Saturday, July 16, 2011

Making A Hash Of It

As usual, started with dessert today - cappuccino cupcakes from Nigella Lawson. I noticed this morning that the recipe specifies self-rising cake flour, so I followed a handy-dandy formula (from my mother, not the internet) to make some with self-rising flour. I figured if regular flour + formula = cake flour, then self-rising flour + formula = self-rising cake flour.

This appears to have been roughly accurate, though the cupcakes did bake with bizarre mushroom clouds on top. In any case, the batter was a breeze and incredibly delicious: I wanted to inhale it and never mind actually making the cupcakes. Resisting impulse, I continued - not quite enough batter for a dozen cupcakes, so I craftily made eleven. They cook very quickly: I did them for fifteen minutes, not twenty, and might in hindsight have cut an extra minute off.

I'm not usually a fan of white chocolate, but I decided to make this recipe verbatim, and the lightness of white is very appropriate here. However, the frosting recipe made a quantity far exceeding what was necessary for the number of cupcakes ... so, stumped, I decided to save it for some kind of nefarious use on a batch of cookies.

Final verdict (cupcakes):
Rich espresso taste, sweet frosting - almost cloying, but perfect in context with the bite in the cake ... this cupcake is tasty and not too heavy. Would definitely bake again.

After a break, I started on the enchilada casserole. To dice two cups of chicken without polluting my measuring cup, I stuck plastic wrap inside the cup. I was mildly surprised by the spice combination here: I always think of cumin and coriander as Indian. I was concerned when I opened the green chile peppers that they were bad, but a can with no expiration date determined me to make a leap of faith.

I didn't have a 11 x 7 baking dish - mine was actually 11 x 8.5 - but all cooking times seemed to work identically with the exception of the final time to crisp up the cheese, which went very fast.

While the casserole was in the oven, I worked on the potatoes. To me, diced is a very small cut, so I cut them quite finely ... apprently, more finely than the writers of the recipe wanted. When I poured them into the pan, application of the spatula caused the potatoes to disintegrate. I was hinging perilously on mashed territory.

Next step, chorizo. The directions for this recipe are deceptive. I just assumed it should be raw, since I've never seen pre-cooked chorizo, but step 3 refers enigmatically to "heated through," which implies to me they mean cooked. Since I'm familiar enough with the proper consistency and taste to know when chorizo is done, I decided to roll with it and kept the mixture in a few minutes longer to cook it through.

The final step of the recipe reads to mix in the cheese, "trying not to break up the cubes of potato." That ship had already sailed. I decided to roll with it and ended up with not quite mashed potatoes - more of a hash.

In previous posts, I've boasted about my uncanny ability to get everything ready at the same time, my miniature disasters canceling each other out. Apparently, I need to make a certain amount of mistakes to get my timing right, because it failed me this time. The potatoes took too long to come to a boil, which meant the casserole was out well before I was done with that dish. Still, thirty seconds in a microwave cures all ills. (Not recommended for medical conditions.)

Final verdict (casserole): Flavorful, filling and satisfying, though it feels like something is missing here; I couldn't quite identify what. Would make again.

Final verdict (potatoes): The flavor combinations are quite nice here - a well-rounded dish, though I'm not sure if it would meld quite the same way if the potatoes were cut properly. Would try again with larger pieces.

Finally, after my food had settled, I set about making the blackberry lassi. Could not be simpler: dump everything into the food processor, go to town, adjust honey to taste, and then strain out the seeds.

Final verdict (lassi):
I didn't get the expected creaminess or bite from this lassi, so it missed for me. Proportions were off somehow for my tastes. I'm going to keep searching, as I'm sure there are more recipes for this.

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