Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reviewing Dallas Food: Fireside Pies and Tiramisu from Cheesecake Royale Bakery

Pulled from my birthday celebration post for those who don't read my main blog:

Tiramisu from Cheesecake Royale
Tom came home half an hour early, having left work an hour early to drive to the other side of White Rock Lake to Cheesecake Royale where, which despite what you might expect from the bakery's name, he was picking up "the best tiramisu in Dallas."

You might think they would mention this on their website, but no. They are evidently hoping that the fact they even produce tiramisu will also be the best kept secret in Dallas. Anyway, it is truly amazing as is evidenced by the fact that we had it over ten years ago at an acquaintance's home who I no longer even recall by name. Wow. This bakery uses all fresh ingredients and starts from scratch each day. It shows. Delicious, creamy, not too sweet, and dripping a bit of fresh espresso from the lady fingers. So very good. So very much also as they sell it in a large plastic pan that is about 9x13".

Fireside Pies
Then we grabbed Kirsten (a college friend of Hannah's who is staying with us for a few weeks as she has begun working after graduating but needs to save up some deposit/rent money) and went to Fireside Pies on Henderson. I'd been curious about the quality of their pizza since they mention a wood burning oven and hand stretched dough.

Hoochy mama, that's good pizza! They definitely encourage communal dining as diners are advised that pizzas are good to share between two to three people, as are the salads (which are gigantic). We tried Jimmy's Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza (with Scamorza & Roasted Red Onions) and the Peta Pie (Sonoma Goat Cheese, Balsamic Mustard Portobellas, Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, Roasted Pinon Nuts & Charred Tomato Vinaigrette). Both were delicious with thin, oven baked crust and perfectly balanced flavor. The sausage pizza was definitely spicy while the Peta Pizza almost seemed as if it came with salad atop it which made it a bit difficult to eat but the balsamic element shone through and made the trouble worth it. We were all full with four pieces total left over. Tom and I indulged in an Italian beer on tap which was a flavorful lager that complemented the pizza perfectly.

Truly Amazing Use of Flash ... And Food

And then there was salsa is something that you really need to see at the home site to appreciate. It's short. Enjoy this land of luscious tomato trees, spicy jalapeƱo cacti and canopies of fresh cilantro where anything is possible.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Triple Threat: White Lady, White Spider, and Chelsea Sidecar

It's all about the proportions and never more so than when making cocktails evidently. Perhaps as there are relatively few ingredients, one can taste the differences better.

You may recall that, making good use of our Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide, Tom and I were enjoying the difference that a cocktail can make on the weekends. One of our favorites is the Chelsea Sidecar, which recipe I will repeat below for the sake of simple comparison. It has also become our favorite way to tease test bartenders. We have not yet come across one who knew the recipe or, even more sadly, even had a Mr. Boston book to look it up in. I have written the proportions down on a card to carry in my purse as inevitably I must give the waiter the recipe. At which time, it becomes a test of the waiter's ability to convey the information.

Chelsea Sidecar
1/2 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. Triple Sec (we use Cointreau)
3/4 oz. gin

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Last Saturday, Tom came across the White Lady recipe and wondered if it wouldn't taste very similar as the ingredients are identical. Not so. It has much more of an "adult" flavor, if I might use that term. The gin is more prominent and it has a bit more bite. It was refreshing and very enjoyable. It might be my favorite of the three.

White Lady
2 oz. gin
1 oz. Triple Sec (we use Cointreau)
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
With that successful experiment in mind, I made us a White Spider on Sunday. Notes showed we had made it before but neither of us could call it to mind. Again the same three ingredients, but with a bit of additional sugar to counter the large quantities of lemon juice. This was almost like a Gin Sour and Tom declared it to be the best of all.

White Spider
1 oz. gin
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Triple Sec (we use Cointreau)
1 tsp. Superfine Sugar or Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
There you have it. Three ingredients mixed three different ways for three completely different taste sensations. The triple threat.

Now Serving Hot Links ...

... from around the interwebs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lemon Cake

This cake is from Betty Crocker's Cake Decorating. Following the tradition from when we were little, I got this book so the girls could choose whatever cake they wanted for their birthdays. Yes, I even made a Dinosaur Cake one year. It didn't look half bad either.

The great thing about Betty Crocker cookbooks is that they really have been tested well so the recipes are foolproof. This cake is the Spring Flower Cake which has Yellow Layer Cake with Lemon Butter Frosting. Between the layers I used Lemon Filling from the Umbrella Shower Cake, which was similar to a lemon pie filling and quite deliciously tart. (Quite meaning "very" in the American sense, not the British usage ... which I found out a while back when listening to CraftLit means "so so." Language use is so interesting, isn't it?)

Anyway, back to the recipe. All the above use of pieces from here and there was because I dislike White Mountain Frosting (a 7-minute boiled frosting that is similar to ... maybe melted marshmallows? ick!) which is what was called for in the Lemon Allegretti Cake that Tom chose. Also, it would have white cake layers which are all right, I suppose, but yellow are just as good and I didn't feel like separating eggs. Not a big deal, but just felt fiddly to me.

So, there you are. All that considering took me several enjoyable days as I thought about options. I knew that Tom wouldn't care as long as he had a lemon cake.

The verdict?

Absolutely delicious and very lemony.

Tom said that the lemon filling was too tart on the first day but felt it had calmed down by the second day. I didn't notice any calming down but loved the tartness on both days. Perhaps his expectations were different on the second day?

The filling was rather loose and I would have added a bit more cornstarch or a bit less lemon juice perhaps so it was firmer between the layers. No matter what, make it the day before so it is cooled down in the fridge and as firm as possible.

I must also admit that I completely missed the part where I was to split the cake layers so that the cake had four layers total. I think that would have made the cake more elegant and also spread the lemon "hit" more effectively throughout the cake. Ah, well. There's always next time.

Am I right? Of course I am!

Yellow Layer Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 round 9" cake pans. Beat all ingredients in large bowl on medium speed, scraping bowl constantly, until blended, about 30 seconds. Beat on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 3 minutes. Divide batter between pans.

Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.

Lemon Filling
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 drops yellow food color (I didn't use this)

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in saucepan. Stir in water gradually. cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add lemon peel and butter. Stir in lemon juice and food color; cool. If filing is too soft, refrigerate until set.

Lemon Butter Frosting
6 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
1/4 cup lemon juice

Beat all ingredients on high speed until frosting is smooth and spreading consistency. If necessary, stir in additional lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Note: I downsized this since the recipe is to also fill a cake. I used 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup butter, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. If you plan on decorating cake then you may want to make the entire amount.

To Assemble
Split cake to make 4 layers.

Fill layers with Lemon Filling.

Frost cake with Lemon Butter Frosting. If decorating, put extra frosting into cake decorating tube and swirl away!