Oct 22, 2007

She: Ninjas + Food...

Okay, check this link out...Adventure Dining. Now, some people like a little...unique spice to their meals. Eating in the dark while blind waiters serve you is trendy now. Could be cool...but I'd be really worried about how clean the place is...I know. I have a suspicious mind. But this article, this boggles the mind. Or atleast, MY mind. Ninjas! "Ninja New York" is a restaurant where "the wait staff at Ninja New York has been rumored to leap out and startle visitors from the shadows, scale walls, mysteriously appear and disappear..." Thats right. The chef and the wait staff are all reported to be Ninjas serving you in ninja style.

I find this absolutely hilarious. BUT, not enough that I wouldn't actually go if it wasn't a bazillion dollars to eat there like I think it probably would. Of course, I do understand that its showy, and doesn't tell us about the food itself at all or if it's worth eating. But, as Mark says, restaurants are part of the hospitality industry, meaning they need to be hospitable and entertaining, since thats partly what you pay for. And I, just once, might like to be served my buffalo wings with stealth, smoke and mirrors.

Oct 17, 2007

She: Truffles galore

I went to the Oak Cafe and was served some scrumptious truffles. I bought a few to take home, and on the way FROM the cafe TO the car, it melted into a pool! So I decided to make my own. I used one of Mark's books, "Chocolate" by N. Malgieri...I usually stay away from it because its so...well, cheffy. A thousand silly ingredients and specific temps...if I can find a work-around, I will use it. But, not with chocolate. Too tricky. I decided to go crazy and make lemon flavored, dark chocolate truffles with milk chocolate coating. Ha! So here it goes:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs light corn syrup
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (72%)
grated peel of 2 lemons

Coating: 12 oz milk chocolate (50%) and a plate coated in dutch process cocoa powder.
First, cut your bittersweet chocolate into slivers and put it in a glass bowl with the lemon peel. Then mix cream, butter and corn syrup in a pan and bring to a low simmer. Remove from heat, and add to your glass pan of chocolate. Whisk smooth, and cool the mix for 2-3 hours in the fridge. Roll into balls and put on a cookie sheet, which you put back in the fridge for another hour.
Melt the milk chocolate to about 95, and let cool to the low 80's (F) and dip your truffles--I put the chocolate in my icecream scoop and then rolled the truffle around to coat. Let cool for a few minutes, then roll in the cocoa powder. Keep them chilled til you wanna eat them, then let them reach room temp. Yummy!

Oct 6, 2007

He: For the love of god...if you make nothing else...MAKE THIS CAKE!

How's that for a tagline? All due to the amazing cake that almost wasn't made.
Brandy and I were running through our area whole foods looking for ingredients. We were trying to find something that would inspire us to make a dessert with some of the apples that I had picked up earlier in the day (it's apple season right now...enjoy them while they rock). We talked about maybe some sort of turnover....nah. We talked about maybe making a pie...just too plain to really be us. I talked about some sort of thing that is in phyllo dough...that was shot down on the principle of being too cheffy (happens all the time in our house). By the time that we were out of the store we were really no closer to figuring out what we wanted to make with the damn apples...then it hit me....Scott's apple cake.

When I was working everyday at Watershed this cake went virtually unnoticed in my mind. I'm not sure if it's the leaden death-bomb quality of all of the peanut oil in it, or the almost gritty sugar glaze over the top. I never quite saw it for the beautiful thing that it is...just this wonderfully rich cake that beautifully shows off in-season apples. Sure...it does have a lot of sugar, and the glaze almost hurts it's so full of sugar...but if you don't attempt any other recipes on this site you must try this one!

Okay I just thought of one more thing that is kinda cool that you should know about this post...apples. The apples that the original recipe calls for are winesaps. Well, here in this part of California that isn't something that seems to be available right now. I ended up using pippins (which are a japanese creation crossing a yellow delicious with a granny smith). Also used were gravensteins, which I don't know the history of..but if anyone out there does please enlighten me. The last variety was some sort of crisp apple, as in there was 'crisp' in the name but I can't think of the variety now. When working on anything with apples it's always better to have more than one variety so that there will be greater depth of apple flavor (just one and it will be very monotonous as far as the apple flavor goes).

Here's the recipe:
1 C. packed light brown sugar
1 C. granulated sugar
1 1/2 C. vegetable oil (we used peanut oil at the restaurant..just make sure that the oil doesn't have any strong flavors...I bet grapeseed would be very nice in this)
3 eggs (at room temperature)
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground ceylon cinnamon (very important...most cinnamon is vietnamese, and it's way too spicy for this preparation)
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t. salt (fine grain sea salt preferrably)
5 ea. fresh apples peeled, cored and diced into 1/2" pieces (baking varieties)
1 1/4 C. coarsely chopped pecans
2 1/4 t. vanilla extract

The Glaze
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. packed light brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 C. heavy cream

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2) Mix the sugars and oil in a bowl until well blended
3) Add the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated
4) Sift together the dry ingredients and mix into the wet..stirring only to incorporate (if you overmix at all this cake will be really dense and hard)
5) Fold in the apples and pecans and vanilla
6) pour into a buttered and floured 9X13 inch pan and bake until the cake tests clean with a skewer (ours took 2 hours.....don't expect this to be accurate for everyone else. At the restaurant the cook time on this cake varied a lot! Start checking it after 1 hour)
7) Allow to cool in the pan completely (about an hour
8) To make the glaze melt the butter in a saucepan, add the sugars and salt, stir until well blended and cook over med-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, stir and bring to a boil...cook 2 more minutes.
9) Quickly poke holes with a skewer or fork all over the top of the cake, and with the hot glaze pour it over the cake.
10) Allow to cool slightly, and then enjoy this fantastic old southern treat.