I went to my parents’ house yesterday to help get decorations down from the garage, get the tree set up, and put out the Stair Bears. I was also planning on making this cake which didn’t quite make the cut into my upcoming holiday menus, but that I still wanted to make. Alas, my parents’ oven is on the fritz (it explains why things took so much longer to bake at Thanksgiving – I think only the gingerbread for the trifle baked in the time given in the recipe) which we only discovered after the initial 35 minutes had passed.

The three cakes were nowhere near done, so I switched them on the racks and put an oven thermometer in to see what was going on. Ten minutes later, instead of the 350 degrees that the oven said it was at, the thermometer only read 225! I ended up with cakes that were burnt on top and raw inside.

Alas, not even salvageable. 😦 But I’m planning on heading out next weekend to bake some cookies and since the frosting is safely in the freezer, I’m going to give this cake another try (after my parents have had time to get the oven fixed, that is).


Christmas Dinner Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Oof, it’s been a busy week and took me a long time to get the rest of our Christmas dinner written up, but now that we’re all settled in front of the Rose Bowl and I don’t really care too much about it, I thought I would finally sit down and not keep you all in suspense any longer! 😉

We had my first grand failure in quite some time, a Ricotta and Eggplant Tart With Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:

It was…not good. At first I thought it just wouldn’t look pretty, but it did not taste nice. At all. I tried a bit of it and promptly spat it back out again. It was just bland and had a weird texture, the spelt crust was tasteless (and a weird recipe that I ended up making twice) and it being served cold didn’t help either. Now, I’m entirely willing to admit that I may have done something wrong here – the recipe was given in weights and my mom doesn’t have a kitchen scale (except that she does – we just didn’t know it at the time), so there was lots of converting between weight and volume going on which never really works well. My mom made a roast from a recipe she found in the local newspaper which she and my dad thoroughly enjoyed, particularly the sauce. The biggest hit of the night was the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.

Which were amazing. They’re definitely going to give Michael Chiarello’s Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes a run for their money next Thanksgiving. Next up was Green Beans With Leeks, Lemon, and Feta which was very tasty:

And dessert was the other success of the holiday, a Cranberry White Chocolate Lime Tart:

It’s very nice – not super-sweet, there’s only a thin layer of the white chocolate and it’s cut by the tartness of the lime curd and filled out with a cranberry topping that’s sweet and tart. It’s holiday colors and entirely yummy – what more could you ask for!

Overall, though, I was a little disappointed in my recipe choices – everything was edible (with the exception of that horrible tart), but only the potatoes and the tart were things that I’d want to eat again.


Why, oh, why am I unable to properly cook linguine?!

Soooo, I came home from work today, fully prepared to get back to my treadmilling (Attn: Murderers, now’s your chance.). What did I do instead? I ate a cupcake and took a nap.

And then I woke up, dragged myself into the kitchen, and made a dinner full of heavy cream and undercooked pasta, aka smoked salmon, vodka, and pea pasta (I’m not linking you to it because that kind of backfired last time I didn’t like a recipe…). (Seriously, murderers, I’m not going anywhere fast for long at this rate.)

I’m not entirely convinced that the smoked salmon I used worked as a cooked ingredient – it kind of dried out – but it’s possible that I chose the wrong/low quality kind because, frankly, it smelled a little bit of hot tires which I’m thinking is not the expected/desired result. Really not worth the fish guilt. But it looks pretty, right?

Right. And I’m totally getting back on the treadmill tomorrow (or maybe Wednesday – I was on it yesterday, I swear!)…

Oi! Subconscious! Pick an idea and stick with it!

Uh, I had actually divulged my ideas for my new writing project to some of you and I have to say that, in the wave of a revelation about Henry, Ephraim, and Jack (who were previously on a timeout for being uncooperative [and poor Finny and her lighthouse never even crossed my mind]), Ned, Vera, and what’s-his-name (it’s probably not a good sign that I STILL haven’t come up with a name for my second lead) have now been sent to the corner to think about what they’re supposed to be doing.

So now instead of WWII, I’m focusing on Napoleonic!Britain/States? Or maybe Gold Rush!California/Australia…

Well, fuck. Or,…


I made the lovely plum cake over on Smitten Kitchen this evening. After the alotted time, I tested it with a toothpick and, since only the merest crumb stuck to it and not wanting to overbake it, I decided to take it out, thinking that it would just firm up that last little bit in the pan.

After letting it cool for 15 minutes, I went to turn it out of the pan. It promptly fell out of the pan and mushed itself onto my counter, a giant blob of uncooked batter and plums. I’m leaving this picture rather on the big side so you can get a good, horrified look at it!

The Dimply Plum cake from Smitten Kitchen aka DISASTER CAKE!

The Dimply Plum cake from Smitten Kitchen aka DISASTER CAKE!

Look at it. Mocking me with its unbakedness.

The most aggravating part is that I can’t call up my landlord to complain because the oven thermometer assures me that the temperature is correct. It has been suggested that perhaps the thermometer is faulty, but I find it hard to believe that, rather than identifying the temperature as -15 degrees or, you know, 4000 degrees, a broken thermometer would just HAPPEN to agree with the oven dial.

I broke off a corner of it where it was baked properly and it made me even more disappointed that it hadn’t turned out because damn it, it was tasty! I still have some plums left over, though, because Smitten Kitchen must have been using super-tiny plums – she got 16 plum halves into her 8×8 pan and I could only get 8 – so maybe I’ll have another go and just leave the fucker in the oven for, like, an hour.

August Daring Bakers Challenge!

I was starting to think that my Daring Bakers challenges might be like the Star Trek movies or Madonna albums,* but that theory was, unfortunately, not proved to be correct. I give you…my eclairs:

Now the first thing you’ll notice is that there is no chocolate here. That’s because I’m allergic (it’s the caffeine), so I decided to do pina colada eclairs with a coconut-rum pastry cream and pineapple glaze. Both of those turned out to be pretty good, especially the coconut-rum pastry cream (though that may be because there was rather more rum in it than I originally intended). The pate choux, on the other hand…well, it tasted fine, but it was definitely not puffy.

Actually, they were puffy when I took them out of the oven, but they started to sink almost immediately – did that happen to anyone else? My official statement is that it was due to the high humidity levels on the day, but I have no idea if it that’s true or if there was something I could have done differently.

Even though I was disappointed that they didn’t turn out to be beautiful, I figured that they’d probably still taste good, right? Wrong! Far too sweet for me. Again, alone, each part of the eclairs was very good, but together it was just overwhelmingly, cloyingly sweet. So maybe good for others – my mom gamely ate one – but not for me, I’m afraid. I think I’d try the recipe – or at least pate choux, in general – again (I’ve made successful cream puffs in the past – maybe I was overly confident when approaching the eclairs).

Also, I have to remember not to make these recipes all in one day – things go much more smoothly when I make only one or two elements at one go. By the time things were ready to be assembled, I’d kind of lost energy and interest in the project.

*Every other one is good.

Ahoy, matey! Thar be a recipe under here