Today I’m listening to my John Lee Hooker station on Pandora and baking for Christmas. I was going to try to make the Buche de Noel this year to bring to my mom’s house but changed my mind when Joel suggested I make a Battenberg cake (which is infinitely more portable than a cake shaped like a log and covered with meringue mushrooms). We first heard about this cake whilst reading the Thursday Next novels. The mother of the main character bakes these cakes and everyone seems to love them. So, here is it the recipe I’m using and here is a picture of the finished product. (Note the GIANT bowl of cake behind it.)
And now begin the problems: you’re supposed to be using two yellow cakes and dye one pink for the checkers but the store only had one box of yellow cake in the right size so I had to buy a chocolate one instead. Also, they didn’t have seedless raspberry jam. We saw another recipe that called for apricot so Joel picked out some apricot preserves that I had to heat and then run through a sieve to make sure it wasn’t lumpy. *sigh*
The final word:
So, uh, this cake is the most wasteful, annoying cake I’ve ever made. First of all, my marzipan had to have been on the old side because it as HARD AS A ROCK! I hurt my finger trying to knead it and I could barely get it to roll out.Then, after trimming away all the cake I didn’t need I was still left with about 1/2 of a cake left in little pieces that you can’t really do anything with all over the place. Fortunately, I have a back-up plan: cakeballs. Yes, yes, that bastion of American tastefulness! Le lazy-man’s truffle! Behold!
Additionally, as you may have noticed, there are some days missing. I believe it was Friday when I made the black bean burgers from Sandra’s Money Saving Meals. I followed the advice in the comments section and let my mix sit in the fridge for about an hour before making the burgers and it definitely made a difference in the workability of the mix. I also added the recommended spices: 1/4 teaspoon coriander and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. I made one final change on my own: 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that I had left over from another recipe. If you like Morningstar’s Spicy Black Bean Burgers you’ll flip over this. I even went so far as to follow this blogger’s advice regarding making my own burger buns that came out spectacularly.
Also, on Sunday I made Superchunk Banana Bread. Again, I had a bunch of stuff left over from other recipes and this seemed like a perfect place to use it. I started with a basic banana bread recipe and added in, well, super chunks. In the first loaf I added candied ginger, apricots, and hazelnuts. The second loaf was raisins and almonds. Each of the “chunk” ingredients got a rough chop and that’s about it. Needless to say, the first load is almost gone while the second loaf, although good, is still only about half way through.
And finally, last night for dinner I made potato gnocchi.
I’d post the recipe but I can’t. Here’s how the story went: My family made about 10 pounds of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and had about 6 pounds left over. Since everyone in my family is consistently on a diet I take home pretty much all the leftovers from every family event. So, my grandmother looks at this HUGE bowl of potatoes and says, “for this much you need 3 eggs, a hand full of spaghetti cheese, and as much flour as it will take.” Ummm, yeah. So, I’d say, if I had to guess, the recipe goes something like:
for every 2 pounds of mashed potatoes you need:
1/2 cup parmesan, or whatever. I have a fontina, asiago blend
salt and pepper to taste
and, because I was in the mood, I added some Italian herbs to the mix.
once that’s all mixed up sprinkle in flour by the handful and stir until a dough forms. I kept adding a little at a time until the dough was juuuuuus barely not sticky but was still sticky enough that you had to flour your hands to work with it. . . .it’s not a science people!
After that I measured it dough out into 1 pound baggies and froze it for when I’m in a pinch for dinner or I’m feeling like an Italian feast. This is SERIOUS “stick to your ribs” food.
Oh, and to get that cute shape you need a fork. Preferably one with long, straight tines. First, take your dough and roll it out into snakes just like when you play with play dough. Then cut each snake into small, bite-sized pillows. You can eyeball it but don’t get crazy: 1/2 inch at most. Then place the pillow on the fork and, using your thumb, press and curl the gnocchi down the tines and around your thumb. Voila! Seashell shapes! This lady does it differently then we do but it seems to work just as well. Maybe next time I’ll remember to show you how to do it my way.
Whew! That’s a lot of cooking. . . but, I do eat every day.