chocolate, vanilla and marble…

Check out the cake!!!

 

Pretty awesome eh? I think so.

Last week Emily and I each got our hands dirty… well, mine were full of butter and flour, and hers were covered in buttercream and fondant.  But I think you know what I mean :0)

Let’s get back to that cake though.  We had been asked to bake a wedding cake for one of Emily’s co-workers.  She requested a 3-tiered, square cake with assorted flavours: vanilla, marble and chocolate.

I haven’t actually made a vanilla cake in quite some time… so I pulled out a recipe I had used last summer: I remembered that it’s denser than most cakes I make, holds together really well and is chalk-full of vanilla flavour (beans and extract).  I whipped up 2 x 6-inch square cakes and moistened them with some simple syrup.  DONE.

I have to admit – – I super, duper heart my marble cake recipe.  It comes out moist every single time I bake it (and I’ve been baking it non-stop since that engagement cake last March).  It holds well too; an important trait when you’re piling buttercream, fondant and another tier (or two) on top.  I decided to opt for the marble to be the middle tier – – 2 x 10-inch squares… simple.  Again, I took the cakes out of the oven and moistened with simple syrup… not really necessary with this recipe, but better to moisten than not, me thinks.  DONE.

Now for the chocolate cake recipe.  Remember how I blogged about the moistess chocolate cake recipe ever?  Well… although I love that cake, I have my doubts about it holding up to the strain of being the base for the other tiers: so I’ve pretty much decided that it will not be used in the building of a wedding cake.  That’s ok… it allows me to experiment with other recipes… which I heart doing!

The plan was to find a densely chocolate, rich, moist cake that is strong enough to hold 4 layers of cake, buttercream and fondant… and tastes good.  I think I might have found it.  I pulled out The Confetti Cakes Cookbookand read the recipe for their chocolate cake… moist and delicious looking.  I was pretty much sold.  And they inform the reader that this is their most requested cake.  SOLD!  I grabbed the recipe and got all the ingredients together… I was ready to bake!

This recipe is amazing because it is full of unsweetened cocoa powder… in order to make 1 x 13 – inch square I used 2 cups of dark dutch cocoa… that’s pretty intense.  I also used full-fat sour cream (none of this low-fat stuff) – – which I think helped with the moistness of the cake.

Now for a confession…. I made my first 13-inch square and it turned out perfectly! I leveled it – cutting the uneven top off and storing those pieces in an airtight container (yep, my co-workers are given the pieces… FYI this cake lasted over a week and was still moist), I didn’t even need to moisten it (it’s ridiculously moist and bounced under my touch), but I wrapped it up and put it away. 

Time to make the second one.

This is where my over eagerness got me in trouble.  I made the batter, poured it into the cake pan, baked it, removed it from the oven, and allowed it to cool… just not long enough :0(  I went to turn it out of the pan and… it fell apart!!!!  My poor cake, in pieces, ruined (for the wedding purpose, still edible for the employee appreciation party)!!!!  Needless to say… I was disappointed and frustrated – – and took the night off before re-baking it.

In the end everything turned out on my end; time to hand it over to Emily… see the transformation

before

 after

Emily did an amazing job with the icing, the fondant, and the assembling of the entire thing (and the pictures!).  Claps for you Em!  It’s AWESOME!!! 

I so heart this cake! 

 

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kichesippi … what? chef lynne… for real?

I have to admit… quite a bit happened at the Whalesbone on Friday night.  It all started off with a beer tasting during staff meal. Kichesippi beer to be exact. 

 

Best staff meal ever!  Seriously.  Charlotte made some of her honey and black bean garlic ribs for us, some über creamy potato salad (inspired by PEI.. oh how I heart good potato salad and PEI), and Chloé had made us a super light and flavourful lentil salad that added a freshness to the meal. 

potato salad / macaroni salad / slaw / lentil salad

Top all that off with a pint of Kichesippi beer and you’re golden!  This beer is a pale ale, with  fruity undertones;  it reminded me the panachés I ordered in France – – half beer, half lemonade.  The perfect drink to cut your thirst on a warm, sunny afternoon.  I think you should give this beer a chance… especially since they are locally brewed and locally sold.  You won’t find this outside of Ottawa… so take some pride in our city and get yourself a pint!  Thanks Paul for the beer :0)

With staff meal finished we headed back to work.  My first task included me and a large pot of strawberries.  Check them out!

