Tuesday, May 24, 2011

the goose loves boston cream pie

So I'll start by apologizing for leaving all my "millions" of followers hanging for so many weeks... between being busy at work and then leaving for the East Coast for 10 days, I haven't been getting much blogging done. Not that there's nothing to blog about - I just haven't spent time uploading and writing, etc.

To make up for my absence, my first post back will be the longest and most-photo-intensive post EVER. Or at least so far. And it will be delicious, too!!

A few weeks ago was the UP Commencement. Although my good friend Rachel's fiance Sean was valedictorian, I didn't personally attend the event. But Billy, of course, worked throughout the weekend - early mornings, late nights, etc. Which left me at home, generally car-less, with plenty of time! So I decided to finally make Billy's favorite dessert, Boston Cream Pie.

I had found a recipe in the magazine Cooks Illustrated a few months ago, and decided it would probably be the best. They even used "wicked" in the title, and the recipe/article was by a native Bostonian. Can't go wrong with that.
So I put the dog in his crate and left home, caught the streetcar to Safeway, picked up the ingredients I needed, along with a few other things (like coffee!) and rode back home.

Making the cake/pie wasn't difficult as much as it was time consuming. The various pieces need to sit or chill for several hours in between steps, so I made a timeline of events to ensure that I could finish the cake in time for Billy's arrival home.

So the first step is making the cream that goes inbetween your layers of cake. I heated the milk:

And whipped 6 egg yolks. (I set aside the whites, cooked them, and gave them to Bentley as a treat throughout the day.)

Once the milk was almost simmering, I poured a little of it into the egg mixture to temper it (if you add the eggs into the hot milk right away, the eggs will cook). Then the whole egg mixture goes into the pan of milk to be whisked vigorously!

After adding some vanilla and other stuff, you keep whisking and it eventually gets thick and creamy, like below.

This mixture then gets covered with wax or parchment paper and sits in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

The second element is the cake! While mixing the dry ingredients, you melt butter in milk and heat together in a pan.

This is added to your dry ingredients and mixed in the good ole Kitchenaid.

I greased two 9" cake pans, and flour-ed them. If I had parchment paper, I would have lined the pans with that too, but I had none. This method didn't work too poorly anyway.

The batter goes in the pans, and the pans go in the oven....

And they come out beautifully golden brown about 25 minutes later!

So at this point, you let the cakes cool for at least an hour, then pull out your already-set cream, and begin the assembly!

After spreading a thick layer of cream on the bottom cake, line up the other cake on top. The cream was plenty thick and worked like glue or frosting, so I didn't need to use any toothpicks to hold together.

And here's the side view, albeit a little blurry.

Now, the last step - my favorite part! The chocolate glaze!! I started with 4 oz of a good dark chocolate.

The recipe said to chop finely, so I summoned the help of my trusty cuisinart to do the job. I broke the chocolate bar into chunks, threw them in the mini food chop, and a few minutes later...

Voila! Finely chopped chocolate.

While the chocolate is chopping, I heated heavy cream and corn syrup in my stainless steel frypan.

Once the liquid mixture was nice and warm, I removed it from heat and whisked in the chocolate until it smoothly melted.

Then the chocolate glaze sits in the pan for about 10 minutes to thicken. Mmmmm chocolate.

And the final step.... "decoratively drape" the chocolate glaze over the cake, pouring it in the center and using a spatula to scrape to the edges. Here's my attempt below:

It didn't end up looking too awful, even though my drips could have been more decorative and less gloppy... The problem was that the glaze would drip over the edge, and instead of sliding down the side of the cake, it would slide down the top layer of cake and then drip to the bottom of the plate, primarily skipping the bottom layer. I guess the top layer was slightly larger.

But the taste was insane. After chilling for about 3 hours, it was ready to go! Billy came home from a long weekend of work and was surprised and elated to find a beautiful Boston Cream Pie waiting for him.

We also invited Jackie & Carolyn over to help out with the eating... as good as it was, Billy and I can't get through a whole cake/pie by ourselves!

One thing I noticed - when eating it on the first day, the cake actually seemed to be a little dry... at least drier than I would have expected for a first-class recipe. However, having another serving the next day, the cake was much more soft and moist. So maybe it just needs some time to settle in and gel together. Also, since we left for NY with two big pieces of cake left, we froze it for 10 days. We finished it when we were back, and hardly noticed any loss of flavor or texture!

Overall, I'd recommend it. If you've got a day to make it, it would be well worth your day!

If you want the recipe, leave me a comment or email me... I don't want to break the rules about posting the recipe online, since its a subscription magazine, etc...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

the goose loves her mommy

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! And a very special Mother's Day to my mommy Maria, my grandma Anne, and my staramama Stana! I love you all very much!!

