So I have officially fallen off of the wagon. I have totally abandoned the Points-Plus system. Hell, portion size went out the window about 2 weeks ago. Therefore, the scale is giving me sad face and fat-shaming me. So something needs to change. I could, in theory, start running (something I stopped doing in April (!) when it began to get hot here) but I lost my ipod shuffle. And I could do workout videos at home, but I have a suspicion that Leslie Sansone would scare Brian shitless. So there is the gym. I have been invited to join friends at the gym and try out whatever new fitness fad there is (Zumba, pole dancing, etc) and I have always said “No, I don’t like the gym.” Which is true, I do not like gyms. But then I get the “oh, but this one is different, blah blah blah. Spinning is awesome! Yoga is rad!” response.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I now have a bulletproof reason why I do not go to the gym. And please, feel free to use this as your no-gym alibi as well.
It starts at :40.
There are no words.
But I digress. I am going to strive to be a better, healthier, skinnier person next week. But for now I am blogging while sitting on my fluffy bum and drinking wine (and I’m making Juicy Lucys tonight).
Meanwhile on Dinner is Served!…
In my last post, #22 Manicotti, I mentioned how few vegetarian-friendly cards are in the Dinner is Served! set. Well, here we have #9 Lentil Soup, obviously a vegetarian dish. WRONG! Not only is the base made with a ham bone, the finished product is served with sliced frankfurters. Nothing says vegetarian like ham and hot dogs!
Also, I want to note that I keep wanting to call this Yentl Soup.
Obviously, Yentl Soup would be very different soup. No ham and hot dogs, for one.
My Lentil Soup didn’t have any ham, either, because they didn’t have any ham bones at the Safeway (let me feign surprise). So I opted for smoked turkey necks. I have used necks in the past in kale and collard greens, so I figured they’d work well in this application.
As I am apt to do, I changed the recipe up a bit. Aside from the turkey-ham swap, I didn’t have a large onion so I used one small red onion and two ramps (that I froze from an Arganica order in the Spring), I substituted red pepper flakes for the Cayenne, and I made my soup in the crock pot. Because of that choice, I used about half the amount of liquid; because when switching over to crock pot, you should use half as much liquid. Now, it wasn’t until afterwards I remembered that particular rule of thumb is only applicable when adapting an oven-baked casserole recipe for the slow cooker. But whatever. I periodically added frozen cubes of the righteous chicken broth I made for Chicken Pot Pie.
The soup was the easy part. Once it was in the crock pot, it sat unattended for hours. I will return to the lentils later.
Here’s where it gets dicey: #9 called for an Orange Chiffon Cake. Two big problems: I am by no means a baker and I have never seen, let alone tasted a Chiffon cake, so I went in blind.
I settled on a Jell-O based chiffon cake recipe. Why? Because I love frickin’ Jell-O. This one is from www.uzoj.com filed under Jell-O.
Fruit Jell-O Chiffon Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Jell-O powder (cherry or strawberry)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and Jell-O powder in large mixing bowl. Make a well and add vegetable oil, egg yolks, cold water and vanilla extract. Mix together until batter is smooth.
Into bowl with egg whites, add cream of tartar and beat with mixer until very stiff; stiffer than for angel food cake. Pour batter into egg white mixture and fold very gently until thoroughly mixed. Pour into 10-inch, 4-inch deep tube pan and bake at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes. If cake springs back when touched gently, it is done. If not, bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes longer. Turn pan upside-down to cool.
I had to buy a tube pan specifically for this cake because why the hell would I own a tube pan? So I went to Target and I opted for one in ‘Harvest Gold.’ I would’ve purchased ‘Avocado’ if they had one.
So here is the creation of my Orange Chiffon Cake, in pictures.
Success! Maybe. Like I said, I didn’t know what it was supposed to be. It looked fluffy, sorta like an angel food cake, and it didn’t fall out of the pan when inverted, didn’t get stuck in the pan when I didn’t want it to, and it wasn’t burnt. I consider that a win.
Now to the next step. Icing!
