"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Melissa Feeds the World Part IV: Her Bookgroup & Exciting Cook-Through Blogger News!!

Exciting News first! Folks who follow the Gourmet cook-through blogs may have noticed that two of us live pretty close to each other here in Massachusetts: Adam from Gourmet All The Way is just down the road in Methuen.

Well, I recently received an email from Adam, inviting me to be his guest at a luncheon demonstration where he works as an attorney. Wait, a roomful of attorneys? Does this mean I could get sued if they don’t like the food? Ha ha, just kidding. Kind of.

We’ll talk about cook-through blogging, and whip up some tasty food that doesn’t require oodles of time and equipment (Adam has picked two tapenade recipes) but best of all we’ll get to meet each other in Three Dimensions. I had a blast meeting Teena from The Gourmet Project last summer, and I look forward to a good time here as well.

Watch this space for a full report!


On to my bookgroup, which if you’re a regular reader you know that means I’m talking about DESSERT.

For the past few months I’ve been trying out various puddings on my bookgroup, and January’s group was no exception. For the discussion of Suite Francaise, I chose Toasted Bread and Butter Pudding. Part of my reasoning is that I can’t get anybody else in my life to eat bread pudding, but the other part is that it calls for challah, which was connected to the subject matter of our book.

I also remembered that Adam had made this recipe, and liked how it got crispy on top but was pudding-y on the bottom.

Now, this recipe says that you can use challah or firm white sandwich bread. Challah is not typically found for sale around here except during Jewish holidays so the EASY thing for me to do would be to use white bread, but what would be the fun of that?

The Gourmet Cookbook actually has a great recipe for challah, and so I made challah. I love making challah. It’s so satisfying.

If you are on the fence about bread pudding because you don’t like the slimy texture, this might be the recipe for you to try. The egg mixture doesn’t fully engulf the bread, so part of it bakes on top, and it does get nice and crispy, as Adam noted.

But unfortunately I had to cover and transport the pudding, so the crispy bread on top got steamed…by the time we were ready to serve it I actually thought it was sort of rubbery and it seemed more like French toast than bread pudding.

But the caramel sauce saved the day! That’s the great thing about sauces—they hide a multitude of errors. And my book group is a loving and appreciative audience, and that’s why I keep making desserts for them.

This is not my pudding, but it's made from the same recipe...

For February’s group, I made Coffee Almond Ice Cream Cake with Dark Chocolate Sauce.

I don’t know why I’m intimidated by this chapter--Frozen Desserts and Sweet Sauces. Maybe part of it is because I still don’t have an ice cream maker that is easy to use. Or maybe it’s because many, if not most of these recipes are incredibly complex—requiring multiple components and a lot of time. You think I’m kidding? Check out Watermelon Sorbet with Chocolate Seeds—a trompe l’oeil that has you filling a frozen watermelon shell with watermelon sorbet and chocolate “seeds”. It uses the phrase “working quickly” at least twice, which makes me nervous just reading it.

But I was determined to try something other than pudding this month, and so I browsed around here trying to find something that would feed a lot of people (three new members—yay!) and wouldn’t take three days to make.

Enter Coffee Almond Ice Cream Cake, which very nicely calls for store-bought coffee ice cream. All you have to do, really, is layer it in a springform pan.

I expanded the recipe by half to fit a larger springform—a 10 inch, and then I got busy.

First a layer of chocolate cookie crumbs mixed with melted butter, which you freeze for a while, then the softened coffee ice cream.

Then you spread whipped heavy cream that’s been folded with crushed almond cookies, and sprinkle the whole thing with toasted almonds.

Done. Well, you have to freeze it for four hours, but then you’re done.

And—another recipe that calls for sauce!! This one called for Dark Chocolate Sauce, and mmmmmmmm, can there possibly be anything better? No, I don’t think so.

I would like to personally recognize Don Rittenburg, who artfully sauced these as they were going out of the kitchen. It was important to him to get it right, and he did.


Georgia said...

I am so making Coffee Almond Ice Cream Cake with Dark Chocolate Sauce. Did you know that R really like coffee ice cream and his favorite nut is the almond? (Hint.)

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Sounds like a no-brainer! Invite some friends over--it's perfect for sharing. :-)

Liz C said...

That so exciting about you & Adam getting together. Can't wait to hear a report!