Friday, October 23, 2009

worth the wait

For the second time today, I am waiting--most unexpectedly and (seemingly) eternally--for the oven timer to ding.
Waiting for the ding #1:
As the season is slowing, I am finally trying and learning new things at work. Today (well, the last two days actually, and more to come yet) was dedicated to honing my pastry, well, cake skills (that, and boiling a lobster). The other day I tackled a sponge cake box mix, a prelude to researching and baking the from-scratch version. Today, the cake was transformed into a white and dark chocolate, Austrian-style torte, mousse heavy and complete with chocolate fans. Splendid, but I barely touched it, taking notes while Rene, the (modest...?) cake guru did all the layering. I did however, have complete reign over a flourless chocolate torte--where my story begins.
I took my time making the batter, assembling my pan and collecting my ingredients before attentively following the weighed proportions of the recipe. Allow me to stress how carefully I wrapped that nine-inch springform pan in foil so as the keep the water of the Bain Marie it was to be immersed in from ruining the dessert I was trusted with. Just over an hour and the cake was ready, looking dark and flattened for thickness, I let it cool in its pan for far too long while I busied myself with other things. Had I checked a little sooner, I may not have this tale to tell, for all may have looked and smelled wonderful, but with the release of the pan sides came a stream, no, river, of water, and a far-too-fudgy cake. Never mind that it tasted great, this was a hardly a cake at all, more of a baked pudding. With forty five minutes left in my shift, and no bosses present, I started again.
It was such a simple recipe: 225 g butter, 250g chocolate, 1/2 cup sugar, 5 eggs, 1 Tbsp each cocoa and more sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, melt, beat, beat, beat, pour, bake, that I didnt grab the book as I hurried with a second chance. And I had all the quantities right, only, as this cake sat in the oven, it dawned on me that my 1/2 cup sugar had been weighed out at 225 g, on a roll from the chocolate and butter. Shit. But I had used a darker chocolate this time, so I hoped it would balance the doubled sweetness. Only time would tell. And alot of time, let me tell you. Not wanting to risk another soggy mess, upon Johnnys advice I turned the oven down, and stuck the cake in sans water bath, and nearly an hour and a half later, I pulled it out. I dont work tomorrow. Or the next day. I will not know until Monday if it turned out all right. I wont sleep until Monday night.
And apparently I will not sleep tonight, at the rate that my dinner is going. Last weekend I could not resist buying a delicata squash at the farmers market. It was cold and rainy that day, and roasting a whole squash seemed perfect. But I didnt do it that night, in fact, the market is again tomorrow, and I am just dealing with last weeks purchase. But it smells wonderful, and I am hungry with anticipation--have been, for the last hour and then some. After thirty minute I check my wrapped beauty. Not even close. So I poured some more wine, ate some of the bread and cheese I had to go with dinner, and waited for another half hour. Not quite. More wine. Is it done yet? Did the timer on my oven break? I think I will go watch it cook...

Ok, that was some time ago now. And I have since enjoyed that slow roaster, and too much wine in the meantime. But it was worth it, so worth it. Now I can only hope that cake was worth it too. Until Monday...

Tomato and Chantrelle stuffed Delicata with Herbs and Garlic
This is the last of summer meets fall: there are no more fresh tomatos, and summery chantrelles are replaced with the wintery little brown shrooms until the morels of spring bring change. But there are squash, and will be for awhile, ready to be roasted all cold weather seasons long. This time I stuffed before roasting, and, scraping the contents into a bowl, with a chunk of bread and wedge of aged gouda, I was satisfyed and cared less about how late it is (though that might be the wine). It would be equally delicious, I think, stirred into soft polenta, or baked with cream and parmesan.

In a small pan, warm some olive oil and gently soften:
1 thick slice of onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
Once translucent, add in a cook until softened:
1 small leek (or 1/2 large), sliced and rinsed over
1 cup chantrelles, chopped and brushed clean
Add in and warm through:
1 large tomato, diced (roughly 1 cup)
1 sprig each thyme, oregano and savory
1 bay leaf
Cut a delicata squash in half lengthwise, scraping out seeds with a large spoon. Fill the cavity with the chantrelle mixture, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, close back up and wrap in tinfoil. Back at 375 for half an hour, I mean one hour, I mean, maybe a bit longer. When it is finally done, scrape out all the goods into a bowl with lima beans or roast chicken. Top with chopped parsely and another good swig of oil. Be glad you were patient, tis the season for slow cooking.

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