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 yours 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.”
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:
Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing from Frankies Spuntiono, an idiosyncratic Italian restaurant owned by chefs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo;
Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese from the beloved and admired Julia Child;
Brisket of Beef from Nach Waxman , founding partner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, a cookbook store in Manhattan;
Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from the wonderfully talented Dorie Greenspan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“People who love to eat are always the best people.” Julia Childs