My friend, Dr. Marilyn Susman celebrated the 99th birthday of her mother, Helen Epstein, in Palm Beach. “We walked around the pond at Brookdale.” Marilyn said. “Other residents were at their windows or outside cheering us on.” Happy Birthday, Mrs. Epstein.
Democracy is messy. We Americans have inaugurated presidents since April 30, 1789, when George Washington took his oath at Federal Hall in New York City. Last week Donald Trump became our 45th president. A week-long celebration by his supporters in Washington DC was exciting. Jubilation reigned. Winning is fun.
Women’s March for Human Rights 2017, San Luis Obispo
However, on the next day American women grabbed the reins. LightsonBrightNoBrakes is not only devoted to food but, more importantly, to the lifestyle I’ve created after losing my husband. Today’s post is about my participation in that historic Women’s March 2017.
Since the early birds gets a parking space, I arrived in SLO very early before the March. These three women invited me to join them for breakfast. Thank you, Janice
Everything about this day was perfect, uplifting and peaceful. While being my own one-man band in San Luis Obispo, I spent the day surrounded by a lifetime of friends, thanks to the miraculous magic of my iPhone.
FRENCH FRIDAYS with DORIE, the DORISTA’S, my cooking colleagues from around the world, were marching. Dorie Greenspan, our mentor and friend, marched in Paris. I also got March On-messages from Emily in Khala Lumpur, Andrea in Bonn, Adriana in Puerto Rico, Trevor in Thailand and many America gals.
Betsy (C), an administrator with me on FFWD and CtBF, was in Boston with 175,000 of her best friends.
Teresa, who virtually walked through the last year with me, is from Vancouver.
Alaia rode while her dad, Marcel, and Katie, the administrator of CtBF’s and UCSB professor marched.
Another Dorista, Rose in Frankfurt, Germany
PLAN 1: After the election I read about a possible January 21st Woman’s March in Washington. Undecided but curious I booked a flight and reserved a room at Club Quarters Hotel located two blocks from the White House. In late December after reading about inauguration security concerns, I had second thoughts. Worst case scenario: my son-in-law flying across the country to settle civil disobedience charges against his mother-in-law. I bailed!
ASPEN – SKI/FLASH MOB/MARCH
Donna Grauer and many of my other friends skied down Aspen Mountain as part of the March.
My longtime Aspen neighbor, Blanca, was in San Miguel de Allende. During the March, her husband, Cav, linked me to her and friends in Vail and Aspen.
PLAN 2: In early January I noticed San Luis Obisbo, located 35 miles from Cambria, was holding a Sister March. I signed up. Since I would be alone, I began to “customize” my Women’s March, owning it, so to speak. I contacted friends, inquiring about their participation and, like the march itself, the numbers kept growing.
MANCHESTER, FRIENDS from MY HOMETOWN
My Manchester friend of 60 years, Judy Sweet (L), marched in San Diego.
Our Manhawk Student Body President, Judy Miller, couldn’t march so her sweet daughter, Sarah, joined the Iowa March in Des Moines.
One of the really good guys from the Class of ’62, Jim Goodwin, marched with his sister, Kris, in Sonoma.
On January 21st, I joined a visual friendship circle strung together on social media and physically lined up with some 8,000 to 9,000 marchers in SLO. I realized, as the day progressed, I was participating in the largest organized march of protest in American history. To date, about 3.3 million people participated in 408 marches in 500 American cities. Worldwide participation included 168 cities in 81 countries and on every continent bringing our number close to 4.8 million. Only women could pull together an event of that magnitude in just two months.
A Familiar Sign – Me, too.
Museums Worldwide including some Smithsonian Museums, Are Collecting and archiving Women’s March Posters and memorabilia.
Do I believe this March will encourage policy changes or compromises by the Republican Trump administration? When Pigs Fly. (In a Word, No.)
But, “Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and a connection to something larger.”The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt
The Womens March for Human Rights 2017 was my something larger.
Jam Thumbprints with Toasted Coconut, MACARONS by Fançois Payard and World Peace Cookies
In the mood to feel good? Need to unplug for a moment? I can magically make that happen:(1) Read my blog;(2) While still (hopefully) chuckling from Dorie & Ina: The Art of Fierce, drive to to your local theatre to see “La La Land”. If you’re not happy after (1) and (2) then, apparently, you don’t do happy.
