I’ve got the itch to cook. It’s like I’ve come out of a forced six week hibernation. I’m hungry and I’m able to stand up long enough to cook now. It’s a deadly combination. Add to that the fact that I just finished Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and have about 10 pages folded over with recipes to try, most of which call for a cup of cream or a stick and a half of butter. Oh, it’s trouble.
My first recipe attempt from her book is the chocolate cake. It’s really more of a torte, and it reminds me of the days when Greg and I were dating. He was in charge of the office’s football pool on Fridays, and somehow he got it into his head that he should have treats for everyone who came to sign up for the pool. So every Thursday night after I taught school and he slaved away as a first year lawyer, we’d converge on the dated 80’s kitchen in his old town Orange rental and we’d bake.
People wondered if he was doing it just to please me, and maybe he was, because I really can’t recall the last time he’s baked anything recently. But at the time it seemed like he really enjoyed it, and I even gave him dessert cookbooks for gifts, alongside baking pans and other kitchen gadgets. It was a magical time, I tell you…one that will most likely never be repeated.
But on one of those baking nights years ago, we made a bittersweet chocolate torte. I was a bit confused because after all that work, I was looking at a very flat sort of dull skinny cake. I couldn’t imagine that it would taste that great. But I was wrong. And Molly’s version (found here, as well as in the book) is even better. And easier. It comes out a little mushy in the center, like a gooey brownie. We had our faux daughter and her boyfriend over for dinner and I just had to try a tiny sliver before they got here to make sure it was okay. Then Greg had to sneak another tiny sliver, although I caught him, knowing the size of the sliver I had cut and noticing that five minutes later the hole in the cake was a bit bigger. Then I had to give our guests a little sliver before dinner just to convince them of how good it was. It’s a miracle we had any left over for dessert.
To go with our ribs and cornbread, I made Molly’s cabbage with cream. I have not been much of a cabbage cooker, and Greg was vocally disgusted when the kitchen filled with the braised cabbage’s scent, but if you are a food lover, you must buy her book and try it. I might have been the only one at the table who liked it tonight, but that’s not saying much, considering my husband grew up with a mom who calls ketchup a vegetable, my boys are still young and in serious foodie boot camp, and our dinner guests took polite bites but, let’s face it, they’re not the most widely versed eaters. But don’t let that rousing referral deter you. Try it. I’m serving it the next time my parents and sister come for dinner. Then I’ll show tonight’s picky eaters who’s boss. It is tasty stuff. It looks really ugly coming out of the pan, but it is worth it. Believe me. I didn’t even have room for dessert after I ate the whole pan of it myself. Then again, I had already eaten several small slices of cake before anyone sat down to dinner.
Overall it was a successful food night for me. I declared as much to Greg as I stood at the stove with a ridiculously childish grin on my face. I had plenty of time to cook uninterrupted. I tried out two new recipes, both of which I liked. My family was all together. And as for the slice of chocolate torte that the faux daughter’s boyfriend tried to sneak into the trashcan after only a few bites, I saw him, and I’m taking notes. I didn’t much like him anyway.