Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passover Lemon Almond Sponge Cake with Warm Lemon Sauce

PASSOVER


My parents were the model of discreetness. Social, well-known and very involved with our local synagogue, family mealtimes were nonetheless private affairs, the six of us finding ourselves around the dinner table every night without guests, friends, family or company of any sort. The food was plentiful but plain, a mix of Russian Jewish cooking, all-American meat-and-potatoes cuisine and 1970’s convenience foods. The holidays in our home followed form and were low-key and simple, never much hoopla or decoration, rarely a lot of special cooking or baking filling our home with culinary memories.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Apple Galette

MELTDOWN

Monday Monday, can't trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way 
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be 
The Mamas and The Papas 


Collapse. Breakdown. A harrowing experience one wishes not to live twice, but alas, in these modern times of technological necessity and dependence, one must always be prepared, expect the unexpected, embrace the unwelcome. Computer meltdown. One day we are insouciant, nonchalantly logging on, casually logging off, pulling up documents at will, loading photos without restraint and baring our soul, exposing every intimate detail of our private life on a plethora of social media platforms morning, noon and night. Connected. The next day…nothing. Blackness greets us when we sit down at our desk in the early hours of the morning, steaming mug of café au lait within easy reach, dishwasher humming smoothly in the background. Complete and horrid meltdown. And it happened to me.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gâteau à la Crème for Bread Baking Babes

Vanilla Bean Rum Custard-Filled Brioche Cake

There are limits to self-indulgence, none to restraint. 
Mahatma Ghandi 


That day of the month approached on little winged feet. Closer and closer it flitted, mocking, daring, grinning the grin of the devil. I stared once again at the recipe and doubts crossed my mind, piling up like bricks, weighing down any curiosity or temptation that may have slithered their way between the cracks. The very name itself gâteau à la crème promised at once heaven and hell: the divine, ethereal taste and texture of fine brioche married in perfect union with the ambrosial, smooth vanilla-kissed cream; the Satanly richness, the devilishly voluptuous cream wreaking havoc on hips and health. The Bread Baking Babes and that exasperating, dizzying, maddening deadline and the difficult choice of whether one can or cannot, should or should not attempt the recipe was driving me mad. So many eggs. So much butter. Cream galore. Visions of fat danced around my head. Images of men, not a one with much of a sweet tooth to speak of, shaking their heads and wandering away, leaving me in front of an uneaten treat and disappointment. Nightmares of fellow Babes aghast at my irresponsibility, devastated by my lack of sisterly camaraderie. My own self caught between a rock and a hard place, between the devil and desire. Pourquoi tant de haine? Why such cruelty?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chocolate Gingerbread Macarons

Les Petites Faiblesses (those pesky little human weaknesses)

Mieux vaut déceler une faiblesse que se laisser soupçonner d'un vice. *
- Denis Diderot, Jacques le fataliste et son maître, 1765 - 1784


It has been one of those weeks. Husband has his Man Cold. Okay, I like to tease, but he has whatever is going around and it ain’t pretty. Son battled his oncoming sore throat valiantly and scurries off to school, jacket and sweatshirt open, neck bared to the winter wind. Sigh. My mother’s heart does that funny little pitter pat of guilt-ridden worry but teeth firmly bite tongue as I watch him slip out of the apartment. Marty marches on courageously and stout-heartedly as only little pups can do, with nary a complaint (minus the soulful eyes). His health wavers, we have our doubts, but each time he curls up in our lap, warm and soft, and each time he looks up to make sure it is indeed maman or papa on whose lap he is cuddled just to reassure himself before settling back into sleep, well it goes without saying that we put off that impossible decision one more day. As for me, a little upset tummy that I stoutly claim was due to boxed mushroom soup while husband places the blame squarely on three days spent at Le Salon du Chocolat eating nothing but, well, chocolate.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Very French Mac and Cheese

MY AMERICAN FOOD ROOTS AND A VERY FRENCH DISH

For someone who was always hungry, 
I never paused between mouthfuls of steamed shrimp and wedges of Indian River oranges 
long enough to consider the culinary heritage of the place of my youth. 
Florida ‘space coast’ cuisine, American Food Roots 


A little up time, a flurry of writing, working, planning, punctuated by a slow slide into calmness, hibernating under blankets, snuggling into a soft nest of pillows. The rain has been replaced by sunshine, wavering between watery, tepid rays and bright, invigorating light. Springlike days have replaced the shimmering pewter skies and dismal ambiance. I saw my first piece published on American Food Roots, a site dedicated to our American culinary heritage. Delighted was I to become a part of such an informative, fascinating site and an informed, talented community. Thrilled at the chance to collaborate with such brilliant, passionate women as Domenica Marchetti, Bonny Wolf, Carol Guensburg and Michele Kayal.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Oven Baked Parmesan Panko Crusted Chicken

MOMMY DEAREST

Mothers are all slightly insane. 
– J.D. Salinger 


I remember when another mother of small children – this was quite a number of years ago when my babies were small – made the statement to a roomful of like souls “I’ll bet we all give our children the white meat pieces of chicken because there are no bones.” As if the offering of the white meat to our darling and fragile children was a prodigious sacrifice of the motherly kind. As if white meat was better than dark, more flavorful and succulent, and thus the most desired, that self-denial a sign of motherly worthiness simply out of concern for our offspring. And all of the other mothers smiled angelically and nodded their haloed heads in unison. I chuckled and, smiling serenely, shook my head. “No,” I admitted boldly, no sign of shame on my face, no waver of apology in my words, “I give my children the white meat because I prefer the dark myself.

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