There were so many different food stories that emerged this past year that we had a hard time narrowing them down to a single hour of programming. Whether it was the Gulotta brothers opening up their own restaurant in Mid-City or a national grocery store returning to the city, there seemed to be new food stories popping up everywhere. It wasn't just local either: one of our favorite chefs traveled to Russia and The New York Times stuck its foot in its mouth.
Sadly, we also lost some very good friends of ours. Michael Mizell-Nelson and Rudy Lombard both championed Louisiana's foodways and worked hard to preserve many of our customs and traditions. We'll revisit them one as time before we turn the page to another calendar year.
Russian Cake (Makes one 14 x 10 inch cake)
2 boxes white cake mix
About 15 pounds day-old cakes (none cream-filled)
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup rum
1 or 2 glasses of jelly, any flavor
Double batch white icing, any recipe you like
Build a wooden frame measuring 14 inches long by 10 inches wide by 7 inches deep. It must not have a bottom and the cover must be just small enough to fit inside the frame. Bake the white cake as directed on the packages in an 18-by-12-inch pan (or two smaller rectangular pans), then cool.
Line the frame (bottom and sides) with freezer paper. Place half of the white cake on top of the freezer paper in the bottom of the frame, and then cut to fit in a single layer. Break day-old cake into small chunks.
Place the sugar and rum in a large bowl and add enough water to come up about the width of 2 fingers above the sugar. Stir to blend. Use this syrup to moisten the day-old cakes just enough so that the chunks hold together.
Cover the bottom layer of white cake in the frame with half of the crumbled cake mixture. Dab here and there with jelly. Add the other half of the crumbled cake mixture. Top with the remaining white cake, cut to fit in a single layer.
Cover the frame with the lid and place a 50-pound weight on top. Set aside for 4 days. The cake starts about 7 inches high and shrinks down to about 6 inches. Once this is done, remove the cake from the mold. Frost it before or after freezing. To freeze, cut into pieces and wrap in plastic film, then foil.