Weird looking Lemon Angel Food cake

I had quite a few roomies when I was in university.  One roomie I had didn't cook at all, except for a wicked spaghetti sauce (and what more do you need really?), unless it involved 15 minutes or less of her life.  Another roomie was meticulous.  She cooked to the letter or number of the recipe.  No deviation.  No ifs ands or buts.  Everything tasted fine if sometimes a little uninspired.  Yup.
Another roomie hardly ever used a cookbook but she made everything from scratch.  That was awesome.  I learned so much from her.  I really thought that it just wouldn't matter what we had in the flat, if she wanted to make something then she would find a way to make it work.  Something would turn up from somewhere and be a substitute for something else.  It didn't always work of course but it seemed at the time like it did.  We also had a blast cooking together.
I've ended up assimilating the asthetic rather well and as a result have gotten too lackadaisical about 'the correct' ingredients.

This cake is a perfect example.  I'm supposed to be using cake flour but I don't usually keep cake flour.  To be honest, when I have baked with cake flour I've found the result to be a cake that is too dense for my liking.  Anyway, I sifted the all purpose flour and sugar together multiple times, from one bowl to another.  Still, my cake does not look like the one in the pictures at all.
Maybe I didn't bother to figure out whether I had exactly 12 egg whites.  I just throw the egg whites into a container in the freezer after making ice cream with the egg yolks.  So who's counting?  I didn't make any big substitutions though... yet still my cake looks weird.  It's got this strange angle thing going on.  It's like the middle of the cake just kinda crapped out.  Weird.

Fortunately it just looked weird and if I had covered it in icing then no one would have been the wiser.  The icing would probably really make the thing but it was the middle of the week and I was too damn lazy, truth be told.  The taste is nice although I prefer just a little more tang.  Perhaps a little more juice?  Maybe just more zest.  Maybe just icing... not sure.
The moral of the story:  Sometimes substitutions can work and sometimes they make things look weird.

Lemon Angel Food Cake adapted from Cozy Kitchen
makes one cake

1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Butter and flour an angel food cake tin (it's supposed to have legs apparently but I just have a tube pan)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift together the flour and sugar.  Sift 4 times in total.
Beat the egg whites until they just start to form stiff peaks (about 10 - 12 minutes or so).  Add in the cream of tartar, vanilla, lemon rind and lemon juice.  Beat for a little longer or until the mixture is doubled in volume and quite stiff.
Gently fold in the flour/sugar mixture in thirds mixing well but gently after each addition.
Gently pour the contents in the tube pan.  Run a knife through the batter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until it's risen well and is golden on the top.
Remove from oven and cool for about 1 1/2 hours before removing from the tube pan.
Add icing once it's completely cool.
heavy cream
icing sugar
lemon juice

Squash and Lentil Lasagna experiment.

I told myself that I wouldn't complain but I gotta tell'ya that I'm mad.
I'm mad that it still feels like winter.
I'm mad that although I got a nice butternut squash in the food box this week it wasn't big enough for me to make this recipe so I had to go to the grocery and get one.
I'm mad that the one I got one was Honduras!  Honduras?!  It's Ontario, it's the end of winter and I need a winter squash... why in hell are we getting squash from Honduras.  I was stuck, I needed it so it came home with me.

I'm mad that I had to rush to make this because my day was badly scheduled.
I'm made that because I rushed this recipe didn't turn out as well as I had hoped... it was just good.
Last but not least, I'm mad that I work too much... but that's a whole other story and therapist appointment.
Honestly my Peeps, there are lots of things that I'm happy about too, I just can't think of them right now... I'll write another post about that.
I really did want to play with this a little more.  A few weeks ago I started scouring cookbooks and the net for a lasagna that had a nut sauce base.  A university friend reminded me that during my 'veggie phase' I made it for him and he really liked it.  I still have found nothing.  In the process though I asked another friend of mine who is an incredible resource on these kinds of things about whether she had a recipe for it/heart of a recipe for it/had any ideas about how it might be done... etc.  She didn't have any of the above but she did tell me about one of her favourite lasagna dishes that uses a Squash sauce.  The idea sounded interesting.  I had just made a squash and greens lasagna but I left the roasted squash in chunks.
The difference this time?  I roasted the squash and then mashed it.  Then, 'cause I had them in the fridge from D's Mom, I threw in some cooked and seasoned lentils.  If I had thought ahead I would have mashed them too.