EYE to EYE with JULIUS CAESAR at CAESAR’S PALACE.
One afternoon, during the Thanksgiving holiday, my son-in-law asked if I wanted some coffee. It wasn’t 5 o’clock anywhere so coffee sounded like a good substitute. “I’ve got a new cup for you, Mary,” he said as he reached into the cupboard.
He set the “new” cup in front of me. As you can see, it says, FIERCE. Melissa, standing nearby, watched as I morphed into my ‘hurt feelings’ position. You know, head down, shoulders rounded, going mum. Realizing her mother was of a different generation, she jumped in, “Mom, mom, that’s a good thing. It’s a compliment. My friends just gave it to me and we thought you’d like to use it.”
“You mean being a fierce woman is a good thing?” I questioned, somewhat amazed.
“Yessssss,” Missy emphasized. “They – gave – it – to – me – as – a – compliment.”
“It’s good, Grandma” Emma chimed in, with the entire family shaking their heads in agreement. (I knew Clara, who remained silent, was thinking, “Whew, that was close.”)
LA TOUR EIFFEL (FAUX)
ELLEN FAHR (L) AND HER HUSBAND, CHARLIE, WERE OUR FIRST FRIENDS WHEN WE MOVED TO HENDERSON IN 2004. BEST REALTORS EVER. LUNCH, 58 TOUR EIFFEL, PARIS LAS VEGAS
So I’m all over this but discovered via Google I was fiercely ignorant in the urban slang department. The first twisted version of fierce grew up in the 1990s and later evolved into a fashion statement. Six years ago model/television personality Tyra Banks hijacked it and social media went nuts.
I AM ALWAYS RELIEVED WHEN I SPOT ANTHEM COUNTRY CLUB’S RESIDENT GREAT BLUE HERON. SUCH A GORGEOUS CREATURE GREETING ME EACH MORNING WHEN I WALK THE “LOOP.”
Today fierce, in its affirmative form, seems to have landed between ‘the combination of a positive mental spirit, bold words and unapologetic actions used collectively’ and women ‘who are on fire and possess too much swag for the common man or woman to handle.’
Take your pick.
“FIORI DI COMO,” THE GLASS SCUPLTURE BY ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE DALE CHIHULY HANGS FROM THE CEILING IN BELLAGIO’S LOBBY. IT IS BREATHTAKING TO SEE, YEAR AFTER YEAR.
EVERY DAY BETWEEN 15,000 TO 20,000 TOURISTS VISIT THE BELLAGIO’S HOTEL-CASINO LOBBY TO SEE CHIHULY’S MAGNIFICENT ART BLOSSOMS.
However you phrase its definition, Baking Icon Dorie Greenspan and renown television personality and author Ina Garten are double-digit fierce. That’s why I’m featuring them and their favorite cookies in today’s post. Both are incredibly hard-working and classy women who, for thirty-some years, have shared their lives and talents with us. This special season is an opportune time to reign glory on Dorie and Ina. Let’s do it.
DORIE GREENSPAN’S 12TH COOKBOOK WILL GARNER SOME AWARDS OF ITS OWN.
The seemingly indefatigable Greenspan, an IACP/James Beard award-winning cookbook author, just published her 12th cookbook. Greenspan was the French Fridays with Dorie guru of our virtual group which cooked through all her recipes in Around My French Table, More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. This week-end I baked her renown World Peace cookies featured on the cookbook’s cover. All recipes below.
Then there’s the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, whose tenth cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, just hit the bookstores. Having always been an Ina fan, I already own most but am trying to fill in the gaps by haunting favorite used book and thrift stores. Long ago I bookmarked her Jam Thumbprint cookies from her Family Style cookbook. Fun to mix together and a tasty morsel.
OKLAHOMA FOOD-BLOGGING COLLEAGUE & FRIEND, GUYLA MAYO SENT ME HER LATEST JIGSAW PUZZLE SUCCESS. IT’S WINTER AND TIME TO RETURN TO MY MONTHLY JIGSAWS. THANKS GUYLA & GARY.
