What did you do on Valentines Day?
I went home to give Mr Gander plain yoghurt for dinner.
You see, Mr Gander had two wisdom teeth removed on 14 Feb, so ‘real food’ was out of the question. Diddums. Instead, I drew a heart on his yoghurt with pomegranate molasses as an ironic V-day gift.
On Saturday, he could eat food again. To celebrate this milestone, we had momofuku pork belly buns (another post coming soon) and boca negra.
Boca negra: a spoon-able, custard-fudgy, intensely decadent, dark chocolate concoction that leaves traces of itself every step of the way. Dessert forks, plates, cake knife, the mixing bowl, whisk, spatula, all had a slick of rich, soft chocolate that whispered ‘lick me’ – no wonder the cake is called ‘boca negra’ or ‘black mouth’ in Spanish.
The texture was similar to the Orbit Cake from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert (a version of the Orbit cake recipe is on his blog). The main differences are boca negra is not flourless, but uses 1.5 tablespoons of flour, and the baking time is much shorter at 30 minutes rather than 1.5 hours. I also saw a version of boca negra with chipotle chiles on Epicurious It adds a throat warming heat to the chocolatey-ness, which I imagine would be great for those hibernating winter months.
But back to Julia Child / Lora Brody’s version of boca negra.
“What do we need to do?”
“Wear something red!”
This post begins with festive Chinese food, ends with baklava, and has a soliloquy about photography at dinner parties.
On Saturday night, 12 friends gathered around our 3 meter long dining table for a dinner spanning more than 7 courses. I think I got a bit carried away when planning a menu to showcase the festive food that I have loved since childhood, flavours from other regions of China that I have discovered as an adult, and the sneaky bit of non-Chinese food that I can’t live without.
This year, menu planning had extra challenges. One guest is allergic to anything in the family of shallots, garlic, onion and chilli. Another guest is vegetarian. As with other dinners we’ve hosted, I tried to minimise the number of ‘special’ dishes for these guests. After all, having dinner with friends is much less fun if you are left out, food-wise.
At the start of the evening, I looked at our kitchen, with every bench space and every shelf in the fridge groaning under the weight of food – and the palpable sense of excitement – and the seriously decent alcohol. We were starting the lunar new year on the right footing.
We had fun setting the table. There were, of course, red napkins and red chopsticks. Each guest also got a red envelope with sweets and chocolates (in lieu of money). Scattered around the table were dried chrysanthemum flowers, gold-wrapped chocolates, miniature new year cakes (nian gao) and mixed peanut candy that I’ve found seriously addictive since my earliest days.
Before I knew it, the all-day cooking extravaganza had become an all-evening eating odyssey.
Here is the menu: