Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pretzel Croissants


Fusion food as a concept is kind of trying to quite consciously fuse things that are sometimes quite contradictory, sometimes quite far apart, to see if they'd work. 
- Yotam Ottolenghi 

Rare is the occasion that I come across something that perfectly embodies the two cultures I am straddling, that of my own, my American culture, and that of my French husband. Food has always been an important cultural learning tool in our home and we have always been comfortable in the habit of keeping the dishes, foods and baked goods we serve our sons traditional and unsullied by any concept of fusion. The better with which to teach them about their individual and separate heritages. And to tell the truth, I am sometimes put off by those amalgams, those often tiring mélanges of flavors and ideas that just should not be fused. Cronuts, for heavens sake! Duffins! And please, don't even get me started on Thanksgivukkah!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

French Financiers with Blueberries or Chocolate Chips


Perhaps this is what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt empty and hollow and aching. 
Gabriel García Márquez 

I've been thinking about heartbreak lately. The concept of a broken heart. The heart is but an organ, a "hollow pumplike organ of blood circulation", claims the dictionary, a known expert. It feels no emotion yet it is considered to be "the seat of life and emotions." Funny that. So why, tell me, why does one feel such soreness in the region of the heart when the brain ponders something ineffably sad, such as the loss of a loved one? Why not the brain where the thoughts collect and seethe? Why is it the heart that pounds, why is there distress in the center of the chest, a pain like searing white heat, an intense pain as if someone has reached into your very core and ripped it out, knocking the breath out of you?

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Easy Wonderful One-Bowl Chocolate Cake


Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 
"What? You too? I thought I was the only one." 
C.S. Lewis 

This post is linked to Creative Culinary and Barb's tremendous words about internet friendships, a chocolate cake and the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Please hop over and read her great post. And be rewarded with cake! 

My husband was the hardest to convince. He has seen me sitting at my laptop day in and day out for the better part of six years, typing and chatting. He has watched me engage on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram with a passion and fervor that surprised him. And he has spent so many years rolling his eyes in ridicule, shrugging his shoulders and furrowing his brow in dismay, begging me to disconnect. How many of us have non-blogging partners that feel the same way? He has also decried my "naiveté" in believing that people I have met and chat with on any social media site could possibly be true friends.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cocoa Espresso Almond Passover Sponge Cake (gluten free)


It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  
- Mark Twain

The arrival of Passover each year means many things: springtime is in the air, the hard, driving, icy winter rain has transformed into a milder, warmer drizzle; boxes of matzo are stacked on my kitchen counter, anxious to be turned into sweet and savory treats or simply smeared with butter and jam for breakfast; and (best of all) I get to twiddle around with recipes and come up with a new cake for the family, one without either flour or raising agent.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Caramelized Onion and Raisin Couscous Tfaya


People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around. 
- Barbara Kingsolver 

It's been a hectic week around here between the post-IACP conference catching up and the follow-up emails and the post-away-from-home time spent with my little family; I've been in a whirlwind. The Plated Stories Workshop inches closer and I am busy at work finalizing my new program and work sessions and looking for the next great workshop location. Marty, as many of you who follow me on Facebook know, has been sick and is now as I write in the hospital as they try and figure out what is wrong. A Martyless house is no home. Two good things have happened this week that I would like to share with you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

IACP Conference Chicago


We can only be said to be alive in those moments 
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. 
- Thornton Wilder 

When I was five, maybe six years old, my mother came to me and offered me the chance of a lifetime, something up until that moment had merely been a dream. "Shall I sign you up for dancing school? It's your turn!" Dancing school! Dancing school was heaven on earth in my young mind! I watched with envy, with awe each time my sister was fitted with a costume, the glamour of the satin, the sequins and spangles, the fringe and the jaunty hats, sweeps of feathers and tiny cat ears perched on her head. I watched with envy, with awe each time my sister took to the stage, smile splashed across her face, upright and confident, and tapped her way into the hearts of the audience with grace and joy, the clickety clack of the taps the most beautiful sound in the world to my young ears.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vanilla and Chocolate Marble Brownies


When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; 
when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home. 
- Thornton Wilder 

I wonder when it was the first time I made brownies for my sons. Such a common, all-American treat, you think, so of course they have been eating them since they could sit up at the table and pick apart food with their tiny fingers and shove it between rosy lips with a giggle. Ah, but you forget that my children were born in France and lived their tender years in Italy. They were raised on quatre quart, French pound cake, vanilla spritz cookies, ciambelle and torta della nonna. Focaccia was a much more common after school snack than brownies ever were.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wine-Poached Cinnamon Orange Prune Compote


I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America. 
- Sarah Bernhardt 

I am off to Chicago! The Windy City, the Chicago Art Institute, Magnificent Mile and IACP.

I've been slightly out of sight this past week after my flurry of activity, baking – and posting – the Pear Jam Tart with Caramelized Pear Wedges and the Lemon Tart with Mascarpone Whipped Cream. Tomorrow I catch an early flight heading to Chicago for this year's International Culinary Association Conference (see my posts on IACP NY and IACP SF). I have spent a breathless week or so preparing, connecting with friends to organize dates and meals, connecting with editors and agents for meetings, writing proposals and packing. And making sure all is calm and organized on the home front.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lemon Tart with Mascarpone Whipped Cream


In all my work, I try to say - 'You may be given a load of sour lemons, 
why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?' 
- Maya Angelou 

This has been some week. Rain, rain and more rain is keeping us inside, despite the discovery of the rubber boots (or, as we say, the solving of the Great Mystery of the Missing Rubber Boots). We finally purchased the doors to our wall-to-wall closet/dressing unit in the office; instead of being watched by a jumble of sheets and blankets, mountains of mismatched shoe boxes, tools and photo props shoved willy-nilly into spare spaces and clothes hanging accusingly ("Why don't you ever wear ME?"), we now have the elegance and luxury of sliding glass doors. And I baked. Twice.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pear Jam Tart with Buttered Caramelized Pears


My dad was very fun and very adventurous, 
and from a formative age I learned to value men who would do things on a whim. 
- Rachel Hunter 

My older son had a hankering this week. Don't ask me how or where these desires come from (out of the blue) or what triggers them. When these urges come over him, I have little choice (at the risk of being labeled "Bad Mother") but to drop everything, tie on the apron and mettre la main à la pâte. I best show an unparalleled enthusiasm in his project, stand by, smile on my face, offering guidance and advice when asked, admiration when not. He arrived at the apartment, grabbed the beautiful blue and white cookbook, La Cuisine de Vefa, that he had offered me for a birthday past, and began flipping through it rather single-mindedly and energetically. "Can we make this?" he asked, stabbing his finger at the recipe for Jam Tart.


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