Kitchen Memos from a Knocked Down Bitch
By now, you know my preferred cures for that dead-baby funk: sex, booze, a lot of fuck-yous, and - of course - diving right the hell in to culinary adventures. Time again to get our hands dirty.
This weekend, K and I rented a vacation house on the cold, blustery Washington seashore with a bunch of lovely friends from work. There was blissfully little to do except cook, eat, nap, play games, go for strolls, cook, and eat some more.
Did I mention cooking and eating? Oh yeah, we did that too. And what better time to try out some new recipes than while sequestered in a rad house with a rad kitchen and six friends? So I launched into a few culinary adventures over the weekend. Actually, one was more mishap than adventure (Food and Wine Magazine can kiss my large butt!!) but I'll save the most frustrating for last.
Saturday night was the banoffee pie - a decadent concoction of bananas, toffee, whipped cream and toasted sugared almonds - which I originally read in a cookbook by this obscure culinary figure:
Recognize that boyish face? Those eyes? That hair?
Jamie Oliver is the name - and hair product is the game. Anyone who puts that much effort into looking like he puts no effort into his hair deserves some recognition. He's a hipster chef, too - the kind whose recipes involve throwing haphazzardly measured ingredients into bowls and kettles like we're all in some culinary mosh pit together, baking scones to the beat of the Sex Pistols. And finally, he's a Brit - which means he must have a British accent - which is on my list of keen and wonderful things.
Anyway, I got obsessed with his banoffee pie recipe several years ago, and vowed to one day produce it. Which I did, this very weekend. Now, his recipe begins innocently with a few cans of sweetened condensed milk:
Note the grave warning on the label:
But alas, Jamie Oliver - with his fuck-all-conventions attitude toward both his hair and his cooking - told me to ignore that warning!
Ignore the label, and boil the cans unopened for three hours , the recipe says, reminding me briefly of that kid in 7th grade who tried to get me to drop acid with him behind the convenience store (for the record, I did not). Boil the cans and your sweetened condensed milk will morph into dark, carmelly dulce de leche: the base of your banoffee pie! But don't ever, ever let the water boil down, and be sure to let the cans cool COMPLETELY after they boil. Because if a single microscopic nanometer of tin can gets exposed to the air during the boiling process, or if the cans aren't cool when you open them, they will EXPLODE all over your face and kitchen, killing everything and everyone in sight!
Yeah. The recipe basically says that. But I proceeded with caution, because Jamie Oliver is cool, and I want to be like him. So I began my tin-can boiling process, while Tebow - in his infinite doggy-wisdom - watched me from afar, sending me mental urges to think before I do this. I nodded and told him I appreciated his concern, but this was one risk I had to take if I was ever going to get to my banoffee pie.
So I did it, and - three hours of rapid boiling and a cautious ten hours of cooling time later, POOF: I had what Jamie had promised. Three cans of delicious, brown-sugary dulce de leche! Toffee, I guess you could call it:
I felt like the baddest KuKd bitch on the planet!
Next, I made a pastry crust of butter, flour and egg yokes, pressing it into a special fluted pan that I bought just for this occasion. On went a thickly slathered layer of my death-defying, dangerously-produced toffee, followed by sliced bananas and fresh whipped cream. The whipped cream was kissed with a scant tablespoon of strong brewed coffee as Jamie suggested, giving it a very slightly mocha-ish taste.
Then came the icing on the cake, so to speak: a generous sprinkle of almonds that had been rinsed in water, tossed with powdered sugar, and toasted in the oven until golden:
BOO-YA. My banoffee pie. Here it is, mid-consumption:
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Part 3: KuKd Bitch in the Kitch Making Doomed Sandwiches from Hell (aka Food and Wine Magazine can Suck It!)
By Sunday at the beach house, I was feeling confident in my culinary, Jamie-Oliver-ish know-how. So I decided to give my second most-obsessed-over recipe a try - these awesome rectangular icecream sandwiches from Food and Wine magazine:
Look how cool and stackable they are, what with the fudge stripe down the middle! I could see everyone biting into them with amazement, wondering how I'd managed such a feat. And the recipe made them look so easy, like you could do these blindfolded.
It began with a package of break-n-bake cookies. I opted for the au natural variety, free of chemical preservatives, as my contribution to everyone's personal health:
These got pressed into baking dish. For the record - and this is important - nowhere in this recipe was there any mention of applying GREASE to the baking dish. So, having come down off my wild-n-crazy rule-breaking spree with Jamie Oliver, I stuck to the rules this time, and did not apply any grease.
Baked'em, and out they came, looking golden delicious. I was certain that all was going well.
Of course (and here's where those fools over at Food and Wine can suck it), the recipe made it sound so wonderfully simple to flip the cookie rectangle outward, causing it to land in a neat rectangle on the counter. But it simply wasn't so:
BASTARDS! My confidence rapidly falling, the cookie rectangle stuck like a piece of glued-on cement, I had to resort to drastic cookie-excavation methods.
"Parchment paper would've worked well," said my friend M, watching with borderline amusement.
"Take your twenty-minutes-too-late assvice and shove it!" I thought to myself, hardly in the mood for advice and retroactive solutions. What I really wanted was some verbal confirmation of how crappy and deceiving this recipe was.
After piecing it back together in the pan like the great Pangea continent, I grumpily moved on to the next step - which was to press a bunch of vanilla icecream down onto the cookie layer, cover it in plastic wrap and freeze it:
Next came a layer of fudge topping - followed by another hour in the freezer.
Then, my fudge-icecream-cookie-layered-Pangea-continent had to be sliced into two halves, and sandwiched together into one gigantic hunk of frozen chocolaty layered goodness:
Finally, it was time to slice this hard-arse brick into smaller icecream sandwiches, which could (and maybe even would, if the bastards over at Food and Wine had any technical writing skills whatsoever) look like the lovely stacked up sandwiches in the orginal recipe photo.
M, the assvice giver himself, found twisted amusment in my crabby attempts to stab the gigantic cookie bar, and snatched up my camera to document the carnage:
TAH-DAH: my icecream sandwiches.
A far cry from the recipe picture (note to Food and Wine: thanks for making me feel inferior to the whole world!), but at least I could count on K to eat one with a smile on his extremely handsome unshaven face. God, I hope I get laid tonight.
Redemption, I guess.
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