Remainder of Jell-O powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Add remaining Jell-O to sugar, shortening, milk and cream of tartar and cook over moderate flame. Stir constantly until you get a rolling boil (about 200 degrees F). Cool down to about 110 degrees F and add egg yolk. Mix well into first mixture and add confectioners’ sugar. If icing is too thin, put pan in cold water until it gets harder. Spread on cooled cake.
When I purchased the tube pan I bought a candy thermometer as well because there are temperatures listed in the recipe. And then I immediately returned it because I thought: pshaw! I have an electric skillet with temperature-control! I don’t need this stinkin’ thermometer!
So fast forward to me and the electric skillet. I started off strong, with the Jell-O, sugar, shortening, milk, and cream of tartar.
But I don’t think the mixture was cool enough when I added the beaten egg, so it cooked into little yellow blobs like in egg drop soup.
I added the confectioner’s sugar. Was the temperature supposed to stay at 110 degrees? How in the name of all that is holy that the icing would be too thin at this temperature? The mixture hardened as soon as I got it out of the skillet and onto the spatula. Blobby, blobby, blob, blob, blob.
There is my Orange Chiffon Cake: iced.
But iced is not the right word. It looks like Play Doh or the world’s worst stucco job. In person the ‘icing’ was somewhere on the color wheel between orange sherbet and lox spread. Yummy!
I had to do something to make my cake more aesthetically pleasing, but what? I compared making this cake pretty with putting a dress on a turd. Ultimately I tried to cover up as much of the icing as possible with candied orange slices. Which I made myself.
Candied Orange Slices from Food & Wine magazine
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 navel orange, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- In a medium skillet, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the orange slices and cook over moderate heat, turning them occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange slices are translucent, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until the syrup is thick and the slices are tender but still intact, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer the orange slices to a rack to cool. Reserve the syrup for another use.
Surprisingly, these actually worked. If I had more time I would have left the slices on the rack to cool longer. But since I was serving dinner that night I put the rack in a low oven for a short while (20 min or so?) to accelerate the drying process.
This is what the gussied up cake ended up looking like:
Back to the soup.
So the soup had been in the crock pot for HOURS and cooked down so much that I totally skipped the “cut ham from ham bone” step because the turkey necks had absolutely disintegrated. And I didn’t have to bust out the immersion blender because everything had cooked down into a homogeneous mixture. But it did mean that I had to spend a while fishing out all of the turkey vertebrae. The damn things completely fell apart.
These were really hard to find because they were tiny. And even though I thought I got them all I was still finding bits of cartilage now and then when eating it. Sorry, gross, I know.
I also made the Caesar Salad, per #9′s instructions. But I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Since I was only making enough salad for me and Cleve, I halved everything. Also, I did not soak the garlic in oil for hours. What I did do was put the garlic in oil (2 tbsp) and cooked it on a very low flame for a minute or two to create a garlic-infused oil. I found it odd that hot sauce and Dijon mustard were missing from this recipe. I thought those were standard ingredients. Anyway, I made it as directed and it wasn’t bad (I did add some Crystal Hot Sauce later on).
I made my own croutons as well. I took a hard roll, cubed it, tossed it with a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, and paprika. I put it in the toaster oven at about 400 degrees. I baked them for 5 minutes then tossed. Another 3 minutes. Toss. 3 minutes. Toss. 3 minutes and done. I kept an eye on them because I didn’t want them to scorch. My Caesar Salad pic doesn’t want to load. Whatever.
Here is the side by side:
Yeah, they don’t look anything alike. As you can tell, my version looks more like pork and beans, which I guess it was similar to. Or pulled pork. This might be the heartiest soup I have ever made. And I’ve made some hefty pottages. Can you imagine if I had then thrown sliced frankfurters into that? I guess I should have put in the full amount of liquid at the get-go. Lesson learned.
OK, so that’s #9. I’m so glad I’m done with that goddamned cake.
I’m going to NYC for a couple days so I’ll be off the grid, but I will soon return with another retro recipe gem.