Stream of Culinariness

3 Mar

This past week has been both random and spontaneous in the culinary sense.  I have had some strange dining experiences and meals, and, as always, I have been turning out numerous experimental baked goods at all hours.  As is my philosophy, food is the central point of interest in life, and even in the most boring of circumstances, it keeps us holding on.

Ever since my family and I have challenged ourselves to lowering the grocery bill, I have taken to making snacks for my younger siblings from scratch instead of buying pre-packaged.  As a result, I have been expanding my repetoire in the baking department as well as widening the horizons of my consanguineous compatriots beyond Oreos. 

This past week, I made chocolate chip biscotti–nothing crazy, but since my grandma cookie-napped most of them on her way home, I replaced them with small financiers.  Those went over rather well with the little brother, and I must say I was pleased.  Overtly and smugly pleased with the fact that I could make my thirteen year old brother enjoy financiers over Keebler fudge rings.  Joy!  Next, I put out a couple of batches of oatmeal cookies–one with cornflakes and marshmallows (a concept stolen from Christina Tosi, of Momofuku), and one with currants and chocolate chips. 

That brings me to my recent obsession: Cornflakes.  Ever since Tosi has brought the nostalgia of cereal milk back into my mind, I have been obsessed with these crispy, toasty flakes that are so magical and versatile.  Just the other day I made the cereal milk panna cotta recipe published by the New York Times, and it came out very well, much to my excitement. 

One thing challenged me, however.  After straining the cereal to extract all of the milk, I was left with rich, milk and cream laden cornflakes.  Although I enjoyed eating them on their own, I desired to confect something more with them.  So, in a crazy rush of madness, I processed the soggy cereal in my cuisinart.  Adding cinnamon; Lyle’s Golden Syrup; an egg; baking powder; and some flour, I made what I hoped would be a successful dough for frying. 

Minutes later, at 375º F, I had my answer: the soggy cereal donut!   Dusting them with confectioner’s sugar and salt, I had a perfectly balanced and unctuous junkfood.  One might say I’ve become popular in my household. 

soggy cereal donuts

soggy cereal donuts

As well as the aforementioned baked treats, I created another cake in keeping with my funky combination craze of late.  The “Po’ Girl Cake,” is what I christened this beauty; it had southern flavors to celebrate Mardi Gras.  Layers of sponge cake slathered with whiskey sauce were decadent enough, but I didn’t stop there.  The bottom filling had sauteed peaches and allspice-cream cheese frosting, while the top filling consisted of salted brown butter bananas.  I topped the cake with more whiskey sauce and generously frosted it with an “oatmeal cookie,” buttercream.  If I had been born in the south, this would be me in cake form. 

Po' Girl Cake

Po' Girl Cake

As far as other edible adventures, I had dinner with my family at German restuarant called Kirker’s.  A favorite among its locals, this restaurant gave refuge to hungry families (like us) and all-day singing bar hounds (not so similar to our demographics).  The menu read like a novel, but by the time I had perused its elephantine chapters, I settled upon the jaegerschnitzel.  Meanwhile, my parents got sausage; my brother a burger; and my older and younger sisters grilled chicken and coconut shrimp respectively.  Our motley array of entrees were not great, especially when I considered the lack of meat in my schnitzel.  They paled in comparison to our “loaded chips,” appetizer of potato chips with fake cheese and what I identified as “I can’t believe it’s not bacon.  I facetiously ramble.  Anyway, although the meal was partially a bust, I enjoyed my family’s company.  We may not return to Kirker’s…until we pine for the well-developed vocals of the washep-up old man at the bar.

Another strange food incident occured last night.  My mom, inspired by the frigid weather, suggested a French meal.  However, after discovering that we had both beef and veal stew meat and only brown beef stock, our plans to make a blanquette de veau had to be translated to visions of a more tan/neutral colored stew of two generations of cow.  Such is life; it was all just as enjoyable. 

For dessert, she made a tart tatin, but our subversive and quite frankly flawed recipe gave an excessively long cook-time for the apples.  We ended up with a tart tatin noir, in which only the crust survived.  However, with some Amontillado-flavored ice cream that I made last week, a shrug, and a laugh, we enjoyed this crazy upside-down tart as best we could.  If only I had pictures to prove our very charred revelry. 

So I conclude my week, a summary of meals and dining outings gone awry and a look at some of my kitchen experiments.  From an existential perspective, the week was amusing and great.  It takes a true existentialist’s perspective, but in some cases we have to laugh, eat crappy food and say, “what does it matter when we will just die in the end anyway?”  While I find this idea amusing, I must assert another postmodern idea that life is absurd and that the only other answer besides death is to eat damn good food and to make meaning through cooking and eating.  So there!  Two ways to look at my week : )

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