February 15, 2016 · 12:47 pm
Consistency is not my middle name, at least not when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Sometimes I make cards, often I don’t. Occasionally I’ll bake up dozens of sugar cookie hearts and elaborately decorate them à la Martha Stewart with enough red food dye to make your teeth pink for days. Then the following year(s) I find I can’t be bothered to dig out my heart-shaped cookie cutters, let alone root around in the basement for my box of food dyes. I feel like I’m the poster child for a hit or miss Valentine gal.
My friends are not like me. They actually plan ahead for Valentine’s Day. Hilary’s Vday imagination seems to know no bounds and each year sees her creating something more fantastic than the year before from an anatomically correct knitted heart to sculpted love token molded from the red wax covering babybel cheeses. Diane’s family celebrates with a meal of red & pink foods. The mother of one of my daughter’s friends goes to an annual Valentine card making party where dozens of people drink hot chocolate and eat fun food while chatting and crafting Vday cards like maniacs. Perhaps I need to wrangle myself an invitation to that soirée. Even Julia Child and her husband Paul sent out Valentine cards instead of Christmas greetings, well they did that because they couldn’t get it together in December, but still.
This year I found the cake – a glorious cake – with which all Valentine’s Days (and many other days of the year) should be celebrated. It’s path to my oven came by way of Jessica last week on knitting night that she had found in the New York Times, which purports to be an old Sephardic recipe John Willougby got from Ruth Levy who had the cake made for her by a woman named Dawn Datso. Got that? Continue reading →
Filed under 50 Recipes
Tagged as almond flour, David Lebovitz, Diane, gluten free, Hilary, jessica, John Willougby, Julia Child, New York Times, Sephardic orange cake, Valentine's Day
February 12, 2015 · 6:01 pm
Sometimes what your true love needs is a little nip. A nip to their tastebuds that is, and candied ginger is a great vehicle for nipping. With Valentine’s Day around the corner I decided to play with some non-chocolate* possibilities for my true love. This recipe is a rift on a scone I’d had at the farmer’s market last summer. Filled with cornmeal and chunks of candied ginger it was crumbly-delicious with just the right amount of ginger zing. Nibbling as I strolled through the outdoor market turned out to be the perfect way to eat this scone since each bite ended with a small shower of crumbs.
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February 12, 2014 · 1:23 pm
With Valentine’s day right around the corner all I can think about is how good it would feel to be a little bit warmer. Don’t get me wrong I love winter and for the most part I whine loudly when it gets too hot (like I did here and here and here) but come on Mother Nature – give us a break. This morning it was -11ºF and tomorrow there’s another snowstorm scheduled to slam into the northeast.
So I decided to make something sunny for my Valentine. Something that when you take a bite of it you taste the hot mediterranean sun on your tongue even if you can’t feel it on your back. I made him a bowl of tapenade. Olives, capers, anchovies, olive oil, and lemon juice – it just sings of summer in the south of France or Italy or Greece. Right now I wouldn’t be picky about visiting any one of those places, but alas I am not, instead I am in mid-winter Massachusetts. So I’ll put on another sweater, then scoop another spoonful of this edible black gold onto a cracker as I reach for a glass of wine.
Black Gold (Tapenade)
2 cups pitted olives (mostly black but a few green ones are fine too)
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pitting the olives is as easy as placing them under the flat side of a chef’s knife and leaning your hand onto it. The slight pressure cracks the olive and allows you to fish the pit out. I find it meditative, though if I had to make gallons of tapenade I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the that way. As with much of my cooking I like to layer the flavors so I use a mixture of olives – kalamata, niçoise, lucques, alphonso, gaeta, and a few hondroelias. I am able to find a nice selection at many supermarkets near the salad bar.
Once you’ve pitted the olives (and the measurement is a guideline) zap the garlic, capers and anchovies in a food processor for a few pulses then add the olives, lemon juice and some of the olive oil. Continue to pulse until the olives are mostly smashed up, but not baby food. Adjust the oil until the mixture is smooth and scoopable.
This is a wonderful hors d’oeuvre but don’t save it just for then – throw some into pasta along with chopped up parsley and a tablespoon or two of the pasta cooking water, spread a few dollops onto a pizza in place of the usual red sauce, try it as a condiment for broiled fish.
While I’m enjoying some tapenade I’ll also be dreaming about my other favorite type of black gold – compost – because when the compost arrives it means that spring is here (and winter is gone). It will be time to plant my summer crops and perhaps, if it gets really hot, wish that it were winter again.
Until then stay warm!!!