Cake For The Angels!
It is believed that Angel Food Cake got its name because it is so light and airy–A cake light and feathery enough for the angels. I have just discovered a local fresh egg source (both hen and duck eggs) so have been having some fun with fresh eggs. Angel Food Cake is almost all egg white and ice cream is almost all egg yolk so it makes sense to work the two together. When we were kids, Angel Food Cake was always the Birthday cake of choice. In fact, there really was no other choice. It WAS the birthday cake. The only other decision around birthday meals was to select your birthday dinner and my Mom would make whatever we chose.
Here is the cake right out of the pan. It doesn’t matter that it looks a little mottled as you will either frost it (traditional birthday treatment) or as I did in this case, top with homemade vanilla ice cream, rich chocolate sauce (homemade by my neighbor) and strawberries!
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup cake flour (I used regular white flour.)
12 egg whites (room temperature)
1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor or mini max spin sugar until it is super fine. Sift half the sugar with the cake flour and the salt and set the mixture aside.
In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk (your biggest whisk) to thoroughly combine egg whites, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift in the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Do not beat at high speed as you will create bubbles which mar the texture of this fine cake. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue dusting and folding until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
The term folding means gently stirring the mixture by starting at one side of your bowl and running your spatuala (I use a rubber spatula) in a circular, swooping motion around the bowl, rolling and folding until all ingredients are incorporated. Just use a gentle touch and you won’t go wrong.
Carefully soon the mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer.
Cool upside down on a cooking rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.
|And here is the finished product topped with homemade vanilla ice cream,
strawberries and hot chocolate sauce.
Several years ago my brother, Skip gave me this special hand-painted martini glass for my birthday. Lolita (www.designsbylolita.com) makes glasses for all occasions in different styles–wine, champagne, etc. I cherish my birthday glass and use it just once a year…on my birthday! Each glass comes with its own recipe printed on the bottom. When I first tried this drink I truly believed I was drinking birthday cake. It is refreshingly wonderful and very celebratory!
1 oz. vanilla vodka
1 oz. triple sec
Shake over ice; strain and pour.
Now that you’ve had your cake, let’s go back to dinner…I recently made a very simple and delicious chicken, wine and mushroom dish. This is another of those do-ahead recipes so you can get it all put together and kitchen cleaned up before the guests arrive.
|Here are all the ingredients you need.|
4 chicken breast halves with skin and bone
White flour for dredging
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup chopped onion (I used shallot.)
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound mushrooms (I used about 3/4 pd. baby portabellas, sliced and a pkg. of Bunashimeji, pulled apart-see above left in photo. Bunashimeji are a beech mushroom, grown in clusters with very tender tops; flavor is rich and nutty. I love them!)
1 14 1/2 to 15 oz. can diced tomatoes in their juice
1 cup dry white wine
I happened to have a cup left of Indaba, a South African wine that is light and aromatic. Indaba is the traditional Zulu forum for sharing ideas. I bought this wine because I liked the name and I generally like wines from South Africa. Here is some of what the wine maker has to say about this superb and reasonably priced wine (around $10/bottle):
Bright tropical fruit aromas lead to a crisp, fresh palate with mouth-filling flavors of apple, pear, honey and pineapple. A gentle kiss of oak adds a creamy butterscotch nuance and a wonderful depth.
Now, back to the recipe…
My chicken breasts were so large that I cut each half breast in half again. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dust thoroughly with flour. Heat oil in a heavy large skillet (I used my large roasting pan.) over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and saute until brown, about 5 minutes. This will make a mess so if you use a splatter guard that helps.
Turn chicken over and saute 3 additional minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl. Add onion (or shallot), carrot, celery, parsley and garlic to skillet; saute a couple minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until everything starts to brown–about 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices and wine. Boil sauce gently until slightly thickened–about 10 more minutes. Return chicken to sauce. This is where you may stop the dish. Cover and put in the fridge until ready to finish cooking. If you do this, let the chicken sit on the counter about a half hour before you place in the preheated oven to finish cooking for about 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer chicken and sauce to plates and serve.
I am going to conclude with another cocktail. I first learned about this cocktail years ago in Gourmet Magazine and then recently again from a good friend of my brother’s. Thanks Willis!
Elderflower liquer is made from the flower of the elderberry, which is supposed to be effective for curing everything from colds and flu to diabetes and even constipation. I figure with an herb this powerful it has got to be great for you to drink. The elderflower liquer on its own is a bit sweet, but mixed with vodka it becomes an exotic, extremely floral and exhilarating martini.
Mix 1 part elderflower liquer with 2 parts of your favorite vodka. Shake over ice. Strain and pour into a martini glass.
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