Monthly Archives: November 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

My mother had a strong aversion to hot cereal, of any kind, which she passed along to me. It’s something I never cared for, though, in recent years, I’ve grown to like a bowl of steel-cut oats on a cold winter morning.

With that said, I postponed making the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake because the Cream of Wheat it called for made me a little nervous. The instructions were straightforward. Molten sugar for caramel always makes me a little nervous, but I’ve made caramel before. But, from a gustatory perspective, this recipe definitely took me out of my comfort zone.

The result was surprising. It was more like custard than cake. It reminded me of a flan that wasn’t completely smooth. I liked it. I have been visiting my sister Jane this week. I made this for dessert one night, taking advantage of the extra eaters. My brother-in-law Danny and my dad also liked it. Danny thought it would also be good for breakfast.

As for the cooking itself, I had no trouble with the caramel, but as I said, I’ve done that before. Jane’s pots are all Calphalon, so I had to dab the caramel on a white plate to track the color change. It’s definitely easier with stainless-steel colored pots. I think I should have doubled the caramel topping. Jane did have an 8-inch cake pan, and though the heated pan spread the caramel easily, it didn’t completely cover.

I debated about adding the raisins because I don’t like them in baked goods. I polled the eater audience, who voted for the raisins. It was a good choice, especially because it wasn’t a cakey cake.

Bubble in the Oven

Bubble Deflated

It also wasn’t the most beautiful cake. Something happened while it was baking, and a giant bubble formed in one quadrant. As the cake cooled, that quadrant deflated completely. I’m thinking that this might have been one of the spots where the caramel didn’t completely cover the bottom of the pan, trapping some air.

Overall, it was a success. I’m not sure I’ll make it again, but more because there are so many more recipes to try than because it wasn’t a good dessert.

Now, does anyone have any suggestions for using up the rest of the box of Cream of Wheat? A bowl of hot cereal is out of the question.

Note that this recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. If you want to read about other bloggers’ experiences making this cake and other recipes from the book, check out French Fridays with Dorie.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

We’re spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my family in Maryland. My sister Jane’s family is hosting, as usual, so everyone will be together at their home. My other sister Jennifer and her family, my dad and stepmother, my stepfather, Jane’s in-laws, and other family friends will all share in the celebration.

Before dinner, everyone will have to say what they are thankful for this year. The rules don’t allow you to say you are thankful for being together with family. I don’t have to follow the rules on my blog. Here I can say that I am truly thankful to be with my entire family on my favorite holiday and to genuinely enjoy spending time with them, at holidays or any other time of the year.

We started the day with a 5K Turkey Trot in Urbana. The weather was dreary, but no raindrops fell during the race. I think we came in last place. Initially, we were alternately walking and running, but we ended up mostly walking to keep my 9-year-old niece Maggie company.

Howard’s sister was a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this morning. We caught a glimpse on TV of the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon she was holding, but the TV camera shot didn’t include her. (I love the outfit!)

I was a good helper, but, didn’t have to do much of the cooking for the holiday feast. I was asked to make an apple dessert, so I made this apple tart from Smitten Kitchen. We haven’t tried it yet, but it looks gorgeous.

Every good American family has a traditional jello mold recipe, so I made my mother’s pink jello mold recipe. I also made my mother’s fruit salad that my sisters and I have at most family gatherings. Mom might not be with us at the table, but she is with us in our thoughts, our family feelings, and the food at the table.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!

Mom’s Pink Jello Mold
Serves Many

2 small (3 oz) boxes strawberry jello
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1 cup sour cream
1 1-lb package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed

Dissolve the jello in the boiling water. Add to the blender along with the cold water, sour cream, and thawed strawberries with its liquid. Puree until smooth. Pour into a jello mold and chill until set. We always make it the day before the meal.