Friday, June 21, 2013

Jessica Thinks She Can Cook 001

On Wednesday evening after work I met up with my friend Jaime to see Sofia Coppola's latest film, The Bling Ring. It was okay; it's a desperately shallow film, but I'm pretty sure that was Coppola's intention. I've always loved her style and her subtle, sleek humor which is nicely on display in the film. Afterwards, we grabbed dinner (my favorite kale salad in Brooklyn) and then I headed home for my evening's cooking task: chocolate mousse!

By the way, did you know you can order baking goods from Amazon? Well, YOU CAN. I ordered some Trader Joe's cocoa and gelatin and it arrived on Wednesday. During the movie I was actually itching to carry my loot home and try out the recipe.

Once home, I started my meditative-like routine in the kitchen (cats always pacing around me, quietly, curious), and I was smiling. I also tend to talk to the cats at times. After I had combined the powdered ingredients and the heavy cream for the mousse in a large mixing bowl, the recipe called for me to "whip mixture until stiff peaks form." I was like, yeah, sure, no problem. I stared down at the very liquidy concoction, a bit in doubt as how this milky stuff was going to turn dense.

I got my hand-held mixer thing ready (I'm sure that's the technical term) and then, because I am a genius, as I turned it towards the bowl one of the mixer arms fell into the liquid because I had failed to lock it in place. Angry with my stupidity, I threw the dirty mixer arm into the sink, set down the hand-held part, and screamed at the cats: I'LL JUST DO IT MYSELF!

Because I'm such a novice, I figured I should probably look up that highly technical-looking cooking term "whip." A google search of "how to whip when cooking" let me know that it's basically stirring at an angle that lets air into the mixture. Something like that. Don't take my word for it. I'm Jessica, remember.

[Sidenote: I think I googled at least four times each evening this week about the recipe at hand. Examples of my history this week include "what is cheese divided?" and "what does cream together in a recipe mean?" I digress.]

So, there I was, whisk in hand, ready to WHIP this liquid into STIFF PEAKS. As soon as I started, I sent a spray of the chocolatey stuff around the kitchen. Therefore I had to stop briefly and clean up before the vultures cats took on the task themselves, and then took more care of my sweet, sweet would-be mousse.

At about one minute and thirty seconds of constant WHIPPING your arm gets a bit tired. I hoisted the bowl into my arm and crooked it between my shoulder and elbow and started WHIPPING even more vigorously because it still had the consistency of broth.

"I will do this, I will do this, I will do this," I whispered to myself (and the cats) with clenched teeth.

Five minutes later: "C'mon! C'mon! C'mon, YOU BASTARD! STIFF PEAKS!!!"

Still soupy! I attempted WHIPPING with my left arm. Even less successful and uncomfortable. My right arm was throbbing. I stared at the dirtied mixer arm in the sink and thought, I could probably just wash that and get this over with much quicker...

"NO!" I screamed into the bowl, "I WILL DO THIS ON MY OWN, MOUSSE!"

And so I began again, and wouldn't you know, about five minutes later, arm dead, palms calloused and sweaty--the mixture started thickening! And I started laughing! MANIACALLY. I danced around with my bowl of chocolateness, laughing uncontrollably, stirring even more vigorously, and the cats ran under the kitchen table slightly scared.

Then I beheld: STIFF PEAKS.

I was a success and this sincere retelling tells not one lie; this is how I cook. Quite literally.

Two days later and my arm's still a bit sore, but I consider a workout achieved and I'm going to add that to the recipe:
Note: you may whip with a mixer if you choose (loser), but the whipping of ingredients manually with a whisk has the added benefit of toning one's bicep and even some cardio. Some have been known to reach other levels of spirituality in the journey of manually whipping this mousse.
I think that will work. My friend Kelly has a fun blog and she's asked me to share the recipe over there, so I'll let you know when that's up! That notation will also be included. Also, just check out her blog because there are a lot of ideas, recipes, and cocktail concoctions within! Coctail concoctions!

So, this week I have cooked: a lime butter chipotle steak, bacon-egg-cheese muffins, chocolate mousse, cauliflower mac'n'cheese (no pasta!), and tonight I'm deciding between a couple of meat recipes. All in all, a pretty good week of cooking for me.

This has been the first installment of Jessica Thinks She Can Cook.


  1. This post reminds me that I need to go give my KitchenAid a loving pat and maybe a wipedown. Bless that machine. I love to cook, but I'm better at baking, so I do it often. If you wind up cooking/baking on a regular basis, I would consider investing in a KitchenAid. A few egg whites (with a dash of cream of tartar) in the bowl, controls set on high, and you will wind up with the stiffest of stiff peaks, no Popeye arms required. Unless that's the look you're going for, in which case, nevermind. :) Best of luck in your cooking adventures! I'm excited to read the next installment.

    1. Haha -- I considered investing in a KitchenAid on my wedding registry...but it was like the only present that we weren't gifted! I do fine with my hand-held, though. When I use it :)

  2. hey, women have been making stiff peaks for years before mixers - now you did it too!

    also, i buy everything from amazon - prime for the win!

    1. Yes, I totally felt like woman HEAR ME ROAR! Quite literally.

      Amazon Prime is my bestie. For sure. EVEN MORE NOW!