As I end this post, my last for 2016, I thank you for loyally following my blog. It seems amazing that my subscriber list continues to grow with other readers stopping by occasionally. I appreciate your comments and personal e-mails. Know these two things for sure: 1) I love writing this blog;2) LOBNB’s Readers are FIERCE.
Sending kindness and good wishes to All.
WORLD PEACE COOKIES by Dorie Greenspan, Dorie’s Cookies
Makes about 36 cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup BEST-QUALITY unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular sized bits
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy and homogenous, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt and vanilla.
3. Turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start the blending. When the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix with beater on low to incorporate. Sometimes the dough is crumbly and sometimes it comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Happily, no matter what, the cookies are always great.
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. Divide the dough in half. Shape the dough into logs that are 11/2 inches in diameter. (Use a ruler for a correct measure.) Don’t worry about the length — get the diameter right, and the length will follow. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze them for at least 2 hours or refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.
5. When you’re ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
6. Working with one log at a time and using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (The rounds might crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Slide in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking. Cut the second log and put in the fridge while you bake the other.
7. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes — don’t open the oven, just let them bake. When the timer rings, they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, and that’s just the way they should be. Leave the cookies on the pan and transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can munch them, let them reach room temperature or put them in an airtight container.
STORING: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just bake the cookies 1 minute long.
JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES with TOASTED COCONUT
by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Family Style cookbook
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Apricot preserves and Blackberry preserves or filling of your choice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla.
3. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together.
4. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
My baking and cooking projects improved when I invested in a food scale two years ago.
6. Press a light indentation into the top of each with your cookie ball with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.
TIP: 1. Use your food scale to gauge a 1-oz. ball of dough.
2. After making the thumbprint cookies, slide the entire pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.
3. These cookies freeze well.
TUNA & HUMMUS SANDWICH, THANKS TO INA GARTEN, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA
This is my prediction. After reading this post you’ll open your cupboard doors or walk into your pantry, put your hands on your hips and take a mental inventory. Whether you’re into cooking or would rather not, it’s smart, if only for safety’s sake, to stock your pantry well. The question? Can you feed the two-legged/four-legged mouths in your home, for one week, from your pantry?
MY PANTRY, HOMEMADE INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE SIMPLE MEALS YOUR OWN by Alice Waters
Alice Waters, an American culinary icon and author of 12 books about food, recently published her 13th entitled “My Pantry, Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own”. Being a Waters’ devotee, I ordered the book. When it arrived, I thumbed through the 135 pages but it was her Introduction that reminded me why I honor this woman.
MY PANTRY WAS UP TO THE TASK OF PROVIDING “COMING HOME PASTA” WHEN I RETURNED TO ASPEN AFTER AN 8-DAY TRIP.
“A familiar pantry,” she writes, “is like being surrounded by friends who won’t let you down. No matter how tired I am, at least I’ll be able to dream up something to cook — something delicious! — and right away, too.”
IT’S ALWAYS GREAT TO COME HOME AND THIS PASTA IS COMFORT FOOD AT ITS BEST.
It was her opening sentence, however, that threw down the gauntlet for this week’s post. “When I come back from a trip, one of the first things I need to do is walk into my kitchen and look around. A pantry is not just a shortcut to cooking something special in a hurry, it also encourages the best kind of impromptu cooking.”
BETSY’S AND MY FIRST STOP IN BOSTON WAS AT JFK’S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY.
THIS IS A REPLICA OF THE CBS STUDIO WITH WALTER CRONKITE’S DESK AT WHICH HE ANNOUNCED THE VICTORY OF JFK AGAINST RICHARD NIXON IN THE 1960 ELECTION. THE RCA PROJECTION CAMERA IS TO THE LEFT.
Since I was leaving for an 8-day journey, I challenged myself to let my pantry create the meals for at least two days upon my return. So, while catching up on sleep (my usual 8:30pm lights-out routine would be severely interrupted), unpacking, returning calls and wading through a week’s mail, I’d survive on what was already in-house.
FDR’S PRESIDENTIA;L LIBRARY. OF THE 11 LIBRARIES I’VE VISITED THIS IS, IN MY OPINION, THE MOST WELL DONE AND MY FAVORITE.
SPRINGWOOD, THE LIFELONG HOME OF FDR. DIANE, ANOTHER FFWD COLLEAGUE, JOINED US FOR SATURDAY.
