Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day One, a super-mega-FAIL

I started my morning announcing my new blogging endeavor and was determined to put a great deal of effort into the blog and into my effort to really cook well for my family.  It is my husband's birthday and the plan was to make him a nice dinner and a cake.  My daughter Natalie wanted to learn how to make a pot roast and my husband David's only request for the dinner was English roasted potatoes and a red velvet cake.  Sounds easy, doesn't it?
The roast we were going to cook was something that David picked out with Natalie at a grocery story called "LuLu".  We get most of our meat from LuLu but it can be a bit of a gamble as to the quality of any cut of meat.  The meat is labeled with the name of the country that the beef was raised in - New Zealand, Pakistan, Ireland, Brazil, etc.  This particular roast came from New Zealand.  But even if the beef was raised there, the quality is still not something you can depend on and I would not be surprised at all if some beef cuts were mislabeled.
I instructed Natalie when she got out of bed this morning to go and quickly take the beef roast out of the refrigerator because I was concerned that it may be still partially frozen from having just been pulled from the freezer the day before.  When I went down to investigate for myself, I saw that it was indeed still frozen and my husband was also concerned that it was not going to be fatty enough to be on the rotisserie.  I recommended to Natalie that we put the meat in a marinade to improve the flavor and speed up the thawing process.  We found a marinade we could agree on - a basic red wine marinade.  Natalie astutely pointed out that since the marinade would not be on very long that perhaps we should make it an injectable marinade - no problem - we just used garlic powder and fine herbs and put it in the blender.  Not a big deal
I instructed Natalie to put the roast into a Ziploc bag and then we poured the marinade over it, reserving some for the injection we would do in a few hours.  Natalie sealed the Ziploc and went to flip and it spilled all over the floor AND ME!!  Truthfully, there was plenty of marinade was left in the bag and the meat was still marinating but oh, the MESS!!!  We busted out laughing!!
Would now be a bad time to mention I have a maid?  Living here in Abu Dhabi, we decided to have a live-in housekeeper because life here can be very time-consuming and difficult.  Our housekeeper came to us out of a difficult situation and we feel blessed to be in a position to not only help her and give her a job, but to have a maid is a *huge* blessing.
But, guess what?  She left for her annual vacation yesterday and so I was left to my own devices to clean it up but the odd part was that I wasn't 100% sure where all of the cleaning supplies were!!
Anyway, it took a while to get the floor cleaned up.  I've always thought it very strange that there are drains in every floor of this house, but today I particularly appreciated it.
I had to go and take my clothes (fortunately I was still wearing my pajamas) straight to the washer and get a shower and wash off the marinade that had now dried to my toes.  By the time I was done getting cleaned up, it was time to think about the red velvet cake.  Fortunately, the kitchen floor dried quickly.  >Sigh.<
I found a fantastic recipe for the red velvet cake.  We have had some disastrous experiments with red velvet cake in the past and did not want another experience like that again.  But, I found a great red velvet cake recipe online and Natalie and I worked on mixing it up.  Mixing it up went incredibly smoothly and we really had fun and worked well together.  My other daughter Morgan even joined in and helped grease the baking pans while the oven was pre-heating.  The pans are a special cake pan with a pop-out bottom.  The bottoms are weighted to keep the batter from leaking.
So, the cake batter was put together but as I poured it into the pans I noted that the batter was much thinner than a typical cake batter and I was a bit concerned about baking them in these pans but once the batter was poured in, there was no leakage on the counter.  I continued to put them in the oven.
No sooner did I have the batter in the oven, that I could smell burning cake batter.  I checked and sure enough, the batter was leaking but it was truly too late to swap the batter to a different pan.  We put a layer of tin foil in quickly to try and catch the dripping cake as the kitchen started filling with the smoke of burning cake batter.  Eventually, the cake did seal off and stop leaking and once it was finished, it was the best tasting red velvet cake I have ever had.  I had been able to remove the tin foil when it had stopped leaking and the rest of the burnt cake was easy to scrape out of the oven drip pan.
Once the cake was out, we could put in the roast in.  The injection method did not work like we wanted to - our marinade was still a bit to thick for the injection needle - so we just poked holes with the injection needle.  So, the roast was in the oven and I had a while before I would need to start on the potatoes.  Despite the issues we had had earlier, everything was coming along and the only reminder of the earlier disasters was the spot of marinade I'd missed on the floor and the smell of burnt cake lingering in my clothes.
So, I started the potatoes and had Morgan help me a bit with those.  They had to be peeled and then cut up into pieces.  But I went to check on the roast and discovered it was on the brink of being overcooked.  I took it out and then sort of pressed dinner into high gear because the roast had cooked so quickly.  I realized much later that I had forgotten to boil the potatoes, but by then David was home and resting after working on his birthday.  I was worried that I had over cooked the roast and so I cut off a piece and found it perfectly moist..... but it tasted terrible.  There was no marinade that could make that piece of meat better.  It was bad.  I called David downstairs and directed him to taste the beef and he agreed with me.  It was bad.  What a disappointment.  I don't think I could have tried any harder to get a good dinner on the table.
I was just about at the end of my patience and I realized I also had not bought cat food and took the opportunity for David and I to have a quick run to the pet store to buy it and in the meantime, Natalie had the cake frosted.
David came to the rescue by recommending that we just go out to eat.  We went to the Brauhaus and just took the cake with us and served it there.  We even got the whole pub to sing Happy Birthday to David.
A heck of a Day to start a blog on gourmet cooking at home.

If you're curious about the recipes -
Traditional English Roast Potatoes
Red Velvet Cake

No comments: