Another Chocolate Birthday Cake

Save the sighs.  It was good and I bet you wish you were here to have some too.  Actually, I wish that you were here right now.
Here's why...

D and I have a good relationship.  We've been together for a lot of years and we're happy to have had them.  yeah, there've been downs.  That's normal.  Times when we've wanted to throw in the towel, forget it all happened, shake hands and walk away... but we didn't.  Having weathered enough crap between the two of us and with life in general we can both honestly confess our good fortune at spending this time together.
Tomorrow is D's birthday.  It's not a big one - no big landmarks, 'Oh jeez, I can't believe you're that old' or 'You know, I always thought that by the time I got this old that I would be on my way out' or anything like that.  It's just a birthday.
What's making this birthday a little extra special and/or odd is that D will be on a plane.  He's going to Burkina Faso for about 18 days give or take.  I'm not so sure that being on a plane is like being at a restaurant on your birthday.  I'm kinda skeptical that the air host's (or whatever you call them) will be convening by D's seat to sing him a birthday song and present him with a cupcake and candle.  So I'm making sure that we send him off with something before his birthday.  It's only the night before so at least it's close.  I'm gonna make him something slightly more up his alley once he's back and can enjoy it for a couple of days.  For now this simple chocolate cake with simple chocolate icing is just the thing.  That's all the upside.
The downside is that I'm all alone with two kids for the next 18 days give or take and concert season is just kicking off for this household and birthday month has descended and work continues right up to the 23rd and then it's this big holiday that everyone kinda freaks out about.  I'm not feeling sorry for myself but I'll definitely miss him.

I guess that this cake is both a birthday and a goodbye thing... a little send off.
On a side note: I'm not going to bitch for long about this but this whole 'dark-by-4:15-p.m.-thing' is getting a bit old for me.  I'm pretty dang tired of making something when I come home from work and by the time I'm ready for pictures it's too dark to get a decent shot.  I'll be damned if I'm going to set up a light-box and get into all that.  I must keep telling myself that in another 6 - 8 weeks things will already feel a little different 'cause we're almost at the solstice, right?  For now please excuse the crappy shots and try to enjoy the spirit of the evening with us.

Chocolate Mud Cake adapted from Delicious Magazine (UK)
makes 1 9 inch round cake
(I'll try to give accurate equivalents here but it's not exact)

250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp espresso powder
100 ml milk
250g (about 2 cups or just a little less) self raising flour (you can make your own)
40g (a little less than a half cup) dark cocoa
250g (about 1 cup) sugar
4 lg eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
150 ml sour cream


1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa
1 tsp espresso powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup (give to take) cream

Grease and flour a 9 inch round springform pan
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt the butter, chocolate, espresso powder and milk together in a double boiler and then set aside.  Cool for about 15 minutes.
Sift the flour, dark cocoa and sugar together.
Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture.
Add the beaten eggs, vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out.
Bake for about 65 - 70 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just wet crumbs on it.
Cool completely in the pan.


Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder.
Add in the espresso powder.
Add the butter and enough cream to mix it together.  Continue adding cream until the icing gets to the thickness and consistency that you like.
Continue mixing out all the lumps.
Smooth over completely cooled cake.

Beef Stew and Biscuits

Every once in a while it happens that we have nothing to do.  Like absolutely nothing.  We don't have to leave the house for an entire day.  I say this like it's something wonderful, magical, special... and it kinda is.
Usually there is something to be done.  Someone to be dropped off and/or picked up.  Something to be gotten.  An appointment to get to.  Work.  School.  You know... stuff.  This day... nothing.  What's more, we got up kinda early and by the time 2pm rolled around it already felt like the day was an eternity.  Yoga, laundry, bathrooms cleaned, beds made... you know, it was all done.  Weird.
On a day like that what do you do?  You cook if you're me.
On a rainy, long dark of winter day what do you cook?  Beef stew with biscuits of course.

You need a day for that kind of food.  It has to sit for a long time over a low heat and just 'be'.  That will make the stew sing.  It's not a quick thing.  It's a very very slow thing or it won't be the same.  So you need to have the patience to make it at lunch in order to eat it for supper.  But it's so worth it.  So gratifying.
Well everything that you've just read was exactly my situation just a couple of days ago.
It was beautiful.  It felt like the longest day ever.
We watched a movie because... we had so much time to watch.
We had a complete lunch AND supper.
After my last rant post I'm going to sit back and let things settle a little bit, so there's no controversy this time.  No pressing opinions that I'm going nuts sitting on and have to blather about.  No crazy goings on that are dominating my thoughts.  Nothing.   Today.
Just a beautiful, quiet, LOOOOOONG day... and stew.

Beef Stew with Biscuits adapted from Canadian Living
serves4 - 6

1 lb stewing beef
1 leek sliced thin up to the darker green part
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 lg carrots, coarsely chopped
2 small turnips, coarsely cubed
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, halved
2 lg cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
4 tbsp ketchup
2 beef bouillon cubes
3/4 cup water or red wine
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 lg tbsp brown sugar
1 lg tbsp each, chives, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley

Blue Cheese Biscuits

2 1/4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, COLD and cubed
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup milk (or just enough to get the right consistency) or buttermilk
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter and 9 inch square baking pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  Mix together.
Cut in the cubed butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or two knives.  Cut together until it forms a crumbly texture.
Add in the yogurt or sour cream and mix.
Add just enough milk to form a dough ball.
Add in the cheeses and mix.
Place onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a couple of minutes - until it forms a smooth, silky dough ball.  Roll out to about 1 1/2 inches thick (thicker if you would like) and cut into about 12 biscuits (round or square or whatever shape you want).  Place each biscuit in the buttered pan.
Sprinkle the top with a little extra parmesan if you would like.
Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until the biscuits are nicely browned on the top and they're not gooey on the inside.
Serve with the beef stew.

Roasted Squash Mac'n Cheese

Welcome to my Rant.  There is a recipe at the end of the tunnel.  I promise.
Thanksgiving weekend has just passed in the US.  It's an awesome 4 day weekend for them.  It's a lovely time.  Unless you are shopping.  It's been big news here in Canada.  The whole black friday fiasco.  The whole issue of whether having big savings shopping days where people get themselves whipped into a frenzy is a wise thing to do.  We participated too, we Canadians.  It's rumoured that Canadians spent a breezy 5 billion dollars in the U.S. last year on black friday weekend.
A friend was posting a few things on FB about the whole thing.  It was mostly video's from youtube  - you know... the pepper spray, the running frenzy, the yelling, the mobs.  What I found interesting was the response to these video's.  Declarations of disgust.  What have we become.  It wasn't like this before.  The angst.  The hand ringing.  The revulsion.  One person responded that the U.S.  is becoming like a third world country.
That one broke me entirely.
I wanted to respond so badly but FB seems like this forum for saying whatever you want in a complete vacuum and I just can't bring myself to engage.  (I'd rather do it here - like that makes any sense)
If I had responded then I would have said things like this: The idea that 'third world' countries behave like animals is one that I find even more repulsive and repugnant than pepper spraying a crowd in order to grab an Xbox.  If only people in so called third world countries had the luxury of behaving like that for such trivialities.  They're too busy making the damn Xbox. Then there is the whole side of this story that has been created by the last 30 years of hyper-consumerism in the West.  How desperate does someone have to feel to use pepper spray to get an Xbox?
Why am I not hearing anything about how heartbreaking it is that a holiday is completely overshadowed by bargain basement shopping?  Why am I not hearing about how this situation is inevitable when 50% of New Yorkers have a household income of $30,000 or less and 1% of New Yorkers have an average income (almost exclusively listed as being from the 'financial industry' or 'financial innovation') of 3.7 million?  (from 'Grow Together or Pull Apart?: Income Concentration Trends in New York' December 2010, Fiscal Policy Institute - Manhattan based Non-Profit group).  Why am I not hearing about the need to reign in the advertising industry?  Why are we more repulsed by the idea of people clamouring to get a bargain than we are by the reasons that are behind the clamour?  It makes me feel sad, frustrated and for sure not very thankful.

As an addendum, I recently watched an interview with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr about deeper understanding and unification between the classes in the U.S.  When asked what his advice would be to young Americans he said:  VOTE - register and vote.  Then he added that he would also tell them to stay in school and READ.  We have a choice.  At least I want to believe that we have a choice.  I need to believe it.

My rant had nothing to do with what I thought was a damn good dish and pretty easy because it doesn't have to be baked.  It's kinda like my own KD with good crap in it.  Kid #2 ate it and that's sayin' something.  If you want yet another idea for squash that won't kill you to make or look completely disgusting to those not used to eating such pleasures then this is a great place to start.

Roasted Butternut squash Mac N Cheese  adapted from Good Food Magazine
serves about 6

1/2 medium butternut (or other) squash - about 2 cups - cubed
 - tossed in oil of choice, salted and roasted on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 25 - 30 minutes -
1 small cauliflower or choufleur or broccoli - broken into smallish pieces
2 1/2 cups dry pasta (I used penne)

Cheese Sauce

6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp (or so) flour
3 3/4 cup warmed milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
dash of soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dijon mustard (or dry mustard powder - NOT yellow mustard)
2 cups cheese (I used a mix of old cheddar and parmesan - pick your poison just make sure it melts reasonably well)

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add in the pasta and simmer for about 5 minutes less than it needs to be al dente.  Add the cauliflower/choufleur to the simmering water 5 minutes before the pasta is ready.  Once ready, drain and set aside.
2.  In another heavy bottomed pot melt the butter over med/low heat.  Once melted add in the flour and mix together until they form a paste.  Very gradually add in the warm milk, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring and once the sauce begins to thicken then add in the Worcestershire, Soy, salt, dijon and cheese (and a little something hot if you please).  Check the tastes and make sure that it's to your liking.
3.  In a large bowl mix together the pasta cauliflower and roasted squash and mix it up together.  Pour the sauce over top and mix just until the sauce is distributed throughout.

Powered by Blogger.

Archivo del blog

About Me

My photo
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.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

My Photo
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.
View my complete profile



Blog Archive



FBC Member