Chloé had the beginnings of a strawberry jam going so I was asked to dish it out of the massive pot they’d been stewing in and put them in two smaller containers.  Can I just say… the smell of strawberries is heavenSERIOUSLY!!!  I just wanted to stand there and take it in… don’t worry, I contained myself and got on with the task at hand. 

Every week I am reminded of the huge difference between working in my own, tiny kitchen, producing average quantities of baked goods/food vs. working in a restaurant.  Take the wooden spoon for instance. 

At home, I would have used it to scoop out the strawberries and dump them into another container.  At the Whalesbone that would have taken me hours… imagine… hours of scooping, pouring, scooping, pouring… fun?  I think not.  So – – after several minutes of this (yes, I did in fact have to waste several minutes with the spoon before clueing in), I grabbed a large measuring cup and started dunking that into the strawberries and pouring them into the containers.  Done in about 5 minutes.  Seriously. 

Charlotte handed me some beautiful, fresh, tart rhubarb to chop and add to the strawberries. 

Charlotte was going to finish it all off on Saturday … strawberry rhubarb jam.  A million delightful sighs.

Once my strawberries and rhubarb were all organized, I had a little visitor come and lend me a hand.  Mackenzie and her folks are regulars at the WBOH.  She’s helped me plate desserts a few times… once being a couple of weeks ago… and was such a big help I asked her to come down and lend a hand again.  She took me up on my offer!

Mackenzie brought down her order:  1 scoop vanilla ice cream / chocolate ganache / peanut buttercups / mini donuts

Other than the mini donuts, Mackenzie did this on her own.  Check out the smile on her face as she is squeezing that ganache onto her perfectly scooped ice cream!

She then grabbed some peanut buttercups and piled those on top.  At that point it was time to pull the donuts out of the deep fryer and roll them in a cinnamon sugar… et voilà! 

Perfect sundae and absolutely awesome little helper! 

Plus… Mackenzie and her mom call me Chef Lynne!  That is so totally cool!!!!  Thank you Mackenzie for lending me a hand :0)

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning out the fridge – – as Charlotte suggested; I played tetris with the litre containers, arranging everything so that it made sense and didn’t waste space.  I should have taken before and after pictures since I’m quite proud of how well it turned out… but I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be tasked with doing this again at some point.

OH!  Before I forget.  For those of you who tuned into last week’s adventures at the Whalesbone – – you should remember the short short’s attire that Jenna and Kshonzey wore.  Well… Charlotte and Jenna have them beat.  Check it out…

I do believe that we can categorize Jenna’s shorts as short-shorts… but… I think Charlotte’s fall under the underwear category… but that could just be me (just kidding Char!).

My night ended with:  a sorbet sundae (a-maz-ing)…

pascale’s strawberry sorbet / passionfruit curd / brownie bits / marshmallow fluff

yep… my marshmallow fluff that I made last week.   I will take full credit for it being AWE-SOME.  It’s sticky, and fluffy, and sweet, and perfect…  and it was served in a mason jar… even better!

my platonic date @ murray street

editors note: please excuse the quality of these pictures… blackberries and iphones were used since I forgot my cannon @ home.

Have you met Jeff yet?  This is him (see picture below).  I heart Jeff.

Why might you ask?  Well… I do have a list… but mainly it’s because:

1.  he makes me laugh with his dry sense of humour

2.  he enjoys sharing excellent (and sometimes not so excellent) bottles of wine

3.  he works on the Hill and understands the absurdity that surrounds us on a daily basis

4.  he helped me move a futon.  and was actually really good at it (I honestly doubted he would be very helpful that day)

5.  he’s offered to sell me winter tires – – I don’t own a car.  I guess that’s really reason # 1 again right?

so…. 5.  he hearts my blog.  I think that says it all.

oh… and 6.  he takes me out to dinner to thank me for dog sitting Jack, the Jack Russell for a long weekend (see picture below  – – Jack (the dog) and the hobo… please note, that picture was not taken on my watch).

Sounds like a nice guy eh?  I think we all need platonic loves like that in our lives… (and no, this is not a love letter to Jeff [insert laughter]… simply a thank you for dinner)

But back to the real reason for this entry – – I’d like to focus on Murray Street kitchen/wine/charcuterie.  Location for our über platonic date last week.

Jeff and I both heart good food and good wine – – Murray Street won us on both counts.  We selected an excellent bottle of wine, that unfortunately is not available at our local LCBO… I think it’s a ploy by the restaurant to keep us coming back for more ;0)

Then onto our meal.  Neither of us were hungry enough for an actual entrée – so we decided to hit up the charcuterie menu (which is actually my favourite thing to order whenever I hit up Murray Street).

We opted for the 3 meats and 2 cheeses selection.  One, it’s a great value for your buck.  But really, more importantly, it’s delicious food, all made-in house or using fresh, local ingredients… and there are classic Canadian choices.

I picked the meats.  I know… hilarious eh?  The former vegetarian is picking the meats! I chuckle at myself too… but you’ll notice that I stuck to 2 options from the vegetarian portion of the menu (they count as a meat rather than a cheese) and then went back to basics.

white bean garlic paté / marinated ferme floralpe goat’s milk feta and toasted walnuts / cretons

Think hummus when you imagine the white bean garlic paté – – the Chef (Steve Mitton – – awesome guy to boot) doesn’t go stingy on the garlic – – and so the  simple white bean is elevated to something full of zing.  It’s a great base for the chutney and little sauces that are offered on the side.

The marinated ferme floralpe goat’s mik feta and toasted walnuts – – A-MAZ-ING.  I order this every time I hit up Murray Street.  I can’t help it… the feta has such a subtle flavour; especially when puréed with the walnuts.  It’s not a perfectly smooth paté – but the texture of the feta and the walnuts lends itself well to piling it on top of the toast, throwing a sweet chutney or the sweet shredded carrots on top and then biting into it.  You’ll enjoy a crispy base, a nutty filling and then a sweet topping.  Like I said.  A-MAZ-ING.

For those of you who don’t know, cretons is a pork spread  containing onions and spices (consistency and texture of a paté).  I grew up enjoying yellow mustard and creton sandwiches (white bread is the only acceptable option) and have always had a soft spot in my heart for the stuff (memories of lunches with my papa). 

I’ll be honest as well… cretons doesn’t look like much.  It’s sorta gray (which is a little sad).  But – -it’s secret is all in the flavour!  Sigh…you spread it onto a mini piece of toast, with a dollop of dijon (or some sort of chutney) and voilà… absolute delight in the mouth!

So, as a self-professed lover of cretons; it is my humble opinion that Murray Street makes the best cretons … ever.  Simple as that. 

Jeff picked the cheeses.  He decided to play around with textures and flavour… so he went with a soft ripened cheese and a hard one.

la sauvagine / pine river 7 year cheddar 

La sauvagine is probably one of the best cheese experiences I have had since… well, my trip to France.  It was soft, and creamy.  It was perfectly subtle enough to be enjoyed atop a piece of toast with cretons (best discovery ever for my mouth… although I’m sure my heart was wondering what the heck was I thinking?!).  But it didn’t even need anything else, you could literally grab your fork and bite into it – – even the cheese rind that surrounded it was supple and smooth.  Moan worthy (and yes… I did happily make noises while enjoying this cheese).

Up until now, just about all the flavours were decadent but played off one another, a nice balancing act.  Not so much with the pine river 7 year cheddar.  That cheese packs a real, powerful punch: nothing subtle about this baby.  It really didn’t need to be accompanied by any of our meats (we tried, it was just to strong of a cheese to compliment the other flavours) – – BUT that’s not to say it isn’t an excellent option.  Bright yellow, it brought colour to our charcuterie board; it was spicy and tangy, which reawakened our taste buds and an old cheddar is always wonderful to nibble on.  It livened up our plates and palets.  I certainly would order this again… only I’d probably add some sliced Niagara prosciutto or capicolla

I think I need to go back and put together another assortment of meats and cheeses.  I heart this style of dining… and I heart that Murray Street takes such pride in their product.  See… we didn’t leave anything behind!