Fast forward to last Tuesday. Trip over. Early in the morning, my friend, Betsy, drove me to the Boston airport to catch my 4-hour flight to Denver. After arriving in the Mile-High city and retrieving my bags, I waved down a shuttle which dropped me by my parked car. I was Aspen-bound. Four hours later, cruising by Whole Foods and City Market in El Jebel, I wished I hadn’t read that damn book! By the time I reached Aspen and drove by the Hickory House (best ribs in town), I was silently cursing Alice Waters.
THIS IS THE BACKYARD OF VAL-KILL, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S LAST HOME WHERE THE HOT DOG SUMMIT OF 1939 BETWEEN FDR AND KING GEORGE V! OF ENGLAND TOOK PLACE. THOSE HOTDOGS WERE ROASTED ON THIS GRILL.
OCTOBER 11th WAS ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S 131ST BIRTHDAY. WE PARTICIPATED IN A GRAVESIDE MEMORIAL CEREMONY AND THEN JOINED EVERYONE FOR A CELEBRATION AND BIRTHDAY CAKE.
Tired and hungry I decided to mimic Water’s menu. Coming Home Pasta: spaghetti tossed with a heap of sautéed garlic, dried chile flakes, a salted anchovy and handful of chopped parsley, ‘is what I always make for myself when returning from a trip,’ she writes.
SIX OF THE FRENCH FRIDAYS WITH DORIE GROUP DINING AT THE BOCUSE RESTAURANT AT THE CIA. Patty Stormer photo.
If this sounds familiar, Ina Garten’s version is called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. I meshed the two recipes. It couldn’t have been easier, faster or more delicious. Most ingredients were in my pantry. I cut/refreshed parsley, in its last gasp but still growing on my balcony, grated an end chunk of Parmesan cheese and pulled half a whole-wheat baguette from the freezer. (Okay, the freezer thing, that was cheating.)
WE ALL WERE INVITED INTO THE KITCHEN FOR A TOUR (No, we didn’t ask!). THIS IS THE PROFESSOR CHEF AND OUR STUDENT WAITER.
My two-day challenge ends when I share this post with you. I didn’t starve. It was fun. I win. Oatmeal topped with dried dates or apricots. A hard-boiled egg. Popcorn, my fave snack. And, Ina’s Tuna & Hummus Sandwich. The leftover tuna mix was also fantastic with cheese, a grilled tuna melt.
BETSY AND I RETURNED ON THE NEXT DAY TO TOUR THE VERY BEAUTIFUL CIA CAMPUS.
While I may not make all Water’s suggested recipes myself, her book, packed with spice mixtures, sweet and savory preserves, grains, legumes and condiments, is loaded with ideas. Her All-Purpose Pickling Brine has my head spinning. (Stay tuned.) The Panforte recipe is doable. And, when I go shopping tomorrow to replenish my pantry, I’ll do it more skillfully.
BETSY TOOK ME TO AUTHORS RIDGE IN SLEEPY HOLLOW CEMETERY IN CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS TO SEE THE GRAVESITES OF EMERSON, THOREAU, ALCOTT AND HAWTHORNE. I AM NOT EMBARRASSED TO SAY I WAS THRILLED. THIS IS EMERSON’S TOMBSTONE.
My recent journey to Boston and Hyde Park exceeded my expectations, thanks in part to the generosity of Betsy Pollack-Benjamin. Although Betsy and I had met only once, she’s been my virtual friend for years, having shared administrative duties on French Fridays with Dorie. When we finished cooking through Greenspan’s Around My French Table, our responsibilities ended but our friendship did not.
LOUISA M. ALCOTT GRAVESITE
These photos are a brief glimpse of our trip’s highlights. The premier memory was our dinner at The Bocuse Restaurant in Hyde Park’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America. We were joined by other FFWD colleagues who lived nearby in New York and Pennsylvania. “Nearby” translates to Cher & Joe (4-hours RT); Diane (2-hours RT) and Tricia & Ro, who stayed overnight, (6-hours RT). This evening, six months in the planning, was second to none, without equal.
