Bitter Cake and a Swimming Pool of Ramen

19 Feb

Being sick can really mess up your whole week! I got whatever superbug has been going around and two weeks later, I’m still in recovery mode (but back in my routine for the most part, thankfully). Not all was lost last week while I took time off to rest though. For starters, I had some crazy dreams while on Nyquil PM, including an awesome food-related one:

In a spacious banquet room, a large, silver platter of various vegan sandwiches sits atop a round dining table covered in white tablecloth. As I go to reach for one, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute keeps on grabbing my arm and stopping me from taking one of these delicious, veggie-packed sandwiches. I’m super frustrated, but Rainn/Dwight is much too fast for me, so I move on.

I walk through an indoor/outdoor courtyard and spot ahead — can it be!?– a swimming pool of vegan ramen! Fresh wheat noodles floating in a dark, shoyu-based broth. I excitedly inhale the savory aroma and anticipate the taste on my tongue as I jump in. There are already two other women in the pool and we all happily float about in the warm broth — me on my back, with long, soft strands of noodles flowing between my arms and legs. I look up and on the deck overlooking the pool is none other than Desi Arnaz, one of my favorite actors/producers of all time! The drama of the vegan sandwiches behind me, I am in bliss.

I’m so not kidding; that was the exact dream that I had. And in my dream, I knew that sandwiches and ramen were vegan (I’m not just making that up now). I was so excited about my dream, I actually woke up my partner to tell him about it. He looked at me like I was crazy…

While I was sick,  I also started reading Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen, which was recommended to me by one of my mentors. Though far less overt in my previous experience working at nonprofits, I could relate to the sexism in the workplace that Dahlia Jurgensen writes about. I’m a little more than half way through and so far, it reads more like a memoir than a detailed account of the experience of being a pastry chef. Her experiences are definitely eye-opening, however, and provide some insight into how things work in a fast-paced professional kitchen (e.g., be prepared for long hours, low pay and a high-pressure, high stress environment). Jurgensen’s story of her ascent from a bored office worker to a pastry chef thus far has been both entertaining and inspiring and I’d  recommend it to anyone curious about career in the culinary field.

Lastly, I managed to bake one thing last week (I have a hard time doing nothing, even when I really need to): a chocolate olive oil cake from one of the dessert recipes in Great Chefs Cooks Vegan. The use of cake flour gives the cake a soft, delicate crumb that I liked, but I found the finished product to be much too bitter. When I scanned the recipe, my gut told me that it called for too much baking soda — two teaspoons for one-and-a-half cups of flour! — but I decided to go with it since it was created by a famous chef and I figured it must have been tested. I did, however, reduce the teaspoon of salt it called for. Turns out, my gut was right and the cake had a noticeably bitter taste. I was planning to take a photo for the blog, but since I wasn’t happy in how it tasted, I scrapped it. I’ll have to try the recipe another time with some adjustments and see how it turns out.

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4 Responses to “Bitter Cake and a Swimming Pool of Ramen”

  1. Sarah (Flavoropolis) February 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    “I had some crazy dreams while on Nyquil PM”
    Hahahaha
    That dream does indeed sound crazy… crazy awesome!

    • Jen February 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

      It was truly an amazing dream!

  2. br February 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    those dreams deserve to be brought to film by terry gilliam!

    chocolate olive oil cake. interesting. how are the two supposed to interact? and yeah, 2 tsp for 1 1/2 cups of flour is excessive.

    • Jen February 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      The dream wouldn’t make a bad short. I guess the olive oil gives the chocolate cake a more complex flavor profile? I couldn’t get past the bitterness though, so I can’t tell you, unfortunately.

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