Friday, May 27, 2011

May Daring Bakers Challenge: Chocolate Marquise on Meringue

Required blog-checking lines: The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

Oh my goodness.  This challenge was a doozy to create and a doozy to eat.  Emma and Jenny, both accomplished pastry chefs with training and professional time served, challenged us to make one of their favorite confections, chocolate marquise on meringue.  The challenge consisted of four parts--the fourth part that you're not seeing here is a spicy nut topping.  Oh, and I didn't have cocoa nibs available anywhere in my little town, either, so those are missing as well.

But let my tell you what IS here, and you tell me if you think it needed the rest.

First is the meringue, and one the most sensory rich recipes outside of bread dough that you might ever encounter in the kitchen (at least while cooking, ahem!). In a new-to-me-twist on meringue making, the egg whites, a splash of vinegar, and a heaping love of sugar are put into a mixing bowl over a hot water bath.  Then, you use your hands to stir the warming mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is almost hot.  Go on, I dare you!

Next up is the marquise itself.  Somewhere between mousse and ice cream, this frozen-but-thawing hunk of creamy chocolate is rolled in cocoa prior to plunking down on top of the meringue.  Sweet, but not terribly so.  Smooth, but not without some body.  Oh, and did I mention the little bit of Kahlua flavoring in there?  The recipe called for Tequila.  I demurred.  Worms are for the garden, not for the kitchen, I always say.

Alrighty, see that caramel sauce?  Yum.  Again, the recipe called for Tequila.  Again, I demurred.  Whiskey!  Whisky is good, right?  You betcha! Interestingly, the whisky gave the caramel a fruity flavor--something akin to pineapple.  Not sure what happened there, but it really goes well with the chocolate and meringue.

Are you drooling yet?  I would be, but I'm full.  How much of this were the teenager formerly known as Chirp Chirp and I able to eat between the two of us?

Clearly, we need practice! 

Recipe here (I made a quarter batch)

Many, many thanks to Emma and Jenny for this great dessert.  I see this as a showstopper for a crowd, maybe around the holidays? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011!

Did you ever say that as a kid?

Him: "Let's have a staring contest, starting Now!"  "
Me: "You blinked!"
Him: "No, wait, I wasn't ready.  Starting...Now!"
Me: "You blinked!"
Him: "No, wait, I wasn't ready. Starting...Now!"
Me: "You blinked!"

Him: "No, wait, I wasn't ready. Starting...Now!"

Ad nauseum.

I remember my brother doing it all the time, and being really annoyed by it.  I suppose I must have done it too, and been really annoying to others as well.  But, well, here I am doing it to you!

So, I'm back....Starting Now!

Our sweet valley is finally warming up.  We've had three tremendous floods so far this year, with another one on the way.  So that's been a lot of fun. 

I built eleventy tomato trellises for the Master Gardener plant sale, and all of them sold, so I'm hoping the old timers of the club will decide to keep me.  The sale was a lot of fun, albeit a lot of work.  The proceeds go toward all our volunteer work around the county for the year.  We have several demonstration gardens and classes for all types of gardeners (kids, veggie growers, flower gardeners, etc.) and at each of those we have printed information available for people to take home.  Photocopying costs add up quickly....

I also built two for my own garden.  My tomatoes have some growing to do...

In other words, Mr. Boom got his turkey.  I still have to get mine, and the pressure is really on, now!  The season ends at the end of the month.    From his 16 pound turkey, I put seven meals in the freezer.  Not bad!  Last night, we had the drumsticks with morels from the same trip as well as spinach from the garden.  Yummmmmy. 

In my defense, he may have shot the first bird, but I found the first through the seventh morels of the season.  Just sayin'.

Right now I'm listening to Eddie Vedder's new ukulele album.  What a kick!  I only wish it were a mandolin.  Then I'd feel just a little bit cooler concerning my new hobby.  I can't remember if I told you I also found a second-hand banjo?  Tony Furtado, my inspiration, needn't worry about any competition from me. Let's just leave it at that...

In other news, I finished up planting the garden this morning, and then hung the laundry out to dry.  It's now raining.  Good for the little seeds, bad for the t-shirts and such.  Oh well.

Finally, my thanks goes out to the Pollinatrix for the gorgeous collage she sent.  Soooo pretty.  And tranquil.  and just perfect in all ways.

And really finally ( finally?), you know I'll be back tomorrow because it's the 27th, i.e. the reveal date for the May Daring Bakers challenge.  I better get going on that.  It's a doozy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Let's see, where was I?

Let's see, where was I?  Ah. Yes.  Doom and gloom, end of the world.
Well, we're still there, but now that spring is here in full force it's not quite such a hard thing to bear.  Yes, everything may end tomorrow, or even later on today.  But isn't that blossoming cherry tree really pretty? 
And, standing here at the edge of the world, I've become a little accustomed to the view. 

In other news, this week's Master Gardener class was the last of my training, and I am now (drum roll please) an official Master Gardener Intern.  The training wasn't particularly hard, but it was VERY intensive.  We were really lucky to have some eminently qualified specialists make the journey to our little town to teach us about soil science, entomology, grafting, and other fascinating aspects of gardening.  We had field trips, too, including an organic produce farm and the most amazing home garden.  I'll tell you more about the latter later on in another post.

Let's see, turkey season is underway.  Yesterday, we finally saw a turkey for the first time this year, but she was a little female and therefore not at risk from us.  Really, though, is any turkey at risk from us? I'm beginning to think not.

I did manage to call in the most gorgeous coyote one evening last week.  He was the reddish-brown of fallen Ponderosa pine needles, and his tail was erect.  He was very well filled out, and had an almost cocky attitude.  This was a far cry from the mangy, slinking, tail between the legs, half-starved coyotes we tend to see in the fields around here.  My forest coyote took my breath away, and he keeps appearing in my dreams.  Maybe he stole a piece of my heart, too? 

I'll try to get some pictures up of our fruit trees tomorrow.  They're all in bloom.  The tulips finally popped open, as well.  Yep, spring is here.  We made it through another winter.