Food Fit for a Queen

by Jeanne

Uor4_2Over the weekend I went to the annual Fancy Food Gourmet Sale, sassily called ‘Food Fit for a Queen’ sponsored by Under One Roof. The non-profit organization, based in San Francisco is focused on raising money for over 37 AIDS service organizations such as PAWS, Visual Aid and Project Inform.  Every year donated gourmet food products are donated to the organization by participants of the Fancy Food Show–over 30 pallets of food.

The event was held in an empty and small storefront in the Castro. The volunteers keep on stocking everyday.  There is excitement in the air.  One man was shopping for his wife via his cell phone–"do you need 2 liters of raspberry syrup?"  Another woman was back for day two/round two.  "Did you get to the jams yet? No? Could I help out by stocking them?" There’s cookies, oils, spices, chocolate, syrups, jams, sauces, crackers, soups and beverages. I definitely got carried away by the selection and made the mistake of not enforcing a budget on myself.  Of course knowing that all proceeds went back to the service organizations lessened the anxiety.

I’ve had a chance to taste test a few of the products.  I picked up two new dessert sauces from Charlie Trotter’s line, Bartlett pear and caramel, the other a bittersweet chocolate-Kona coffee ($2.50 each).  I served the pear sauce over a Cuban coconut almond pound cake for Sunday dinner’s dessert.  Dee-lightful.   

However the best food treasure that I found was a hand-made yellow porcelain bottle of Spanish olive oil produced by the Nuñez de Prado family ($8.00). Since the late 1700s this nectar has been Spain’s finest olive oil.  According to their distributor, it is hand-crafted in a unique process, whereby the oil is extracted from the crush before the first cold pressing to preserve the "flor del aceite" (flower of the oil). This effort results in extraordinarily low oleic acidity. The unfiltered oil carries notes of green apple, almonds, and burnt orange.  So besides the great price and beautiful bottle why was I excited?  It retails for $45.

Mark your calendars for next year’s sale. 

continue on for the CUBAN COCONUT POUND CAKE recipe

Mhcakes_1 Maida Heatter is an expert baking queen to be reckoned with in the kitchen. I’ve heard stories that she carries individually-wrapped brownies and cookies in her purse.  Her recipes appear to be more difficult than they really are simply because they are paragraphs long.  Maida Heatter’s Cakes one of a series of three in her Classics Library, it’s rewarding for the home baker if confidence is in full supply in the pantry. I’ve modified the page long directions to help out. I do think this would also be great with cajeta or ducle de leche.

Cuban Coconut Pound Cake

Based on a recipe from Maida Heatter’s Cakes by Maida Heatter

8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 cup milk
7 oz (2 2/3 loosely packed cups) shredded coconut
3 oz (1 cup) unblanched almonds, thinly sliced

Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour (or use bread crumbs) a 10" bundt tube pan that’s at least 3" inches high.  The finished cake will be 2 1/2 inches high.

In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and smooth. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, salt and sugar. Beat to combine.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition (the mixture will appear curdled – it’s fine, don’t panic). On low speed alternate adding the flour in three additions with the milk in two additions, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only until incorporated. Don’t over mix.

Remove bowl from the mixer and fold in the coconut and the nuts. The batter will be thick but with patience and a little elbow grease it’ll get down. Turn the batter into prepared pan and smooth the

Bake for 1 1/2 hours until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cake, all the way to the bottom, comes out clean. Let stand on rack for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes cover the bundt pan with a rack, turn the rack and the cake pan over, remove the pan, cover with another rack and invert again, leaving the cake right side up. Let stand until cool.

Wrap the cool cake in plastic wrap. If possible, refrigerate it overnight before serving. Or place it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. It must be cold when it is sliced or it will crumble.