Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting, Take 2



Invited to a friend's house for dinner, I thought I'd bring dessert. Not just any dessert, Chocolate Stout Cake, that Bruce Aidells recipe. It looks like a regular boring ol' chocolate cake but it's the best chocolate cake ever. And it went over exceptionally well with the dinner hosts, one of which claims he doesn't have a sweet tooth.

I made it exactly the same way as before and the results were just as astounding. The recipe is perfect and reproducible. This time around I was able to shave off an hour of the time it took me the first time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nutella Banana Bread, Gluten-Free



With some frozen bananas donated from coworkers I looked for a bread recipe. Yonetta has a couple of Nutella banana breads pinned so I thought I should give one of those a go. I liked the idea of this one because of the two it looked more swirled. Sure, I judged by the photos. For whatever reason I'm a sucker for a swirl. Not a swirlie, swirls. Since I don't get frenzied over bananas, a gluten-free option so I could share at work was in order.

Nutella Banana Bread, Gluten-Free
adapted from Baking with Basil
click to print

2 1/3 c Pamela's Artisan gluten-free flour blend
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 c Nutella

Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350°F if using a metal pan, 325°F if using a glass dish.


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.


In a large mixing bowl, beat together banana, butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until combined, about 2 minutes.


Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.


Beat in flour mixture just until combined.



Transfer 1/3 of batter into a separate bowl.


In a small glass bowl, heat Nutella in microwave for about 15 seconds and stir.


Stir warmed Nutella into reserved third of batter.


Place 1/2 of banana batter in loaf pan, spread evenly. Add layer of Nutella batter, add layer of banana batter. Using a knife, gently swirl batter.

The batter was so thick, I just blobbed it in rather than trying to get it in layers.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into bread comes out with a few crumbs.


Cool on a wire rack about 30 minutes; remove from dish and cool completely.


Yeah, so my bread didn't turn out with the swirls I was so enamored of. Gluten-free batters tend to be thicker than non-gluten-free batters and I hadn't considered that when layering the batter portions. Had I a little more patience, I could've made it work but as it turns out, it wasn't that important to me.

Otherwise, the bread turned out just as expected, banana flavored with a hint of chocolaty nuttiness. None of the bread went to waste at work though one slice was enough for me.

Cost:
  • Pamela's flour: $2.25
  • unsalted butter: $0.42
  • sugar: $0.20
  • brown sugar: $0.15
  • vanilla extract: $0.08
  • eggs: $0.61
  • Nutella: $2
Total: $5.71 or about $0.48 for each of 12 slices.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Roti de Porc au Lait



Wandering through my few cookbooks, I came across this recipe. Since it has been a while since I last did a pork roast, I figured I'd give it a spin even though the idea of braising a roast in milk seemed a little odd.

Roti de Porc au Lait
adapted from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, also found here

3 lb. boneless pork loin roast
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp flour
2 c whole milk
1 bouquet garni (1 sprig of flat parsley, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 1 bay leaf, tied together)

Season the pork with salt and pepper.


Heat the oil in the Dutch oven. When the oil is hot, add the butter.


Brown the roast on all sides, 6 to 7 minutes total.


Remove the roast from the pan and set aside on a large plate.


Add the onion, carrot, leek, and garlic and stir over high heat until soft and carmelized, about 10 minutes.

I let mine caramelize over 8 minutes.

Stirring constantly, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes.


Add milk and the bouquet garni.


Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 5 minutes.


Add the pork and any juices that have collected on the plate. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, making sure to periodically rotate the pork (the sugars in the milk can cause sticking and scorching).

After 20 minutes I turned turned the loin over and found that it was beginning to scorch. The milky mixture was also beginning to look curdled. Forty-five minutes later, the milk mixture had separated and the milky chunks were not exactly appetizing.

Remove the pork and allow to rest for 15 minutes.


Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

I couldn't see the bouquet garni in the cooking liquid. Since the next step was straining the liquid, I didn't sweat it.

Strain the cooking liquid into a blender and purée the sauce until foamy. Adjust the seasoning as needed.


Carve the pork and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over and around and serve immediately.



While the browned roast looked fabulous, milky chunks notwithstanding, it turned out a little dry. I will rule out inadequate standing time as the culprit since my pork stood 28 minutes before I made the first cut. Maybe I should've let it braise longer since my roast was 3.4 pounds instead of 3.0? I'm not sure. Anyway, having the sauce worked out ok; it was disappointing that it was a necessity.

The sauce did taste good, only slightly sweet from the lactose in the milk, and definitely savory due to the pork juices. But my aversion to sauces left me on a see-saw of like-dislike. I'm not sure if I'd ever make this one again except to find out why it did turn out drier than expected. Not incredibly expensive and fairly simple to complete, I might give it another go with a different cut of pork roast, a long skinny one instead of a squat round one.

Cost:
  • boneless pork loin roast: $10.17
  • olive oil: $0.48
  • butter: $0.07
  • onion: $0.28
  • carrot: $0.25
  • leek: $0.86
  • garlic clove: $0.08
  • whole milk: $0.70
Total: $12.89 or about $2.15 for each of 6 big servings.