Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dinner with my sister Nancy and her friend Russ

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, 
that he may lift you up in due time. 
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 
1 Peter 5:6-7

The really unique thing about this dinner is that there were only 6 of us at the table. I really like a dinner party that size, but it rarely occurs.

Nancy and Russ
Peter and Debbie
Molly and Riley

green salad with spring onion vinaigrette
French bread
meatballs in spicy tomato sauce
egg noodles
pear tart

I managed to keep the menu simple, though it was not an easy menu. Making the meatballs takes time, as does the pear tart, but if I say so myself, everything turned out very nicely.

We had never met Russ before. He came up from California with Nancy to attend my dad's 90th birthday party. He particularly wanted to see my Lacanche stove. I'm not sure, but it seemed that he was tremendously underwhelmed by it. But he did like the dinner, especially the pear tart. Actually, everyone liked the pear tart. I had modified the recipe a tiny bit, adding 1/4 tsp orange essence to the cream cheese mixture.

I had hoped I would get to work on the birthday cakes for my dad after they left, but I was way too tired, and I just went to bed. Actually, I probably fell asleep while watching baseball, and then went to bed.

"Flattery is all right so long as you don't inhale."
Adlai Stevenson

Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Cheesecake

"Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? 
Yet not one of them is forgotten before God." 
Luke 12:6

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. 
She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I can't believe I almost missed this post. I was so busy today catching up on past posting, mainly Easter, that I didn't post this. The irony is that I made the cheesecake for Easter dinner, and I was avoiding putting a picture of the cheesecake on the post, because I thought the post date was Thursday.

I don't like cheesecake, but a lot of other people do, so Easter was just perfect for this dessert. Since I never think much about cheesecake I wasn't sure what to do with it. But I remembered the strawberry mirror cake that the Daring Bakers made before I joined. I thought that topping looked pretty impressive, so I decided to give it a go.

I also decided that I'd make two smaller cakes, one plain and one strawberry. The hitch in that plan was that I couldn't find two small pans the same size in my baking pan arsenal. But I found two that are pretty close in size. One is a typical German springform pan, and the other is a tall loose bottom pan from England that I bought in Hong Kong years ago. I wrapped both pans in double foil, though I had read somewhere that even that doesn't prevent the crust from getting soggy.

My filling was just as the recipe said - no added anything. I selected a bigger pan that the two pans could fit into, but unfortunately I forgot to take into account the dimension of the foil, so they were in there quite snuggly, which proved to be not a good thing, as one of the cakes was done before the other, and it was darned hard to get it out of the hot water. Live and learn.

The one in the front is my English pan, and it did not get a soggy crust. The one in the back in the springform pan did get a slightly soggy crust. I have no idea why. You can see the evidence of this in the picture below.

On Easter I found the recipe for the top of the mirror cake, and made it up and placed in on my bigger cheesecake. I think that I let the mixture get just a bit colder than I should have, and the gelatin was a bit too set when I put it on. But no harm, everyone liked it any way. My daughter who really likes cheesecake said that it was the best on she'd ever tasted.

"Remember you humanity and forget the rest" 
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dinner with the Mellis

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly 
beyond all that we ask or think, 
according to the power that works within us, 
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus 
to all generations forever and ever. Amen." 
Ephesians 3:20-21

It's always so nice to get together with old friends, especially ones as cool as the Mellis. We were not of us quite sure, but we think the last time we got together was in 2001, and we visited them in Germany in 1999. This day was chosen for the dinner because it was the only one when all our children could come. Sarah and Zac were in Tennessee until last night, when we picked them up at the airport at midnight. I'm surprised at how well everything went, considering how little sleep Riley and I got last night. For myself, I got 5 1/2 hours sleep. It was something like that for Riley.

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: 
not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." 
C. S. Lewis

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday - a family dinner

"He is not here, but He has risen 
Remember how He spoke to you 
while He was still in Galilee, 
saying that the Son of Man 
must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, 
and be crucified, and the third day rise again." 
Luke 24:6-7 

Yesterday I was feeling just a sick as ever, thinking that I was never going to get well. But today I really felt pretty good, which is great, as I needed to hit the ground running at 7:00 AM. We decided to go to the first service at church, and it was scheduled for 8:15, instead of the usual 9:15.  

