Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Goodies for Gayle -- and Chuck

We’re at Gayle’s to fill her freezer and pantry. Richard was also recruited by Chuck to help him stop the squirrel party going on in their attic. After the hole in the eave was patched, putting a dead end on the squirrel highway, Richard and I took over Gayle’s kitchen.

In the last three days, Richard has managed to bake five batches of biscotti, the last two for Gayle. These batches were a part of an experiment with alternatives to wheat flour for baking. Gayle was thrilled with this gift. Now that that project is complete, hopefully, we won’t be bandying that “B” word around for a while.

I worked on supper on the other side of Gayle’s kitchen. Once again, I did the slicing and dicing – and the whipping. The knife work was for Burgundy Beef, the last batch of which was made in the holler by Richard. There, we used whatever beef happened to be in our freezer, in that case stew meat. Knowing that Richard had done significant trim work to get the randomly chosen chunks of bovine to behave, I chose an easy-to-prep eye of round. The results weren’t nearly as flavorful as Richard’s batch; and here I was without my pantry of potions for flavor enhancing to remedy the situation.

I had promised Chuck a dessert of floating island, a lovely Julia Child concoction that requires a dozen egg whites to be beaten to soft peaks. This is baked into an “island” of meringue. Little did I know when planning the menu that any kitchen could exist without an electric mixer. I had to make do with a wire whisk. I must have beaten those egg whites for forty minutes before sliding them into a baking dish. Gayle said upon awakening that she thought the noise was squirrels caught in a trap in the attic, trying to make an escape – apparently with fancy footwork.

The second half of the dessert calls for a Crème Anglaise (otherwise known as custard sauce) for the island to float on. Gayle also can’t have dairy products, so another science experiment ensued. The first batch of sauce, I made with coconut cream, which turned out quite well. The second batch tasted delicious, but the texture was a bit too tight.

These culinary quirks don’t happen to Richard as often as they do to me because he knows he can’t multi-task, like walk and chew gum at the same time – or talk while tending a custard concoction. I act as if I can juggle tasks, but only end up renaming things that don’t come out right. I didn’t have to bother renaming this one. The island did float, even if it was on a slightly chunky sea. Besides, Chuck had never had this dessert before, and wasn’t any the wiser about my version’s variations.

Gayle loved her coconut cream Crème Anglaise which I had finished of with a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes. Unfortunately, these weren’t the only flakes at the supper table that night.

1 comment:

  1. You must sure be a blessing for Gayle. And you cook too. Why, you can come cook for me anytime. Your dessert sounds like more. Just finished cleaning out my freezer, or at least relocating it's contents so we know what's left and where to find it. It's a big job. I'm sure you are so appreciated.