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Nothing says "I Love You, Dear" like screaming lower back pain!

Sometimes Wrong but rarely in doubt!

17 October 2011

It's all about the Gravy!

It's the sixth anniversary of Mrs. Bugbear's twenty-ninth birthday tomorrow so on Sunday I made her a nice birthday dinner.  Since I had the new Irish cookbook I had planned on making Champ (mashed potatoes with leeks boiled in milk), cauliflower with cheeses sauce and rare roast beef with gravy. Oh! And birthday cake!

There was a bit of a hiccup in my plan, the beef roast was quite lean and I didn't have much in the way of drippings.  Since I had the boiled milk I added it to the beef drippings and thickened it with a roux.  I thought that if it didn't turn out then nobody would ever know I tried it.  Since you're reading this you'll know it turned out well, other than a bit too much roux the gravy was wonderfully flavorful.

I have a good friend whom I've watched put together some good fruit trays with wonderful presentation.  When I was slicing the roast I decided to be a bit creative, I arranged the slices like the petals of a flower around the edge of the plate and then placed the butt of the roast in the center for a stamen.  It actually looked pretty good.

I also made a spice cake which my mother, Thing1 and Thing2 decorated (cream cheese frosting on spiced layer cake).  Well Thing1 helped and Thing2  absconded with the birthday candles.  I also made butter from scratch for the cake since Thing1 wanted to know how butter was made.

Spice Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup margarine
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar (or a second cup of brown sugar your choice)
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups  buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup white flour
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350F.  
Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, combine the wet ingredients in another bowl excepting only the butter milk. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and add the buttermilk.  I generally add a bit of buttermilk then a bit of flour alternating.

Butter and flour two 9 inch spring-form pans.  Pour the batter into each pan and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for half an hour and then remove the cakes from the spring-form pans.

This recipe is modified slightly from one I found on the web, I basically doubled the spice amounts, used unsalted butter that didn't have the whey completely pressed out and used just brown sugar.  I also added a pinch of salt to allow for the fact that the butter was unsalted since without the salt the gluten might not form. 

Overall the meal turned out well and Mrs. Bugbear was very pleased.  I was a bit disappointed in the cheese sauce but since my wife liked it I'll still call that a win!

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