Yesterday I had managed to make two cheese cakes and a batch of meringues for an Eton Mess.  But that was about all. Well actually we had cleared off the table and counter in the back room. That in itself was a good accomplishment, as it seems that every surface needs to be covered with stuff in this house.

And I also got the salad dressing made, because I was cleaning in the kitchen and I saw that my gallon of rice vinegar was down to about a half cup.

So I got up this morning, washed my hair, started the French bread, got the cheesecakes into the downstairs refrigerator, and then dear sweet Riley said he'd iron my dress while I dried my hair. Everything went quite well, really, and we were only about 5 minutes late for church.

Guest List:
Heidi and Stephane
Christina, Emily, and Parker
Ken and Marilyn
Annie and Corey
Gramma and Grampa
Bill and Jill


French bread
green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and pears
with an orange vinaigrette dressing

baked ham
scalloped potatoes

gateau au fromage classique
strawberry glazed cheesecake
orange flan
Eton Mess
coffee and tea

After church Riley and I stopped at the grocery store for some half and half and an orange for the flan. When I had made the meringues I had six egg yolks that needed to be made into something, so I chose Orange Flan. Somehow, in between everything I worked on setting the table, cleaning up the toys, and keeping the kitchen mess in order.

We got home, ate a little breakfast, and then we started right in on all the things that needed doing. I started right in on the flan, then I moved on to putting a strawberry jelly on top of one of the cheesecakes. By one o'clock I started the ham. By the time it was in I began to worry about the scalloped potatoes. I had thought that Annie wanted to do it, but I called her and somehow she thought I was going to do it. So I realized I had better get going fast on the potatoes. That was a lot of peeling and cutting. But I finally got it into the oven about 20 minutes late.

So I had the ham in the gas oven, the potatoes in the Miele, the meringues were in the warming cupboard just chilling, and the electric oven was heating up for the bread. I got out all the things for the salad, and just about then Ken and Marilyn showed up. Marilyn volenteered to help with the salad. She also offered to put the bread in the oven, slashing the bread in her own unique little way.

Soon everyone else arrived. My Mom brought me a lovely bouquet of flowers from her garden. Emily arrived in a beautiful dress that had a Central European look about it. And Heidi arrived with eggs for the hunt. Things were fast winding down as people began to settle in. I don't know what they all did, but I did see Riley handing out classes of Scotch. Unfortunately Riley was really tired. I think I should have insisted that he eat a proper lunch.

We all sat down to salad and bread at about 3:30 - not bad really.
Everyone loved the bread. It could have been the new flour that I used - Stone-Buhr Unbleached White Bread Flour. Everyone went right through the bread. The pears were great in the salad. I used some little yellow ones. Parker gave thumbs up to the bread, but he didn't want any salad, and neither did Emily.

By the time we finished the salad course, the main course seemed quite ready. We cleared off the salad plates, and I quickly heated up the asparagus, and got it all on the table, the ham, and scalloped potatoes and asparagus.

The ham was purchased at Costco, and it was labeled Martha Stewart, and the scalloped potato recipe was a modification of on in Martha Stewart's book Entertaining. This was a coincidence, but in fact we found a video on the internet of Martha preparing both the ham and the potatoes. I did not use as much cream as she called for.

I think that it was all just the perfect amount of food. This needs to happen to Thanksgiving. Maybe for Thanksgiving what we need is to have more than one day for eating the food. But that's another talk. People cleared off the table when we were done, and I went into the kitchen to make Eton Mess with the little kids. We had a lot of fun.

Emily broke up the meringue for a while, and then Parker took over and finished the job. We then moved on to assembling the whole think is a big bowl, with Emily on whipped cream, Parker on strawberries, and me on the meringue.

They were pretty proud of the work.

For dessert we also had cheesecakes and orange flan.  The flan was a really big hit.

And to end it all we had an Easter egg hunt. Actually, only Emily and Parker participated, as my children have decided that they don't like doing an Easter egg hunt. This was the first time in 35 years that I did not make Easter baskets for my girls. A bit sad that. But anyway, Christian had great fun hiding the eggs. He too felt that he was too old to hunt for eggs.

Emily and Parker each had very different views of what the hunt was all about. For Parker it was all about the chocolate, and for Emily it was all about the Eggs. So she gave him her chocolate, and he gave her his empty eggs.

"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. 
Let them walk to school like I did."
Yogi Berra