Posted by Bonita
It was Andrew's birthday this past Saturday, but since we were on vacation, I had to postpone his birthday cake until we got back to his place in Manitoba. But more on the cake later...
After a whole week out on the road, it was definitely nice to be back to a home-base with a kitchen at my leisure. Alas, my brother's kitchen is certainly not as well-stocked as the one at home. In fact, I had to lug along with me a big box full of my own equipment, gadgets and ingredients to Manitoba. If I could have lugged the whole kitchen, I probably would have! But chefs have to make do with what they have in the kitchen, and thus I too must suck it up and live with what I have at hand.
Living in a small town, there's often not a lot of choices to pick from. I certainly just can't go downtown to gourmet shops to pick up some great meats and veggies, unlike back home with the Byward Market. We did pick up some nice steaks yesterday, and I thought it would be nice to add some spark to the steaks rather than the regular steak spice my brother uses all the time. Stopped by the liquor store to pick up a bottle of brandy, and I was all set to make Steak au Poivre. I used Ina Garten's recipe, and the only thing I changed was I added some sliced mushrooms to the sauce (since Andrew's a self-confessed hobbit) and substituted a small onion for the shallots since we were all out of shallots. The sauce turned out nicely, although next time I might add a bit of cornstarch solution to the sauce at the end to thicken it a bit more, but that's just personal preference.
As for tonight's dinner, I picked up some shrimp and arugula from the store yesterday, and since my brother had a couple of tomatoes lying around in his fridge, I thought I'd try Pasta with Shrimp, Tomato and Arugula. The sauce smelled absolutely divine while I was cooking it over the stove. I also feared that I might have overcooked the shrimp, but everything was perfect in the end. The family seemed to enjoy it, so I guess my job was done here!
Now for the cake. It should be no surprise by now that both Andrew and I are huge chocolate lovers. And while I love chocolate, my love for it usually just stands with chocolate candy. Not to say I don't like chocolate cakes, cookies and desserts...I do! But nothing beats chocolate candy for me, and if there are other dessert choices besides chocolate, I'm apt to try something else. Andrew, however, is a chocolate lover through and through, so what could be better than making him a Double Chocolate Mousse Cake? And what could be better than Chocolate Mousse Cake? Add his favourite fruit inside...raspberries!
This cake is based on the recipe from La Tartine Gourmande. Instead of making individual-sized cakes, I made an 8-inch one. First, I made the cake layer and let that cool down. Then I layed a layer of raspberries and blackerries, after which I covered the berries with the dark chocolate mousse. Unfortunately, since the recipe is based on individual portions, I didn't have enough mousse to cover all the berries. I actually ended up doubling the mousse recipe and it STILL didn't cover all the berries. At that point, I had also run out of cream, so I had to wait until the next day to finish the cake.
After a quick trip to the grocery store the next day, I finished the cake, except this time I decided to make a layer of milk chocolate mousse. When ready to serve, I decorated the top with fresh raspberries, shaved chocolate and dusted it with cocoa. The cake turned out really nice. The sides were a bit sloppy in some places since I didn't have those plastic cake sheets so I had to plastic wrap my cake pan instead. Otherwise, the cake didn't turn out too bad, and the family enjoyed it! I just love how this cake looked in the end. It really is my first "professional"-wannabe cake. Happy (Belated) Birthday Andrew!!!