Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Night the Lights Went Out

In the early afternoon on Thursday I glanced down at the San Jose Mercury and San Francisco Chronicle Newspapers that normally spread across the granite lunch counter at work. Spied the words "Ad Hoc" and "Cruz" and immediately welled up, my favorite chef is leaving my favorite restaurant--it's official.

Sure, I've hear people say that it wouldn't last forever. My brain has know for nearly a year, but my heart didn't believe it until I saw those words in black and white. 

Slight panic set in, sadness and happiness (after all the butterfly must be released). Husband is out of town for the week, should I go up tonight? I wondered. When I calmed a little, and read the fine print (Friday, February 1, 2013 is his last night), called my husband and determined we'd go on Sunday the 27th of January and on Chef Dave Cruz' last night Friday.

How do you send off such a person? Congratulate him, thank him, say we'll miss you, we love you, bravo, etc.? He's been with the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group for more than 8 years, over 6 of those at Ad Hoc restaurant, from it's inception through today. He's been the man, the soul of Ad Hoc.

My current plan is this: an orange grand marnier cake inspired from a book club cake I had this past Thursday and a Rum Cake out of the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

Oranges are "good fortune" when given for Lunar New Year (coming up on February 10, Year of the Snake), and thought that would make an appropriate symbol.

Orange Cake for Dave
1 pound of unsalted butter
2 3/4 cups sugar
orange zest from 8 oranges
2 cups almond flour
2 cups +3 Tbsp corn flour (this makes it very dense)
1 cup + 1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp. salt
2 cups + 3 Tbsp eggs (~11)
1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp Grand Marnier liquor
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 passion fruit, very ripe
3 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Butter a 15-cup capacity bundt pan. Refrigerate the pan and then sprinkle with sugar to coat.

Place all the flours and salt in a medium size bowl, use a whisk to break up any large clumps and to combine.

Cream the butter well, add the sugar and orange zest and mix for about 7 minutes until fluffy.

On low speed, add about 1/3 the eggs 1/3 cup of Grand Marnier and the vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and add 1/2 the remaining eggs and mix for 10 seconds. Repeat with the last of the eggs. It's okay if the mixture looks broken.

On low speed, add the flour mixture slowly until just combined.

With a spatula, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the bottom of the pan to distribute evenly, use a spoon to make a well all the way around the center, so that the cake rises evenly. Bake for 65-75 minutes until done. Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then spoon over the following:

Mix the remaining 3 Tbsp Grand Marnier with honey and the strained juice of the passion fruit in a microwave safe cup. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, until the honey has melted into a liquid consistency. Stir well.

To Glaze the Cake: Spoon the icing over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides. The cake is best made a day ahead.
Grand Marnier Icing:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice