For $1,000 or so, Fred K. Bailey has been known to take over people's homes and prepare knock-their-socks-off gourmet feasts.
That probably doesn't sound like much of a bargain until you figure that the cost is mostly tax-deductible and a very authoritative saying of grace is thrown in free of charge.
Father Bailey, 35, is a priest--associate pastor of San Antonio Catholic Church in Anaheim Hills--and his chef's duties are auctioned off to raise funds for worthy causes.
A recent $1,000 winning bid bought a nine-course meal for a party of six that took 6 hours to consume. The menu included steamed mussels, various pates, cheeses, fresh shrimp, shrimp bisque, woven halibut and salmon poached in white wine and herbs, fresh fruits, mini filets of beef, blackened chicken, homemade bread and desserts--all washed down with champagne and a variety of wines.
Bailey says his parishioners have a lot more faith in his culinary skills than he does. "I always start the meals with great trepidation," he says, "and am more surprised, relieved and grateful than anyone when they turn out well.
"After all, I have no formal training; it's just something I've picked up over the years and enjoy."
An Anaheim native (his parents, Mary and George Bailey, still live there), Bailey is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton. It was while attending St. John's Seminary in Camarillo that he started cooking. "I began with cookies and brownies--things like that--and just kept moving up, from crock-pot dishes to formal meals."
The recipe he shared with Guys & Galleys is one of his favorites, a chocolate mousse cake that has (naturally) an angel food cake base. The name, "Spirited Mousse Cake," incidentally, has nothing to do with religion--but rather the half-cup of brandy that's a key ingredient.
FRED BAILEY'S SPIRITED MOUSSE CAKE
2 angel food cakes, store-bought or homemade
1/2 cup brandy or favorite liqueur
3 1/2 pints whipping cream
1 cup granulated sugar
9 extra large eggs
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 large package real chocolate chips
1/2 cup prepared coffee
Using hands, chunk the cakes into lemon-size pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with brandy and set aside. In separate bowl, whip half the cream with an electric mixer until stiff. Mix in half the sugar and continue mixing until absorbed. Refrigerate. Separate whites from yolks of eggs and whip them until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle in cream of tartar while mixing. Now gently fold the meringue into the whipped cream and chill mixture. Melt chocolate in double boiler, add coffee and stir until smooth and glossy. Allow to cool (it doesn't have to be cold; warm is OK). With whisk, blend together chocolate with whipping cream-meringue mixture (scrape sides of bowl often to make sure it blends well). Add angel food-brandy mixture to chocolate mixture and stir with spoon or rubber spatula to make sure cake is thoroughly covered with chocolate without crumbling the chunks. Pour entire mixture into a spring-form pan and refrigerate at least 4 hours (overnight is better). Just before serving, whip remaining cream with remaining sugar. Remove cake from pan and coat with whipped cream. Garnish with grated chocolate or fresh strawberries.