January 18, 2009

Cooking with Bro (a voyage of discovery through peanut butter and chocolate)…



After a few quiet weeks filled only with the occasional jam session and a raspberry white chocolate mousse cake constructed by Miss Emily for family birthday celebrations, Team Pretty Bake were back in the kitchen and ready to make an impressive start to the New Year.
Our latest baking adventure coincided with a visit from Miss Rose's little bro, and given a vague expression of interest, we were rather excited by the prospect of having a bona fide kitchen slave at our disposal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, said bro adhered to the typical behavioural characteristics observed in the species that is the seventeen year old male, and decided it was way cooler to hang out in his room with his computer than endure the daggy exploits of his older sister, and only ventured out when it was time to feed. Of course, I can fully appreciate this lifestyle which tends to spawn some delightfully lovely individuals (one of whom I lived with for eight years), and little bro was particularly gracious in his acknowledgement of our efforts. He was a pleasure to meet and there is no malice intended in describing his lack of interest for learning from the masters, it's just that we were so looking forward to having our very own minion…
Organised on a whim, there was no specific theme this time around, but with Miss Rose's hankering for something chocolate-peanut-buttery and a few "must try's" in mind, we settled somewhat vaguely on the matter of pies and tarts. Somehow evoking the question of "which one's which?" we, albeit rather confused, chose to respond that surely the answer is obvious. Personally I am unfamiliar with pie (n.) as an insult in modern day vernacular, but will happily accept the challenge of inventing a slur that is as vicious as it is witty if needs be.
Our savouries began with chicken and sweet leek pie. The filling conformed to provincial rustic delights, with the surprise meatballs a thoughtful and tasty addition. Our pastry was a beautiful compromise between structural integrity and flakiness, and we were ultimately pleased with the flavours and presentation that resulted. A feat certainly worthy of fantasies involving being the subject of a certain Johnny Depp character's affections (well, any Johnny Depp character's affections, really)…


Chicken and sweet leek pie with flaky pastry


Next up was a slow-roasted tomato tart, and I'm not sure I can sufficiently convey just how flavoursome this really was. If only we always had time to slow roast tomatoes in real life (indeed, Miss Rose, indeed). Simple in appearance, the hidden power was near overwhelming and served with a salad of rocket, gorgonzola and balsamic, it is an absolute summertime must for anyone with a few slow hours to spare…



Slow-roasted tomato tart

For sweets we took the stereotypical-American approach of going totally overboard, and produced two desserts so insanely rich that our cardiovascular systems stood little chance. I will ease you in with the lesser of two weevils that was our ice cream cake. Feign ignorance if you must - after all, how bad can an ice cream cake really be? Let's just say that when it involves two litres of ice cream, Oreos, three different types of caramel/peanut butter/chocolate bars and ends up smothered in hot fudge sauce, it's probably better not to ask those kinds of questions…

Ice cream cake with hot fudge sauce
And as for the master of coronary killers; well that manifested itself as a double chocolate peanut butter pie. Akin to a cross between a cheesecake and the richest thing you will ever consume in your life, this pie was certainly not for the faint-hearted (seriously, there should be health warnings for this thing). It was, however, divinely delicious when taken in small doses, and a fitting end to our New Year foray into pies and tarts.

Chocolate peanut butter pie
For those of you who often question how with all this fine baking neither of us resembles the back of a bus, I will simply say that moderation (and lengthy walks) is the key. As it happens, this also often results in some rather happy neighbours…





Until next time dear friends; adieu…

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