Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cook The Book May–Dessert / Posted by J.K.

This is my second attempt at this cake (an extremely moist chocolate-beet cake,"page 54 of Nigel Slater's Tender). I have somehow misplaced my springform pan, which I didn't discover until the last minute, so I made the first one in a nine inch cake pan with an aluminum foil collar. It was delicious, but it didn't look like much. Angela offered me a box of three springform pans. The biggest one was too big and the smallest one was too small. The just-right size is heart-shaped, which isn't seasonal but seems appropriate for a cake that's tinted red by the beets.

The instructions weren't very clear, so the first cake was a learning experience and the second one was a lot easier to make. I started by preparing all my ingredients. First I chopped my frozen butter and measured the dry ingredients. Chopping the butter gives it more surface and enables it to melt faster.

The recipe calls for cooking raw beets, but I cheated and bought a can of beets. The one pound can gave me the half pound of beets I needed. I cut the little beets in half and pureed them with my immersion blender. I had one cup of beet mush.

I weighed my chocolate. Chopping isn't necessary. Two minutes in the microwave will melt any quantity of chocolate.

Then I separated my eggs. One yolk broke, but that isn't important, as they get stirred together before being added.


All the ingredients (except the hot coffee), ready to go!
I added the hot coffee to the melted chocolate.

And stirred in the butter, covering it completely.

When the butter was melted, I added the egg yolks.

 Then it was time to go to the mixer. I beat the eggs whites with the whisk, then slowly added the sugar and switched to the silicone paddle to stir in the chocolate mixture and then the dry ingredients. With this attachment, folding by hand is not necessary. Just make sure the ingredients to be folded are distributed evenly over the top of the egg whites. The pouring collar, however, is necessary to keep the dry ingredients inside the bowl.

If you overbeat your egg whites (you'll know because they'll look like little rocks), just add another white and beat until it's incorporated and you have a solid mass again.

Prepared pan, lined with parchment and a lot of Baker's Joy spray.
Filled pan.

The cake, right out of the oven.
 The top edgges are a little overdone, but the sides look fine. And Tea Time likes the crunchy parts! If I make this cake again, I'll take it out five minutes sooner, or cover the top edges with aluminum foil halfway through, like a pie.

The cooled cake, out of the pan.
The cake is now securely wrapped and residing in my freezer, waiting to be served during the potluck at the next Swap on June 9.

I also cheated by using instant coffee. This little gadget is a whistling teapot for the microwave. The red tongue keeps the water from splattering (no, it really doesn't explode) when you pour it over the coffee.


Don't Fear the Tender Fava- Cook the Book

The Tea Time Adventurers are on the ball! Yes, this month we strove not to wait until the last minute to dive into Tender by Nigel Slater, our Cook the Book for May. Angela acquired her copy from the library the last week of April and paged around a tiny bit. Tea Time exchanged texts comparing its size and heft to the Joy of Cooking and the Bible. However Angela isn't ready to trade in her paper for electric words yet, so she built some muscle and hauled it home. The reason this cookbook is a brick becomes apparent once you read a couple entries. Tender is an almanac of sorts, with its information feeding both cook and gardener. It's organized by vegetable (but not vegetarian, this man loves his pork!) with a section about the growing season, plant and its edible bits in addition to the recipes/pairing suggestions.

Angela once had a Bad Experience with Fava Beans. The first time she ever cooked them in a dish they rendered it compost! Their horrible bitter flavor made her wonder what the heck could ever make them edible. Enter Tender. She decided to focus on this challenge vegetable and started cooking with it asap May 1. Which in the end turned out to be a good thing, because by the date of their Tender lunch, it turns out Fava Bean season was Over at her local produce market! Holy Cow, that was fast. Reading the mini-chapter on FB in the cookbook (pages 231-250) had led her to believe they could be found year round (or at least the whole summer). So in the end while Angela did make and enjoy Fava Bean Hummus, Fava Bean soup (pureed with avacado), and just ended up cooking Fava Beans and taking them as a snack to work there aren't any pictures! She thought there would be time enough during the month to catch them in all their glory. So alas and alack, while our lunch was not as Favacentric as planned, the substitute veggies still made a it a happy green occasion!