COMING HOME PASTA/SPAGHETTI AGLIO e OLIO adapted from Waters & Garten
1/2 pound dried spaghetti, such as DeCecco
1/2 cup good olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 salted anchovy, chopped roughly
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 – 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges. Don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and chopped sardine and cook for 30 seconds more.
3.Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic/oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
4. Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side, if desired.
TUNA & HUMMUS SANDWICHES, minimally adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?
Makes 2 Sandwiches
5 ounces canned tuna packed in olive oil
1/4 cup minced celery
1 tablespoon minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon minced cornichons
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rustic artisan bread or baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Hummus, store-bought or homemade
1.Drain the oil from the tuna.. Place the tuna in a mixing bowl and flake it with a fork.
2. Add the celery, onion, cornichons, lemon juice, mayonnaise, the mustard, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.
3. When ready to serve, toast the bread and spread each slice with a layer of hummus. Spread the tuna mixture on each piece of bread and garnish with minded parsley.
4. Serve immediately.
TIP: Although I had an unopened container of Classic Hummus in the fridge, you can also make your own. Garten includes a tasty hummus recipe in her cookbook and Waters has a Hummus with Preserved Lemons recipe in hers.
When I issued my dinner invitation, I said, “Wear Your Lipstick,” and they did. L to R, Steve Chase, Donna Grauer, Donna Chase and the birthday boy, Bernie Grauer.
Since October, 2010, when French Fridays was launched, we Doristas have danced around Dorie Greenspan’s French table. While our jigs were virtual, the 300 recipes she created and we made were delightfully genuine. Now, after 4 1/2 years, it’s kinda shocking to realize I’ve successfully muddled through Around My French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yourscookbook.
Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake by Dorie Greenspan was chosen to be included in Food52’s Genius Recipes cookbook.
To mark this journey’s end, we are all choosing our most treasured recipe. For me, that’s easy. I salute Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake. Admittedly, when I bring this dessert to the table, no one is impressed. This rather plain Jane, single-layer cake has no WOW factor…until you take the first bite. As one dinner guest exclaimed recently, “This is the real deal.”
The apple cake batter, in its springform pan, home before it visits the oven.
It gets better. Last April, FOOD52, an award-winning community-based cooking site, published a cookbook, Genius Recipes, 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook. That’s a heavyweight moniker for any cookbook but it’s become a New York Times bestseller. Here’s the kicker. Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake by Ms. Greenspan is one of the 17 chosen desserts. I rest my case.
The completion of this 4 1/2-year effort called for a celebratory dinner. Since friend Bernie Grauer’s birthday dovetailed with this completion, I planned a small party. “It’s a Genius Dinner,” I told my friends. “Wear your lipstick,” I requested.
Here’s the menu with links to the recipes, all taken from FOOD52’s Genius Recipes, 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook:
The beef brisket is ready for the oven, to cook, and cook, and cook some more.
What I can say about this evening is it was bittersweet and delicious and hilarious. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Grauers and Chases, for making it so.
Doesn’t every milestone beg to be remembered? My artist friend, Ellie Gould, who was just elected president of the Arizona Watercolor Society, did just that. This week I received two gorgeous watercolors of the AMFT cookbook cover and yours truly in a chef’s coat. Already at the framer. Merci mille fois, Ellie.
Chicken In A Pot is the cookbook cover of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Watercolor by Ellie Gould.
It is with a heavy but grateful heart that I wrap up this French Fridays experience. Dorie and my Dorista colleagues unwittingly helped me rebuild my life. At a time when my only goal was to survive each day, this blog thing and French Fridays came along. Writing and cooking, what could be better? Crazy as it may seem, having to create a post every week insisted upon organization and structure. Michael and I were in a decade-long battle without an end game, no light at the end of any tunnel. For me, completing a post each week was a goal, an accomplishment and fun.
Some of the French Fridays gals who attended the 2013 International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle.
As I’ve said often, during the past four years this French Fridays gang has become more than a virtual community for me. Whether it was rallying around Dorie, the perfect mix of cooks with a common interest, a fortunate accident of serendipity or just my perception, I cannot say. The French Fridays group has been magic. What lies ahead in each of our virtual worlds, no one knows. In the real world, however, I’ve made wonderful friends and those relationships will continue.
