Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tea Parties, etc

My tea time, when I've got the time and desire to partake, tends to occur around four-ish or five-ish, and lately it's been latte-time instead of my beloved English Breakfast tea. However, that didn't seem to stop any of us from a plans-just-got-cancelled-let's-drink-tea-at-8-pm fete last night. I brewed up some excellent black tea, which in reality was a gift to me from a dear friend, that she had bought in Paris. None of us can quite put a finger on what makes it so special, but it's got petals and bits of lemon and orange rind in it. No matter what kind of hocus-pocus was involved, it is fantastic. It also goes well with yoghurt cake, a new recipe (for me) that I tried out to go with the brew. I wanted to try the lime-olive oil combination, but went with plain vegetable oil and lemon zest instead. Somehow, and call me crazy, I didn't think that lime and olive oil would be the best match for black tea. I didn't use any kind of glaze or icing, mostly because I was lazy, but the cake didn't need it. I would, however, use lemon juice next time. I like my lemon flavoring to kick me in the head, not to just be a subtle background note. I would have taken a picture, but the cake is gone now. So!

Yoghurt Cake (I got the recipe from a Dorie Greenspan column, but after some digging around, I believe it is a typical every-day french recipe)
1.5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
zest/juice of one lemon OR lime
3 eggs
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil OR extra virgin olive oil

Toss sugar with zest, add eggs, juice, vanilla and youghurt. Stir in flour and baking powder, then fold in oil. Pour into a buttered loaf pan lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350F or ~185C for about 50 minutes. I'd go on the shy side of 50 minutes, as my cake was fairly well done, but my oven more in the direction of 'firy pit' instead of 'home appliance'. I think the Balrog lives inside. If you don't want to use a loaf pan, don't. I've seen this done as a bundt, cupcakes, and I'm betting a normal round cake pan would do well.

I really want to try some different combinations when spring/summer start up. Example: lemon with blueberries, lime with nuts or maybe white chocolate somehow, flavored yoghurts, vanilla with almonds, vanilla with chocolate chips (although that may defeat this very light cake), maybe some kind of spicy apple incarnation, etc. This is about as versatile as it gets, but I must admit the blueberry/lemon combo cries out to my soul.

Aside from that, it's been a pretty decent week in the kitchen. I made a sort of brownie cake on Monday for my roommate's birthday, which is surprisingly low on the fat and carbs. I wanted to try throwing in some cayenne pepper (because in case you didn't know, chili makes dark chocolate soar), but she wanted to stay traditional with the flavoring. Next time....I shall have my way. Now how did it go...

4 tbsp butter
1 cup plus 1/3 cup chocolate [please do us all a favor and don't use milk chocolate, because it tastes awful(don't even act like you won't add extra)]
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites
1/4 cup flour
about a cup of dried fruit of nuts, if you want to go all weird-hippie on us
cayenne pepper, cinnamon, etc

melt the butter in a deep pan, add 1 cup of chocolate chips and melt whilst stirring. Add the sugar, and promptly remove from heat while a-mixin' away. Add the vanilla and/or other flavoring, stir in the egg shites 2 at a time, and end up with the flour. Stir in the extra chocolate chips, throw 'er in a small buttered pan, and roast at 350F or ~185C for about 30 min. Be nice to yourself, and eat with vanilla ice cream. It's the right thing to do.

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