Archive for ‘cooking’

August 1, 2011

Krewe de Fail

It’s been awhile since we last spoke. I have been firmly sticking to my ‘no crafting’ plan for the last few weeks and let me tell you, I am a lot less stressed. However, I did slide a little this past week and revisited a craft fail from the past, The New Orleans King Cake. I’ve been failing long before this blog went into effect. Unfortunately, I didn’t document a lot of those earlier fails but let’s all catch up and relive the great bake fail of Mardi Gras 2011. This is a bit of a lengthy read, but then we are talking about the KING CAKE!

Every year around Mardi Gras season, I long for those yummy King Cakes that you can only find in New Orleans. Whether it be a Randazzo’s or a Haydel’s version, the King Cake lives in a kingdom of its own. Purple, green and gold sugar, sprinkled over a thick sugary glaze on a brioche style cake, filled with cinnamon or jam, cream cheese, chocolate, almost anything you can think of. And of course, let’s not forget that famous king cake baby, which represents the Epiphany, where the three kings search and discover the baby Jesus. (I didn’t even have to wiki that one, every good Catholic New Orleanian knows this!). I usually send for a king cake each year, but while they may only cost $15 at Rouses, it costs about $50 to have one shipped! I don’t need the beads or a Mardi Gras cup, nor do I need the history of the king cake sent with it. In fact, Randazzo’s should make a special king cake for those of us former residents. Anyway, I decided that I could make one. I researched many recipes and while I should have stuck to reliable ol’ Marcelle Bienvenue, I opted for John Besh’s recipe. Making the dough was actually fairly easy. In fact, it was a success until I had to braid the dough. I handled the dough for too long and it eventually just broke apart. I baked it anyway but it was a mess. Needless to say, I had no king cake and another Mardi Gras passed me by. My mom was well aware of this disaster and promised to help me next time. Not like she had baked one before but she has the patience of St. Monica. I didn’t know that one off hand, but I’ll be praying to her from now on and declare her the Patron Saint of Crafts.

Well, that promise turned into a reality last weekend while visiting my parents. My mom purchased a Mam PaPaul’s mix from Zuppardo’s on Transcontinental. It had been in the pantry for months waiting for me to arrive, or as I like to call it to Search and Destroy! It came with everything minus butter and eggs. And I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. People just don’t sit around making king cakes. You leave that sort of task to professionals.

One of the first steps was to knead the dough and yeast in the provided paper bag. This was genius and not messy! I’m always taking off my rings when I work with dough and here I am watching my mom knead it in bag. (I was her assistant, wink, wink). Next, it kneaded to rise(can’t help myself). The directions suggest heating up your oven for two minutes on the lowest setting and then turning it off. Place the dough, still in the bag, in the oven, in an oven-safe dish of course and watch it rise! Genius again!

Once the dough was ready to be rolled out, my mom and I witnessed a turn of events. My dad was watching us roll at the dough and in his opinion, we were doing it wrong! So he pretty much swiped the rolling pin and the project out from under us and got to work. He rolled that dough like a madman! I was shocked! Where did this come from? I had one of those moments where you realize your parents really are human and they actually knew how to do stuff before you appeared! But you know, he rolled that with love and maybe that’s what my problem is. I bake to finish. Gosh, still learning from my parents!

After the dough was rolled, my dad let me assist with jellyrolling the praline filling into the dough and that was pretty much my last contribution to the cake. My dad baked and then even went so far to decorate the cake.

Look at that! Isn’t it beautiful?? And, why does it have a chunk taken out of it? Well, my mom had to try it before she served it to people. And??? FAN-TAS-TIC!!! In fact, it was as good as any king cake I have ever had. Not nearly as sugary as the real thing, which was kind of nice. I was so proud of my parents for pulling this whole thing off. We served it at our weekly Favaloro Fam-Jam. There was not a crumb left.

While I maybe completed 10% of the work, it was reassuring to know that they did not pass an impatient gene on to me. I’m not quite sure where I got it from. Maybe it’s all in my head and that I use my parents as an excuse for my impatience. Could I be turning over a new leaf? Will I have to rename my blog? I need to find a baking project to solidify that maybe I’m not a crafty mess. Maybe I’m a crafty maven? Stay tuned…

June 17, 2011

Memphis Beat, Vol. 2

Hi there and Happy Friday! I thought I’d share some more Memphis trip photos and this time it’s all about the food! Once again, all taken with the Instagram!

Check out all the amazing dishes we had:

BBQ Ribs at Blues City Cafe

BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) At Sole in the Westin

Salmon Panini at Sole in the Westin

Gus’s Famous Spicy Fried Chicken

and of course, DYER’S! This is the Filthy Diablo!

May 31, 2011

When the Moon Hits Your Eye…that’s disaster

Ciao from the Italian kitchen of a 4’11” Italian-American lady! First I must say, I don’t intend to fail at everything. In fact, I had a successful sewing experience on Saturday and sewed my first pillow slipcover. I walked around with my beautifully sewn pillow for most of the day. It was such an odd feeling, I wanted it to last forever. I should have just stopped right there, but no, I decided to tackle our pasta machine on my day off yesterday and sadly, that tingly successful feeling is nothing but a distant memory.

My sister-in-law, Meghan, is an amazing gourmet chef. She’s always very creative and fearless when it comes to the kitchen. MM and I paid her a visit a few months back and she raved how she had mastered making her own pasta. In fact, she gave us a demo and invited us to join in. It seemed so easy. I helped run it through the machine and floured the pasta while it hung from hangers in the kitchen. I knew I could do it, I am 75% Italian, it’s in my blood to do this. haha, welcome to my kitchen:

I wanted a healthier option so I bought Whole Wheat flour. haha! I have yet to enter territory where I can experiment so Rule #1: Stick to the recipe. I went for it anyway. I poured the flour on the cutting board and slowly started to pour the eggs into the well I dug. Well, it broke like the 17th Street Canal! Sorry for the lack of photos, but I was covered in raw egg and hardening bits of flour as I tried my best to push it back into the well. I eventually got it but realized this was never going to work so I opted for the reliable KitchenAid to do the work for me, this time with the All-Purpose flour the recipe called for.

The water is boiling and the second batch of dough is just fine. The machine is mounted and ready to go! I got past the first few steps and I’ve fed it through the flat attachment like I’m supposed to and ready to watch in amazement as IT DOES NOT COME OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF THE SPAGHETTI ATTACHMENT CORRECTLY! In fact, nothing really comes out, but how, I fed a ton of pasta through that thing. Here’s what I see! Thanks to shakes of anger, the photo is a mess too.

So I detach it, maybe I need to flour it more. Luckily, I can still pull most of it out at this time. I try it again, and again and again and this is what I get! At this point, I wish MM was here to help. Rule #2: Work with a partner!

This is not pasta, not the thin strands that I so lovingly floured in Meghan’s kitchen, but my own tangled, knots of stupid noodles. There’s no way I could keep it so I tossed it. I didn’t want to look at it anymore. Well, I could go on and on, about my attempt to dismantle the machine to remove the extra bits of pasta, but I want to walk out of here with a little bit of my Italian dignity, so I’ll leave it at that! Ciao!