I've been wanting to participate in Amanda's Make Something Mondays for a while, mostly because she always makes the cutest stuff, and I feel like if I were to make something on or near a Monday, the good aura might rub off. So today is the day, although technically, we made this stuff on Saturday.
We always make dinner on Valentine's Day. Not only is it expensive to eat out, but it is too crowded. As my grandpa has been known to say, "I'm not gonna wait in line to give someone my money." We get something fancier than our typical fare and make the meal special with dessert and candles too, it's not like we are just eating Hamburger Helper. Last year we did lobster tails and steak, this year we went a little more low key and got a pork tenderloin. We hadn't actually decided what to get but saw them on sale last week at HEB and we had never made one ourselves so we gambled. Actually Craig did all the work for the meal, making this pork tenderloin recipe, steamed and buttered fresh green beans, and potatoes au gratin. He found the recipe for the potatoes in the Joy of Cooking and I must say that it ended up being the star of the evening. I don't remember ever having had potatoes au gratin before and when he announced that as his side of choice, I was a little skeptical. To me, that meant sliced potatoes with a bunch of cheese on them and really, that didn't seem to special. But these potatoes were like manna from heaven. I am almost ashamed to admit but the sentence, "I like you a lot, but I really love these potatoes" did actually come out of my mouth last night. So if you have access to the Joy of Cooking, you really should make them. Even if it means you have to spend 15 minutes cleaning your non-stick pan, it is worth it.
Okay, moving on from the potatoes to my actual Make Something Monday part - since Craig had the meal covered, I made the dessert. I originally wanted to make a strawberry cake but couldn't find one that didn't contain jello so I gave up. My mom did eventually find a recipe but by then the idea of a Strawberry Cake was dead to me. It probably didn't help that HEB had put out samples of strawberries that were moldy and/or not red. I realized that despite the $8.99 they were trying to charge for 6 chocolate covered strawberries, this isn't really the season for strawberries. But it is the season for oranges and I happened to remember a certain orange cake recipe from the Mitford series. (Sidenote: If you have not read those books, you should, they are good). I actually found two recipes for the same cake, I guess one was from the cookbook for the book series and the other was from one of the actual stories. It was a little confusing but I eventually went with the one with more eggs (5 eggs + 4 yolks, as opposed to just 3 eggs). I figured the more eggs the better, right?
Being three layers with a glaze on each layer, a filling and a frosting, it is a bit of work. However, I am not very experienced with baking homemade cakes (I had to buy cake pans Saturday just so I could make it) and I wasn't too overwhelmed and the result looked pretty impressive.
I had meant to take pictures before we ate it but got all carried away in the romance of cake eating and forgot. So here is the after:
Now in the books, this cake is famously delicious, but I had heard mixed reviews. My mom didn't think it was worth the effort, but she doesn't really like orange-y things either. Craig and I do love orange (these muffins = delish) but I think my expectations were medium at best and we really liked it. The only iffy part - the frosting. It was whipped cream with sour cream folded in. I had prechilled everything, even the bowl and whip but it still got pretty weepy and I was worried but after chilling the whole cake for two hours as directed, it did firm up. It tasted kinda sour creamy though. It wasn't bad, especially since the frosting to cake ratio is low (and I'm not a big frosting fan so I liked that) but I think I might mix up the frosting a bit if I make it again, maybe using some cream cheese in addition to the sour cream or just finding a different recipe. Overall, I think it would make a great cake for a church party or bridal/baby shower. Just don't tell the women the calorie count.
Now go check out putting down roots for something else to make on this fine Monday morning. Update: Amanda seems to be in the midst of blog redesign so I'm not sure if she is doing a MSM today. But be sure to check it out next week.