For the first time in many years I didn’t have to work on Valentine’s Day. Kittyand I had the rare opportunity to spend V-day together, despite the fact that neither of us have ever been big fans of this “Hallmark Holiday.” I joyfully got her a big-ass bunch of yellow daisies, a few cards (I have a tradition of giver her cards from both our cats and goats.) and brought her coffee in bed. She was on the tail end of fighting the flu so a little pampering would have been in order regardless of the calendar.
Our plans for the evening included dinner with our friends Richard and Mariah. Richard had specifically requested an herb-roasted chicken and informed me that Mariah was a chocolate fan. I asked Richard about his dessert preference and replied with an epitaph-worthy quote, “I take my sugars in alcohol, like a gentleman.”
I’m not a fan of really sweet desserts so I opted for semi-sweet chocolate as a minor element in the recipe. I found a recipe for Olive Oil Cake in Volume 2 of my culinary notebook collection and made some modifications. I picked cornmeal instead of semolina and added some lemon juice and zest out of necessity, seeing as how I had only a few oranges in the fridge. For added texture I included some grits along with the fine, yellow cornmeal. What I ended up with was a really solid cake with great moisture, flavor and texture. Next time I’ll add a bit more orange zest, but for the most part I was really pleased with the result. Mariah and Kitty loved it, so I’ll declare this one in the “win” column.
The chicken was also a hit, but I’ve written so much about roast chicken that some of you may think that I’m shilling for the Poultry Board.*
Olive Oil Cake
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some for greasing pan
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of 2 oranges
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups AP flour, plus some for dusting pan
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup yellow grits
2 tsp. baking powder
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, olive oil, juices, zest, salt and vanilla extract. Beat with a whisk to fully incorporate all ingredients.
Combine the flour, meal, grits and baking powder in a separate bowl and mix well with a fork.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixture in thirds and stir with a whisk until fully combined, but not over-mixed.
Pour the batter into an oiled and flour-dusted, 8″ cake pan. If you prefer sweeter cakes, you can sprinkle the top of the batter with a generous amount of white sugar at this point.
Cook in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or when a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the cake and removed clean.
Allow to cool for 20 minutes after cooking. Before removing the cake from the pan, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the wall of the cake pan.
*If members of the Poultry Board would like to discuss sponsorship, they should contact Liz and she can make it happen.