Monthly Archives: August 2010

Thirty

“Wine….A remedy for the moroseness of old age.” – Plato

It’s officially official: I’m 30 years old.   I turned 30 this past weekend and am THRILLED to tell you that yes, the list was finished on time.   I celebrated by boiling (and boiling and boiling) our final item- lobster.  Here is what I did for the first 90 minutes of the evening:

Oven mitt on one hand, tongs in the other, we boiled and celebrated and popped champagne.  It was the end of a decade.

BUT, you say, what about the list?  Ahhh, yes.  Do not worry your hungry little heads: there are more posts to come over the next few weeks leading up to that final, lobster check mark.   So I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for the lag time between product and post.  And that the promise of going out with a bang will keep you reading for the next few weeks.  That and I’ll bribe you with photos and the mysteries of the Turducken.

I know you’ll stick around for Turducken.

UNFORESEEN BONUS:When your birthday celebration is tied to a blog about food and eating, you get some fantastic gifts.  Including:

Pasta Attachment for the Kitchenaid Mixer!

Hooray for homemade carbs!!  Thanks to the Handsome Husband for knowing the way to a girl’s heart.

The end of the 30 Before 30 List means the start of a new venture.  What will that be?  Don’t know yet…but I’m betting you’ll help me brainstorm.

But first: more kitchen ventures to check off our list.  Much more to come,

xoxo Flyover Foodie

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Friday Hot Dish- 8/20

Welcome to the Friday HOT DISH!

1.Today is the kickoff to 2010 Restaurant Week in Des Moines.  The event gets bigger each year, this year it includes more than 25 restaurants.   The prix fixe lunches are 2/$25 and dinners are only $25 a person.  Can’t beat that!  Check out all the appetite piquing menus HERE.

2. So this may be hit or miss depending your geography, but Jamba Juice has smoothies and coffee for $1 today.  There are a few locations here and there in Flyover Country, see if you have one close here.  Maybe a mid afternoon pick-me-up is in order?

3. Speaking of restaurant week….here’s a GREAT list of favorite “homestyle” restaurants all over Flyover Country.  Midwest Living magazine found great stops in states all over the Midwest.  Check out the favorites in your neck of the woods!   The Plainsmen Steakhouse and Lounge sounds Awe.Some.  Favorite Downhome Restaurants

4. I can’t help myself.  Does anyone else find this ridiculous/annoying!?  I thought she ate raw food.  (shaking head) Gwyneth Paltrow writes a cookbook

5. Tonight is a special, special night.  Though my posts are lagging behind, I told you I would meet my deadine.  Pop the champagne and que the langostines….HOT DISH! Someone is turning 30!

More celebration, recipes, butter, and posts to come.  Happy Weekend!

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. A homework assignment for all of you: I’m going to need a list to cook through next.  Start brainstorming….this is going to take some creativity.

Secrets of the Red Velvet Cake

SPOILER ALERT: Snape kills Dumbledore!

Wait…..let’s try again.

SPOILER ALERT: The cake turned out well but I learned certain things about its composition that bothered me.  This post contains frank discussion about the inner workings of Red Velvet cake.   Stop reading now if you hold especially high regard for the dessert.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m free to discuss the mysteries of the Red Velvet Cake.  First off: our recipe.  I used this recipe from, who else?  Paula Deen.  The woman has to know a thing or two about red velvet.

I won’t bore you in this post with the details of cake making, since most of you know the basics, so we’ll breeze through with a couple stops to point out red velvet highlights.

First, you prepare your pans.  Typically red velvet has multiple layers, so I buttered and floured three layer pans.

Prepped Pans

Now gather all the ingredients.  Two items that stood out: 1. red food coloring; 2. white vinegar.  Hmmmm….

Ingredients for Red Velvet Cake

Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs…pretty standard.

Now comes the “red” part.  You mix 2 ounces of red food coloring with the cocoa powdered to add both chocolate flavor and the signature red color.

Wait…two ounces?!

Yes. two ounces.  You know the standard red food coloring that comes in the little squeeze bottle with the pointy top that looks like a gnome hat?  Yeah…that’s .25 ozs.    Quick math tells me I need EIGHT of those gnome hatted guys to make this recipe.

Red Velvet cake secret #1 = ungodly amounts of food coloring.

Sorry, Paula, but I’m only using .25 ounces thankyouverymuch.   Mix the coloring and the cocoa and then add to the sugar/butter mixture.  Sidenote: thank god for soft scrub with bleach or our counter top would look like a crime scene, because obviously, I spilled red food coloring.

