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ANN CONWAY

A Tasteful 'Performance' : Arts Center Guilds Cook Up a Sweet Fund-Raiser With Dessert-Rich Recipe Book

March 17, 1994|ANN CONWAY

There was more than chicken and mushrooms with sherry orange sauce on the counter of Barbara Moreland's sunny Orange kitchen last week.

There were the page proofs of "Sterling Performances," the colorful fund-raising cookbook whipped up by the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

On this day, Moreland welcomed members of the cookbook committee-- Marlene Short, Jane Biel (editor), Carol Thompson, E.L. Smith and Jan Martens--to her Mediterranean-style home for a luncheon of dishes created from recipes in the book. Up for tasting at a table set with gleaming china and a crystal bowl full of pink roses: the saucy chicken, Cajun baguettes, mandarin wild rice and field salad with toasted walnuts.

Dessert? Sugar-dusted Chocolate Irish Cream cake (see accompanying recipe)--perfect for your St. Patrick's Day celebration.

It took close to two years and $100,000 to create the 350-recipe book, but the committee is confident that the $19.95 volume will become a bestseller. Sale proceeds will help defray the arts center's operating costs. While available at bookstores, cookbooks ordered directly from the Costa Mesa center will result in higher proceeds, Short said. (To order, call (714) 556-2787, Ext. 558).

"The cookbook's emphasis is on fresh, interesting ingredients and uncomplicated recipes," said Thompson, the book's business chairwoman.

Added Short: "Even if you buy the cookbook in Atlanta, you'll be able to find the ingredients there. But it will still have that Southern California flavor."

While the book is full of recipes for appetizers, main courses and salads, its emphasis is on desserts. "Our committee did some careful research--checked cookbooks from around the country--and, every time, desserts had the biggest representation," Short said.

In a torso-adoring country? "We know people are on diets," Biel said, "that they want to be healthy. We've decided people live vicariously by reading the dessert recipes!"

Not at Moreland's house. Served on dainty dessert plates, the St. Paddy's Day cake and the accompanying custard sauce disappeared faster than you could say "Paddy's pig."

Jan Martens, who oversaw the dessert potion of the cookbook, baked the cake that morning.

Did she sample the recipe's Irish cream or vodka? "No. I made it early this morning," she said, laughing. "But I loved the vapors."

Chocolate Irish Cream Cake

1 18 1/4oz package yellow cake mix

1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

1 4-oz package instant chocolate pudding mix

4 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Irish custard sauce, optional, recipe follows

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vodka

Strawberries for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, vodka, liqueur, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Invert cake to cool. Remove from pan. Dust with powdered sugar. Cake may be served plain or with Irish Custard Sauce. Garnish with strawberries.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 50 minutes

Servings: 12

Irish Custard Sauce

6 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup Irish whiskey

In a medium-sized metal bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and whiskey. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is foamy, triples in volume and holds its shape in a spoon, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from water. Cool.

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups.

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