Jesse's birthday is tomorrow. But Monday is a tough day to be celebrating birthdays. SO, instead we celebrated food-wise yesterday. It was really fun.
We started off with Cafe Lub's inaugural Saturday Brunch. The centerpiece of this brunch was Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. I will admit that I'm a bit mystified by this recipe. I've made it 4 times now. I'll admit right off the bat that I'm a good baker, and I have an especially good sense with yeast bakery. And yet... This recipe has never worked for me the way it should. The "rise until it doubles in volume" never happens.... on Friday night I let it rise for 3 hours, because of an impromptu nap. And still.... not doubled in volume. The cinnamon rolls couldn't even rise to fill the round glass pie plates I put them in this time (I don't have a glass 9x13 inch baking pan). I will admit that this time I used whole wheat flour instead of regular flour -- screw you Whole Foods and your absurdist baking section!!!! But still. I think next time I'm mixing the yeast in before I add the second bit of the flour. Or maybe I'll prime the yeast with a little of the sugar and some water. I just don't think my yeast wants to rise in the room temperature setting of the recipe.
Anyways. The cinnamon rolls were delicious after the proofing and the baking and the rigamarole. They ended up filling the pie pan while baking. It was delicious. Cafe Lub's inaugural Saturday Brunch was a success. I think the Mimosas might have swayed the jury. Or the bacon, which I think was perfect. The secret is to put it under your broiler WHILE the cinnamon rolls are in their last 10 minutes of baking. Flip the bacons at about 3 minutes left and then let them bake under the broiler (I know, I know.... but it WORKS) for a few minutes after the rolls are out, until they're YOUR desired level of doneness.
Then, for dinner, we went fancy again. Sometimes, you just need to turn it out.
Jesse requested an old favorite for his birthday dinner -- Steak Au Poivre. I turned to Alton once again, and was not let down.
However, first, we started with an arugula salad, vinaigrette made with dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and olive oil, topped with rounds of fried goat cheese.
I got the basic plan from another cooking blog that I read and lurk on, Cooking After Five. She got it from Ina Garten. I thank them both.
After the salad, we got down to the Au Poivre.
I didn't use tenderloin steaks, because a pound of tenderloin steaks last night was 30 dollars. It's almost pay day. I didn't have 30 bucks to spend on JUST 1 pound of steak.
I used top sirloin steaks, I think, which were perfect and lovely and I wish I hadn't been too hungry to take a picture.
I ground the peppercorns in my coffee grinder. I would recommend flaming the cognac only to supervised beginners, or people without wooden cabinetry, because it's fucking scary. I've done it twice now, and each time the flames have leapt up and I have somehow feared for my life. But I'm also confident that I won't burn the place down. I have an exhaust hood, and I used my grill lighter. I was much farther away from the flame than last time, which we wont' talk about it. There was no chance that I was going to light my cabinetry in the old place on fire. As far as you know.
For dessert, after the steak frites au poivre (because honestly, I'll never pass up a chance for french fries to soak up the au poivre sauce) I made a Red Velvet cake. Sans red food coloring because I'm afraid of dying my food. I had bad enough luck with roasting beets turning my chicken pink.
I had cake difficulties.
Clearly, I haven't baked enough cakes lately. IN fact, I haven't baked a cake since my roomie's birthday last November. Honestly, it's time to get back on the cake thing.
The cakes stuck to the bottom of the pan, but they were delicious. I got the recipe from Bon Appetit. I had to use a third of the frosting to stick together the two layers, because they were crumbly. I then frosted the cakes normally. The cake is delicious. I'm still really happy with it. I just wish I'd used parchment to line the bottom of the cake pan, and I wish that I'd let them bake a couple minutes longer, so the bottom would have been a little dryer. But then again, I was going to crumb coat and flat-top it anyways. So honestly, I'm disappointed but not entirely.
Here is a picture of the cake:
The frosting on the top is WAY thicker than I realized. Basically, I'm just out of practice in the area of cakery. SO, I am laying down a challenge to my friends.
Please come up with excuses for me to bake cakes. ANY excuses. It's a Tuesday. It's a pay week. Somebody's visiting. Make up an obscure holiday. ANYTHING. I'm going to buy some parchment paper to line the bottom of the pans. And we're going to have a cake situation at 2014. You heard it here first. I'll need some volunteer diners. Come on over and eat some cake with me. :)