Saturday, August 27, 2011

Leave the Gun ...

Started today's adventures by bewildering two young clerks at Whole Foods. I asked for curry leaves. They were stumped. So ... my plan is to try and get to an ethnic grocer tomorrow for this particular ingredient.

As usual, I started with dessert first - at least, as far as making it is concerned. I discovered that I needed to use the whisk attachment on my blender not once, not twice, but three times, which resulted in me washing the mixing bowl twice in between uses. Verdict: I need another stand mixer. (No, really.)

First, the vanilla cupcakes themselves, plopped neatly into twenty-four muffin cups arranged in a semblance of color pattern. I was a bit dubious that a recipe with so much oil in it would turn out. I also considered rotating the tins halfway through and should have listened to my instincts, for the batch did bake somewhat unevenly. Managed to get them in decent shape by some guessing and last minute twisting, though.

While they baked, I prepared the cannoli cream with whole milk ricotta and exactly one ounce of part skim ricotta (because for some reason, ricotta comes in 15oz containers - who decided that was a logical portion size?), along with mini semisweet morsels ... and whipped cream for the top.

Waiting for them to cool was a trial, for I was anxious to get on to the fun part: cutting out the tops so I could stuff them with the cream. I was surprised to discover just how easy this was, and how readily the tops went back on when done. However, a word of advice: don't be fooled by the seemingly massive amount of cannoli cream generated. There is not enough to eat a few spoonfuls of it while you're working. (No, I'm not admitting that I did this. However, if I were ...) Finally, the whipped cream on top covers up the bumps from the excavation process.

Final verdict (cupcakes): Wonderful cupcakes - creamy, sweet but not cloying, and with a bit of texture from the mini chips. However, be advised: if you put the whipped cream on top, these will need to be refrigerated. This is a nuance which escaped me ...

... so I put the cupcakes in the fridge and then frantically started rearranging things so I had room for dinner, after I was done. I may yet need to finish one plate of cupcakes before tomorrow's food can go into the fridge.

I did all the chopping and measuring for the corn dish first, then started on the prep for the sausage pie. I had chosen a sweet Italian sausage and soon given up on trying to cut the cream cheese into little pieces - instead, I pulled it apart with my fingers. I had expected it would melt in the frying pan, and was surprised when it didn't ... then I came to my senses and realized that it would inevitably melt in the oven.

This is rather disturbing concoction when it pours into the deep dish crust. I chose to use a small cookie tray under the pie tin because the liquid / mixture came right up to the edge, and I was concerned about sloshing. Looking at the morass of egg, cheese and milk with sausage, I had reservations about how it cooked ... but it did so beautifully.

Not so with the corn: it turned out that my non-stick skillet was a partial-stick skillet, which meant that the process of cooking the corn took longer than intended ... that plus not using the burner on its widest setting. I did eventually get enough of a sear on the corn to suit me and whisked it off the burner to pour in lime juice, salt and water.

Throughout this whole process, the dog sits as far away from me as she can get while still being in the kitchen and gives me a terrified look. I've only set the smoke alarm off twice, mutt, and it's been weeks!

Final verdict (sausage pie): This is definitely a rich, unrefined southern comfort dish - but it's a very good one, though best eaten with something else and in moderation. Recommended, would eat again ... but have to be in the mood for it.

Final verdict (corn):
Quite easy, and the way the jalapenos infuse everything makes for a tasty, spicy dish. Could go with a lot of meals. Recommended.

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