Some people climb up Mount Everest - I just bake cakes.

Whoo hoo!! I am becoming a Daring Baker!!

You heard me! I have once again gotten in over my head - but at least this time it is in cream, butter and eggs.

The Daring Bakers made Bostini Cream Pie this month. I want to say thanks to Mary of Alpineberry for being the hostess this month!

My family actually took off for a trip to the store to stay out of my way. When I am trying something new, I like to concentrate with everything I've got. Fielding questions about boys and homework assignments from the daughter plus having the hubby yell, "Honey! Come look at this play!" just isn't conducive to keeping mom happy while she is stressing over the detail of her latest creation.

The recipe consists of three components: A pastry cream, a chiffon cake and a chocolate sauce.

I had made pastry cream before so I wasn't too worried about the custard, but I was concerned about the chiffon cake. I rarely make cakes from scratch. My family is more of a cookie and pie kinda group - so this was a nice change of pace.

I sweated over this cake. I squeezed the oranges myself - no prepackaged juice here! I separated eggs 'til I was tired of looking at their little yolks. I got to use the whisk attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer. It was a good workout of the old culinary skills...

Here is evidence that even I - cake challenged as I am - can make a chiffon cake.

The custard on the other hand - I wish I had cooked it just a tad longer. It was a little too runny, but I hurried. A couple more minutes would have made the difference.

And by the way- WTF is a 1/3 of a teaspoon? That is not a real measurement. If it doesn't come on a regular set of measuring spoons then it don't exist!!
So say I!

Would I take the time to make this again? Most likely not. I am not a big fan of Boston cream pie. My family gave it only an "It's OK" rating. And considering the time and expense - I can think of lots of other recipes that would better suit the taste buds in my household.

So here is the final picture of my creation.

I look forward to next month's challenge. Sometimes you just need to get a good workout to get the old creative juices flowing!

Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
(makes 8 generous servings)


Custard (Pastry Cream)
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter


To prepare the custard (pastry cream):
Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:
Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.

The Wretched Leaf

Howdy All!
True I haven't been by for a while but I am still here. Finding a few minutes to sit down has been a challenge, but rest assured - I am still cooking my lil heart out.

Here is a little secret - I had never had arugula until about a month ago. Lisa at Restaurant Widow shared a week of her CSA with me back in September. One of the items was a big bag of strange looking leaves. Tony sniffed them and said," I think we are ok - they appear to be legal." After making a huge salad - I was hooked. Maybe Tony was wrong. Maybe we weren't ok - because for every day of the following week I had a craving for the mysterious leaf. I suspected it was Arugula - a weed from Italy that had already addicted hundred of thousands in Europe and the US. Dammit - here I thought I was safe but nooooooooooo - I craved it like all the others....

So I did the rehab program - you know the one - the program where they try to "Americanize" your taste buds. The first thing the clinic tried was a iceberg lettuce salad drenched with Kraft Italian. The waitress (read "Nurse Wretched") watched while I choked it down... she kept asking if I was sure I didn't need any more dressing.It was horrible - I still have nightmares. When I read the menu for the second day, I knew I had to escape. More of the same salad but with "croutons", Banquet pot pies and instant mashed taters. I used the remains of the dressing to corrode the bars to my "suite" and made off into the night....

In an attempt to get my next fix, I came early to the last installment of the Worthington Farmers' Market. Yes! Yes!! It was there!!! I bought my new favorite in two forms - the first was small tender leaves for eating raw and the second was in a mix of larger greens which were labeled as "braising" greens. Oh fraptious day!

Now - what to eat with my green leafy fix? Hmmmmmm....
Taking a cue from one of my heroes, Fergus Henderson, I decided that I would pair a simple salad of arugula dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil and kosher salt with chicken livers dredged in seasoned flour and pan fried in bacon fat. The richness of the livers would be cut by the peppery vinegar bite of the salad - just like the richness of marrow bones is cut by his signature parsley salad.

See - even an old dog can learn something once in a while....

I used to never eat chicken livers either. I learned to love the dark slick morsels when I was waiting tables. One of the cooks, Henrietta, told me she was going to make me a special breakfast the next day because the boss had been busting my chops all week. The next morning she whipped up corn bread, greens cooked with bacon and chicken livers. It was the best. I learned how to cook the greens and livers from her the next morning. So worth getting my ass chewed out.

This is basically her recipe:
Clean the livers - take off any stringy stuff (veins or what have you). Dip them in seasoned flour (I use seasoned salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and a little onion powder in mine.) Melt some bacon fat in the pan over medium high heat, Throw in your livers, making sure not to crowd them.

A note about chicken livers. Please do not over cook them. There is nothing worse than dried out liver. Cook until just a little too pink on the inside and take them off the heat. The carry over will finished them to a perfect pale pink on the inside.
The stuff that dreams are made of....

Here is a picture of my lunch from Saturday. I served it with crusty bread and sweet tea.

So thank you Lisa for sharing you goodies with me - I have a new favorite dish!

Now that you all know how daring I am - tune in tomorrow to see just how daring I am going to get!!