Saturday, June 16, 2007

don't have much to add

except to say that (and I'm sure if he could stop stuffing his face for a quick sec, my friend here would agree with me) the cake tasted much better on the second day. I don't know how other cake eaters feel, but I'm a bigger fan of heavy and dense , rather than the light and fluffy. Bundt cakes, pound cakes, etc. I think that I'd really like fruit cakes too if they didn't have all that crap in them. After a day of chilling - in the literal sense. In the fridge - our cake achieved that heavy spongy consistency. Not like lady fingers, but like bunny bread after you mush it a little, but not completely. The flavor of the cake was also a little more apparent after chilling. It tasted more chocolatey ... or really even coacoa-y (they seem to taste different). I guess also I'm gonna throw in a picture of the aforementioned lovely Jen Leslie and the lovely Saint, mainly because this picture sums up much of how I feel about baking, which is to say, maybe 90% satisfaction/bliss, 10% anxiety. And that 10% represents different things throughout the baking process: salmonella, food poisoning, failure, indigestion ...

Friday, June 15, 2007

velvet jones and the five bottles

The other contributors seem to have a good handle of describing the food. I guess I'll talk about the drink part of the adventures.

Last night was red velvet cake night (made with beets instead of food coloring) at Chez Turducken where guest were encouraged to wear red and/white or even velvet and to bring a bottle of wine.

In addition to the bottles that were already at my house, four people brought a bottle of wine. Gastronaut Jennifer brought an Australian shiraz cabernet from Lindemans Cawarra. A very very good ratio of taste to cost. Ciara brought some Fat Bastard, also a shiraz. Jen Leslie aka JR Lovely supplied a Beaujolais from Louis Jadot. An Italian desert wine Nivole moscato d'asti was presented by Derek. And we had a Coppola merlot from my stash. The desert wine was quite tasty with the cake.

Despite the time it took to make, the frosting was quite the hit thanks to the lifeline that Benjamin called. Thanks Ben!!!!!!!!!

Red Velvety Goodness

Our most recent Gastronauts get-together was envisioned as a southern cooking potluck, but shortly after its conception we dropped the idea to focus on southern baking: the Red Velvet Cake. The event took place in Anthony's kitchen where Gastronauts (and friends) prepared the cake with the help of a red Kitchenaid stand mixer. Attendees were encouraged to wear red and/or white and/or velvet and to bring a bottle of red or white wine.

The recipe posed some challenges: using a double boiler to melt the chocolate (we didn't have one) and cooked frosting (this always scares me because it's so complicated). We finally gave up on our makeshift double boiler and put the chocolate in the microwave to melt it. A lifeline was called to assist with the frosting dilemma - we needed to whip more air into it.

Everyone pitched in to help in the preparation - buying ingredients, accurate measuring, cleaning up, opening and pouring wine. One contribution I made was buttering and flouring the pans. This is one of my favorite parts of baking mainly becuase I'm reminded of my mom baking cakes when I was a girl. When she would flour the pans, her wedding ring would tap the side of metal of the pan signalling that we would soon have a yummy treat. That sound makes me very happy.

Overall, our baking experiment was a success. The cakes were moist (though not very red) and the white frosting was fluffy and sweet.

Photos to come.

Monday, June 11, 2007

two strikes and its a cookout

Last Thursday three fourths of the gastronaut crew headed downtown for some Mexican fare. The trip resulted in the first aborted mission of the crew. The destination, Jazz Tacos, was closed - CERRADO.

A Gambit Weekly review reports their hours as breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday. So why were they closed? There was no sign on the door but my guess is that they were preparing for the Cocina Latina part of the Creole Tomato Festival. (posts about the fest to follow)

Here's a pic of the menu that could have been.

With Mexican food on the mind, we headed to Santa Fe on Frenchmen. At least we thought Santa Fe was still on Frenchmen. Whadayano?! Strike two. Santa Fe is no longer and is now La Vita del Forno. Actually not yet, the new restaraunt had yet to open.

What to do? What to do? Luckily, a friend of mine passed by in a car as we were standing on the corner dumbfounded. She reminded me of the cookout on the neutral ground of Esplanade at Rampart that the guys in the Bally Who do on ocassion. The Bally Who? What? I don't know. Third base!
Since two thirds of the three fourths of the gastronauts don't eat the pork and the beef. We made a detour to the Frenchmen market to stock up on non-meat and liquids. Foster's oil cans were chosen as liquids and cheddar cheese was choosen for the grill (we could at least have cheese sammiches). The omnivore of the bunch opted for a small bag of the tobasco flavored Zapp's chips and a yogurt drink I believe.
With supplies in hand, we headed over to Esplanade to look for the tandem bike with a grill instead of a second seat. We found the grillmasters with a cooler of food and a cooler of beer. The first thing to go on the grill was sausage. I'm not sure what kind of sausage since I didn't try any of it. At some point green onions were grilled for cebollitas. Burgers made it on the grill. And a mixture of vegetables - squash, red bell pepper, etc - were grilled in pockets of foil. I put some grilled veggies on a toasted bun for a lovely sammich. I think I may have made a toasted cheese sammich also.
At some point, conversation at the cookout turned to swimming pools, specifically the old pool at Audubon Park. I mentioned that there used to be a big pool in front of the zoo and now there is a smaller one. Another member of the gastronaut crew called me out on it and said that there is no pool in front of the zoo. One of us intiated a bet. The loser of the bet would have to wear something a bit out of the ordinary to work for three days in a row (without washing). If I lost, I would get a traffic cone orange faux-hawk. If the other party lost, she would have to wear shrimp boots and a sunrise-sunset t-shirt. A contract was written, signed, and "notarized" by the Bally Who. And we planned to go to the park on lunch break the next day to settle the bet.

After a couple of hours at the cookout, we left to meet up my friends Jennifer and Noy at Mimi's. There we had poinsettias and a Shirley Temple and enjoyed some string music for a bit. It was one of the last nights in town for Jennifer and we all decided to get a bit crazy and go to 80s night at One Eyed Jacks with all the Bridge and Tunnelers. Much High Life was consumed, much dancing was done, and much perspiration was released. Some how a large Sharpie ended up in my hand and began bumping into folks on the dancefloor. Wonder how that happened?
At the end of the night at OEJ around 3:30, the group planned to sneak in to the swimming pool at the W. However, on the way there the mission was aborted. Oh well, shower at 4am instead of a pool.