Oh boy. Can I just tell you how bad my day was yesterday? It started out in theory, pretty darn good but as the day progressed…it turned into a three-ring disaster of sorts. Kind of like the main character in Judith Viorst’s iconic children’s book “Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”! Move over Alexander–it’s Cathe’s turn now!
Yesterday, I was Alexander. BTW–the BOOK is far better than the horrific Disney movie version!
Let’s go back a couple of days—remember how I posted about making an Omelette Norvegienne for Monsieur Bonaparte? I Googled, and researched and discovered that it was basically a French version of Baked Alaska. Genoise cake with a thin layer of melted chocolate to coat so the cake wouldn’t get all mushy when the ice cream is set upon the cake then an Italian Meringue to cover and popped into the oven for a few minutes. I got as far as the genoise–but more about that later……
So—yesterday while running errands, I stopped at Sur-La-Table to see if I could find a long rectangular mold for the cake layer and the ice cream. What I ended up with was a Pullman loaf pan. *NOTE: These pans are used for making sandwich loafs as the bread bakes into a square shape. I figured this would work for the dessert, AND, when I make pates and terrines, it would be perfect for a nice even loaf.
I also ended up with vanilla paste and a silicone pastry brush. Honestly, I just cannot get enough vanilla. I love using it in all my baking—but like Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, I like to use good vanilla. I love my new baking toys!
My new toys. Pullman loaf pan, silicone basting brush that will be used as a pastry brush, some disposable pastry bags and vanilla paste!
I love the Neilsen-Massey brand vanilla. Other than Mexican vanilla, it’s the next best thing. The paste (right pic) is more of a thick liquid–like molasses. A small amount goes a long way!
When I arrived home, Monsieur Bonaparte mentioned in passing that he was concerned with the “recipes” I found for the Omelette Norvegienne. He further explained that when he was in Switzerland and France experiencing this wonderful dessert, the covering was not meringue, but it was more like a soufflé or a crepe. I, ever the sweet and caring person that I am, mentioned his age and told him he must’ve been thinking of a different dessert.
The ice cream desserts I experienced as a child were Good Humor Toasted Almond bars vs. Chocolate Chip Candy bars. I experienced these delicate desserts not in France or Switzerland, but on the street corners in Queens, NY and in Bay Shore, NY. We are worlds apart!
This is where MY fancy ice cream desserts came from….
Here’s where it starts to go downhill.
Since I couldn’t translate the French version that was found on the net, I went with a Martha Stewart genoise for the bottom layer. Martha Stewart Genoise cake. I followed directions to a “t”, but thought something was just slightly “off”—the batter seemed heavy and a genoise is much lighter. Cake cooled, cut into rectangles to fit into the mold, I brought the extra cake to Bonaparte, who had since come home.
Genoise. Looks good, full of flavor (thanks to the extra vanilla) but way too heavy. Fail!
In his nicest way, he told me the cake had a great flavor but was way too heavy for a genoise. Epic fail! I knew he was right; and my anxious obsessiveness took over.I would have to start from scratch! Remembering an old school French cookbook that hadn’t been unpacked since our move, I went downstairs and went through the unopened boxes of books until I found it– (we really have to unpack –we’ve been here almost a year already), aptly titled, complete with French attitude “I Know How to Cook”.
It would have been far better had I checked this book first! It IS the French equivalent to “Joy of Cooking”. If you want old-school French basics–this is the book!
Sonofabitch! Bonaparte was correct! This old school cookbook—the French equivalent to our “Joy of Cooking” had the “Omelette Norvegienne” recipe that Vincent remembered. The recipe included the three parts: Savoy Gateau, ice cream, and a sweet soufflé covering.
I could not believe that the actual recipe was found-the recipe, as well as Bonaparte, are both “old-school”!
Even though I was starting over, I would do a comparison. I would make both the Baked Alaska based recipe AND the old school Omelette Norvegienne!!
My bad day started with a failed cake—it would soon continue in other forms.
While whipping the egg whites for the Gateau Savoy, I noticed that my Kitchen Aid was making a loud noise. When I turned around to see what was happening, I saw that the motor was separating from the base! By the end of the mixing process, my Kitchen Aid broken in two–the motor separated from the base!!!
Note the pliers in the background by the eggs. After he gained some sense of calmness, Bonaparte thought he could put the Kitchen Aid back together with pliers! It did not work. HOW does this happen to a two year old Kitchen Aid?????
I had my old Kitchen Aid for over 30 years. And—after 30 some years my machine just faded—the motor died. I used that mixer almost every day. The kids got me the new Kitchen Aid as a Christmas gift two years ago. What goes on?
Not even a minute later, I opened the “plastic wrap parchment paper and foil drawer”. The drawer fell apart.
I swear I had NOTHING to do with this drawer falling apart….
The sight of this broken drawer will fester on me until it is fixed. My entire kitchen looks awful now! (remember–I am an anxiety-ridden individual !)
While I realize there are far worse occurrences, I started thinking about my last job interview—and obviously NOT getting the job—even though the interview went very well, in this very moment, the tears started filling up. A perfect day gone awry.
The icing on the cake—Bonaparte entering the kitchen, spotting the Kitchen Aid in half, the drawer broken, and the mess in front of me. He had the nerve. The absolute nerve to say to me:
“Oh mah got. Wut deed ou doooo to zis ples? Cassie. Ou ahr so messy—eezz a war zun!
The remaining conversation can be left to your imagination.
The end result was a phone call to Kitchen Aid customer service. They are sending out a replacement mixer that should be arriving within 7 to 10 business days.
A phone call was also made to, Paul, the contractor who installed the backsplash and chair rail. He’s coming over on Monday to fix the drawer.
One last thing—before I went to sleep last night, and after Bonaparte took Chippy out and shut off the lights, he handed me a little piece of a steel and asked if I broke anything else. I could not recall.
Things are now back to normal. There are two desserts awaiting the final steps for comparision. ( You know I’ll be sharing the results on Sunday).
Gateau Savoy–see the sugary “crust” on the top? (far right slice). This is much, much lighter….
The Omelette Norvegienne will be I the Pullman pan, the Baked Alaska in the regular loaf pan. All layers have been brushed with chocolate so that the cake won’t get mushy from the ice cream. (right pic).
Both desserts are in the freezer awaiting their coverings. Which will be the better?
And..I’m wishing this snow would just go away!
Mother Nature is being rather bitchy today!
In remembrance of my terrible, horrible, very bad day. Here’s a an exerpt from the cartoon version based on Judith Viorst’s great book—it was one of the kids’ favorite books AND the VCR cartoon version was played over and over and over and over….enjoy! Keep watching—Alexander sings about his very bad day! *Shhhhh* I still sing the song that Alexander sings! After 25 years, it still brings back great memories of my kids!