Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parmesan Crisps, Candied Walnuts, Chocolate Cakes, and How My Memory Has Fallen Apart

I used to have a fabulous memory. Then I had a baby. He is the best sleeper in the world - to bed at 7-7:30, he doesn't get up until 7 the next morning. And if he does wake up... he turns on music from his little soother and sucks him thumb until he goes back to sleep. So, sleep deprivation is not an issue. But since having a baby, 15 months ago, my memory just does not work anymore. Behold:

I wake up at 8 am, with a "work-hangover" -- the crappy feeling after a crappy day. I suddenly realize I forgot to get ramekins and I only have 5 of them, which is not enough for everyone. I also remember that I need to make real basil vinaigrette base. And that the fish Brandon got for my isn't going to work, so I need to hunt down some other fish (but the inadequate fish did make a delightful dinner on Sunday). So we run out: breakfast, Bed Bath and Beyond, Point Loma Seafoods (which has no skin-on bass, which really turns out to be irrelevant -- MORE FORESHADOWING!), calls to every market around, settle on Chilean Sea Bass from Whole Foods, run to Whole Foods. And yes, I am aware Chilean Sea Bass is not even related to Black Sea Bass, but I knew it would work. And all by 12!

So: i'm supposed to start cooking at noon. Except I have about two hours of additional prep that I need to do... hmmm.

First up: Parm Crisps.

I'm nervous. I accidentally grate a nail into the cheese while using the microplane (and if you ate at my house and are reading this: don't worry, I found it and picked it out). Tablespoon into round molds:

I cook them. They don't brown. When I have decided they are hopefully near brown enough, and the first batch has cooled sufficiently, I gingerly lower one into an egg carton. IT WORKS! Not quite right, but they aren't breaking. I actually reheat one that got too hard, forget about it, run over and find: a perfect crisp, that slides into the perfect tulip-shape in the egg carton. This gives me the confidence to really shove them in there, rather than lay them gingerly over the top.

Something in my life works, thank goodness.

The 6 ounces of cheese makes 50% more than I need, but I figure that's ok in case I have another "cornet incident" during the afternoon.

Item 2: Candied Walnuts

I (quickly) made poaching liquid, tossed in the walnuts... and waited and waited and waited. Seriously, I think it took 6 hours to get from this for the freaking liquid to reduce.

Eventually it did, and I spread the walnuts on a sheet to bake.  Another 40 minutes:

They looked pretty. Taste was a little blah. Not crispy enough for me. But... i'll chalk that up to user error.

Item 3: Chocolate Cakes

Another item that TFL@home didn't have turn out so well (I believe "potting soil" was the analogy to the cake).

Heat up chocolate and butter, yummy:

Overwhipped the cream, whoops, whisked eggs and sugar over heat, then folded in the chocolate and the over-whipped cream.

Then into the prepared ramekins:

And into the oven!

They smelled delicious and looked even tastier. At least in the ramekins.

Resources: Trader Joe's is the best and cheapest place to get Valhrona chocolate and cooking wine.
Cheese: my favorite friendly Venissimo shop!

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