I learned early that the most important thing in life is a good story.
- Ruth Reichl
- Ruth Reichl
La Folle Journée, Glinka, Prokofiev. DCL, Angers, The Tapestry of the Apocalypse. Creation, entrepreneur, business plan. L’ancien palais de justice, the new, modern, luxury hotel, architects and design. Submission, conference, workshop, networking. Lambretta, 3-D reindeer, applications and cover letters. 6 Nations, fondue, Don Giovane; bamboozled, rig’marole, la Segerdahl et lo Jeep.
Buzz words and a changing life. French, English, Italian; words that only have meaning to us and the evolution of a family. A mixed bag of cultural references, not all clearly understandable to the outside world, events and happenings that may not be intelligible to others who don’t live the same thing as we do. Is it absolutely necessary that one always bare one’s life on a blog and recount the day to day activities? I have made an attempt in my own way, sharing our adventures, our daring Starting Over decisions, our sons’ vagaries, choices and personal combats. I illustrate our story with fancy flourishes and infuse it with a touch of whimsy, a dash of romance, a dollop of humor but sometimes I wonder if it isn’t all just a lot of incomprehensible babble to those on the outside looking in. Revealing the daily details of anyone’s most personal moments to those who have never found themselves face to face in the same room with those individuals, that particular family seems so absurd, slightly gratuitous. Utterly foreign, rather irrelevant tidbits of what I did today, what the kids said, how we are each advancing in our own personal exploits and projects, how can one package it all up and flip it around into entertainment? What can I recount that will make you smile, and what tales will make you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders and skip down to the recipe? And how much is the truth, how much is real and how much is utter fiction?
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
- Maya Angelou
- Maya Angelou
So I can tell you with how much joy we received Simon’s perfect notes on his Language (English) Proficiency Test or how pleased we are that Clem snagged the best Third Year Internship in his entire architecture class as he now follows the reconstruction of the old Law Courts (inaugurated in 1851) and their transformation into a luxury hotel; I can rattle on about JP’s new project and the excitement that zips through the apartment like electricity as he advances with the force of a steam roller; the satisfaction at the rapt fascination held by those with whom he shares the details; I can blather on about my own work and successes, give you an inside look and an indulgent chinwag on all that I am writing, for whom and what they said. I can leave you photographs scattered across my desktop, smiling faces that tell the tale of a weekend that you couldn’t attend. And what is it worth, I wonder? Am I capable of touching your life, somehow, and making you understand mine?
If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again.
- Groucho Marx
- Groucho Marx
Today, I simply wanted to share a few links and some news. And a cake.
From Plate to Page spoke with the wonderful, multi-talented Denise Vivaldo, culinary consultant extraordinaire and author of the successful The Food Stylist’s Handbook. Visit her guest post over on the Plate to Page blog where she gives us an inside look at her own fascinating career as well as the world of food styling.
And speaking of From Plate to Page, there are still a couple of spaces open for our exciting Somerset workshop in May. If you are looking for an intimate, hands-on, practical workshop providing you with the tools, instruction and inspiration to define and hone your food writing, styling and photography skills and kick start your creativity all in a convivial, fun- and food-filled weekend then Plate to Page is for you! For details about the workshop, the four instructors (I teach food writing) and registration, please visit out our website! But hurry, spaces are limited to 12 and they are going fast! Questions? Visit our new FAQ page!
My lovely friend Nancy Baggett, talented food writer and cookbook author, interviewed me for her blog Kitchen Lane as part of her new series on Who's Behind the Blog (my title, not hers). Please visit Kitchen Lane and I hope you enjoy the interview!
I was recently asked to be one of the featured Foodie 100 on the new food community site Foodie.com. I have shared 3 previously unpublished recipes on Foodie.com that I particularly love: my best Sweet Potato Pie (the old family recipe of a colleague of an old roommate shared with me some 30 years ago), a gorgeous Apple Frangipane Jalousie and perfect Gingersnaps. And it really is a great new food community.
And now a cake. Food is indeed a universal language, and no matter whether you read my stories (I hope you do) or feel connected emotionally (I do try) or understand my humor or my meaning (if I am lucky), everyone can understand and love a great cake. The kind people at Agate Publishing sent me Pat Sinclair’s book Baking Basics and Beyond. As a food blogger passionate about baking who has many friends and readers who are not experienced bakers and look to me for great yet simple-to-make cakes and confections, I was truly interested in trying the recipes in this book and seeing if it was one I would recommend. As I desired to bake something for my family this weekend and as my son was complaining about the lack of snacks in the house, I decided to turn to Pat’s book and start testing. I will give a more indepth review once I have tried a few more recipes, but if this Chocolate Amaretto Pound Cake is anything to go by, well, I think I am going to love this book.
CHOCOLATE AMARETTO POUND CAKE
From Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair – with a few personal minor adjustments
6 oz (168 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ½ cups (300 g) flour (I weighed 2 ½ cups flour at 350 g)
2 tsps baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (170 g) firmly packed brown sugar (I used light brown packing sugar)
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 Tbs Amaretto (out of Amaretto, I replaced it with 2 Tbs Grand Marnier)
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup (175 ml) milk
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over (not in) simmering water just until chocolate is almost melted, stirring with a silicone spatula or similar. Remove the bowl from the bain marie and stir until all the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Generously grease a 10-inch (25-cm) Bundt or other fluted tube pan with butter then dust with flour until evenly coated; tap out the excess flour.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with the two sugars on low speed just until blended; scrape down the sides then increase the mixer to medium speed and beat for 1 ½ to 2 minutes until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each egg is added, beating just until the egg is blended in. Add the Amaretto or Grand Marnier, the vanilla and the melted chocolate; beat for 2 minutes until the batter is light and creamy.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. Beat until smooth but no longer than 15 seconds. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out dry. The cake will just start to pull away from the sides. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack.
Loosen the cake in the pan using a metal spatula or long, thin-bladed knife. Place a wire cooling rack over the cake and invert; lift off the pan. Allow to cool completely.
Drizzle the cake with Chocolate Ganache or, more simply do as I did here, drizzle small amounts of melted white and dark chocolate over the top of the cake.