Thursday, June 28, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
The Revs match last Saturday in Foxboro vs the Chicago Fire was the sort of event only slightly crazy fans turn up for. It rained. Sideways. Pretty much all day. These things are not ordinarily conducive to standing outside for three hours and grilling food.
Well, call me crazy, but there is something really fun about braving the elements for a foul weather game. For one, I knew going into the day I'd be surrounded by good friends. We huddled under tents (thanks, Julie). We got soaked through all 4 layers of clothing. We got free hot chocolate (thanks, Julie). The Revs won!
Gee, a girl could really get used to this "winning" (or, as some might say, "#nguyening") thing the Revs sometimes do this season.
On the menu this week: Grilled apple & brie quesadillas. I served it with a spinach, strawberry, and honey roasted almond salad. Apparently, I have a sweet tooth.
If you're a novice in creative veggie grilling, quesadillas are a pretty great place to start. They're really easy to make and you can put pretty much anything that tastes good with cheese inside.
Grilled Apple & Brie Quesadillas
2 medium onions, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
palmful of thyme
palmful of rosemary, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ten-inch tortillas
2 medium tart apples, thinly sliced
8 oz brie cheese, thinly sliced
1. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the onions, vinegar, sugar, thyme and rosemary in oil for 10 minutes or until onions are soft and brown.
2. Brush one side of a tortilla with olive oil. Place, oiled side down, on heated grill. Layer apples, cheese, and spoonful of onion mixture on one side of the tortilla. Fold in half and cook until cheese is
melted and tortilla is lightly browned.
Before I go, I have an unrelated, but very important aside to share:
I took an adventure into East Boston to sample Lobster Rolls and fried clams at Belle Isle Seafood while my sister was visiting from out of town last week. Those of you familiar with Anthony Bordain may recall that this was the very seafood joint he visited in the Boston episode of his show, No Reservations. Our visit to Belle Isle was no accident - Chris is pretty obsessed with Anthony Bordain. It was, without a doubt, the best lobster roll I've ever had. And I got to watch planes land while I ate it!
Friday, June 1, 2012
But when birthdays come around, there is no alternative. There must be birthday cake! For Chris's birthday, I was determined to bake a cake that was creamy and flavorful and not too sweet. This toasted coconut cream cake fit the bill. Baking it was a serious undertaking. I dirtied half the dishes in the kitchen: a baking sheet, a saucepan, three bowls (including the mixer), two cake pans. Not to mention it took me half a day to bake.
The effort was worthwhile and the cake was delicious. If you are a fan of coconut, this cake's for you. I followed the recipe exactly, with no modifications. If you're giving it a try, I have two suggestions:
1. Make the custard and simple syrup a day ahead to save yourself a lot of time.
2. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the buttercream frosting was a little too buttery and not quite sweet enough. I would increase the ratio of powdered sugar to butter if I made this again.
Here is Bobby Flay's recipe, unedited. It can be found at www.foodnetwork.com:
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Coconut Simple Syrup:
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons coconut rum (recommended: Malibu)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup coconut custard (recipe above), cold
- 3/4 cup very cold heavy cream
- 3 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
- 3/4 cup coconut custard (recipe above) (cold)
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons softened butter, for pans
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, slightly cold
For the toasted coconut:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread the coconut evenly onto a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden brown, stirring once, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the coconut sit in the oven until very dry and crunchy, about 15 minutes longer.
- For the simple syrup
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
For the custard:
Combine the milks and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
For the filling:
Combine the custard and cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
For the buttercream:
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
Whisk together the milk, egg whites, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With mixer running at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pan and smooth the tops using a rubber spatula.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Cool in the pan on baking rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the side of the pan and invert cakes onto the baking rack, removing parchment paper, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.
Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Reserve 1 of the flat bottom layers for the top of the cake. Place another layer on a cardboard round cut side up and brush with some of the coconut simple syrup. Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the cake and using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with 2 more layers. Brush the cut side of the reserved cake layer with the remaining syrup. Place the layer cut side down on top of the cake.
Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. Pat the coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkle the remaining coconut on the top of the cake.
Yup. That's a seriously long recipe. If you're brave and you try it, let me know how it turns out!