Friday, May 25, 2012

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

Black Forest Cherry Cake. For some time now I felt that I really wanted to bake one. Had not made one for a long time. The birthday of friend Julie C. seemed like a good opportunity so I invited her and some other friends for this afternoon.

The cake should be baked in advance like the day before. Grease and flour a round cake form lightly. I use a Springform (click on it) and line the bottom with foil (before I clamp it in). Preheat oven to 350' F.

1 stick + 1 Tbsp butter (room temp)
5 oz sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
7 oz flour
2 tsp baking powder
5 squares semi sweet chocolate
6 eggs

Grate the chocolate squares first. This used to be a pain in the ... but this time I decided to use my Vita Mix. Just threw them in and pulsed the motor. Perfect. Within seconds I had the coarse powder I wanted.

Separate egg whites and yolks. Whip the egg whites stiff. Now you can use the mixer without having to wash the beaters to whip the butter with the sugar foamy. Add the vanilla. Under constant mixing add egg yolks and chocolate and the flour mixed with the baking powder.

Carefully fold in the stiff egg whites.
Pour into the cake form and smooth. Bake 40 - 45 minutes.

For the assembly you need:
12 Tbsp Kirschwasser
200 grams (not quite a 10 oz jar) tart cherry preserves (Kroger's Private Selection is excellent)
1 can (14.5 oz) red tart cherries
1 pint heavy whipping cream
4 squares semi sweet chocolate

Start by draining the can of cherries.
Cut the cake two times so you have three layers.

Drizzle 4 Tbsp of the Kirschwasser over the bottom layer. I don't do it too close to the edge so it doesn't get soggy.

Spread the cherry preserve.

Put the second layer over it and press slightly down.

Drizzle 4 Tbsp of the Kirschwasser over the second layer.

Whip half of the whipping cream (1 cup) until it is stiff and spread over it.

Arrange the very well drained cherries over that.

Add 3rd layer of cake and press slightly down.

Drizzle 4 Tbsp of the Kirschwasser over third layer. On the top layer it doesn't soak in so fast and tries to run off. Drizzle very slowly. Put the edge of your hand next to the edge. This helps to contain it.

Whip the other half of the whipping cream. Melt the chocolate squares. I do this in the microwave. One and a half minutes at half power might do it. Stir. Don't let it get too hot or you have to wait for it to cool.

Take a little of the whipped cream and stir it into the melted chocolate. Then scrape the chocolate into the whipping cream and fold it in carefully. Spread this over the top and sides.

You can decorate it in many ways. I just spread some chocolate shavings over it but here are samples (click on it).

Some recipes say to use candied (Marachino) cherries but I think they are too sweet.

 Emily, Irma and Julie seemed to like it.

Julie was a good sport and blew out the candle.

We had such a good time eating and talking.

Whenever I use a German recipe for the first time I have to find "American Ingredients" which will work. I like to simplify things if possible. Then I have to weigh and measure like in Germany and convert those how its done in America. For example: Weigh to the right grams and then count the Tbsp. And right it down right away. Once it is mixed ... ups! I did it with this one MANY years ago ... from my best German Cookbook.


Yes, at 4:45 AM the alarms on our iPhones went off. We had a train to catch.

I love train rides. Great childhood memories come flooding back too. It was a lovely crisp morning. Actually, the weather was perfect the whole day.

The Richmond Staples Mill Station is just 3 miles down the road from us. Perfect. The train was waiting.

We were going only about 2 hours, but see where you could go from here.

I am sure you wonder about this photo. This is to remember how nice it is to sit comfortably and watch the beautiful world go by. The sun was coming up. The golden rays between the trees were lovely. 
From Union Station we took the Metro to Foggy Bottom changing once and then walked to the German Embassy.
We finally solved a problem which started a year and a half ago. Here you can see me with my new passport (and the old one for memory keeping). It is funny though that my brand-new passport is actually already 18 months old. They put the date in when I actually had applied for it. Oh well ...

By 10 am we had done what we had come for and could do whatever until the return train would leave close to 6 pm. We took the Metro to Smithsonian Station and popped up at the Mall.
We decided to start with the Museum of Natural History. 
Wow, there was a lot to see. Why I took this picture of the snake skeleton ... I have no idea. Somehow it fascinated me.
So much to see. So much diversity. From the skeletons of many different animals, a whole department about dinosaurs, explanation of the evolution of man and more trivial things like the 45.52 carats Hope Diamond.
Besides, we popped into the cafe there for a little snack.

