Thursday, March 13, 2014

chocolate-coconut pound cake

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Though the lack of posts suggests otherwise, I have actually been making quite a few things that are blog-worthy. I have a back-log of "bloggable" recipes that probably extends to August, so when I eventually get around to posting about wonderful summery things like quinoa salad with nectarines and feta, it should not come as a surprise.  

In addition to multiple batches of both this olive oil and apricot granola and Megan Gordon's divine hazelnut-cacao nib variation, there has been oven-roasted salmon with cauliflower.  Lemon-rosemary scones.  Multiple batches of my dear, dear sister-in-law's banana curry.  Deep dish apple pie.  Steak cobbler with gruyere biscuits.  And not one, but three loaves of grapefruit olive oil cake.  Clearly, I have been depriving everyone of much deliciousness.

Instead of sharing one of the myriad of successes coming out of my humble kitchen, however, I'm going to tell you about a cake.  Spontaneous cooking or baking is not something that I do often.  I tend to need lots of planning time.  It's not unusual for me to reject a dish out of hand if I don't have every last ingredient at the ready.  Pretty much the only things I make that are totally spur of the moment are scrambled eggs and bowls of cereal.  And clearly that last one doesn't count.

However, when I saw a recipe for a buttermilk-based coconut and chocolate pound cake in my latest Bon Appetit, I decided that I needed it right then.  As it happened, I had a fresh carton of buttermilk in the fridge-I've been trying to keep it stocked so that I can make waffles and pancakes on the weekend-and as I continue to be totally captivated with any recipe that features coconut flakes, I have a surplus of them in my pantry.

Totally going against my normal routine, I decided to whip up the cake while A and I were eating our lunch.  I am forever getting up getting him things anyway, so it seemed like a decent use of my time.  It came together quickly, and I had a wonderful treat to look forward to as an afternoon snack.  I emerged into the kitchen after our nap time routine to the heavenly scent of deep, dark chocolate and slowly roasting coconut.

The final product was just as wonderful as it looks.  Not too sweet, with a subtle, pleasing hint of coconut from the coconut oil and the perfect, slightly bitter taste of dark chocolate.  It was very sturdy, and kept well for a week four days.  I can't wait to make it again. 

Chocolate-Coconut Pound Cake, adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2014

1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 325.  Butter an 8 x 4 loaf pan; line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides.  
2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.  
3. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat oil, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until pale and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions; beat until mixture is very light and doubled in volume, 5-8 minutes.  Add vanilla. 
4. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients (do not over mix; it will cause cake to buckle and split).  Scrape batter into prepared pan and run a spatula through the center, creating a canal.  Sprinkle with coconut and remaining 1 tbsp. sugar.  
5. Bake cake, tenting with foil if coconut browns too much before cake is done (it should be very dark and toasted), until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 70-80 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cook in pan 20 minutes before turning out. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

academy awards review 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Ah!  Where does the time go?  How do I have literally dozens of ideas for blog posts in my brain (which, by the way, is apparently significantly smaller than it was prior to having a baby) and yet here I type, almost one MONTH since my last post?!  It's a good thing I don't have an actual blogging niche-no way would I make it in the "mommy-blogging" or "food-blogging" or "entertainment-blogging" world.

The annual Academy Awards, that favorite evening of mine, took place last Sunday (well, technically, last Sunday plus a few days), and I can think of no better way to hopefully end yet another blogging drought.  You should know that I first typed "draught" and had to change it.  Either I'm thinking too much about adult beverages or my "mommy" brain has struck again.

While the planning and execution of Academy Awards celebrations has become significantly more challenging since the birth of my little sweetheart, and the actual time I spend watching the awards is pitifully short, I still eagerly anticipate them.  This year was no different than the four years preceding-I devised an Academy Awards menu and put together costumes for our little family.  My extended family here is incredibly decent and supportive of my awards show love, and they all take part as well.  Perhaps some day, long into the future, I might actually be on top of things enough to have a proper party, where friends are invited too, but for now I am content with our more intimate family gatherings.

Without further adieu, I am going to include a little list here of the things I enjoyed about this year's party and show.  As I and many other bloggers before me have ruminated, a blog is something of a scrapbook-it will be fun to look back and remember the highlights.

best Oscar fashion: Guys, I can sum up the fashion of the year in two words: boring and safe.  The red carpet was a bummer.  These were my three favorite looks of the night, and while Lupita truly looked spectacular, the gowns on both Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchett, while beautiful, were not what I wanted to see.

best Oscar moments: 

Pharrell Williams' performance of "Happy"-Of course I watched this and had to download the song and play it approximately 1 million times.  

the acceptance speeches of both supporting actors, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto-I was pleasantly surprised by Jared Leto's speech, because I had expected it to be either patronizing or weird.  And of course Lupita was touching and charming all at once.  


and of course, the most popular selfie of all time (at the time of this posting): 


I was able to watch the full show during the week after it aired (my toddler, still recovering from an ear infection, wasn't too keen on the Oscars), so I can attest to it being a good one.  Ellen is a great choice for a host, not too controversial or vain and definitely funny.  

Oscar films-inspired party menu: 

pizza (Her)
moon-shaped rosemary and gruyere crackers (Gravity)
Irish soda bread (Philomena)
Texas sheet cake (Dallas Buyers Club)
blackberry cobbler with drop cream biscuits (12 Years a Slave)
beer (Nebraska)
champagne (Wolf of Wall Street)

Sadly, we didn't get in a good representative dish for American Hustle or Captain Phillips. The crackers were a Smitten Kitchen recipe and were unsurprisingly delicious.  Both desserts were wonderful, and I will be making them again (Homesick Texan and Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen, respectively).  If I had had all the time in the world and perhaps a baby-sitter on the eve of the show, I would definitely have found out a way to incorporate lobster in the menu (inspired by Wolf of Wall Street).  


me: Philomena.  Literally.
SH: Theodore (Her). Complete with a mustache. 
A: outfitted in a long-sleeved t-shirt emblazoned with a Maersk logo (Captain Phillips).  
mother and father-in-law: completely decked out in American Hustle-inspired costumes.  As usual, they looked the best.  
sister-in-law: Magdalene girl, inspired by Philomena.  And so appropriate, since she will be giving birth any day now.
brother-in-law: Jordan Belfort (Wolf of Wall Street).  Striped suit, striped shirt. He looked the part.
BFF Rose: Kate Grant (June Squibb's character in Nebraska).  

personal favorite of all the movies this year: I should say Philomena, and I DID love it.  But I'm embarrassed to admit that it was The Wolf of Wall Street.  Don't judge me!