Once again, I got a craving for coconut, which is on the top of the Controversial Ingredient list. I decided that I would give the Cherry Macaroon Tart from 101 Cookbooks a try – mostly because macaroons are the one coconut-based dessert that I can usually be trusted to like.

And because there’s something very soothing about pitting cherries without a cherry pitter.

And I lucked out! This is very good – the coconut is moist and not too stringy or chewy even though it is the main flavor of the tart. I only wish I’d used more cherries – I think the dish I was using (a 9-inch round rather than her recommended 8×11) was smaller which made for a higher coconut to cherry ratio than I think I’d like. Also, the cherries I had were almost abnormally large. If they’d been smaller, there would have been more in the 1/2 pound of cherries the recipe called for and perhaps more evenly distributed.

As you can see, it did suffer from First Slice Syndrome, but it was still very tasty…

I have to admit, though, that I actually made this a few days ago, but I was too full from the yummy, yummy huevos rancheros from the always fabulous Smitten Kitchen I made to taste it.


July Daring Bakers Challenge!

So this month’s Daring Baker challenge was…let me get this correct…a Filbert Gateau With Praline Buttercream. My first question was ‘What the hell is a filbert?’ Unfortunately, the recipe was not much help at all, calling, as it did, for not a single filbert. It did call for hazelnuts, so…maybe filberts are hazelnuts when they’ve been cooked/baked? My second question, I have to be honest, was ‘And this is different from the Opera Cakes we made…how?’

But I figured it’d be fun to get a second try at a nut-based cake and a first try at making the other kind of buttercream and a proper carob ganache. However, based on my appreciation of the opera cake, I decided to halve the recipe (I’m afraid this sort of cake just isn’t my favorite kind of thing). I should have taken some pictures to demonstrate the scale of it because it’s quite cute, being all small and everything.

However, halving the recipe was a bit of a challenge as it called for 5 egg yolks and 7 egg whites. Rather than weighing them out and then taking half of that, I decided to sort of split the difference and do three of each…which may have altered the consistency of the cake somewhat (it was surprisingly dense – more like a quickbread than a light, airy cake), but was not untasty. Mostly I was impressed with the ganache – the carob behaved amazingly well and set just like it was supposed to.

And everyone else that I foisted this cake off on insisted that they really liked it, so it really must just be me.

And now for a couple of pictures:

Looks nice enough, right? Not from the side!

If I’d been thinking about it, I would have mushed the layers of cake down a bit more – as it was, the ganache split between the layers. So, yes, more successful cake, more successful buttercream, whipped cream (impossible to mess up, really), same for the sugar syrup – which means that it was definitely a worthwhile project.

Click on the Daring Bakers icon at the top there to see lots of other (more beautiful) cakes!

Summer blockbuster tally, part 8

I haven’t seen an episode of The X-Files in absolutely ages, but I was still looking forward to seeing the new movie. It was fun to catch up with Agents Mulder and Scully (though they’re no longer agents, I think), but I felt like there were a lot of things that I missed – most having to do with their relationship to one another – very confusing!

Plotwise, I think it just felt like an extra-long episode of the series, nothing really special. Things felt a little disjointed and confusing – just like the series, I guess. And it was a bit gruesome, but that’s to be expected, I suppose. Unfortunately, I think it was a little…boring.

But it has made me want to go back and re-watch the series to see if it still holds up, so that’s where I’ll be for a while!

Summer blockbuster tally = 4-3-1

ETA: Carp! Sounds like there was a post-credits tag scene, but I didn’t know about it to stay – anybody out there in Internet-land know what it was? I’ll be searching for a download otherwise…

Look who’s back!

It’s not the drones – I haven’t seen them since the wasps showed up (don’t worry, I…took care of them) – I think it must be a female since it’s not all black like the drones are and doesn’t have the white spot in its forehead like the drones do.

It was really enjoying the meyer lemon plant – climbing around all the flowers and sticking its head right inside. And look how furry it is! So cute!

Boldly gardening what no one has gardened before…

I opened the door to my balcony this afternoon to go out and water everybody and promptly stopped and said ‘Holy fuck!’

Apparently, I have discovered a new species of cucumber: Stealth cucumber. I’ve been repeatedly checking on this little fellow:

and was concerned that no progress was being made. What made me stop and swear today was the sight of this:

Amazing! I honestly have never seen that cucumber before and have no idea where it came from. In sadder news, I was very excited to see that my tomatoes were finally ripening. Looks good, doesn’t it?

But then I turned it over:

Disaster! Anybody out there know what happened? Did I leave it on the vine too long and it started to rot or is that some kind of tomato infection or something? I’m a little concerned about the meyer lemon tree.

If all those flowers turn into meyer lemons, I fear I will be overwhelmed!