Sunday, March 7, 2010

an espresso-drenched star & BLT bar

After months of missing my family, I was able to sneak away to Austin for a couple days to celebrate the 62nd Birthday of my dear ole' Dad.

Simple, intelligent, frugal and clever would be quite appropriate adjectives for my father-- eggs over easy, black coffee, BLT's and ice cream never fail to keep him content (no frills, indeed).

In planning his afternoon celebration, I went the simple route with:

a hearty soup for the rainy day,
make-your-own sandwiches
and a luxurious Bundt cake

with fresh-whipped cream (vanilla bean extract please!) and ice cream to savor amongst gifts.

My funky BLT bar included every necessity to build the perfect sandwich:

Maple-Glazed Applewood-Smoked Bacon

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes: kosher salt, fresh-cracked pepper and olive oil roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Fresh, Peppery Arugula

Toasted Pumpernickel: sliced and toasted on each side with unsalted butter at 400 degrees.

Roasted Garlic Aioli: warm, roasted garlic cloves made into a paste with mortar and pestle then whisked with fresh thyme, mayonnaise, olive oil, salt and pepper.
After my past soup class in culinary school, my Dad seemed intrigued with the thought of velvety and cool Vichyssoise. Using the same leek and potato elements, I simmered my way to a hearty play on the French classic.

Potato Leek Soup with Thyme and Bacon Fat

This enormous pot of soup began with sautéing sliced leeks (thoroughly soaked and cleaned to remove grit) with leftover bacon fat from BLT's, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. After leeks sweated and reduced, I added diced white potatoes and two quarts of vegetable stock.
After simmering until potatoes were tender, I added cream, crumbled bacon and readjusted my seasonings with more fresh thyme, salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Finally, I partially pureed the soup with an immersion blender for added texture.
Cocoa Rum Bundt with an Espresso Glaze

Oh the decadence! Oh the moistness! The intoxicating blend of caramelized rum, fresh-brewed local coffee and luxe bittersweet was to die for.

3 c flour
1.5 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, chopped
12 oz good bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Scharffen Berger 70%)
2 and 1/4 c raw cane sugar
1 c dark rum
1 and 1/3 c brewed coffee
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 T vanilla extract
butter and cocoa powder to grease and dust bundt pan

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a 12 cup Bundt pan with butter and dust with cocoa powder. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl- set aside. Over a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter until smooth. In a stand mixer on stir setting, add rum, coffee, vanilla and sugar to chocolate mixture until combined. Add dry mixture in portions until combined and finally, combine beaten eggs careful not to over mix.

Pour batter into Bundt pan and place in middle rack of oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean- my cake was ready in 1 hour, 20 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before inverting.

Simple syrup:

1 T instant espresso

2 c water
1 c sugar

While cake is baking, simmer mixture over medium heat until reduced by half. Drizzle atop cake after inverted.

Espresso glaze:

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c instant espresso

Whisk together ingredients.

Spoon atop cooled cake before serving and finally,

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!"



Unknown said...

I'm so glad you said something about soaking and thoroughly rinsing the leeks. I cooked a winter lentil soup not too long ago and used leeks for the first time. I did not know to soak and scrub those things and kept curnching down on "grit." Not fun. I'll remember your tip for next time. Thanks!

L A C E Y said...

mmmmmmmmmmmm.... callie, you are so creative!

Callie Salls said...

Sonya- I'm glad you enjoyed it! Those leeks are tricky little suckers :)

Lacey- Thanks! I think you are equally creative :)

Jessica said...

I might make that cake this weekend. It sounds delicious!