Into every life (and project) a little Christmas must fall. Week Fourteen was spent primarily celebrating Christmas, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Eve Eve with family. It was a whirlwind of wrapping up everything at work (including hundreds of pans of Cinnamon Rolls), traveling, wrapping gifts, traveling, and then collapsing when it was all over.
It was also the week that Rachel and her family moved back to Fort Worth, and if you have no idea who Rachel is, I wrote a few blog posts about her here and here. We helped them get settled into their new home, and our hearts are very full to have them back in the fold.
I did not cook much this week, for obvious reasons of limited time mixed with needing a break. I went off the grid a bit and shut down everything I could for the sake of rest. Of the four recipes I cooked, two of them were winners, one was so-so, and was not successful even a little bit.
WHAT I COOKED
WHAT I LEARNED
CHICKEN SOUP. I will always be grateful for the lessons learned from making homemade chicken stock and using it as an ingredient in soup and other dishes. It really is ridiculous how much better it is than the canned stuff. I have come to enjoy the process as much as the finished product. The great discovery from this recipe is not the broth. I’ve done this same song and dance multiple times now. The great discovery is, in fact, the secret of how to use the chicken meat from the chicken you are using to make stock! Up to this point, I would have told you there is nothing you can do with the chicken that is left after the stock is made. It tastes and feels like wet socks. All of its goodness has been given over to the broth. But in this recipe, we are instructed to remove the chicken meat from the carcass after one hour of bubbling away in the stock pot. Then we return the bones to the broth, save the chicken, and carry on with stock making. This yields chicken that still tastes and feels like chicken, while also producing a broth with excellent flavor and body.
MATZO BALLS. I accept all responsibility for the failure that ensued. I trust that Ina’s recipe for Matzo Balls must be a winner. I have never eaten nor prepared matzo balls before this go, and I quickly learned that if your cooking liquid is not simmering when you place the matzo balls in them, the matzo balls disintegrate and lose their shape. Instead of matzo balls, I had matzo mush. I was able to salvage a couple of sort-of-round matzo balls, but the rest became one with the liquid, and the finished product was hard to enjoy as a result. I want to try this again, because my gut tells me this could be a winner.
SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE. Add this to your breakfast repertoire. It is buttery and deliciuos, full of brown sugar streusel and a crumbly topping. I took this to Rachel and Patrick as a gift to welcome them to their new home. There is something homey about a fresh baked breakfast treat waiting for you after a long hard move. Eat it for breakfast. Eat it for dinner. Eat it for dessert. Sour Cream Coffee Cake is always a good idea.
CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM CAKE. Let me break the bad news to you. This cake is not awesome. It’s fine. And I guess it could be considered awesome if you’ve only had grocery store cake or boxed cake. But when you’ve had a Hurley House chocolate cake, the finest chocolate cake around, you’re ruined. I’m ruined. I love our chocolate cake, and until I find a better one, I won’t be swayed. I found the crumb on this cake to be dry, and although the chocolate flavor is there, it’s not deep or dark or interesting. It’s fine. It will do. But for the trouble involved, this cake (including the frosting) did not win me over.
CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING. Remember when I made Ina’s Devil’s Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream in Week Three and the recipe said to beat the buttercream for one hour and we all thought it was a bit much? Turns out it was a bit much. This buttercream recipe calls for five minutes of beating, and it was done. My mixer and my sanity were thankful. Apart from that one redeeming quality, this frosting was disappointing. It makes enough frosting for two (maybe three) cakes, which is super annoying considering the price of butter and chocolate. In addition to the surplus of frosting and the lackluster chocolate flavor, I don’t think I care for buttercream. It tastes like butter, which I realize is the most obvious statement I could make, but it feels like I’m eating butter on cake. I don’t want to feel like I’m eating butter. I want frosting that is made with butter, not frosting-flavored butter. We ate it, but we didn’t love it.