Friday, April 13, 2012

Forgotten columnist?

I was a newspaper columnist for a few months. Maybe even a couple of years. I am not sure. I could count them, though, because I carefully clipped all of them out and stuck them into a scrapbook.

I sent extra copies and even photocopies of the articles to Mama Mildred up in the mountains. I stalked a food truck, interviewed a local chef, wrote about feeding my Frenchie friends when they came to Durham, researched wine-making in North Carolina, and watched a talented chocolatière make her goodies, just to name a few of my adventures.
But all things must come to an end, I guess, and all of a sudden my columns stopped. A new food writer popped up. Weekly columns, too, not monthly ones. I read them. Admittedly with a twinge of jealousy and grudgingly with respect for her writing. I appreciate my first editor's enthusiasm for food news from France. I will forever be grateful to him for taking a chance on me while I was on sabbatical and allowing me to zap columns to him electronically across the Atlantic Ocean. I remain puzzled as to why the editor who took over never returned my emails or acknowledged receipt of my offerings. Oh well. As Chef Erick would say "C'est comme ça, Teresa." That's just the way it goes sometimes. But I do mourn the loss of the anticipation I felt upon getting out of bed on Wednesday mornings and going out in my pajamas to get the paper.

The Sabbatical Chef will stay busy writing this blog, eating, and trying new recipes, though.
Perhaps something chocolate is what we need right about now? A talented young lady in my 8th grade brought this deliciousness in to share with her classmates yesterday. Merci, Marguerite! C'est trop bon!

Chocolate Mousse Cake

From How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson; Hyperion, New York; 2001

11 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces best milk chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
8 large eggs, separated
Scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
9-inch springform pan
Heavy-duty aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 350˚ F and put the kettle on to boil.

Line the inside of the springform pan with foil, making sure you press the foil into the sides and bottom of the pan so that it forms a smooth surface.  This will prevent water getting into the cake when it is cooked in its water bath.

Nigella note and quote:  "For some reason people are put off by the words water bath, but if you think about it, it isn't so very hard to wrap a cake in foil, plonk it in a roasting pan, and then, when the cake mixture's in, pour hot water into that pan.  And that little bit of extra effort makes a cake of such a dreamy, light texture."   No kidding?!

Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler, and let it cool.  In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugars until very thick and pale, as creamy as mayonnaise; the mixture should form and fall in ribbons when you lift up the whisk.  Stir in the vanilla and salt, and then the cooled chocolate mixture.  Whisk the eggs whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form, then lighten the chocolate mixture with a briskly beaten-in dollop of whites before gently folding the rest of them into it.

Pour the cake batter into the foil-lined springform, which you have placed in a large roasting pan.  Add hot water from the recently boiled kettle to come about 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan and carefully put the roasting pan with its cargo into the oven.

Cook for 50-60 minutes.  The inside of the cake will be damp and mousse-like, but the top should look cooked and dry.  Let it cool completely on a cooling rack before releasing it from the pan.  This calls for a little bit of patience, because you will need to peel the foil gently away from the sides.  Just go slowly and remember that this a very damp cake, and you won't be able to prise it away from its foil-lined base-- though it's easy enough to tear off excess foil once you've set the cake on its plate.  Dust with confectioners' sugar if you want, and serve with crème fraîche and maybe some raspberries.

Bon appétit, Nigella, Marguerite, and food writers everywhere!

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