Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slow Cookery, Fast Cookery

As mentioned in the last post, I started cooking Friday evening - specifically, around 8:30pm, when I popped the condensed milk into simmering water, which was reputedly supposed to produce toffee. Now, I've had some issues with recipes from the ice cream recipe site before, and I had to spend a lot of time checking the water and turning the heat up or down to maintain a gentle simmer, so I honestly didn't expect this work. I figured I would end up with either a burnt mess or ... still have a can of condensed milk. Imagine my delight when, the next morning, I popped open the can and there was delicious, perfect toffee.

But that's getting a little ahead of myself. First, around midnight, I popped the chicken, seasonings and salsa in the slow cooker and set my alarm for 7am, at which point, I wobbled out of bed, disturbed my dog, and turned the cooker off. Back to bed!

I woke up to get on with the ice cream and discover aforesaid toffee. I made caster sugar as I usually do, pouring the appropriate amount of regular into the Oscar, running it, and then carefully opening it whilst sugar dust poofs ominuously in the air.

Interesting bit about this recipe - there's no instructions about where to add the cream, so I made a reasonable guess to add it into the eggs and sugar right before the hot milk. Results seem to suggest this was, if not the intended course of action, then an effective one. This ice cream together like a dream - I was actually shocked how fast the custard cooked. Once more to my ice bath in the roasting pan, which continues to be used as anything but a roasting pan, and then into the ice cream maker. Took longer than I expected to form up, close to half an hour. While it ground away, I started on the cake ... but that's the next story.

Final verdict (ice cream): This is an awesome ice cream, rich and addictive. My only complaint is it's a bit slimy, doubtless due to the toffee. Next time I make a recipe from this site, I am going to experiment with cutting back on the flavoring. (Did I say that last time and forget? Probably, but what was I going to do with extra toffee? Oh, right ... eat it.)

When I started on this cake, I had the unpleasant discovery that the maple syrup I had bought was not sufficient for this cake. I used as much as I could while still reserving some for the frosting and added a little bit more water, figuring that the additional liquid was necessary but knowing that maple syrup was more viscuous.

I must have been knocked off my stride by this: I forgot to butter and line the pans before pouring the mixture. I rescued it, cleaned the pans, buttered them ... and poured it back in again without lining. At this point, I just threw up my hands and went with it. Also note that I didn't have (or couldn't find) eight inch cake pans, so I had to use nine inch.

But luck was with me, for with a little knife application, out came the cakes, whole and perfect. The frosting, however, would have to wait until after my gig ...

Meanwhile, I tore apart the chicken with forks and stuck the slow cooker back on.

Off to the gig in a church without air conditioning. (This is not a good idea, brides to be - not if you want to get married in July.)

Once back, my first mission was to get the rest of the ingredients into the chicken and corn chili - namely the corn and the beans. Since I couldn't find Mexican canned corn, I used regular canned corn and added dried cilantro (no fresh on hand today) and adobo peppers. (As a note, I only had three chicken breasts, but it was probably about the same amount of chicken intended total. Everything's big in Ohio. Nope, it's not Texas that makes everything big, it's Ohio - at least when it comes to food.)

Next step was the cat head biscuits, which involved literally the last amount of flour I had - it was exactly the right amount, including the cornstarch added to make cake flour. Another butter-rub dough, this time with shortening as a double-threat, but with a vegetable-spray ... sprayed measuring cup, it worked perfectly.

Stay with me on this one now ... while the biscuits worked in the oven, I started on the maple frosting for the cake. Trying to find a handheld electric whisk produced this weak and wandering handmixer, which I decided to try because the larger handheld, I didn't think I could support in my hand for 5 - 7 minutes straight. Bad mistake: it got the icing only halfway there, whereupon I decided to just whip by hand. I still didn't get the icing completely to meringue, but I got it close enough to get a lovely texture.

And the frosting was definitely worth it: sweet, gooey, perfect texture. Not as mapley as I would have liked, but again - quantity issue.

When the biscuits came out, they had completely filled the cake pan. No need for alarm: the borders were still apparent, and careful application of a spatula caused them to sproing out fully formed.

Just like that: time to eat!

Final verdict (chicken chili):
My version, at least - I can't claim this was the recipe verbatim - was spicy but not too spicy, tender and just about perfect. My only issue is the beans were a bit undercooked - I would add them an hour earlier or so. Any longer, and I imagine they would liquefy.

Final verdict (biscuits):
Not too sure about these - that have that addictive, slightly sour bite that comes from buttermilk, and they're quite fluffy, but mine also came out a bit gooey, too. Might try them again and see if that's the recipe or just my doing.

Final verdict (cake):
This is a decent cake - and the icing / frosting is excellent, as noted above - but with the quantities I ended up using, it lacks maple flavor, and I just wasn't wild enough about the taste or the texture to want to try it again. If you are not as much of a cheapskate as I am and are willing to spend the money on the maple syrup, feel to try it, but I'm not confident the end result would be worth the expense. I have no problem shelling out for ingredients, but it had better be excellent.

No comments:

Post a Comment