Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tonight on "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills:" The Smith Island Cake Fail

This week on PCoBH, I was asked to make a Smith Island Cake, the official cake of Maryland. Having never made, let alone seen, a Smith Island Cake before, I took to the web and discovered it is a ten layer cake, iced with a thin, boiled cocoa and evaporated milk icing, sprinkled with candy bars.

Simple enough, right?


Exhibit A: Just trying to get the 10 layers out of my apartment and to set proved difficult enough. Check out the Leaning Tower of Layer Cake...

My favorite thing about this photo is the magazine, Bon Appetit, and the DVD, Kings of Pastry, in the background.

While the Smith Island Cake proved mildly disasterous once I tried to assemble it (turns out the candy goes on top, not between the layers, and the frosting was way too thin even though I followed the recipe to a tee), here are some other offerings which were delicious slam dunks...

Rockfish Galettes
Yields 10-12 servings as an appetizer

1 pound Rockfish (Striped Bass) fillets
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and Old Bay Seasoning to taste

Galette Dough:
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup (about) ice water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 12 pieces
Truffle Oil and chives to garnish (optional)

Begin by making galette dough. Whisk egg yolk and vinegar together in a small cup or bowl and add ice water. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt and butter until a course, crumbly meal forms. Add liquid and quickly run processor just until a ball of dough forms. Immediately stop processor, remove dough and flatten into a disc. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350. Place rockfish on a lightly greased sheet pan and season with lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and Old Bay Seasoning to taste. Roast until fish is firm to the touch and flakes easily, about 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of fillets. Set aside.

Remove galette dough from refrigerator, lightly dust with flour and roll out to ¼ to ½ inch thick. Using a 1 ½ to 2” cookie cutter, or a lightly floured glass, cut dough into circles and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Score each circle with the tines of a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. If the galettes are puffin up too much, place a second, ungreased cookie sheet on top of the first to weight the dough down slightly.

Remove galettes from oven and top with warm flaked rockfish, truffle oil and chives (if using). Serve immediately.

Hand-Cut French Fries
yields 6-8 servings as a side dish
3 large Russet potatoes, well scrubbed
24 oz vegetable, canola or peanut oil
sea salt and malt vinegar to taste
Optional seasonings:
Old Bay, truffle oil, parsley and fresh chopped garlic, hot sauce, parmesan cheese and red chili flakes, fresh herbs

Leaving the skin on, cut potatoes into long thin strips and place in a large bowl of clean water to remove some starch, prevent them from sticking together and stopping the oxidizing process.

In a cast iron skillet fitted with a thermometer or a small fryer, heat oil until it reaches 275-300 degrees. Remove potatoes from water and pat dry. Working in small batches, fry potatoes (also called blanching) until they go from shiny to matte, about 3-5 minutes. Drain well on paper towels. Heat oil until it reaches 350 degrees and fry potatoes again, also in small batches, until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Remove from oil, drain well and toss with sea salt and malt vinegar, or any other seasoning you prefer. You can also fry fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme with the potatoes. Serve hot.

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