Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Cuisininart”

Can’t Blog! Noveling!

centaur 0

20160330_194346.jpg

Can’t blog! Noveliing! Also, taxing, Q2 OKR planning, book publishing, and general panic. Enjoy pictures of a nice restaurant and its delicious food!

20160330_200125.jpg

-the Centaur

Pound Cake, Interrupted

centaur 1

IMG_20121023_020216.jpg

Pound cake is practically my favorite food. It's right up there with Lebanese favorites like tabbouleh and kibbey nayye and right up there with my favorite dessert, the Panera Bread cinnamon roll. But not all pound cakes qualify: I like slices of large ring pound cake in the style carried by Ingles grocery store in Greenville, South Carolina.

As I've moved from city to city, I found substitutes - the Kroger ring pound cake in Atlanta and the Safeway ring pound cake in the Bay Area. For a while, however, Safeway stopped carrying this item, so I started baking my own pound cakes for my evening ritual: two slices of pound cake, one glass of milk, and a book, just before bed.

Someone asked me about a good pound cake recipe, but as it turns out I haven't made pound cake in a while as (a) my oven failed just before (b) Safeway began selling ring pound cakes again right around the time (c) my first novel got published, at which point writing sucked up the time I spent on other hobbies.

IMG_20121022_230946.jpg

Wow. That last bit is really true: I just don't have as much time for karate or cooking or anything else because I gotta write, not just for enjoyment but because people want to read my stuff. But (b) is the controlling factor, because I gotta have pound cake, and I could make time if I had to since I have a doorway to extra time.

But I can share the recipes that I was working on before the oven failure. The following is a "ring pound cake" that was my most recent success that didn't involve Splenda, which I'd been experimenting with, off and on, to try to reduce the calorie count of my cakes. What follows, however, is (nearly) pure butter sugar flour eggs joy:

  • May 18, 2009: Experiment: Six Egg, Three Butter Stick Pound Cake: SUCCESS
    New recipe, not as sweet as last time but structurally better.

    • Recipe: Interpolated between "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs" and "I'm Just Here for More Food" by Alton Brown
      • Three and a half cups of allpurpose flour
      • Six large eggs
      • Two and one eighth cups of sugar
      • Three-quarters pound of butter
      • One half teaspoon of salt
      • One half teaspoon of baking powder
      • One teaspoon of vanilla
    • Preparation Tricks:
      • Used a deep bowl big enough to handle all batter, which speed up mixing and made things cleaner.
      • Let butter sit as long as it takes to soften on its own, or you won't be able to make it fluff.
      • Beat butter to a whip before adding sugar, one cup at a time
      • Beat egg yolks, egg whites and vanilla together for mixing into creamed butter.
      • Sift non-sugar dry goods (salt, baking powder, flour) together 3 times.
      • Alternate adding dry goods and buttermilk to the batter.
      • Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.
      • Rack cool for at least 15 minutes.
    • Texture: smoother, heavier, close to what it ought to be, a little flakier this time
    • Flavor: sweet but not too sweet, smooth
    • Crust: decent texture, now darker with +2 minutes to cooking time
    • Structure: firm, though still has a slight ridge developed when cooling in the pan
    • Comments: People preferred the flavor last time, the structure this time.

pound cake 2.0

My previous best recipe is similar. I adapted one from “I’m Just Here for More Food” by Alton Brown, a chef well known for his excellent, scientifically-based cooking. After cross-referencing against the Joy of Cooking, I felt safe leaving out the vanilla on the suspicion that last time’s funny flavor wasn’t just the Splenda but my fairly old vanilla flavoring (which I found was labeled “bourbon vanilla” which made me even more suspicious.) This left the recipe:

  • Three cups of allpurpose flour
  • Three large eggs
  • Two cups of sugar
  • One cup of buttermilk
  • One half pound of butter
  • One half teaspoon of salt
  • One half teaspoon of baking powder

Preparation involved a $25 handheld motorized mixer from Fry’s
Electronics
. Also I used a few tricks:

  • Use a motorized mixer (handheld or standup)
  • Allow butter to warm to room temperature by itself – no heating in the microwave
  • Mix the butter and sugar and blend until fluffy with no sugar grains visible in the mix
  • Beat egg yolks and whites together and mix with butter and sugar blend in 3 batches
  • Sift all the dry goods (salt, baking powder, flour) together 3 times
  • Alternate adding the dry goods and buttermilk to the mix
  • Carefully flour the pan to prevent sticking.

The oven was preheated to 325, baking was 1 hour, and the cake was allowed to sit a bit before being taken out of the pan.

Results: Yum. The texture was light and flaky, on the edge of being too flaky. The flavor was good, though slightly bland – it could have used more vanilla. The crust had a good texture, but it could have been a bit darker.

See my blogpost for more details. These are the last things I have records of trying.

Maybe it's time to try again.

-the Centaur

“He likes to take pictures of his food.”

centaur 1

Those familiar with my Google+ stream will have noticed I take a lot of pictures of food, generally posted in my album Cuisininart (pictures of food - cuisine in art - cuisin-in-art - a riff on cuisinart - get it? No? Oh, you don't WANT to get it. Oh well.).

This got started because I wanted to do restaurant reviews on this site. I love eating out; I'm a definite foodie, and I think a lot about what makes a good restaurant, from a dive bar to a five star. I've evendone a few reviews but I noticed I wasn't writing reviews because I wasn't taking pictures.

I prefer using pictures in blog posts based on the ideas of my good friend Jim Davies (and seconded by my wife Sandi Billingsley) who both think pictures make blog posts stronger. This is basic comics theory: words and pictures are stronger together.

So I started taking pictures. As usual, I found I was really good at collecting input, not so much at producing output. I was taking pictures all the time and not doing things with them because most of my free time is spent writing.

Around the time Google+ came out, I had a brainflash: why don't I just post the pictures I've taken as a way of using them up. So I created the Cusininart album ... which prompted me to take more and more pictures, even without reviews in mind.

I got so good at taking pictures of what I was eating it became a joke. My wife once explained it to a friend joining us for dinner: "He likes to take pictures of his food." Which in turn prompted this post of me explaining this to you.

But I'm trying to turn this into more than just random photographs. Following the example of people like Jim Davies, Andy Fossett and Waldemar Horwat, I'm trying to make this a learning experience, to discover how to take good pictures of food.

What I've found so far isn't scientific by any stretch of the imagination; consider this lessons learned from a few case studies.

  • Don't use your camera's flash. As many of you probably already know, camera flashes wash out the pictures. Don't use it unless you absolutely have to; try increasing the exposure of your camera to instead.
  • Take lots of pictures. Take pictures of each dish, of the whole spread, from more than one angle. It's not just that two or three shots of each one helps you avoid loss to a blurry jiggle; it gives you more choices for the article.
  • Take pictures from different angles and distances. Thirty to forty-five degrees seems to be a good angle, but you should experiment with closeups, overhead shots, distance shots. You'll be surprised what looks best once you review the pictures later.
  • Most of the shots should be of food. For what I want to achieve in my albums, having most shots be of food works best. Restaurants are less interesting than their dishes, unless it's a special restaurant. One out of five is OK.
  • Keep it candid. It actually helps to take pictures before you've eaten, and even to spend a moment posing some of the food. But don't waste a lot of time on it: the immediacy of the dishes in their natural arrangement is often enough.

I'm sure I could refine that list more. Perhaps I will after I spend more time experimenting more systematically, maybe even throwing in findings from food I have cooked. But until then ... that's what I've learned from taking pictures of my food.

-the Centaur