We all love Dorie and I think that she loves us back. International Food Bloggers Conference 2013
Let me end with an appreciative nod to an unheralded group of supporters who always “wear their lipstick.” All my French Fridays colleagues have spouses, partners, kids or extended families living nearby who need to be fed and nourished every day. Since I am single, my reality is whether I put a meal on the table or not makes no difference. Wanting to join French Fridays but not wanting to waste the food I make every week, I’ve relied on others.
It was great fortune that my Henderson, Nevada neighbors were foodies. Lawyer Michele Morgando, also a judge, also a graduate of the Culinary School at The Art Institute of Las Vegas, was (and, still is) my tutor. Ray Dillon and Dominick Prudenti, such great friends to the Hirschs, once owned a successful deli in New York. Adriana Scrima, Sicilian by birth, cooks with an Old World flair. Fresh. Local. Homemade. Many Nevada friends jumped in to help when I began my blog. Failure was not an option. I miss you all.
It all began in Henderson, Nevada with L to R: Adriana, Dominick, Ray, Bobby (Adriana’s husband) and Michele.
In closing, it’s no coincidence that the three ladies pictured below were featured in my last posts. When I moved back to Aspen, Coeur à la Crème was the first French Fridays recipe choice. Holy Moley. Donna Grauer offered, as she has many times, to help. A dinner gathering, with contributions by Charlotte McLain and Donna Chase, followed. This sparked a realization that maybe food blogging could create the social life I desired here. “Wear your Lipstick,” became my watchword. Thanks, friends.
Charlotte and the Donna Deux, February 2013
Coeur à la Crème, my first French Fridays with Dorie post from Aspen. February 2013
“People who love to eat are always the best people.” Julia Childs
Celebrating French Fridays with Dorie, a watercolor by Ellie Gould
This is a toque-worthy day in our French Fridays with Dorie world. With this week’s mouthwatering recipe, our group will have literally cooked-the-book. The cookbook is “Around My French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours” by the incomparable Dorie Greenspan. What began in October 2010 with Gougères, those exquisite pâte à choux pastry puffs flavored with Gruyère cheese, is ending with Chicken in a Pot, the Garlic and Lemon version. So happens, it’s featured on AMFT’s cover.
Chicken in a Pot – the veggies are prepared and then tossed in a large skillet for a sauté.
To observe this remarkable milestone I planned an intimate dinner to acknowledge another remarkable milestone, a very special birthday. However, there were some caveats:
1. Since Chicken in a Pot is not a particularly simple recipe, I would need sous chef assistance.
2. Once fully cooked, the seal on the Chicken in a Pot needs to be broken with a screwdriver!
3. Like many occasions at my table, this would be a Lights on Bright blog post. Wear lipstick.
4. Having never made this recipe before, it might be a disaster. My back-up choice, frozen pizza.
After the chicken is browned on all sides, it joins its veggie friends for a roast in the oven.
I called my friend, Charlotte McLain, and asked if she and the birthday boy, her husband, Michael, were free for dinner. I explained we would be cooking the cover recipe of my AMFT cookbook. Besides being a professional musician, Charlotte is an extraordinary chef. She happily accepted my invite. We made a plan.
The homemade dough is rolled out, stretched into a long rope and secured around the pot. To save time, I used fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods.
Charlotte mixed together a red cabbage, kale, broccoli, raisins and nuts slaw.
Eventually I explained the screwdriver thing to her, suggesting that I hoped the pot wouldn’t blow when the seal was broken. She chuckled, kinda. We decided, at tool time, Michael would be in charge. Her husband, a Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, is a fun guy and a very good sport.
Michael Hirsch’s old, old screwdriver, sterilzed and embellished.
Our unforgettable evening, one for the memory book, can best be told through photos. Michael insisted on choosing a superb wine and brought his last bottle of 2005 Willenborg Pinot Noir. The birthday dessert was Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, my favorite Dorie/AMFT sweet treat. The recipe for the chicken is below. I’ve linked to the apple cake recipe.
To be truthful, Michael and Charlotte are a little apprehensive.
Not knowing what was going to happen, do you notice something missing. Glasses, perhaps?
Michael is rethinking being a good sport. Charlotte just steps back.
Chicken in a Pot, the Garlic and Lemon version.
