Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Something to celebrate

Despite my annoyance at Yet Another unpaid (furlough) day, the four-day weekend turned out to be, on balance, pretty good. The weekend included, but was not limited to:

* Both of us experiencing a comedy show (at a comedy club) for the first time. I liked one of the warm-up acts better than the main guy; Dan though the main guy was the best; but we both had a good time.

* a trip to the yarn store to acquire yarn for a new challenging project

* Not one, not two, but three awesome, celebratory meals (more on that in a bit)

* Homemade donut experiment

* A walk around a snowy, sunny park and a great conversation

* Lazy lounging

* Attending a fawncy dress party (and baking a cake!)

* no photos taken, sorry.

First, the cake. The birthday girl wanted a cake that incorporated dark chocolate, wine, and raspberries, and so after doing some brainstorming I modified a chocolate stout cake recipe, using wine instead of beer. Here's my version.

1 cup fruity red wine (I used Yellowtail Shiraz Cab)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain yogurt

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons light whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan; I use parchment paper in the bottom because my 9x13 pans are glass and this makes my life infinitely easier. Bring 1 cup wine and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add wine-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto serving thingy for drizzling ganache.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

For my cake, I macerated a container of raspberries with a fork and mixed in a few more splashes of wine, then sliced the cake down the middle lengthwise (using a thread) and smushed the raspberry-wine goo all around, then put the top back on the cake and poured the ganache over. It was delicious.

I really enjoyed attending the party, which was fancy-dress optional (I opted yes), especially because I did my makeup and a special hairdo (wish I'd taken photos of this; it looked great!). The people who were dressed up fancy at the party were mostly people who had attended the awesome Halloween party we went to in October. The ones who didn't were just as fun to talk to.

And now the meals. On Saturday, before getting ready for the party, we trekked out to the big Asian market and stocked up on supplies for our Sunday dinner and also got some sushi-grade salmon and hamachi. Because we knew the party would be nibbles and wine only, we opted for a very very early dinner (or, perhaps, linner). While I did my hair and makeup and generally beautified myself, Dan made sushi rice and constructed some lovely nigiri. Yum!

Sunday, as you all know, was Chinese New Year*. We planned a delicious meal of Chinese greens and mushrooms, stir-fried with sesame seeds and ginger, served over udon; and an egg-tomato dish we had several times in China that we found a recipe for. It turned out to be just as good as we remembered. Plus, I got a can of red (adzuki) beans and turned it into red bean paste, then stuffed some wonton skins with the red bean paste and fried 'em up for a tasty treat.

And then yesterday was our 3-year engageaversary, and in honor of that Dan made an amazing saffron risotto with sauteed mushrooms and basil-chicken sausage. And a salad.

*Oh, was Sunday something else, too? We didn't notice and don't bother celebrating that. Not when our engageaversary is the 15th. :)


Hillary said...

this post should come with a warning for those who skipped lunch :)

Crafty Mama said...

Hooray for new knitting projects! You aren't on ravelry.com by any chance?

Emily SW said...

Sounds like an excellent weekend! We also had risotto this weekend, a tomato one with chicken sausage and spinach.

Abby said...

Wow, it good that my lunch break is only an hour away because those meals (and cake) sound incredible!

Simon said...

Those of us in Oakland ALWAYS know when it's Chinese new year. The firecrackers are out of control.