So think a sauce of seasoned, roasted squash, lentil and veggies.  Another sauce, just bechamel.  And lots of cheese.  Sounds good right?  Well, kinda.  The squash is just a little sweet which is a beautiful thing it's just that the lentils kinda cancelled out the sweetness of the squash.  Plus I think that the lentils needed to be pulsed or something.  In general I guess what I'm sayin' is that the lentils might not be the best addition.
Don't get me wrong, the lasagna is good... just not great.  Add the lentils or leave 'em out... let me know the result.

Squash and lentil Lasagna
serves 12

12 - 15 lasagna noodles cooked al dente (as many as you need to make about 4 layers of the lasagna)

Veggie Sauce:
4 - 5 cups butternut squash, de-seeded, cut into chunks and roasted (toss the chunks in oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.)
1 med onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 medium zucchini, diced
3 cups chard, diced
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp each, basil, rosemary, marjoram, oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne or 1 tsp pepper sauce
1 veggie bouillion cube
1/2 cup or so of water (reserved pasta water maybe)
1 cup cooked and seasoned lentils (I used green lentils but Puy would work nicely too)

4 cups warm milk
6 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp flour
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
dash of mustard powder

3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Get a large roaster or lasagna dish ready.
Mash the roasted squash with a potato masher and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add some oil (your choice) and add the onion, zucchini and chard.  Saute together for about 5 - 7 minutes over med/low heat.  Add in the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Add in the herbs, cayenne, bouillion cube and Worcestershire.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Add in the lentils and mix well.  Add in the mashed squash.  Mix well.  Add water until the mixture is the consistency of a spreadable sauce.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Once melted and bubbling add the flour and combine until it's a thick paste.  Slowly add in the warm milk, adding by a 1/2 cup at a time and whisking constantly until all the milk is added.  Heat over med/low heat until the sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and add in the salt, parmesan and mustard powder (add in a dash of Worcestershire if your heart desires as well - hell, throw in some pepper sauce too).

In the bottom of the roaster add enough squash sauce to barely cover the bottom.  Cover with a layer of cooked noodles.  Add another layer of squash.  Then a ladle or two of Bechamel and then about a 1/2 cup of mozzarella.  Continue in this order until it's all used up.
Top with remaining mozzarella and sprinkle some parmesan on the top as well.
Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until bubbling at the sides and browning on the top.
Cool for about 20 minutes or so before serving.

This stuff always tastes better the next day.
p.s. if you think of some brilliant ways to spice this up a bit more PLEASE let me know...

Apple Galette, that's two for the week.

I know.
Like I've never made it before and then all of a sudden I've made two in seven days.  That's just the way it rolls sometimes.  Nothing and then full on, out of control.
The reason that this happened was because we were having friends over for dinner.  I'm happy to announce to you all that this entertaining experience was a pleasant one for me.  Most of the work was done way ahead of time and I was able to eat and to enjoy friends without stressing about the food, fussing too much, losing my appetite and generally not enjoying myself.
I decided that rustic was the way to go for this one.  Shepherds Pie (with the successful addition of lentils to the meat mixture - yeah, I'm proud of that one too), Apple Galette served with homemade vanilla ice cream.  I made everything ahead of time enough that it just had to be heated and then served.  It worked perfectly.
Ok, so not ahead of time enough apparently.  This happened while I was in the kitchen... camera shenanigans.
I've been thinking a lot about this whole 'foodie' label thing lately.  Thinking about how I am kinda a food snob and then kinda not at the same time.  Sometimes when I tell people that I'm a food blogger or that I feel strongly about the food industry or that I simply refuse to eat food X then I feel kinda elitist.  The truth is though that I don't need exotic ingredients, expensive ingredients or recipes that are complicated or take hours of labour.  I DO need whole food, simple, real food.  I need food that tastes like it should taste, for real, and not how some lab made it taste.  What makes french food so wonderful is not the way they make complicated food taste good but the way that they can make such simple, everyday ingredients so delicious.  Rustic, delicious and simple.  Hence... Galette... again.  Crust. Apples. Cinnamon. Sugar.  Vanilla Ice Cream!
It was great to see our friends again and they brought a little something for us all to enjoy as well.

