One Fluted Mold, Two New Ideas

Have fluted mold, will travel...

Late last December and in early January, I found myself rising to the challenge of baking something completely different from just about everything I’ve baked before.  First, Michi-meow‘s mother asked if I made rum cakes, specifically those made in the magnificent, buttery, decadent style that used to be served at Savory Chicken during the Holiday season.  Then, my mother asked if I could bake something for one of her closest friends.

In both cases, I used my mother’s somewhat battered steel fluted mold.  It’s something I’ve rarely ever used, seeing how it’s too small for most of the recipes in my baking repertoire.  (It is, however, perfect for making brioche.)  But those two challenges finally gave it a chance to shine.

The first result is shown in the snapshot above: a beautifully golden kugelhupf for Mom’s friend.  It’s a very fancy bit of bread baking: brioche dough is allowed to rise, then cut into thin slices.  Each slice is spread with a truly mouthwatering paste made with butter, sugar, and chopped mixed nuts (I used a blend of toasted cashews, pecans, and almonds for this) and layered one on top of the other in a fluted mold.  It took a bit longer to bake than an average brioche, but the end result was pure, delicious decadence.

The second result actually yielded three cakes: two in portable aluminum tins and the third baked in the mold.  I ended up with some seriously buttery, magnificently fluffy cake, rum-sodden and perfect with coffee.

All things considered, this little mold is definitely a keeper.  😀

The Grown-up Mid-afternoon Milk Break Stays Home

Chocolate Mudshake and a thick chocolate crinkle

I don’t usually go for anything alcoholic unless it’s served at a party or an official function.  In my case, you see, alcohol is simply an occasional thing or – most of the time – an ingredient for pasta sauces (red wine) or cakes (rum and a whole plethora of sweet liqueurs indispensable for flavoring decadent treats).

However, given the stressful nature of recent events, sipping something with a bit of a buzz became somewhat necessary.  Between madness at work, troublesome and tightfisted clients, panicking over my [non-existent] social life, and my brother’s catching the measles (this making him miss out on the recently concluded 2nd National Congress of the Clergy), I needed something to calm me down.

It was fortunate that I still had about a third of a bottle of Vodka Mudshake in chocolate from a recent order for rum cakes.  This nifty little sipper is a product of Australia’s Independent Distillers.  It’s been on the market for quite some time now, but I only started using it recently when I noted that the creaminess and the gorgeously rich flavors made my rum cakes truly special.

So, how did I enjoy this?  I poured the remaining third of Mudshake over some ice in a small glass and filled up the remainder with low-fat milk.  (If you’re going to do this yourself, don’t stir!  Just let the liqueur lace the milk in a tantalizing manner.)

Now, serving it with a fat, undeniably rich chocolate crinkle may seem like overkill, but if your day – or week, for that matter – got shot to hell, you’re going to need all that unctuous yumminess to help you feel better.

On Deep-fried Mac and Cheese…

Like I said at the end of yesterday’s post, you will most likely have leftovers after making a meal of macaroni and cheese.  These leftovers chill well and will probably be in a loaf-like state come morning, thus enabling you to slice clean chunks off it.  So, what does one do with leftover mac-and-cheese?  Why, take a cue from TGIFriday’s and make deep-fried macaroni and cheese!

 

This is a lovely snack: crisp on the outside, chewy and gooey on the inside.  Not the healthiest thing, I know, but it can put a smile on your face even on the gloomiest days.

Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese

  • leftover macaroni and cheese, chilled
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • oil for deep frying

Slice up your macaroni and cheese into slightly bigger than bite-sized chunks.  Beat the egg, sift in the flour, and add the water; mix unti a thinnish batter is formed.  Dip the macaroni chunks evenly into the batter.

Heat up the oil in a wok or large saucepan and cook the battered chunks in small batches till golden brown.  Allow to drain on paper towels before serving.  You can choose to serve these with a side of ketchup, but I think these taste best on their own.

Number of servings will depend on how much mac-and-cheese you had to begin with.  😀

Macaroni and Cheese: Comfort Food with Complications

Mac and Cheese, please!

There is something to be said about macaroni and cheese.  It’s a deceptive dish in the sense that it appears to be so simple, but actually entails a rather complicated conundrum that has split its fans into two opposing camps: more sauce VS more cheese.

And it even goes beyond that simple argument.  There are those who claim that mac and cheese can be made with just about any kind of cheese you have in your fridge or larder.  There are those, on the other hand, who claim that the vivid orange American cheese is the only kind you can use.  And there’s an equally vocal third party that claims that you should use good ol’ fashioned Cheddar – and nothing else.

I don’t feel much like siding with any of the camps involved in this convoluted debate; I don’t feel qualified to, come to think of it.  That said, my take on the dish actually breaks all the standard-issue rules surrounding it.  Almost every Filipino household, you see, has a glut of queso de bola – those red-waxed globes of Edam or Gouda – after the Holiday Season.  Since the stuff keeps almost indefinitely, some families stick them in the fridge whole.  Others, like mine, will slice up or grate those cheeses to make a reasonable – and certainly tasty – substitute for pricey Parmigiano-Reggiano.  And with all that cheese in one’s kitchen, one has to find new ways of using it up!

Midge’s Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 500-gram pack elbow macaroni, prepared according to package instructions
  • 3 cups grated queso de bola
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup softened salted butter
  • scant 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard

Prepare the macaroni according to the instructions on the package.  Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Once it’s bubbling, add the onion and cook till soft.  Add the garlic and cook till slightly browned.  Add the carrots and cook for about ten seconds, then add the flour.  Stir till the flour starts clumping together with the rest of the ingredients.  Add the milk and water; reduce the temperature to medium and bring to a boil whilst stirring constantly.

Once the mixture boils, add the mustard and stir.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the grated cheese.  Add the remaining cheese a handful at a time to the boiling mixture and stir until all the cheese has melted and you have a smooth, creamy sauce.  Remove from the heat.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.  Butter a rectangular baking dish; set aside.

Add the macaroni to the sauce and mix well.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, making sure to spread it evenly.  Top with the reserved 1/2 cup of grated cheese.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.  Serve immediately.

This makes enough – and then some – for six diners.  You will definitely have some left over.  Save any leftovers and I will share a perfect way for sprucing them up in tomorrow’s post.  😀

Quick Post: Sweet, Cold, and Strawberry-topped

Chocolate-coated strawberry Waffle Treat

Despite the cold weather we’ve been having lately, I’ve noticed that ice cream still hits the spot on really gruesome days.

This maddening little confection is Dairy Queen‘s chocolate-coated strawberry Waffle Treat.  Essentially a sundae, it involves classic vanilla soft-serve dished out in a waffle cup, gussied up with whipped cream rosettes and copious amounts of chocolate Magic Shell, and several choc-dipped strawberries complete the dish.

Bad for the hips, yes; but good for an aching psyche.  😀