I just got back from my trip to Taos and it was as heavenly as it always is. It's one of the few places on earth that a do-er like me is really happy to have the sole goal of the day be to sit on the porch and look at the mountains. I did a lot of that, as well as some reading, some line-learning for the play I start working on tomorrow, and an ample amount of eating and baking.
My stepmom Amanda used to work at Chez Panisse--in fact she and David Lebowitz were friends in the kitchen. Huh????!!!!! How did I never know this before???? She says he is a beautiful soul. Sigh. I know. She has her phone list from her days in the kitchen there tucked in the back of her Chez Panisse Desserts (which now I have to own. Have. To.) and there's his old phone number. Be still my heart.
In the market on Friday we saw some rhubarb--it is that time after all--so we whipped up the Rhubarb-Strawberry pie from the book: so easy and gorgeous, especially when you cheat and use a Pillsbury rolled pie crust......not that I would EVER do that.......
Then along comes Saturday and we're sitting around the breakfast table and somehow it comes up that the bottle of Sauternes I brought to Taos as a gift years ago is still in the bar cupboard....Then Amanda starts talking about a cake made with Sauternes that was a staple at Chez Panisse....Then she flips through the book. It's there. And we have all the ingredients on hand save a little orange zest which is easy to pick up at the market when we go out to shop for dinner. And the plan is hatched. We're making the Olive Oil Sauternes cake from Chez Panisse that very night with a 1993 Grand Cru Sauternes.
You don't have to use a 17-year old Sauternes, though it did make the cake otherworldly. It was really so delicious I'm not sure how to express to you the degree. It's light. It's moist. It's not too sweet and then you add apricot whipped cream. In the play I'm about to start I play a food writer. So I guess every time I try to write about food I can say I'm doing character research.....
There's the little miracle about to go in the oven
And there's me and Amanda with the finished product in some vintage aprons we found here
Here's an up-close look at the sumptuous ladylike beautiful piece of kitchen mastery. You take a bite, close your eyes, and say Oh.My.God. Hence its nickname.
And how, you ask, can a girl on a gluten-sugar-free diet ingest Olive Oil and Sauternes cake? Because every once in a while no matter what kind of plan you're on you can step out of it if that stepping out allows you to step into life. Call it the 80/20 rule, and God bless my healers they all subscribe to that philosophy.
So here it is, the recipe for
otherwise known as Linda's Olive Oil and Sauternes Cake
from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsay R. Shere
3/4 c sugar
1 T mixed orange and lemon peel, finely grated
1/3 c plus 2T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c good Sauternes (the better the wine the crazier the cake)
1 c sifted flour
1/4 t salt
2 egg whites
1/2 t cream of tartar (or just a good dash)
Butter and flour an 8-in springform pan (we had a 7-in onhand so we used that and baked the extra batter in a little pie dish and it worked great)
Preheat oven to 350
Separate the 5 eggs and beat the yolks with half the sugar til light yellow and thick. Beat in citrus peel. Beat in olive oil then the Sauternes.Mix the flour and salt and beat into the egg mixture til mixed.
Beat the 7 egg whites with cream of tartar til they hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining sugar til whites hold stiff peaks. Fold into yolk mixture thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan and bake, turning if necessary for it to make evenly (if you have a little old oven like mine you want to do this, big new one like my dad's no need) for 20 min.
Lower temp to 300 and bake for another 20 min. Then turn off the oven, cover the top of the cake with a round of buttered parchment, and leave it in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
Serve with apricot cream: whipped cream into which you fold some homemade (or not--I don't think the police will come if you use good store-bought) apricot jam. You could also, per Lindsay's suggestion, serve with sugared peaches or nectarines and sabayon.
When I wasn't in the kitchen or at the table eating the fruits of the kitchen here's what I could see from the porch:
Whidney the llama
a few of the 14 chickens and handsome rooster; inside the barn to the right of this pen are 5 4-week old kittens and their ferile mama--anyone need a kitty in the next month or 2? Amanda's getting them fixed and everything.....
an ornamental crabapple or plum-we're not sure which. This one is blooming on the plaza, but Taos is blushing with all kinds of ornamental trees right now. I wish I could go live in this one