Friday, March 28, 2014

IACP Conference Chicago

AN AWARD

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

HOME AGAIN

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

CHICAGO, CHICAGO

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

TWO PIES A WEEK, TOO

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

TWO PIES A WEEK

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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