Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CHOCOLATE CHIP PECAN BUTTER HORNS

RUNNING ON EMPTY


I used to be funny, and perhaps I’m not anymore. It may be that I have become rather grumpy because I’ve seen so many things that have offended me that I cannot deal with in terms of laughter.
- Kurt Vonnegut


My mind is a blank. Empty of thoughts, void of ideas. As he stomps around the house, pacing circles around my desk, ranting about his overload of work and too many projects sending his mind shooting in a thousand different directions at once, I sit and stare up at him, absolutely silent. Blank. Empty of thoughts, void of ideas. He raves about the impossibility of working correctly or efficiently, how his mind is pulled in too many directions at once, yet he then dashes back to work and I hear furious typing, occasionally interjected with mild cursing and the smack of an open palm brought down sharply upon the flat of the tabletop. Up and out he pops again, smile splashed across his face as he shouts Success! one more time; his dissatisfaction and anger leashed and channeled into positive energy. I stare at him and offer him a smile, truly happy for his accomplishments, yet I sit here quietly and feel woefully inadequate and lost.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

BROWNIE PECAN CUPCAKES WITH SALTED BUTTER

SALTY AND SWEET


When I was about eight or ten years old, my father bought an ice cream maker. Revelation! You see, we were an ice cream family: our freezer was always well stocked with gallon containers of everyone’s favorites, an array of flavors to suit each one of us, chocolate, coffee, Neapolitan (I would only eat the chocolate and vanilla stripes, leaving the strawberry for my brother) and Checkerboard. Out would come the tub of whipped topping, the jars of chocolate and berry sauces, the bottles of colored sprinkles and we’d go to town. The sky was the limit: as our parents were each as ice cream nutty as we kids were, there were no rules as to when or how much; ice cream, for all intents and purposes, was in our blood.

Friday, February 17, 2012

CHOCOLATE AMARETTO POUND CAKE

BAKING BASICS AND BEYOND

I learned early that the most important thing in life is a good story.
- 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.

Monday, February 13, 2012

ORANGE COINTREAU BROWNIE TIRAMISU

SNOWED IN


Mieux encore que dans la chambre j’t’aime dans la cuisine
Rien n’est plus beau que les mains d’une femme dans la farine
Quand tu fais la tarte aux pommes, poupée, tu es divine
Rien n’est plus beau que les mains d’une femme dans la farine. *
- Claude Nougaro


As, once again, Europe reposes snuggly under a blanket of white, Nantes remains bright and clear and unusually, sadly, free of dusty snow. Blizzards rage across the country and cities are buried under thick drifts of powder one after the other, yet Nantes stays temperate and dry. Oh, we did have our one flurry, whipping across the rooftops and through the streets, ever so fleetingly, but it has already fluttered away, disappearing like an ace of spades in the fingers of a magician, as ephemeral as dandelion fluff carried away on the wind. The long-promised snow came early one morning and by the afternoon we were out tromping across the stretch of white on Place Louis XVI, crunching and running and laughing, enticed outside and throughout the city like excited children. Handfuls gathered up and tossed back and forth, screeching with delight, laughing as Marty danced and skipped in a futile attempt to keep his paws out of the damp cold ice. We arrived back at the house chilled and out of breath but thrilled and content with the vibrancy and sparkle of the much-anticipated winter.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

COOKIES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE


Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like chocolate; lovely, elegant handmade chocolates wrapped in shiny gold foil, snuggled up together and smartly tucked in a box all tied up with ribbon. Or decadent rivers of dark sauces and creams smothering something so special, so ooey, gooey, luscious as a single portion of cake, mousse or torte, something that sends shivers down our spine. Or is it a fragrant bouquet of roses that speaks louder than words? Plump, velvety red for passion, delicate yellow for constancy and friendship, orange for burning desire… placed in the open arms of the one we love, roses symbolize what Valentine’s Day is all about. Or, hmmmm…. could it be jewels, brilliant, glittering gems, a circle of diamonds or a deep red ruby, the color of our heart, that one dazzling, never-ending band slipped onto a finger or pendant clasped around the neck like a warm embrace binding us forever to that special someone. Candlelight and surprise, warmth and tenderness expressed in the most personal way possible.

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