Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kaboom

Today's lineup was complicated by the fact that I had some work to do, so I was back and forth a lot .. and plagued by inexplicable, silly errors due to distraction.
While preparing the coffee ice cream, I decided to use some of the K cups I had accumulated - so it wasn't just fresh coffee ice cream, it was fresh hazelnut cream coffee ice cream (say that three times fast). I filtered two or three times and still didn't get all the grounds out, though it was a minor enough amount not to matter.
What also didn't matter - luckily - was the fact that I managed to push the filtered coffee off one of my kitchen boards, causing some of it to spill on the stove. I tried to use a turkey baster to recollect it. No such luck. Having previous experience with the recipes from this site, I decided that it would be all right.
And it was, but I'm afraid that I undercooked the mixture. After forty minutes in the ice cream maker, the result was still liquid - so I dumped it into the freezer and hoped. What I ended up with was some kind of Italian ice mixture, definitely not ice cream.
Final verdict (ice cream): That said, the flavor was excellent, the texture still good, and I think the error was mine, so I will put this one in my file to try again.
Then I set about preparing the cookies, a process slightly complicated by the necessity of running out between the melting of the chocolate and the prepping of the batter. I was stunned when I saw the size of each cookie: a quarter cup of batter? 10 - 12 cookies total? (I had failed to notice this upon original inspection.) This mixture produces impressive, puffy uber-cookies.
I did have to make one substitution on the fly: the only semi-sweet chocolate chips I had were minis, which I figured would simply melt rather than remaining as a textural element, so I used milk chocolate instead.
Final verdict (cookies): Very good, very rich, and somewhat melty even after fully baking. The texture of the espresso bean is a trifle gritty, but not enough to take away from the result.
After another break, I started on the batter for the corn fritters. This was the first time I had ever tried to peel kernels off a corn-cob with a knife, and I realized it was harder to do than I had anticipated. My chosen chili was a jalapeno, and of course, with my usual sagacity, I licked my fingers after cutting it.
Next step, frying the bacon for the casserole. This was the first time I had ever chopped bacon, too - it was a landmark day of cookery! - so I was surprised how hard this was, as well. Really, I just need to start assuming things are nigh impossible and work backwards from there. It did not produce as much bacon fat as advertised, so I added an additional amount of oil to avoid smoking issues.
Slapstick of the evening: when I opened the top shelf to get my uber-grater for the cheese, the bottom panel flew down and struck me square in the middle of the forehead. More annoyed than injured, I commenced with simmering the pasta. This involved wine. This involved wine in a bottle that will not fit upright in my refrigerator. I have it laid flat. I pray it doesn't spill. I had to eyeball the amount of pepper, as I didn't have any pre-ground, just a grinder and a strong wrist.
Whilst the pasta simmered, I set about frying the corn fritters. When I put the second batch in, the oil started to sputter. By the time I got the third batch out, it was having a grand old time sending out random pings of oil. Then I had the brilliant idea to take it off the heat and put a little water in.
Some sixth sense had me retreat to the other side of the kitchen.
The oil exploded. It started popping, jumping and sizzling like an uncovered load of popcorn. My main concern was getting safely back to the stove for the pasta. My dog, on the other hand, went downstairs and hid by the fireplace.
Once the oil stopped spitting, I crept back to finish the casserole. I had to retrieve the dog, who was determined to stay where she was.
Final verdict (casserole): This is very good, rich, creamy and with a distinct bite from the Pecorino Romano. It's also quite easy (unless you have spitting oil nearby).
Final verdict (fritters): These are a perfect mix of crispy and soft with just enough spice (if you use one jalapeno with no veins or seeds - other combos, your mileage may vary). They're also almost entirely corn and chili - the flour and egg are unobtrusive binding agents.

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