And to show how special my mom is, I'm pulling out a few photos from my mom's recent visit with my dad to Portland! Before we went to OMSI After Dark (awesome, by the way...), we went to McCormick & Schmicks for a little happy hour enjoyment. My dad and Billy happily enjoyed beers alongside our array of food, but my mom is not a big drinker (read: she doesn't drink at all, besides small sips of my dad's wine sometimes). However, she thought my cocktail of the day, a berry daquiri, looked pretty tasty, so she had a sip for herself...
And decided she liked it enough to get her own! She even ordered it "up," which means it comes in a martini glass and is shaken and strained, rather than served on ice. What a classy drinker!

Although I probably had half of her drink, after drinking most of mine (she had a few sips of mine before her own came!), she still enjoyed it along with her lettuce wraps and marinated tofu.

So I'm raising my glass to my wonderful mommy, and to mommys everywhere! Cheers!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

happy birthday mommy!!!

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Today my mom turns 25! Haha not really, but a lady doesn't reveal her mom's age...
I pulled out these great photos from the wedding - my mom, who isn't normally a shopper, went and picked out her dress on her own! And what a sexy dress she chose! It was wonderful to have her support throughout the wedding process, and she looked so good!

Mom, thanks for all you do! I hope your birthday is the best ever! Can't wait to see you in NY!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

bentley loves seattle

So I'm a litttle behind in the posting... I'm jumping back to Easter now...

And the alternate title of this post is "Not Sleepless in Seattle"

On Good Friday, B&B and I drove up to Seattle to spend the Easter weekend with Monika & her new bf Moghan! Also, on Saturday, Billy had a pipe band competition in Vancouver, BC, so he left me and the dog with Monika and drove up to Canada to do his thing. It works out well.

So we loaded up the car with WAY more bags than we should have for 3 days and 2 people and 1 dog, but oh well. (We also had drumming things for competition, which don't count...)
Bentley is like a little baby in the car... once we get on the road, he goes to sleep! And rather awkwardly, at that. Maybe his crate is too small? (shhh I don't want to buy another... hmmm). So here he is, passed out with his neck all crooked.

Meanwhile, during his cozy siesta, I was sewing up the holes in his soft toys. When he was littler, he used to enjoy snuggling and gnawing on stuffed hedgehogs, giaraffes, and dogs. As he got bigger, Bentley decided it was more fun to rip holes in their bodies with his teeth and tear off their tails, ears, legs, and arms. But he's had some of these toys since he was a baby puppy, they are really cute, and we don't have thousands of dollars to spend replacing each toy that looses a leg. So when we go on road trips, I sew up the holes and he gets the toys back until new holes po up.

In the middle of his nap, I woke him up by tucking a freshly-sewed Mr. Hedgehog into his crate. And after a few "I remember you!" licks, he cozied up with Mr. Hedgehog as his pillow.
Later in the drive, he reshifts and readjusts, deciding that this position is now the coziest. Looks awful to me, so I pulled him out of his crate and into my lap for some softer snuggles. And he slept quite peacefully for awhile, until we got to Seattle!

In Seattle, we had a great time with Monika and Moghan. We also met Cru, Moghan's puppy, who's now 5 years old. Cru is part black lab, part Australian Shepherd, and is the sweetest, most well behaved dog ever. He puts Benters to shame! Cru and Bentley loved running around in Monika's backyard, so by the end of the day, Bents was rather exhausted! Here he is, cozied up with Melman (the giaraffe) and Marty (the Zebra). (Haven't you seen Madagascar??!) What a sleepy puppy! Shh - don't tell Monika he's on the couch.

And then, after a lovely weekend in Seattle, we re-packed the car and drove on back home. Bentley resumed his awkward sleeping positions in his crate, as evidenced below:

And some minutes later, his feet pop through the crate door.

Looks like it might be time for a bigger Bentley home... who has a larger crate to donate??! :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

bentley loves his grandpa

Last week my parents came to Portland! We had a great visit and it was awesome having them here. They also met Bentley for the first time! My mom loved him, and my dad thought he was alright. haha. We ate some great food and did the 4T trail, which takes you through Portland on four different types of transportation - sTreetcar ("Trolley"), Train (Max), Trail, & Tram (from OHSU). My mom wasn't a huge fan of the hike, but otherwise we had a great time. And the view from the tram is awesome!

But this is one of my favorite parts of their visit. One morning after breakfast, my dad pulls out his iPad to read a book and settles in on the couch with his coffee. My little dog, having run around enough that morning already, climbs up on my dad's lap and curls up for a cozy snooze!

I should probably point out that my parents are not dog people. They have never had a dog, and likely never will, and frankly have not been around dogs that much in general. So this cozy little dog freaked out my dad a little.
But he's so cuddly!!

In the photo above, Bentley's saying "Leave me alone, I'm snoozing with Grandpa."

In this photo above, Bentley has readjusted himself, and my dad is thinking "What the heck do I do with this warm furry thing on my lap..." I think my dad was afraid to touch him... haha.

And here they both are, reading a great book on the iPad. Or maybe the furry one is sleeping?

I'm sure this didn't change my dad's mind about getting a dog, but at least he put up with my cute little sleepy one!