Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl

Today was the big game - Super Bowl Forty-something-or-other - but more importantly, the day we hosted Blake & Don's birthdays. We started out with some snack foods like pretzels & garlic dip, chips and hot fiesta fondue, and Lisa's famous 'Mexican Haystack' dip (layers of beans, sour cream, guac, etc.). I put the pretzels and garlic dip in an overturned cake plate - a trick I saw on a video about how to register for wedding gifts.

Then for dinner I made a couple pizzas - one Greek pizza with feta, Roma tomatoes, Kalamata olives, spinach, onion and garlic; and one traditional with marinara, red onion, mushrooms, pepperoni, and hot Italian sausage from Skagit River Ranch.

And I made a bunch of fried chicken in our new fryer, including drumsticks, wings, and breast strips.

We enjoyed those along with a great fruit salad Jennifer brought featuring mango, pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, and raspberries.

For dessert, I made a Devil's Food Cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, and decorated it with sugar cookies I made in the shapes of football helmets, with icing designs to match the two teams playing in the Super Bowl.

I was rooting for the Cardinals, because I like their logo better. They lost, as expected, and I fumbled a bit myself on the menu. I failed to cover the cake adequately after making it yesterday, so it was very dry. I also didn't account for how moist the toppings on the Greek pizza would be, so the crust didn't get cooked well enough. Both were big disappointments for me, given how much time I spent on everything - but it was a great opportunity to learn. The cookies were my proudest achievement, and they remained soft and tasty, even after enduring the same shoddy conditions as the cake.

I had worried the icing would get too runny while I was making the black for the Steelers helmets, but actually discovered the opposite - it worked great for flooding, whereas the undiluted white frosting didn't flood well at all. I should've added a bit of milk to it first, to get the Cardinals helmets smoother.

Rolled Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 tspn vanilla
1/2 tspn almond extract
1 egg
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tspn baking soda

In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar and butter on low until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, almond extract, and egg. Stir in flour and baking soda. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2 to 2 1/2 inch cookie cutters. On ungreased cookie sheet, place cutouts 2 inches apart. Bake 7 to 8 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

(From the back of a bag of Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour)

Devil's Food Cake
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tspn baking soda
3/4 tspn salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbspn vanilla
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of three 9 inch round cake pans. Cover pan bottoms with wax paper or parchment, and grease the paper (or use silicon baking pans, like I did). Pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over the cocoa in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set mixture aside to cool to room temperature, giving the mixture a couple of additional stirs as you prepare the other ingredients. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes, with an electric mixer at high speed. Reduce mixer speed to medium and beat in the vanilla, then the eggs, drizzling the eggs in steadily. Add the cocoa mixture, beating just until incorporated. Mix in the flour mixture about 1/3 at a time, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix after each addition just until combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Cool the layers in their pans for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, invert them, and remove from the pans. Finish cooling the layers on greased baking racks.

(From American Home Cooking by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)

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