The Lighter Side Of A Bad Cake Day - צוחקים ביום העוגה הגרועה
So, it is no secret in our house and in the houses of our extended family and friends, that my mother is a baker, par excellence. No matter what she touches it turns out beautifully. When she is invited somewhere she always brings a baked treat - often homemade bread, but sometimes cake or pie or pastry or whatever. She is welcome everywhere.
It is also no secret in our house that I have had a number of hilarious baking flops. Once I made rhubarb pie with swiss chard. Once I used salt instead of sugar and then tried to rescue the tart by washing off the salt - didn't work. Once I baked, or half baked a carrot cake in three ovens because our oven conked out and we had to use two different neighbors' kitchens to finish the job.
Sometimes I have better luck. I can make a decent pie and my pecan balls are pretty yummy. In fact, there are a number of things I can bake but most of them are meant for a crowd, so when we there is just Ken and me, I'd rather not bake. It is too much like chemistry. Too much measuring. So little tolerance for tiny mistakes.
But Ken asked for a pound cake. Now a pound cake was not a thing in our house when I grew up. The closest thing my mother made, was coffee cake. But Ken wanted pound cake and I was determined to deliver. The trouble is, if you look for recipes on the internet there are way too many and they come from strangers. I have never eaten anything these people produce. How can I know whose cake is good and whose cake is not so good? How was I supposed to choose?
So I picked a recipe from a well known chef on foodnetwork.com.
Should have known better.
In any event, the recipe called for sour cream. Red flag! In Israel they have something called שמנת חמוצה (sour cream) but the consistency is not the same as the stuff in America (NA). I decided to try anyway and sent Ken out in the middle of a plague, to buy it.
Okay. Everything here comes in grams and milliliters. Converting cups to grams is a mathematical problem. Easily solved. But no matter how close you come to the equivalents, it is not the same thing and with baking, this make all the difference in the world.
Add to this the fact that my temperature regulation is sick. It doesn't work. 180 is sometimes 375 and sometimes not. 160-170 might be 350, but who knows.
Long story short, the cake was heavy - I mean HEAVY an it was underbaked even after 70 minutes when the recipe said 50 minutes. Today we tossed it.
Depressed, depressed, depressed.
How can a grown woman get depressed over a failed cake? Easily.
So, we went to the Shuk even though almost nothing is open. We walked around and found a few דוכנים (stalls) that were selling חלבה (halva), ביצים (eggs), דגים (fish) and ירקות (vegetables). We bought דניס (sea bream - pronounced da-nees and know in Italy as orata) and asparagus. We got some very good goat yogurt.
Tonight we are having the fish with gnocchi and asparagus in creamy lemon garlic sauce.
I feel so much better. I have my repertoire of desserts. They are different from my Mom's. They are my own. I love her baking. I miss her bread. I will find my own way.
As with all the recipes it will be also be published later under a Creative Commons License. The attribution is important to me. If you enjoy the soup, let me know and don't forget the shout-out.
BT's Easy Fish and Gnocchi Meal
For the Fish
2 whole sea bream filleted. - 4 pieces
2 tablespoon (30 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (45 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) capers in vinegar
2 ounces (60 ml) heavy cream
For the Fish Directions:
Wash fish fillets thoroughly
Cut lemon into slices
Add butter and olive oil to pan (preferably cast iron)
Bring butter and oil up to heat
Turn heat down to medium low
Dredge fish fillets in flour
Lay fish skin side down in hot fat
Season with salt and pepper
Fry on medium low until fish moves easily when pan is shaken
Turn fish over
Fry 2 minutes
Remove fish from pan and add
Add cream, capers, thyme and lemon slices to pan and cook for 1 minute
Pour over fillets
For the Gnocchi and asparagus in Lemon Garlic Sauce
1 lb (500 grams) homemade gnocchi (separate recipe) or commercial gnocchi
2 bunches (approximately 10 spears thin) asparagus
1/4 cup (32 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
5 or 6 cloves new garlic
1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) chili flake
1 tablespoon (15 grams) flour
2 oz. (60 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (480 ml) full fat milk
Zest on half a lemon
1/4 cup (32 grams) parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (32 grams) parsley
Wash asparagus thoroughly
With your hands break the spears where they naturally separate
Place in cold water in shallow pan
Place pan on high heat and bring water to boil
When boiling, turn off heat and move the pan to the sink
Drain hot water and add cold water to stop cooking
Reserve parboiled asparagus for later use
Add butter and olive oil to saucepan
Crush garlic and add to fat
Add chili to fat/garlic
Heat on very low flame until butter is melted
Add flour to pot
Stir until flour is incorporated with no lumps
Add 1/2 of the milk and stir vigorously until the mix begins to thicken
Add the remaining milk and cream
Stir constantly until sauce begins to thicken
Add lemon zest
When sauce is moderately thick (forms a coat on the back of a spoon), turn off heat
Add lemon juice and salt
Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil
Cook gnocchi until they are just tender
Return sauce to medium heat and add cooked gnocchi
When thoroughly heated add reserved asparagus
Toss with parsley and grated parmesan cheese