For lunch, Angela made Creamed Leeks (leeks subbed for the Fava Beans), Avacado "hummus" (not quite a guacamole) and a combo of two recipes that made one delish Fava Bean Salad (yes, actual fava beans were eaten, they were still in the fridge, happily they didn't make it in the lunch bag). J.K. brought the dessert (but of course), a Chocolate Beet Cake (page 54). She spills the beans on this "Red Velvet" cake in another post. Helpful hint to bakers from Tea Time: If you want your red velvet cake to be RED, don't mess with nasty fake food coloring. Let nature help and Use Beets!

Waiting to sit and eat.
A Tender lunch. The first time I've made creamed veg with Cream.
Two into one Fava Bean Salad. Radishes, Feta, Parsley, Mint, Bacon, Fava, Scallions=YUM-O.
Avocado "hummus". The fava bean version Angela made earlier in the month was smooth and light.
Creamed Leeks (replaced favas in recipe). Very good.
Fava salad closeup, a bit of everything.
This cake was even better as cool leftovers from the fridge. Delicious!
Angela will be on the lookout for Fava Beans now that she knows their secrets. (For Mature Beans--Boil, then peel the second skin!) But ideally the world will catch onto the idea that Fava leaves are delish and baby favas are so easy to cook (no boiling, no bitter, no peeling!) and bring them to my local market/farmers market. Maybe since there is a week left of May we'll try another veg, maybe celery root? Even if we don't cook anything else from this book for this post, it will be a great reference to anyone who gets a challenge vegetable in their CSA Box.

I can't wait until next year, when fava leaves and baby fava beans are back at the Food Swap, ready to trade. Gimme!! *
 Happy Summer, and Happy Abundance! The gardeners are starting their harvesting, so now is the perfect time to branch out and eat fresh. What's your favorite seasonal summer dish?

*photo stolen from the FS facebook page. Thanks dudes. 


I stopped by the Heart of the City Farmer's Market on Weds and look what I found. The last of fresh picked asparagus and fava beans! I love the Market for several reasons, but this really made my day. I bought what I thought was a lot, but it turned out to be just right for a oversized dish of Creamed Fava Beans. This farmer also had dried fava beans, only $1 a bag, so I have some to make Fava Bean Hummus at a later date.

My pile of fava beans (fresh and dried) plus asparagus.

Big favas on the left, smaller favas to the right. They cook for a different amount of time.
The fava bean, upper left. The "parchment" shells from my pile. (That's what Nigel calls them.)

I should have let the cream cook down a little more, but I was too hungry to wait for dinner.

A bonus picture of my asparagus with onion and bacon.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Meals on Wheels Star Chefs and Vinters Gala--savories

A sparkling welcome!
There are many foodie events in San Franciso, but one of the best and brightest is the Meals on Wheels of San Francisco Annual Star Chefs and Vinters Gala which takes place at Fort Mason. They hold it in the Festival Pavillion which is transformed from a concrete cavern into a posh party haven for the night. Tickets to the Star Chefs and Vinters Gala are dear to the wallet (with most of the price tax-deductible), but worth it both for the hors d'oeuvres reception where wine and cocktails abound, followed by a sit down dinner and live auction. The night is complete with a dessert reception and DJ who rules the dance floor. When you attend, you'll find foods both innovative and outrageous, beautiful and bountiful, not to mention abundant! Every corner turned presents a new untried savory or treat, plus a chance to speak with the staff of the restaurant. The Chefs are personable and fun, but working hard to feed you, so don't monopolize their time even though it's tempting to pick their brains about food. Also, you need that time to scout all the vendors and maybe hurry over to the revolving line at Hana Japanese, which never seems to get shorter, but always has new faces at the front. It appears that a raw sushi bar wins you a lot of friends, so keep that in mind for your next party!

Check in and get your paddle arm ready!
I was lucky enough to enjoy the wine and savories reception as well as the post dinner dessert reception because I volunteered my time to work at the Gala. Each year MOWSF puts out the call for volunteers, so if you're interested in donating your time as opposed to your mucho dinero there are many positions for every type of personality. I got this info from a follow up thank you email (which, really, letting me sample the plates prepared by star chefs was thanks enough, but MOWSF will kill you with kindness--they truly appreciate volunteers!). I think it's pretty awesome and I'm proud to have contributed.
  • 320 volunteers contributed an average of 4 hours of their time on Sunday, yielding an in-kind mass volunteer donation of $30,720!!!
 I took a lot of pictures, almost 200. Amazingly I don't think I did get pictures of All the food. There were a lot of patrons and guests at this event and to be honest I don't like to go around announcing my blog. This may seem contrary to the fact that Tea Time wants people to read our blog; however I much prefer people to act in their normal manner around me. So I tried to not to get in the way of the paying guests while also attempting to find good lighting and take decent pictures. Sometimes I did okay, sometimes I failed. Every once in a while I got a great shot. You'll see all three kinds of these photos in the two posts about the Star Chefs and Vinters Gala, because most likely it will be that the food was great but the photo not so perfect. So with that disclaimer, I give you Angela's View of the Gala.