CHICKEN IN A POT, THE GARLIC AND LEMON VERSION by Dorie Greenspan,
Serves 6 – 8
½ preserved lemon, rinsed well
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 same-sized pieces (you can use white potatoes, if you prefer)
16 small white onions, yellow onions, or shallots
8 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4 garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 thyme sprigs
3 parsley sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
1 chicken, about 4 pounds, preferably organic, whole or cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
For the Dough:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup hot water
(To save myself some time, I used fresh store-bought pizza dough from Whole Foods to seal the pot.)
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Using a paring knife, slice the peel from the preserved lemon and cut it into small squares. Discard the pulp.
3. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, drop in the peel, and cook for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are brown on all sides. (If necessary, do this in 2 batches.) Spoon vegetables into a 4½- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other pot with a lid and stir in the herbs and the preserved lemon.
5. Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks.
6. Tuck chicken into the casserole, surrounding it with the vegetables.
7. Mix together the broth, wine, and the remaining olive oil and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
8. For the Dough, put 1½ cups flour in a medium bowl and add enough hot water to make a malleable dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, turn out the dough, and, working with your hands, roll the dough into a sausage.
Place the dough on the rim of the pot — if it breaks, just piece it back together — and press the lid onto the dough to seal the pot.
10. Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 55 minutes.
11. Now you have a choice — you can break the seal in the kitchen or do it at the table, where it’s bound to make a mess, but where everyone will have the pleasure of sharing that first fragrant whiff as you lift the lid with a flourish. Whether at the table or in the kitchen, the best tool to break the seal is the least attractive: a screwdriver. Sterilize the screwdriver. Use the point of the screwdriver as a lever to separate the lid from the dough.
12. Depending on whether your chicken was whole or cut up, you might have to do some in-the-kitchen carving, but in the end, you want to make sure that the vegetables and the delicious broth are on the table with the chicken.
If the chicken is cut up, you can just serve it and the vegetables from the pot. If the chicken is whole, you can quarter it and return the pieces to the pot or arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter. Either way, you don’t need to serve anything else but some country bread, which is good for spreading with the sweet garlic popped from the skins and dunking into the cooking broth. A pot at the table is because it makes for easy dipping.
FRENCH FRIDAYS with DORIE is a wonderful virtual group of food bloggers who have cooked their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table Cookbook. To see the other Dorista’s efforts this week, go to our FFWD link.
Listen up. French Fridays is joining a global revolt. Created by English chef Jamie Oliver, who crossed the Pond to transform the way America feeds its children, we Doristas are proud to hold our whisks high and march into battle. It’s Food RevolutionDay. For the past 3 years, we have set aside this special Friday to support Oliver’s mission of inspiring kids to be food smart.
Applesauce Spice Bars
My secret weapon for FRD are the irresistible Applesauce Spice Bars. These amazing sweets are loaded with healthy – diced apples, plump raisins, chopped nuts and unsweetened applesauce. Spiced up with cinnamon and allspice and frosted with a swoon-worthy brown-sugar glaze, one of these tasty bars will multiply your happy tenfold. Family, friends, or guests? Smitten. Just crumbs left. The recipe is below.
The beauty of these tasty bars are that they are made in one pot. The batter is delicious enough to eat (and, I did) or pour over ice cream!
Now I’m game for this revolution but who wants to do battle alone? Not me. So I texted my California family and asked if they’d care to revolt with me. With a little prodding from Melissa, their mother, both Emma, 13, and Clara, 11, agreed, saying there’s nothing they’d rather do! Although I wasn’t privy to the negotiations, I think it revolved around, “It’s Grandma. Her Blog. You will participate.”
Clara (and, her Dad) are the designated Lefse griddle bakers. Lefse is a traditional soft, Norwegian flatbread made with leftover potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream.
Food Revolution Day is about getting kids food savvy, setting them up for a long, healthy life. Over 42 million children worldwide under the age of five are now overweight/obese. That’s doubled since 1980. YIKES. As a result, childhood diabetes is on the uptick. Readers, it’s time to throw up a Stop Sign.
The Bars are ready to pop into the oven.
Out of the oven and cooling while I make the glaze.
