Friday, September 28, 2012

HOMEY CHUNKY BEST CHICKEN SALAD & MINI CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKES

AMERICANA

Chicken salad has a certain glamour about it. 
Like the little black dress, 
it is chic and adaptable anywhere. 
- Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking, 1988


Chicken Salad. Simple, homey, banal old chicken salad. White bread, or toast if you are feeling audacious, a smear of mayo, a slice of tomato, one single lettuce leaf and a scoop of chicken salad. Nothing more American than chicken salad for lunch. Or tuna salad, come to think of it, but tuna is particular in its bold, distinctive, fishy flavor, often hard to please. There are only so many ways that tuna salad can be prepared, only so many ingredients that marry well with the assertive fishiness. But something about chicken is universal; its very blandness is the perfect backdrop, a tabula rasa for anything. As Laurie Colwin stated, it is so adaptable.

Monday, September 24, 2012

CINNAMON COCOA MADELEINES & HONEY MADELEINES

YAWN

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" 

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" 

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. 

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” 
 – A.A. Milne 


Oh, those little habits of everyday life. It all starts with breakfast. Wake up first thing in the morning, out of bed with the sun and stumble into the kitchen, sometimes warm and cosy, other times chilly and less than welcoming. Automatic reflexes, we reach for the small pan, fill it halfway with tap water and place it squarely on the front burner; the milk pot, heavier, weightier, gets a splash or two of milk, enough for one, and balanced behind on the back burner. Three heaping scoops of coffee, heady fragrance filling the room, spilled into the filter sitting atop the old, stained ceramic coffee pot. We’ve always been a filter family and always will be. Force of habit, you know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SEPTEMBER 15 - SEPTEMBER 18

I will love the light for it shows me the way, 
yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. 
Og Mandino 


Silence in the night; no bedroom door flung open, banging into the radiator in the wee hours, no odd tapping, no creaking wood, no sharp crack emanating from the armoire making my heart jump. Except for the faint accustomed noises of the night, echoes of far-off laughter bouncing from one building façade to another, carried closer on the wind before being whipped away into nothingness, hurried steps of lone stragglers down in the street fading into the distance, the occasional screeching of car tires on the cobblestones below, the warm, gentle snoring of a pup down the hallway breaking through the silence, there is nothing. Most would be comforted by the utter noiselessness and calm of one’s home, yet I lie awake in the darkness waiting, hoping for a noise, a sign, something…. anything that will let me know that he is still here. But no ghosts remain. The doors don’t slam anymore.

Friday, September 14, 2012

CHOCOLATE BERRY RUM TRIFLE

LET’S DRINK TO…. FRIDAY COCKTAIL

Do not cease to drink beer, to eat, to intoxicate thyself, 
to make love, and to celebrate the good days. 
Egyptian proverb 


There is something dangerous and sexy about drink. Bubbles that tickle the nose, bite the back of the throat; a feverish flush crawling up your neck, coercing you to let down your hair, laughter bubbling up uncontrollably. Heat like a flow of lava over the tongue, burning a path down the gullet, clawing at your chest. Fumes rushing up into your head, behind your eyes, seething, foggy warmth clouding your thoughts and all reason. A powerful blast of sexy is drink; shimmering gold or pink or deep jewel red, wrap your hands around the sensuous curve of a glass, breath in the heady bouquet, the electrifying scent, a fusion of fruit and earth and the devil that makes your head spin, makes you think of things, creates desire that burns like the liquid as it courses through your body.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

JAYNE COHEN’S FABULOUS ALMOND CHALLAH

THE JEWISH NEW YEAR


Temple Beth Shalom, our neighbourhood synagogue, was a second home to our family. Not only did we walk through those large double doors twice a week for religious and Hebrew school and once a week – if not twice – for Shabbat and holiday services, but the synagogue also played a huge role in our family’s social life, from youth group throughout junior and senior high, spaghetti dinners and cinema nights, activities to raise money for charity to so many Purim carnivals, Hanukkah parties and meals under the Sukkah. My parents were as active, if not more so, than we; dad and mom were both heartily involved in the Brotherhood and Sisterhood respectively, mom was on the bowling team and dad ran Thursday night Bingo – including baking huge sheet cakes to bring along with him. Mom was, for many years, the principal of the religious school and if a handyman was needed for anything at all, they were sure to call dad. And that was only the start. For as long as I can remember, they were involved, in one way or another, in almost every activity, every decision at that synagogue. And we kids weren’t far behind.

Friday, September 7, 2012

CHOCOLATE PECAN TEA BREAD

I’M FLOORED!

There is no substitute for hard work. 
Thomas A. Edison 


She sighs heavily, dropping to the ground, flopping down exhausted onto the spot where minutes ago she had been vigorously pushing the worn metal scraper. Every centimeter of old, dried glue has now been lifted away revealing the raw wood, unveiling long, slim, pale slats of parquet, and all of her hard, painful, concentrated work is rewarded by a gorgeous stretch of livingroom floor. Sunlight floods in and across the glowing pine, a near angelic golden warmth wrapping around her. She pushes herself up and wanders room to room amid the echoes of “You all done?!”, contentedly surveying a job well done, basking in the pride of their having achieved so much, even at their age.

Monday, September 3, 2012

TWELVE LOAVES CHEESE & BACON FOCACCIA

SAY CHEESE

To be sensual, I think, 
is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, 
and to be present in all that one does, 
from the effort of loving to the making of bread. 
James Baldwin 


Once a week, for as long as I can remember, I make pizza. Friday night means Family Night, a tradition we began who knows when, maybe as recently as when Simon returned from his two years abroad, or maybe it was in our old apartment in that spacious, sunny kitchen when the boys were still in high school, but it seems like forever. At about 5:00 in the afternoon, I blend yeast and brown sugar, pour warm water over the two and wait until it begins to bubble and foam, something reminiscent of The Creature From the Black Lagoon as the gilled creature hovers just below the surface. Soon a heady scent emanates from the deep and a thick mousse, the color of pale caramel, or café au lait or maybe liver forms atop the murky liquid. That intoxicating odor of yeast fills the kitchen as I tip the bowl and the froth mounds delicately atop the white heap of flour and salt. Water warm like the gently lapping waves of a summer ocean is added and I stir and I knead and this is my weekly ritual.

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