Patrons and Guests were checked in and handed their wine glass.
Surely everyone can afford $50 if it might get you a MINI COOPER!
The Black and White theme of the decorations was classic.
My first dish-- a Frog Leg with cracklings from EPIC.
I didn't drink anything alcoholic at the party, a personal choice since I was volunteering.
This heirloom tomato salad was one of my favorite dishes, simple and perfect.
This table had the cutest helper as well! 
Globe Zuppa, two for one resto!
Silent Auction bidding, I want that vacation!
Mini Bahn Mi from Safeway- tasty!

Crispy little tacos from Absinthe.
A lot of plates and cutlery were compostable bamboo.
Drinks were all around. Cocktails, coffee, wine, beer...

Miso broth, noodles, a tiny carrot, greens and a quail egg...

From Taste Catering!

From the Ahwahnee Hotel Resto.

The belly was crispy as advertised, very yummy.

Need a beverage? They have the Cure!

from Waterbar/Farallon, another two for one table.

Pancake with pickled veg on top

"Soup and Sandwich" An exotic offering of porcini soup with a faux grois ice cream chocolate cookie from Ames.
The signs of a good time!

Shucks, it's Hog Island Oyster Co! Wielding the knife for MOWSF.
Creative Star Chefs rep for the Slanted Door, ready to plate your gumbo!

Will this sign show your fave Chef next?.
  Greens restaurant repped with a pretty plate.
Annie Somerville keeping and eye on the plates.
 Next stop, a raw fish 'dish', very easy to eat!

Asian Box from Palo Alto shows it's valley pride.

Lamb meatball in sauce, delish.

Speared sashimi with watercress from Nick's Cove.
Fresh Seafood from Pt. Reyes!
The Martin Yan crew with their small plate offering, this was another table it was hard to get close to!

M.Y. China, maybe Mr. Yan will come next year.

Piperade on demand.
Tongue with pickled veg and aioli. Are you sensing a pickled theme?
Seafood Gumbo with a Cheese biscuit they were making on the spot! Warm, fresh and the perfect spice.
You could get spicy or regular Gumbo.
BSK Star Chef Tonya Holland working the crowd. 
All Spice. California cuisine with Indian influences.

I'd had my tongue quota for the evening though...

So I grabbed a meat and potatoes, which was flavorful and had me craving seconds!
Sometimes it was nice not to have to deal with another plate. I tried to keep my fork and reuse it!
Wente Vineyards Resto
The crowd. Ready to chow down while supporting MOWSF.
An awesome spread of housemade pates and crusty bread from Foreign Cinema.
Warm Clam Chowder, a good sized sip!

Good job Chefs!

Courtesy of Navio from the Half Moon Bay Ritz.

Another savory ice cream dish.
Beautiful presentation at the table of Boulevard.
My only request...more truffles next year! I ate several of these.
Another fine food...caviar garnish!
Parallel 37. Their brick and mortar resto can be found down in Chinatown.
Up close with the medley of flavors in dish from Star Chef M. Rotondo.

The raw sushi bar from Hana Japanese is cleaned out! SF knows what's good, and no one can resist sushi. 
I'm window shopping, but some of this wine looks pretty tasty.
A skewered delight of a bite.
Do you have a bottle of wine to offer? Donate it to the "Instant Cellar".  I can see some real Champagne on the shelf!
I kept seeing people walking around with these tiny food towers, and finally found them at the Burritt table.
Yay! It's all mine.

Since they've started announcing dinner, it's not surprising that the Copita table has been ravished.
I need this cheese warmer at home!
A Bay Area Institution!
Cowgirl Creamery shows off the goods!
Share all your cheese secrets Miz Conley.

So ends the savory section of the Mowsf Gala. Check out the desserts post, because they are just as good (if not better). I learned a lot from this event, about the generosity of people, the contrasting of flavors and most of all to step up and ask Donna Sachet to pose one more time! (I just couldn't get my shot in! Such a perfect SF moment.)

Thanks Meals on Wheels of San Francisco for being there for Seniors and individuals in need.