So, how far did I get with Part 3? Oh, yeah! Cooking disasters. . . actually they probably don’t count as disasters, exactly, but they certainly seemed like it at the time – primarily because in order to recover from them it took hours of extra time!
Now, since I had to “thaw” my cream cheese pastry, Monday morning, I went ahead and made the mushroom duxelle filling for the turnovers being made with said pastry. Actually, this part went very well, except when I went to “wring out” the mushrooms, I realized that I was out of cheesecloth or old linen dish towels, so I had to pick out my least favorite, yet still suitable, dishtowel (now a rag) in order to squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the finely chopped mushrooms. Turns out I didn’t really have enough mushrooms, but I was able to “steal” a different variety that I had on hand for my h’ors d’oeuvre pie, in order to stretch out the amount enough to get by. I refused to see this as any sort of calamity. . .there was no time to be upset! After the mushrooms were wrung out (and you would not believe how much water is in those things! 1-1/2 pounds of mushrooms, once chopped and wrung out, yield about 3/4 cup of mushrooms!), I added some chopped shallots (which I was supposed to have chopped up with the ‘shrooms, but forgot – another error), mixed it up, threw in some parsley – which I added too soon – supposed to add that after I saute the rest. Oh, well! What’s one more mistake? I sauteed the filling, and by the time that was accomplished, the pastry was softened up to glop again, and I decided to dive in and do something with it. I refused to throw it out. So, I poured a pile of flour onto my granite work surface, dropped the glop into it, and started working in enough flour to give me something I could roll out and use. After several failed attempts, I finally got a working consistency, and rolled it out, cut the circles, and prepared to fill them, fold them and crimp. Unfortunately, the dough was still quite soft, so upon folding them over the filling, they tore apart. This led to a lot of patchwork, then flipping them over to the other side, so the patches wouldn’t be quite as obvious. Of course, turning them over didn’t always hide the patches, as I had to patch the other side in about half of them! Anyway, I got one pan of about 2 dozen ready to bake While they were baking (about 25 minutes), I rolled out another 2 dozen, and readied them to bake as soon as the others finished. I was in too much of a hurry, because as soon as I got the first batch off the pan, I put the new circles onto the hot pan (duh!), and not thinking (I guess I had given up on thought about 18 hours earlier), I attempted to fill and fold them on the hot pan. Needless to say, it did not go well. The pastry started melting before I could get them folded, meaning more patches, which were getting quite messy. I managed to remove the rest of the circles off the hot pan and start over with a cool pan, but not before wasting another 45 minutes. Oh well. Another 3 dozen or so turnovers later, and I had finally finished that project. I only had about 12 more to go, and slightly more than 8 hours to do them all in! My rest break had been crossed off my to do list. That freed up about 1/2 an hour. Big whoop!
I quickly put together the filling for the ham-orange tarts, and left my biscuit dough out to thaw. At least that was one recipe that seemed to go well. I made my shrimp butter, and then realized that I had not prepared the waffle toast. Now, waffle toast is something my mother came up with many years ago, and it is a favorite in my family, and among my friends. If you’ve got a waffle iron, you can do it. I heat the iron, then generously brush melted butter on both sides of four slices (at a time) of a good quality bread (I use Pepperidge Farm). Close the iron and let it cook the slices until they are a nice brown. Remove the slices immediately and cut each one into four pieces – triangles or strips – and place on wire rack. After you have done this with as many slices as you need, spread the pieces on a pan and place in a very slow oven to crisp up. These make delicious “crackers,” better than anything you can buy, and are a perfect receptacle for the shrimp butter – or any spread or cheese you like. While these were crisping, I then made the roquefort dip for the crudités. Well, I “waffled” two loaves of bread – this takes a while, as you can imagine, and I cursed the fact that I had not done this particular job a week ago. These things keep very well – but the week before I hadn’t known I was going to make them!
