Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cafe Cody

 I'm going to add a Cafe Cody post every once in a while, and each time I'll include a little background story, some photos and one recipe.

Cafe Cody was my accidental restaurant and a dream come true. It started after I became inspired by a speech given by a representative from the governor's Main Street program. Our little town was going for the Main Street entitlements and I liked the idea of restoring our pure Victorian square. One thing lead to another and I bought a building that was a derelict pool hall. Actually the entire square was in sad shape with broken windows and urine smells from the old stoops. Cosmetic renovations from the seventies had made it even worse visually. Most of the Victorian facades were covered with horrible cedar shake awnings that my dad, a local contractor, had installed and thought quite spiffy back then. My husband and I had completed a number of restoration projects before this, but looking back I'm thinking we were pretty brave!

Michael and Jim thinking, "What has she gotten us into this time?"

It didn't take long to strip off the metal facade above and find the details underneath. I hand scraped the entire front and as I was working one day I discovered that what I thought were huge painted boards above the lower windows were actually huge windows too! But one of the best finds was the original doors in the basement. After I stripped them and Jim bought restoration hardware they were gorgeous. We began pulling up vinyl tile floor and found the original pine floor complete with pickle barrel stain. We sanded lightly and sealed and loved them. The remodel took us a full year--our own hands and some help from our friends. We also created apartments above. When the building was a grocery in 1888 the merchants always lived above. My father once told me that on hot evenings everyone took their pillows out and slept on the courthouse lawn.

But I digress...Anyway the idea for the building was to have coffees, some catered in pastries, and I would sell arty gifts and some vintage. Ha! In future posts I'll reveal how this little experiment turned in to a full-fledged restaurant, (with no equipment of course.)

Here's how the cafe turned out:

Cafe Cody

And in the early breakfast hour, a lawyer from the courthouse gearing up for his day, and the "Scrambled Eggs and Don't Cut the Toast Guy."

O.K. On the subject of brownies, I can't just release this recipe into cyberspace without a few caveats. First of all, know that I am a person who has had an intimate relationship with brownies for most of my life. I once went on a quest for the perfect brownie, and for over a year my children came home to every kind of batch imaginable. When I was enduring a terrible grief, I often made bowls of batter and ate that. They never were baked I just wanted to perform the act of putting them together - then I would sit and eat brownie batter till I was under control. So, all this being said, also understand that there are many, many kinds of good and great brownies, and I like several recipes. In this particular one, however, I was going for a texture I remembered from a baker that I loved named Hessie. Hers had high sides that were so chewy that they got stuck in your teeth. They were not caky but more like a cookie chewy and they had plenty of icing. That's what these are like...for the first day. Then they turn into something equally as wonderful after the atmosphere has worked on them. If there were a heaven they would be heaven's fudge at this point. Women on break from their office jobs were known to claw each other for them around three o'clock each day. If we ran out...well...if looks could kill. 




Place five fresh eggs and 3 2/3 cups of white granulated sugar into a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for TEN MINUTES.
While the sugar mixture is going:
Melt THREE sticks of B U T T E R (no substitutes) (let cool a bit)
Stir into the melted butter: 1 1/4 cups of Hershey's cocoa
                                          1 teaspoon fresh baking powder
                                          1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
                                          AND 1/2 teaspoon fresh baking soda that's been dissolved in 1 teaspoon H2O

Gently FOLD this chocolate mixture into the sugar/egg mixture. Add 2 teaspoons good vanilla. Do not under any circumstances use fake vanilla. 
Now add 2 2/3 cups good white flour (add a bit at a time pulsing mixer a few times)
We also added 2 cups of walnut halves and gave a brief pulse of the mixer to the whole batch.

Use a rubber scraper to get all the batter into a heavy metal 9 x 14 inch baking pan. Then take the scraper and smash down the center area of batter smushing some batter into high sides.

OVENS are different, but we baked at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. I usually go 32. (If the top stays puffed up when you tap it you probably went too long, but they'll still be tasty.) Time and temp. are part of the science of baking, and truly make a world of difference in cookies and brownies.

When cool ice:

In mixer: 1 stick softened butter, add 4 - 5 cups powdered sugar gradually as you slowly add 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and a good pinch of Kosher salt.

Slather it all on from center up to about 1/4 inch from the sides. Let set for an hour or two. (If you want mocha brownies just add coffee granules to taste to batter and icing.)

If you did this right you will get these: