(all) in the pan

December 16, 2010 § 2 Comments


Baking continued on the weekend. I had a couple of parties on Saturday night and I felt that these gatherings needed cake.

I’ve made this apple spice cake before. It is a good recipe from Food and Wine mag from almost a decade ago. Though I’ve made it before, I forgot a small fact. Nope, I didn’t forget an ingredient this time. It was the nuances about the bundt cake pan. This cake is too chunky for the sculpted pan I own and the deep grooves have caused problems in the past. The cake may have better release results in the smoother style bundt pan. The cake releases, in general, were fairly good. One was better the the other. But a few apples did remain stuck to the pan for both. Maybe I should use shortening and flour pan instead of butter and flour. But I really think with chunky ingredient cakes (in this case, apples and large nuts) it would be wiser to use a smooth tube or coffee cake pan. I have neither. Yet.

Ingredients of note for this spice cake: I did use the official Calvados, the real apple brandy, from Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France. With many recipes calling for spices I tend to increase the amount– up to about double, but this time I did not. Reason one: Vietnamese Cinnamon, this stuff is strong. Very strong. Recently I picked this up at Rainbow Grocery Coop, in the bulk section. It maybe available in Asian grocery stores. Reason two: freshly grated nutmeg. This is a great smell and potent as well.  I am thinking about giving the grated nutmeg a whirl in the electric spice grinder to make it a bit finer for future recipes. Flour: Bob’s Red Mill Organic All Purpose Sugar: Because I used raw cane sugar, which naturally has larger crystals than regular granulated sugar, I decided to use the food processor to make the sugar finer.

There are no photos of either finished cake, dusted with powdered sugar to cover the missing chunks and cracks, which I did on location.

Lots of thumbs up from the festive cake eaters.

apple spice cake

Listening to:
The Power Out – Electrelane
then Electrelane seeded Pandora and last.fm stations. Woman who rock!

Recipe after the jump…

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Closer to knowing

December 11, 2010 § 1 Comment

Peter Hook
Last night at Mezzanine, San Francisco. After enduring (too) many dozens of minutes of video clips from the Joy Division and New Order archives, Peter Hook and the other unknown musicians took the stage–unknown, except the other bassist was his own son!

Peter Hook was the the bassist of post-punk rock band Joy Division during their short existence between 1979 and 1980. Though short, their music helped formed modern/alternative rock we know today. Furthermore, we now have New Order.

Last night Peter’s vocals didn’t(couldn’t) achieve the unique character of Ian’s, but the music was spot on.

They played every song from Joy Division’s debut 1979 album Unknown Pleasures. The set started with an intro from a Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europa Express.” Then in encore: Atmosphere (dedicated to Peter’s recently passed friend), Transmission, and the crowd pleasing Love Will Tear Us Apart.

updated 12/13/10:

Well, it looks like I blew it. They lights came on after Love Will Tear Us Apart. Show’s over.

Today at work, I compared notes with my co-worker, Mark. He mentioned liking the last song the best–I was a little surprised at that. But it turned out that there was a second encore. The song played: Ceremony. The first song released by New Order as a new band. To me it’s a classic JD/NO song and a favorite.


setlist via setlist.fm

captures: last few days

December 8, 2010 § 2 Comments

The last few days various images were made. Trapped in the phone. These stuck out.

golden ore

aondrea opening

split tree

furniture hunt with jen

seeing aondrea’s art

rainy day at work

pear crisp no. 3

December 8, 2010 § 2 Comments

Better crisp topping. Pears, good, but not as good as Sunday Dinner dessert.

Yes. I made another one. A late night version. Smaller. Experimental. Bosc pears. Stick with D’Anjou, comice or bartlett. I used 1/2 C of coarsely ground oatmeal +2 TBSP AP flour instead of 6 TBSP of AP flour. Toss in a half a small handful of whole oatmeal, cut in 6 TBSP butter. The pear quantity was 3 which means the topping was double the amount previously. That is the way to go. Same spices and same rum raisins. Left out of this round, for guilt sake, but definitely should go in future versions, melted butter over the pears; a winner. Maybe walnuts instead of pecans?

Midnight dessert over.


Listening to:
Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective
Scratch My Back – Peter Gabriel

cacciatore, crisp, and catching up

December 6, 2010 § 2 Comments


We had talked about teaming up in the kitchen for a long time. Terri and I finally followed through yesterday, a gray stormy day in SF. The perfect opportunity to catch up with my friends Terri and Louise, it had been a while.

Cooking with gas, literally. Thanks to Terri’s great remodel, an awesome gas stove was waiting for me. I was psyched. It’s easy to get excited about a stove when your daily driver is an electric stove which was very likely one of the cheapest models Home Depot carried circa 1989.

Along with the nice kitchen, there is the view. Even in the rainy grayness, looking out at the grand span of the twin peaks is spectacular.


A couple of days ago we decided to make chicken cacciatore, roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe. And the big challenge was going to be our first try at homemade pasta with Terri’s new pasta maker. Continuing my obsession with pears this year, I wanted to make a crisp for dessert.

Terri decided on fettucine alfredo for the starter. Terri masterminded the pasta dough creation and it went quickly. I made my first little pasta dough ball ever. Though, the rolling didn’t go as planned. As we were rolling the pasta, we noticed that the newly acquired hand-cranked pasta machine roller was adding some extra ingredients. We did not like that. It was ditched. Terri’s rolling pin and pottery skills came into play as she made fast work of rolling out the dough into thin sheets and hand cutting the fettuccine. After that feat: now we know: check your gear, push to the outside and cut the noodles thinner because they expand quite a bit.


Chicken cacciatore, seemed right for the weather. Today I remembered the chicken cacciatore from when I was a kid, I can still picture the takeout metal tin that crimped over the lid they used for leftovers or take out. It either came from Lombardo’s, a classic Italian-American restaurant with tall back booths, in downtown Albany or that place on the corner on Second Avenue–the name escapes me. [edit: Mom told me that place on Second was Cavaleri’s]

It’s one of those dishes that has no real recipe because it is mainly a technique. I did reference a recipe from my Italian Slow and Savory cookbook I just picked up. Essentially: brown chicken, then saute soffritto, brown mushrooms and peppers in batches. Add tomatoes and herbs. Combine all the precooked items in the large pot and let braise for a while.

Terri has a garden or two, and I have my herb pots, so of course the herbs: rosemary, thyme, marjoram, parsley, and basil came from our backyards.

So I did forget to add the pancetta to the cacciatore, it was included in the recipe I referenced. I hadn’t used it before in cacciatores before–but it likely has been a decade since I’ve made this. It all worked out–we got our bacon fix. We used the pancetta to top the fettuccine. Next time for the cacciatore: more garlic, more mushrooms, and more rosemary. don’t be afraid of the garlic when cooking with friends.


A mix of Comice and D’Anjou pears was used for the crisp. The secret ingredients are a little rum to soak the raisins and lime zest. We all liked the crisp enough to go for seconds. It may have been thirds if I hadn’t forgot to add the pecans to the topping! We all agreed that it’s a good idea to double the crisp topping amount in the future, even if the nuts are included.


Words: Art. Museums. And flour.

Cooking & eating listening:
unknown album – Shout Out Louds
Brothers – The Black Keys
The People’s Record – Club 8
The Audience’s Listening – Cut Chemist
Ga ga ga ga ga – Spoon
Swim – Caribou

Writing listening:
Phrenology – The Roots

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