Truth be told, we had eaten quite a few already.

They also brought along the news that they will be 3 instead of 2 very soon, which is awesome news.

If we had known we would have popped a cork but then the one of us wouldn't have been able to drink the bubbly to celebrate and that just doesn't seem fair.  So that part of the celebration will wait until after #3 is here with us.  Instead of champagne we ate our shepherd's pie (multiple helpings and no leftovers thank you very much), had generous helpings of galette with a nice big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream sliding off the warm galette and laughed... a lot.

Apple Galette adapted from all over the place
serves 6

6 apples or so, in slices for pie
2 tbsp brown sugar
dash of salt
splash of lemon juice (optional)


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp ice water
1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Combine the flour and the salt.  Cut in the cold butter using a fork or a pastry cutter.  Once the butter is blended and the mixture looks crumbly then add the water and sour cream.  Using a spoon or your hands (yes!) to mix it into a ball.  If you need more water then add little by little until the dough forms an easy ball.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.  Before rolling you may want to take out the dough for about 10 minutes to soften up.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's about 1/4 inch thick and quite a circumference.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Carefully place the dough on a lined baking sheet (use parchment or a silicon liner).
Take the apple mixture and place it in the centre of the dough circle.  Spread out the apple leaving  3 inches or so at each edge.  Fold up the edges of the dough around the apples.

Brush the dough with melted butter and pour any remaining melted butter over the apples.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until the apples are bubbling and the dough is turning golden brown on the edges.
Cool for about 10 minutes.
Serve warm with homemade vanilla ice cream (is there any other way?)

Kid #1's first dinner

I have a 10 year old kid.  We do well together.  I'm not always the world's greatest parent and she's not always the worlds best kid... so we're even and it works for us.  We like each other a lot.  We love each other in fact.

Tonight was a big night for me.  Kid #1 has been curious about cooking and baking for a long time and I involve both Kid #1 and #2 as much as I can.  I've been encouraging Kid #1 to get out some of her 'cookbooks' and start working them.  Tonight... she actually did it.
She has a goofy Roald Dahl cookbook.  It's pretty cool really.  The book takes excerpts involving food from Roald Dahl stories and creates recipes for the food.

Kid #1 decided that today she would make dinner and that dinner would be 'Hotel Breakfast' from Dahl's book 'Boy'.

She got out the ingredients.  She prepared the pan and turned on the oven.

The only thing that I had to involve myself in was turning the bacon in the pan while she cleaned up the floor after dropping an egg.  (One of the many lessons you learn while cooking is that you have to take your time, not try to do 10 different things at once and to zone out if necessary when one - or more - person is asking you a question). Oh yeah, I also helped with the oven inning and outing.
Without further ado, I proudly offer you Kid #1's first dinner... Hotel Breakfast

Kid #1 took this shot... a budding food blogger?

Eggs and Bacon from Roald Dahl's 'Even More Revolting Recipes'

6 slices of bacon
5 eggs
salt and pepper
2 1/2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Fry Bacon until it gets just nicely browned in a large caste iron frying pan that can go in the oven (watch the handle in other words).
Crack eggs in a bowl.  Mix them with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the milk and whisk for a minute.
Add the eggs to the frying pan, don't stir.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese on the top.
Leave on the burner for a minute.
Put the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until it's puffy and golden on the top.
Remove from oven and cool briefly.

A girl very proud of herself.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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