Emma and Clara know their way around their kitchen. However, it was two years ago, when their mom opened her own business, working long hours, that they stepped up their game. During most weeks, they make a meal plan, Melissa does the shopping and some prep, but it’s the girls who have the meal ready-to-go by dinnertime. Both of them make their own school lunches and, if treats are to be baked, they do it. Since we often trade text photos of what we’re making, this could be an ideal time for more food conversation.
After spreading with the brown-sugar glaze, it’s time to cut them into bars.
Our family eats healthy but we also don’t discount sweet treats. Since Emma’s speciality is Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies which her Mother had already requested for her Mother’s Day stash, she would bake a batch. I was in for Applesauce Spice Bars. Clara’s choice was a dilemma, bagels and pretzels which she’d never done or baked donuts. “The best treats I have ever made,” she said, “were Nutmeg Cinnamon Donuts with Maple Frosting.”
She made all three.
Emma’s making meringues with her Mom while her Dad makes breakfast.
Our food conversations meandered around the best things they make….
Emma: “I love to make Lemon Bars, Macaroons and, of course, Oatmeal- Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips. I make the part of dinner that is not meat. [note: Emma is a Vegetarian.] And, I LOVE nachos.”
Clara: “I can make Omelettes, Donuts (baked), all types of Cookies, Burritos, Ham, and Sausages.”
and, their worst disasters.
Clara: “My worst disaster was when I accidentally used powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar (the cookies tasted GREAT though). I also made a cornbread and it sunk. It tasted and looked weird, but I do not know what I did.”
Emma: “Once I make a toffee brownie thing in a pan for a Superbowl party but it tasted bad. It was kinda bitter and gross! “ =(
Emma’s Oastmeal-Raisin -Chocolate Chip Cookies
Wanting to know if they enjoyed this kitchen thing and wished to expand their repertoire, I asked what more they’d like to learn to cook. Their wants ranged from fancier main course dishes and ice cream (“I want my Mom to teach me.”) to quiche and brownies.
Clara’s first-time-ever bagels and pretzels
As I sit writing this post tonight, on the eve of Food Revolution Day 2015, I feel grateful, very grateful and also sadly alarmed. My grandchildren are not who we are trying to reach on this important day. Emma and Clara are not targeted by the California-based Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. They have not met hunger nor suffer nutritional deficiencies. Their parents are tough taskmasters, seeing to their nourishment and filling their bellies with healthy, organic foods. Those kids are already food smart and have the best shot to live a long, healthy life.
My alarm is about the 2.6 million children worldwide who die each year because of hunger-related causes. In the United States alone, 15.8 million children live in food insecure households. It gets worse. Thirty to 40% of the food supply here is wasted. That’s more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. It gets worse. The tab for that lost nourishment is creeping towards almost $200 billion. Hooray and thank you to food activists Oliver, Alice Waters, Ann Cooper and Michelle Obama for their efforts to bring more nourishing choices to America’s school lunchrooms.
Statistics: *WHO, March 2013; United Nations Environment Programme, N. America; Feeding America
APPLESAUCE SPICE BARS by Dorie Greenspan, Baking from my home to yours Cookbook
(Makes 32 bars)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon applejack, brandy or dark rum (optional)
1 baking apple, such as Rome or Cortland, peeled, cored and finely diced or chopped
1/2 cup plump, moist raisins (dark or golden)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13 inch baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour. Tap out the excess flour and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
3. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla and liquor, if you are using it. Whisk until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is once again smooth.
5. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Mix in the apple, raisins and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
6. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the cake just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and let the cake cool while you make the glaze.
7. For the glaze, in a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, whisking frequently. Adjust the heat so that the glaze simmers, and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
8. Turn the cake out onto a rack, remove the paper and invert the cake onto another rack, so it is right side up. Slide the parchment paper under the rack to serve as a drip catcher. Grab a long metal icing spatula and pour the hot glaze over the cake, using the spatula to spread it evenly over the cake. Let the cake cool to room temperature before you cut it.
Storing: Kept in a covered container, the bars will be fine for about 3 days at room temperature. Because of the glaze, they cannot be frozen.
French Fridays with Dorie is an international group of food bloggers who are cooking their way through Around My French Table cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. Visit our link here. Merci to Canadian blogger Mardi Michels of http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/ who not only supports Jamie Oliver’s efforts but also encourages the FFWD participation.