Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Deflated Dacquoise and the Under-Appreciated Egg Noodles

OK, this is the wonder of being in a book club. Three weeks ago I didn't know what a dacquoise was and yesterday, I found myself creating one in my kitchen for our annual Cook-While-You-Book Book Club meeting. (I just made up that title but I think it works.)

One month every year, we select a book/novel/memoir that involves food and has recipes. Everyone reads the book and makes a recipe to bring to the meeting. I made a french dessert called a dacquoise.

According to Ruth Reichl, editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and author of this month's book Comfort Me with Apples, it was a dessert served in every French restaurant and very popular on menus of the best American restaurants in the 70s. It's basically two meringue layers with buttercream (or some type of filling) in between the layers. So, since I had never seen or tasted one, I thought I would make it. This is what one is supposed to look like.

A beautiful example of a dacquoise courtesy of kategiventofly

OK, one thing I need to share with you. I love to read, I love to sew, I hate to cook.

Cooking just puts me in a bad mood -- All you chefs out there who feel that making food nourishes your soul and there is no better way to demonstrate your love for friends and family than preparing a meal that comforts, nourishes and feeds them....well, I don't get you. No offense. I love being on the receiving end of your gifts, but cooking stresses me out.

Regardless of my aversion to cooking, I don't mind playing the role once in while -- after all, I love to watch the food channel and Top Chef is one of my favorite TV shows.

To make a long story short: after getting yolks into my egg whites, scalding the cream/sugar for the buttercream, de-flating the stiff-glossy peaks of my meringue, scorching the almonds (I went through 3 cups of almonds versus 1.5), and drinking two glasses of wine, I ended up with this beauty.

Ladies and Gentleman, I present the French Dacquoise. A little lopsided, a little flat... In fact, it looks like someone sat on it in the car on the way to my sister's house. Note the strategically-placed flowers and the pretty cake plate, all designed to take your attention away from the deflated dacquoise.

I thought I had it tough until my friend Gena decided to tackle the Ham, Asparagus and Garlic-Cream Egg Noodle dish...with homemade egg noodles. Here's a copy of the email I received yesterday morning which Gena had sent the night before at 1:00am.
I decided to make the homemade egg noodles at 9:30 tonight... shoot me now! I still have to wait 20 more minutes to flip them again as they dry out. Thank GOD I did not marry Anthony Scarcia...it is so much easier to cook a potato for my Irishman!!
Top 5 reasons to buy prepackaged egg noodles:
1. The noodles have to be flipped "occasionally" for 2 hours while they dry out.
2. Did I mention the dough has to be wrapped in plastic and sit for 1 hour before you hang it out to dry (for 2 hours)?
3. You need super-human strength to roll out the thick dough.
4. If you knew just how many egg yolks went into egg noodles, you'd never eat another one as long as you live (ignorance is bliss).
5. If you buy pre-packaged egg noodles, you'll have much more time to burp your Amish bread starter!!!!!!!!!
OK, I am going delirious - 8 more minutes and then I can go to bed!!
See you tomorrow night (tonight),
At the end of the night, the book was pretty good but the meal was so much better.

My sister noted that the title of the book is taken from this passage in Chapter 2 of the Song of Songs. I thought it was beautiful:
I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick with love.
If you find yourself wanting to make a dacquoise for your loved ones, here are some recipes from Epicurious. I'm off to feed the leftovers to the poor souls who missed our meeting. And until next year, I'm sticking to my needles.


Marty52 said...

Good grief, I LIKE to cook and I've never tried anything like that! You make it sound awful and it's just a bit... ummm... slanty... sort of. :0) So, did it taste good, cuz that's the most important part, y'know!

Chris' Shady Grove said...

Your post is a riot today. I laughed so hard I cried. I really enjoy your writing style. Thanks for sharing. chris

hens teeth said...

I must admit that I giggled a little when I scrolled down to your work of art! I have every sympathy for the lack of enjoyment when it comes to cooking, I'm exactly the same. No matter how hard I try, it never goes right!
Thank you for lovely comment you left for me, much appreciated.

Debra said...

Oh, Thank Goodness! I was beginning to think you were perfect!

Judy S. said...

Seems to me her brownie recipe in
Tender at the Bone wasn't nearly as tasty as the one on the Hershey chocolate box...... You were really brave to attempt that challenge! Now I've got to read that book and her next one (Garlic and Sappphires). both of which have been on my pile for a while. Thanks for the push!

Elmsley Rose said...

Lots of grins!

I bet it tasted good, in spite of being a little flat.

I have cooked a lot of 'gourmet' cakes since I was a teenager, and I have yet to overcome the lopsided thing.

Barbara C said...

You mean that's not what fancy cake plates and flowers are for?

Thanks for the great post. It's a riot. I think we've all had some version of "waiting for the noodles to dry at 1 am."

Allison Ann Aller said...

I love Ruth Reichl's books! Even more I love that you hate to cook too!
I am only being forced into the kitchen these days by my husband's astounding prowess at gardening.
I can't wait for the cold rainy season....

Your cake came out really, really well, I think...

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