I need to actually do something about my plan to write a cooking/foodie blog. In the last two days that I've been home sick with Roland, we've watched a bunch of food-related movies. Ratatouille, Mostly Martha, Julie & Julia, and although it isn't about food per se, after watching so many food movies all I could think about while I watched Sabrina (the remake) was the food they eat.

But anyway. I've decided that like Julie Powell I need a deadline and a more specific goal to get me going on this project.

My "theme" for my blog is the DIY Kitchen. I want to write about making things from scratch, about growing your own vegetables and herbs or at least getting your produce at a farmer's market. About canning and preserving, and doing things like making your fruit preserves with juice or honey instead of refined sugar.

Unfortunately due to other obligations-- work, grad school, Roland-- this is not something I will be able to do every day. So instead I will do it twice a week. I will make one meal and dessert completely from scratch every week, probably on the weekend, and blog about it with pictures. I will also bake a different loaf of bread a week, using the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion for my base recipes.

Here's how I plan to break this down. My original idea was to write this as a cookbook, and I wouldn't present recipes for complete meals. Instead, I would give recipe "building blocks" and at the end of each chapter give suggestions on putting things together. My style isn't so much about the recipes, but about teaching people how to cook for themselves, and let them make the creative choices.

That idea won't work quite as well in a blog, because a blog needs to be about things I've actually cooked. So I'm going to start with my first entry about what those building blocks are. Then each meal will be chosen from those blocks, and the posts will be about how I chose what and why. I will tag the entries so if someone wants to go right to entries about cream sauces, they can do that.

Because I'm sick this weekend, I'm going to do something easy to start. From the protein/meat category, I choose chicken. Mostly because I already have some on hand. From the starch category, brown rice. I'll do a medley of steamed vegetables, and cover everything with either a sweet & spicy peanut sauce or something fruity, maybe with apricots and oranges. For the dessert, I'm going to make a variation on this fudge cake from King Arthur Flour because it is easy. Something fruitier would technically go better if I do a fruit sauce, but cakes with fruit tend to be much more labor-intensive.

Then on Sunday I will bake a loaf of bread. Probably I will do a whole wheat sandwich bread, just because. Then if I have any leftover at the end of the week I will make this as my dessert for next weekend, which I can't do this week because I don't have any homemade bread and that defeats the purpose of DIY.

I will add a link on this post to my new blog as soon as I get everything set up.

EDIT (8pm):

I decided to go with wordpress to familiarize myself a little with their system. I chose a minimalistic setup that is still pretty customizable. Eventually I may buy a domain or make it a subdomain of my current website, but I can't afford the extra $6/month right now with losing the hours at work.

So, until further notice: The DIY Kitchen

EDIT (1/30, 10am): I've also created a syndication feed here on LJ. [livejournal.com profile] thediykitchen
A Dark Alchemy.

That's what I'm calling the pie recipe I made this weekend. It started off its life as the "Midnight Mocha Pie with Cafe Au Lait Crust" in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book, but that is just too boring a name for the pie that resulted from their recipe + my slight alterations.

(For those of you reading this via a direct link on LJ Idol, if you want you can skip the recipe and go down to the "~*~*~" part. On my friend's list the recipe is under a cut-tag)

A recipe for turning a few simple household ingredients into dessert gold. )


Prior to making this pie, the only chocolate pie I'd ever eaten (other than Boston Creme, but that's not really a pie...) was the one some of you may have been unfortunate enough to experience at a family gathering at some point in your holiday past. That "pie" is basically just chocolate pudding inside of a tasteless white flour crust. In fact, if the crust were to have any flavor notes at all, I would call them bitter/acrid/a little like feet.

This is not that pie. For one thing, this crust has flavor. Allowing the dough to rest in your refrigerator for a few days makes the tiny hint of espresso powder you add to the crust just SING. The texture of the crust is dense and chewy, like an apple or pumpkin pie crust, not phyllo-y like the evil chocolate pie of my childhood.

But the crust is just the beginning (that is, if you eat your pie like I do. I always eat the crust end first). The filling is where the truly dark alchemy happens.

I do not know how or why, but the "setting up" the King Arthur Flour book claims will occur with refrigeration never quite happened with my pie. And let me tell you that was a very, very good thing. The top of the pie formed a crust, as advertised in the book, a little like the thin crispy layer on the top of fudge brownies. As a matter of fact much of the pie was a similar consistency to a very dense, wet, and intense chocolate brownie. But the true joy of this pie revealed itself within the first slice.

As I cut into the pie for the first time, I had no idea what lay within its dark depths. But when I pulled the slice away from the pie, out spilled a rich black syrup. It was a surprise, like cutting into one of those chocolate lava cakes thinking you've just got a regular old mini-bundt cake. Placing my slice on the waiting plate, I could not resist swiping up some of the syrup with my finger. And ah, my taste buds! I've never tasted anything quite like it. Far more than the sum of its parts, it still resonated with hints of kahlua and espresso, bittersweet Green & Blacks, and Hershey's Dutch process cocoa. I have no idea how the syrup formed in the center of the pie- above and below the syrup layer the filling formed denser brownie-like layers. Most pies are wet by nature (think of the rich fruity syrup formed in blueberry pie, for example), so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but whatever strange alchemy occurred truly did produce dessert gold.

This syrup would make an excellent topping for vanilla ice cream, and I would have jumped at a chance to pair the two had I any in the house at the time. If you make this recipe for a gathering, be sure to buy a half gallon of vanilla bean Breyers to serve with it. And although you need to keep the pie refrigerated, I'd recommend heating the slices for just a few seconds in the microwave, then adding a scoop of ice cream on top before serving.

I dare you to make this pie. Take a bite. Your tastebuds will sing out with pleasure at the devastatingly dark beauty in the marriage of chocolate and espresso. Go ahead. Try it.

(EDIT- I had one slice left, so I took some pictures. What good is a food blog without photographic proof?)
A Dark Alchemy
A slice of dark beauty.

Dripping with Syrup
See how the chocolate flows...

July 2011

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