Friday, August 27, 2010

Just Peachy

My family came to visit me last weekend, so I showed them the joys of Boulder before we went up to the mountains. He hiked Chautauqua, ate at Brasserie TenTen, went to the library book store, and explored vintage clothing stores. I think they like it here.

We were planning to spend the weekend in Summit County, but as the timing worked out, I suggested we take a day to go to Palisade for their peach festival. Palisade is on the Western Slope of the Rockies, and might have the best peaches anywhere (take that, Gerogia!). It was a beautiful drive out there. I did somehow expect the Western slope to be green and lush, and it turned out to be just as arid as the East. There's something about the wind coming down the canyon that makes for mild weather in Palisade and ed the proliferation of so many orchards and vineyards. We visited an orchard with beautiful tasty peaches and took a tour on their horse-drawn carriage. Buff horses. And they had peach ice cream for us as we finished.

The festival in town was also a delight. They had a fair with booths and hot dogs (they seem necessary for a fair atmosphere) and various peach products. There was a recipe contest in which contestants submitted a peach food item that was judged. And the best part: they sold sample tickets so that bystanders could taste the goodies. We definitely got five each. Amanda went for the cakey items, so her plate looks gorgeous and appetizing.

I, however, went for the gooey, cobbler-like treats, so my plate looks a little vomitous, but was amazingly delicious.

We got a half-bushel (25 pounds) of peaches on our way out of town and are still eating our way through them. I've been meaning to bake with them, but haven't gotten around to it/haven't figured out who is going to eat it. But I'll make something peachy soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hobbies and hole hweat

I've come to the conclusion that I need a hobby, as Matt spends most of his free time playing with making mobile games. Knitting came up as a likely candidate. I've knit in the past, but usually find myself to restless to take pleasure in it. So last night I decided to knit a cabled hat, and throughout 5 hours of BBC Pride and Prejudice, I started and finished it. (pattern here) Pretty good, eh? Other candidates for hobby include guitar and painting. We'll see what I actually get to.

A friend had us up to her house in the mountains the weekend to watch the meteor shower. I thought I'd bake something to share for breakfast, but in my laziness refused to run out to replenish our supply of white flour. So the only option was whole wheat. Or flourless chocolate cake (why didn't I think of that at the time?) Marcy Goldman's "A Passion for Baking" has become my go to book when I need to make something ridiculously delicious for a crowd who isn't watching their calories (there's a brownie recipe with marshmallows, raisins, dates, oreos, chocolate chunks, pecans, crisp rice and almost as much butter as flour). There's also a section in the back with recipes that may or may not be actually healthy, but they usually lack something considered unhealthy or include something considered healthy. This is one such. She definitely goes for the kitchen sink approach, but these guys definitely garnered some compliments.

Breakfast Scones
from A Passion for Baking
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oil or butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sesame or sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup frozen berries or chopped apple
  1. Heat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheer/baking pan with parchment paper or grease it.
  2. Blend zest, bp, bs, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, and flour in a bowl. Drizzle in oil or cut in butter.
  3. Add honey, syrup, eggs, and 3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk. Mix halfway, then fold in granola, oats, cornmeal, seeds, nuts, and fruit. Stir and add more dairy if it does not hold together.
  4. Pat half the dough into a 3/4 inch thick round and cut into six scones. Repeat with other half. Arrange scones on baking pan and bake them for 17022 minutes. You can brush with milk or beaten egg to make them more shiny if you like.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The most ridiculous cake you've ever seen.

I'm in the middle of nowhere at a lab in Illinois for a relatively lame conference that is causing me to miss yet another summer weekend in Colorado. On a scale of 1 to excited, I'd say I'm hovering around a -2. The security is pretty stupid and they have to escort cabs into the premises with these fancy official black escort cars. And we need to have a badge and photo id at all time. Oh, the things we do for funding. I did get to see some cool stuff though, including an electron microscope with 1/2 angstrom (10^-12) resolution and a supercomputer with 5 petabytes of disc drives and 160,000 processors. Scientists get the coolest toys.

Last week was my first week back and work. Things went really fast. The postdoc who was partly in charge of me left for good, so I spent some time frantically figuring out what she got done in the past 2 months while I was away. Colorado is still beautiful, and I got out on my bike a few times to enjoy the (somehow still green) scenery. And I can now get my puppy fix as someone with a dog moved in with my friends.

My friend E e-mailed me this recipe last week, and I was immediately convinced that we needed to make it. Soon. I had planned to go to a band concert on Monday night, but when we got an invite to T and E's for dinner, I decided to bail on the concert and make this cake instead. And what a good decision that was. E was even borrowing a super fancy Nikon from a friend, so I got to play with taking fun pictures of the cake and of everyone eating it.

It's pretty much a flourless chocolate cake topped with hazelnut and chocolate studded meringue. I don't know why I haven't though of that before. Yum.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted over double boiler
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp rum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  1. Toast hazelnuts in oven for 10 minutes at 350 and rub when cool to remove skins. Chop the skinned nuts. Melt chocolate over boiling water in double boiler or metal bowl placed over a saucepan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Butter sides and bottom of a 9" springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper too.
  3. Whip butter and brown sugar in stand mixer until pale and smooth (3 minutes). Add 6 egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth. Add melted chocolate, rum, vanilla, and salt. Beat until combined.
  4. Carefully clean the mixer bowl to ensure not fat particles remain. Beat the 6 egg white until soft peaks form. Fold a third of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whites.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Beat egg whites on medium until frothy. Increase to high and slowly add sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (about 4 minutes). Don't overbeat!
  7. Combine chopped chocolate, hazelnuts, and cornstarch in a bowl. Fold into beaten egg whites.
  8. Remove cake from oven. Spread meringue mixture atop warm cake, being careful not to deflate it. Bake for another 25 minutes.
  9. Transfer pan to cooling rack and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the outside ring of the pan. Let cool another 30 minutes before cutting.