 After that we walked into the Sculpture Garden "next door". This is a huge stainless steel tree called "Graft" (2008-9) by Roxy Paine.

There was a cafe too and we could sit outside with our salad lunches. Just excellent.
More Sculpture Garden. This is the fountain in the middle.

This is "Thinker on a Rock" (1997) by Barry Flanagan. All the outdoor sculptures were huge. We were not impressed with any of the others. They looked too much like scrap metal heaps.
James was not sure about it.
Right next to it the National Gallery of Arts. Wow. Many famous pieces to see. Here: another "Thinker". This one from Rodin.
At the information desk we received a sheet "West Building Sculpture Highlights" which made our visit more enjoyable because it pointed out some really special pieces and had nice explanations. I have no idea why I decided to take a picture of this Degas study and not of the others. I was just in awe and forgot.
Then we followed the sheet of the West Building Highlights of the paintings. I loved the Vermeer paintings the best, but so much to see by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, van Gogh, etc etc. Some I liked and some I wondered why in the world it was famous. This Monet on the left (Madame Monet and her son 1875) just fascinated me.

And the building itself was interesting. This fountain in front of the cafeteria window is called "Cascade" and very appropriately so. The photo doesn't do it justice. We passed the cafeteria this time but not the gift shop. Saw something William will enjoy in a couple of years. Seems silly to buy it now but I was sure we would not find it later when we wanted it.

And then we made our way back towards Union Station. We had some more time before our train left and stopped at an Irish Pub for refreshments. Sitting outside in a lovely warm breeze with city life buzzing by very much reminded me of Singapore.

The train back was not only on time but even arrived a little early.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday afternoon reflecting - week 20

I am sitting here after lunch on the back porch in the shade and thinking about the week. Unbelievable how fast it went. After driving all day on Tuesday we didn't do much else. On Wednesday we sorted ourselves out again ... the luggage, the mail, getting some food into the empty fridge, sorting out the calendars etc.

So I was very happy that I didn't have to cook Wednesday dinner. The Wallers had invited us to see their new kitchen. The kitchen of their 50+ year old house had been gutted on  April 9 to be remodeled and it is now almost done ... and it is gorgeous and practical. Sarah is a blogger too so you can read about it here if you are interested.

I think it might have been also my Mother's Day meal because she made her delicious pork chops.
James and I had brought champagne. We had been to Trader Joe's and saw "Schloss Biebrich". My mother's maiden name was Biedrich so it must be special. Actually, it was not very expensive and very drinkable.
I also had to inspect my garden, plant my little basil seedlings, do some deadheading, all very enjoyable. I found the peonies had buds. This is our fourth year in this house and we had yet to see them in bloom. We had always missed it because we were traveling or a heavy rain beat them to bits.
I decided to cut some before the next rain and lo and behold ... they are beautiful.
Photos don't really do them justice.
I also had a hair cutting appointment. This is my hairdresser's car! Had to show you.
I showed you this view when it snowed. Here is a photo with the clematis finally blooming nicely.

I also found that last year's violas had reseeded themselves in the front. These are tiny cute little plants. They are allowed to stay. I get a lot of joy out of all this.
Saturday at two we were invited to an ice cream social at our church St Martin's.
Look at those toppings. I tried vanilla with a drizzle of lemon sauce and a little shot of cream de cacao ... mmmhhh ... highly recommendable.
In case you are missing children ... it was a special event for 60+ people. And yes, we qualify. 
 And live music.
After that we went to Sarah and Wade's house to pick up the dogs. Because of a wedding invitation we had been asked to grand-dog-sit. 
 We took the two darlings for a walk in the neighborhood and I saw an elderberry bush in a ditch which gave me a lot of memories from childhood.
So beautiful.
The next morning (today) Jimmy woke us up before 6 because we heard him trying to throw up. James quickly threw him out in the back yard but after that Jimmy did not want to go back to bed.

