Musing with Max

Musing with Max

February 5, 2012

Birthday Boy

Frank and I have been married a long time, this year will be 30 years, (I was a teenage bride?????) and dated a few years before so it's safe to say that we've spent an awful lot of birthdays together. By now we've stopped looking for that perfect birthday gift every year, who the heck needs another sweater and if you do buy it yourself that way you wind up with what you want and not have to go around wearing something you're not so crazy about but have no choice. As long as there's a card we're on the right track and usually we go out to a nice dinner and or plan a weekend getaway as a celebration. We couldn't get away this year and his birthday fell on a Wednesday so we went to his new favorite pizza restaurant and then he said "I'd like you to bake me a cake, I'll pick something out." And off he went to get The Cake Bible, a birthday gift to me from him a whole bunch of years ago, which scared the hell out of me. First of all, the cakes in this book are pretty fancy, and second of all; I may love to cook and cook all kinds of things but cake isn't one of them. Main reason, I don't like cake. Don't get me wrong I love desserts and sweets as much as the next guy...just not cake. It's always dry regardless of how moist people say it is, it's crumbly, it's boring, it's got frosting that's usually wayyyy too sweet and too much of it, clearly not my fave. But it is his birthday and that's what he asked for...and if anybody deserves it, its this guy. He gave me choices, picked three base cakes, all three were chocolate. I could choose the one I wanted to make and build it from there, frosting etc. ...except there was one more wish, it should have Bavarian Cream! What???? OK, the challenge is on.

Frank's birthday dinner

Oeufs a la Tripe or Gratin of hard boiled Eggs
adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home

6 eggs
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, sliced thin
bechamel sauce
3 tbsp unsalted butter
5 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups of milk
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
white pepper

Hard boil the eggs. Peel and reserve in a bowl of warm water.
Melt the butter in  a saucepan over low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until tender but not colored.
Prepare the bechamel:
Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk for about 2 minutes, do not allow it to color. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes whisking constantly to prevent sticking. Stir in the cooked onions and cook 5 more minutes.
Heat the broiler, slice the eggs. Spread a thin layer of the bechamel over the bottom of a gratin dish. Layer the egg slices over the sauce and cover with the remaining sauce. Broil the dish until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Roulles de Veau Bourgeoise or Veal Shanks with Pearl Onions and Mushrooms adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home

3 lb. veal shanks sawn into 6 slices each about (1.5 inches) thick
5 tbspns butter
¼ cup flour 

1 Bouquet Garni 
Salt and freshly ground pepper
30 pearl onions, peeled
1 clove
¾ lb. small button or quartered large mushrooms, trimmed and cleaned
2 egg yolks
Parsley leaves, to garnish

Put the veal in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface. Remove the veal and set aside. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid.
Melt 60 g (2 oz) of the butter in a large, deep frying pan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes without allowing it to colour. Whisk in 500 ml (16 fl oz) of the strained cooking liquid. Arrange the veal in the pan and add more cooking liquid as necessary to just cover the veal. Bring the liquid slowly to the boil scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure that the flour does not stick. Add the bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Then stud one of the onions with the clove and add it with the other onions to the stew. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, until the veal is tender when pierced with the point of a small knife.
While the stew is cooking, melt the remaining 15 g (0.5 oz) of butter in a medium frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook quickly until all the moisture has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms to the stew about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
When tender, transfer the veal to a serving platter with a slotted spoon. Spoon the onions and mushrooms around it. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl with a little of the hot cooking liquid. Return the mixture to the pan of cooking liquid and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the veal and garnish with parsley leaves. Serves 6

Serve with a spinach salad

and the birthday cake you ask

well I made one up!

Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake adapted from The Cake Bible

2.25 oz or 1/2 c + 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder (lightly spooned into cup)
8.25 oz or 1 liquid c boiling water
5.25 oz or 3 large eggs (weighed without shells)
2 1/4 t vanilla (no weight measure for this)
8.25 oz or 2 1/4 c +2 T sifted cake flour (I always used well sifted organic unbleached wheat flour)
10.5 oz or 1 1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder (no weight measure)
3/4 t salt (no weight measure)
8 oz or 1 c unsalted butter
All ingredients should be at room temperature, except boiling water.
Prepare cake pans : (2) 8″ or 9″ cake pans – grease the pan, line bottom with parchment paper and grease the paper.  Flour pans.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa and boiling water until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.
3.  In another bowl, lightly combine eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
4.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture.  Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
5.  Increase to medium speed (high-speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure.  Scrape down the sides.
6.  Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides.
7.  Scrape the batter into prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula.  The pans will be about 1/2 full.
8.  Bake 25 -35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.  The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
9.  Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and then cool them completely before wrapping them airtight.  Finished cakes will be about 1 1/2″ tall.

 Vanilla Bavarian Cream adapted from The Cake Bible

1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 TB gelatin (this is more than 1 envelope)
5 large egg yolks
1-2/3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split (or 1 ts vanilla extract--if using extract, add it after the sauce is cool)
1 cup heavy cream

Refrigerate the mixing bowl for whipping the cream. Have ready a fine strainer near the range, suspended over a small mixing bowl.

In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt, gelatin, and yolks until well blended with a wooden spoon.

In another small saucepan or heatproof glass measure (if using a microwave), heat the milk and vanilla bean to boiling point. Stir a few TB into the yolk mixture, then gradually add the remaining milk and vanilla bean, stirring constantly. Heat this mixture, stirring constantly, to just before the boiling point (170-180 degrees F). Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. It will leave a well define track when a finger is run across the back of a spoon. Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the strainer, scraping up the thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out into the sauce, stir to combine.

In the chilled bowl whip the cream until it mounds softly when dropped from a spoon; refrigerate this.

Cool the sauce in an ice water bath, stirring with a wire whisk until whisk marks barely begin to appear. The mixture will start to set around the edges but will still be very liquid. Whisk in the liquid vanilla at this point, if using. Fold in the whipped cream until just incorporated. The mixture will be soupy like melted ice cream. Remove at once from the water bath and pour into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours

not being very big on frosting, I heated two heaping tablespoons of cherry preserves in a small saucepan adding about 1/4 cup of water, poked holes all over one cake layer and brushed the cherry preserves over the top (froze the other layer for future)

Slice, serve with a spoonful of Bavarian Cream

He got his cake and ate it too! I think I'll be baking more cakes.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that whole dinner was a lot of work....

    and the cake is a thing of beauty and you can actually tell how delicious it by the picture!

    Digital deliciousness. Who knew?

    xo jane