Time to bake the cheese crispies. That took forever, pinching off teaspoonfuls of dough, still too hard, and then shaping them and baking (about 6 dozen of them!). Took the toasts out of the oven, cranked it up to speed again, and baked the crispies so I could cross them off the list. Remember that I am awaiting the AT&T serviceperson to arrive by noon in order to connect us with the outside world once again. It was, by this time, 11:30. I was going to give them that 1/2 hour, and then I was going to get on my cell phone again and stir up the waters. I had lots to do. I had not yet prepared the Mrs. Penrose’s Goodies. These are a chocolate cake-like cookie with pecans, and are out of this world. I had always served them as mini cupcakes. The original owner of this recipe, a friend of my mother’s, said that she always just used a 9″ x 13″ pan, and then cut them into small squares. “Much less trouble,” she said, “and if you put the pieces into little paper cups, they look very festive!” Did I do this? Of course not! Not right away, anyway. I always thought the little cupcakes looked so festive, dusted with a little powdered sugar. So that’s what I did, except, once again, I was in just a little bit too much of a hurry. I overfilled the cupcake tins. In the back of my mind I thought there might be a problem with “overflow” but my mind jumped on to other things. Twenty-five minutes after the cupcakes went into the oven (and BTW, I put them ALL in at the same time – 3-1/2 dozen), I started getting a whiff of overcooked chocolate. Make that “burning” chocolate. My husband came in to tell me (I was doing some cleaning in another part of the house) that it appeared that the cupcakes were overflowing their “boundaries,” and oozing off the pan. I thought he was exaggerating. He was not. All forty-two of my wonderful, delicate goodies were a hollow mess, the bulk of the batter having bubbled up and spilled out of the pans. What to do?
Well, I now had a large volume of very crispy and delicious ice cream topping crumbs. Which is what they still are, in a bag in our freezer. Since I was bound and determined to make these things, and I had not planned on a large amount of “sweets,” as I was going to be serving “anniversary cake,” I decided to start all over again with them, having an extra bar of Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate in my cupboard. This time I wised up, and made them as had been suggested, cut them in small squares, dusted them with sugar, and put them in little fluted paper cups. That job was at last done, but I realized two things. It was now 2 p.m. and AT&T had not yet come, plus, I hadn’t even begun to bake the anniversary cake. And I still had the h’ors d’oeuvre pies to make, and the cauliflower to break into little florets. Good grief! I had to call AT&T. I was getting worried about not having a phone or internet. So, I called. After spending a while – about ten or fifteen minutes – trying to get a real person on the line, I told them that I was still waiting for the serviceperson to show. They said, “We have no record of a service call being scheduled for you.” I almost threw my cell phone out the window, but I realized in time that it was my only remaining link with the outside world. So, I encouraged the representative to check their records again (it worked on Saturday!). He did. This time, however, there was no rescue. They not only had no record of an appointment, they didn’t even know why I would need a service call, as my telephone service had been installed the previous Friday. I explained to them, “That’s interesting, because we have no phone jack. To what do you think I’m going to plug the phone in? The old cable hook-up? From what I can tell, that isn’t feasible, but hey! I could be wrong. . .you tell me!” The rep told me that no, I am supposed to plug it into my phone jack. I told him that I had sort of figured that out for myself, but there was only one small problem “I DON’T HAVE A PHONE JACK!” “Oh!” he said, “Well, you will need to get one. You’ll have to pay extra for that. Should we schedule an appointment for installation?” The fact that I did not know where that particular rep was located is the only reason he is alive today, because I guarantee that if I had known, I would have moved heaven and earth to get to him and strangle the living daylights out of him and anybody who stood in my way. This entire fiasco had made me a homicidal maniac. Well, I see by the old word-count-o-meter that I’m well over 1500, so I guess you won’t get the rest of the story until next time. Besides, five installments is a nice round number. So, stay tuned. . .one more post on this subject should be just about enough. . .