James decided to feed them and then we took them for a walk in the neighborhood again. This is after about 45 minutes almost back home. This is a water retention basin. 
A second after the above picture Jimmy saw some ducks. James tried to pull him back but he just wiggled and got out of his collar. The ducks had flown and landed on the water ... and Jimmy jumped right after them. Of course no chance for him to get them (thank you) but he swam around for about 30 minutes. I was petrified because several times he was splashing so hard that I thought he was in distress. James informed me later that he just did that on purpose and then tried to catch the splashes with his mouth. I went to the very far end where it was a little shallower but that early in the morning you can't yell for a dog to come. Once he almost came to James but then the ducks came again and teased him away. The duck couple had three little babies and tried to protect them.Finally, finally he came out as if nothing had happened. Oh well .... you can see him and James in the very corner there.

After church we had lunch out on the back porch and James did grilled. We tried squash this way for the first time. I cleaned and cut them lengthwise and James drizzled olive oil on the cut and seasoned them.

Here is the way he cooked them:
Place on grill cut-side down. When there is a pause in the conversation turn them over. When there is another pause in the conversation put them on the upper level and put the steaks on. They were just perfect, as was the steak, as was the tomato salad and the pale ale beer.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

William's BIG day

We had things to do ... Helen had plans for William's birthday.

Helen remembers the little red table fondly she and Sarah used when they were children. She thought that something like it would be nice for William. And we managed just to find the thing.

Some assembly required!
Grandpa is busy putting it together.

No, we didn't tell him that it's his birthday present before it's time.

But he surely liked it. No question about it.
One of the little chairs will stay at the townhouse. He loves using it even on the back porch.
Only work ... no way. Ben came with some wonderful t-bone steaks.
My mouth is watering when I remember it.

Of course we had veggies like cheesy broccoli and sauteed brusselsprouts ... and ... Helen's favorite potatoes: my father's recipe.
Look at this!

May 14

Finally the BIG day was here. But even on his birthday Omi rocks William to take a nap ...
 ... so his Mommy can make his cake.
Yes, you are seeing right. Improvising is the name of the game. The plastic bag must have had a puncture so duct tape saved the day and Helen could do the icing.
Working on the 'dog tag'. The rest is done.
Helen says to better take a picture. Who knows whether we can get it to the picnic park in good shape.
We had been eagerly looking at the weather forecasts for days. Invitations had been for 6 pm at the Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon TN. The weather turned out better then we could have hoped for.
But William didn't want to go to the pavilion.  He wanted to go to the play ground.
O.k. it's his birthday!

Watch this!

Pizza ... William's favorite. And plenty of it.
His parents, grandparents, great-grandma, lots of people who love him. Lucky little boy.
He is two now. He wanted to drink exactly like the grown-ups.
He poured his water into the cup ... well, with help.
Yes, William is two. Mommy designed this shirt.

But look at this!  Haha, William has his own ideas and almost misses his own party.
 Pops (dad) had to retrieve him.

And then the big moment!
 William is studying his cake. Yes, Doggie!

Short video!
But he is not sure how to go about eating it.

Short video!

And then time to open gifts.

Wow, a ball with lights!
Prime seats for watching the gift opening.
Grandma "Mops" Joy and Great-Grandma Gee Gee.
Grandpa George and Anna.
Ha, the cake was not only cute, it also must have been delicious!!! Not that much left.
After the party, in Grandpa's car on the way to the townhouse. The poor little guy was so exhausted, we entertained him with "lights" in the back of the car. And yes, since today he can face forward in his car seat. What a day.
So tired. But he makes it to the townhouse awake ... and even in Mommy's car home he manages to arrive awake.
His new table is loaded to go to his house ... but what is this? Grandpa found the old red table in the attic when the electrician was here a few days ago. Yippee. It will get used again.
The day after.
Got up early and on the way back to Virginia.
Lunch stop. James liked this sign and thinks that Jay Leno would love it:
watch your head! Clearance 8' 6"
Left-over salad and cheese sandwich from the cooler with a view.
Great lunch.
But there was a DQ at this gas station.
Coincidence, James?

Yes, when you spend 10 hours in the car you deserve a blizzard in-between.


While Helen worked hard on the cake, she kept saying that all she wanted is for William to recognize that it is a doggie (which he calls a lot of animals).   She just called to tell me that when she showed him a picture of the cake today he said "num num" (his word for FOOD).