Next, add the flour, buttermilk and then vanilla.  Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl.  And yes, those are the  ingredients to make a “volcano”.  Why the vinegar? 

Red Velvet Secret #2 = vinegar must be added to offset the taste of using SO MUCH red food coloring.

I told you…the secrets are a little disconcerting.

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Our first #FAIL

After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers. ~pastry chef, Emily Luchetti

When I started this adventure and built my list of 30, I tried to strike a balance between the pretty much foolproof success of a few simpler dishes and the challenge of more masterful recipes.  A girl needs a couple guaranteed wins.

I also promised myself that even if something was burned/dry/tasteless/poisonous I would post about it .  And to follow through on that promise, I present to you “Molten” Chocolate Cakes.  (quotation marks intentional)

Most of the recipes for this dessert are very similar, but I used this one because it could be cut in half easily; it was just myself and Handsome Husband eating these desserts.  I kept finding recipes called for 3 eggs and I have NO idea how to measure 1/2 an egg.

So I melted the chocolate, butter and cinnamon (I’m not a big nutmeg fan) in a double broiler.  I then added this yummy mess to the mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  And into the prepped ramekins it goes.  Easy enough, right?

Batter filled, buttered ramekins. Wow, that sounds really amazing. Just wait...letdown coming shortly.

By the way, I also love my clearly un-prepped picture above.  Please note all the chocolate drips.

In to the 400° oven they go.  The recipe said 12-14 minutes, but that seemed long.  I set the timer for 8 minutes….I came back and checked….still gooey on the top.

Sidenote: This is ANOTHER recipe with instructions to cook until the “edges are dark”.  Um, the batter is CHOCOLATE.  It was dark when it went in.  Not. Helpful.

I pulled them out at 10 minutes….let them cool for a few.  Used a knife to loosen around the edges and then used an oven mitt to turn them onto plates.

By the way, we have this running joke about “loosen” vs. “unloosen” in the flyover house.  If I say I “loosened” something, Handsome Husband will, inevitable, ask “Are you sure you didn’t ‘unloosen’ it?”.  For those keeping score, the words loosen and unloosen mean the same thing.  Also, we are nerds.

Ok, they still look pretty good here....do not be deceived!

A little dollop of topping and then I delivered one decadent little plate to Handsome Husband…who was kind enough to pause Mad Men as I ran back and forth to the kitchen.  Keeper.

He cut his lovely cake open…..AND, AND…..

Nothing.

Nothing.  No molten stream of edible chocolate lava.  No rivers of richness.  No fountain of dessert decadence.

Yup…I overcooked ’em.  At this point they were basically like a dry cupcake.  And no one likes a dry cupcake (unless it has delicious frosting, which this dry cupcake does not).

My guess is that the remaining two desert-like cakes will suffer the same fate as many dry desserts in the flyover household: into blender with ice cream and some milk.  Dry baked goods = cake shake.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. I thought that it was cute that the last pic above had a crossword puzzle sitting on our fireplace with a pen.  Upon closer inspection…nope.  That’s my husband’s fantasy football cheat sheet.  Fan-cy!

Have tiramisu. Will travel.

“Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first.” – Ernestine Ulmer

I bet that 2/3 of the recipes on my list so far have been easier than I expected.  I thought that tiramisu would probably also be fairly easy, seeing as its on menus all over the place.

Nope…not really that easy.

I will break its deception for you, step by step.  I will accompany these numerous steps with my completely mediocre photos.  I used recipes from The Joy of Cooking both for the lady fingers as well as the espresso cream.

STEP 1: Make the batter for the lady fingers.

Lady Fingers are small, oblong, dense cookies that form the substance of the dessert.  The batter is heavy on the eggs and then you sift the flour mixture over the top, like so:

Making the batter for the Lady Fingers

STEP 2: Forming the lady fingers.

Once you have made the batter, you form the lady fingers by piping the batter onto a lined baking sheet and lightly dusting with powered sugar before baking.  This is where things get VERY TRICKY.

I’m not a pastry chef.  Its a stretch to even call myself even a home baker.  So my piping, was a little, well, erratic at best.

Not exactly lady like

The less than dainty thickness of the above cookies is a testament to the intricacies of pastry making.  In short, these look nothing like fingers.  So, from this point forward we will call them what they look like: cankles.

STEP3:Make the espresso cream for layering.

The cream is made with whipped egg whites mixed with marscapone cheese, rum, sugar, espresso and egg yolks. (um, yum).  The egg whites keep it light and the rum and espresso mixture keeps it from being overly sweet.

Whipped egg whites

Folding into the batter


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