this kind of substitution a lifestyle choice, regardless of the wasteline.

Accidental best lasagna ever

Bought a box of those pre-cooked lasagne noodles on impulse - still don't trust them entirely. Had some left-over fresh tomato sauce from a previous pasta dish. Brought home a pound of ground chuck and some shredded mozzarella. That's as far as the planning went. Had to substitute cottage cheese for the ricotta and threw in a layer of spinach just for fun. Oh...also a little nutmeg on top of the spinach and meat as I've been craving Greek food lately. Stretched some spaghetti sauce with the tomatoes and built some layers. The best improv was that I didn't buy enough mozarella so had to cut little circles from the mozarella snack sticks and threw them over the top along with some shavings from a rind of old parmesan. Voila. Who wudda thought.