Keeping On

Sable Breton Galette with Rosemary Poached Pears and Honey Caramel Diplomat Cream

Rosemary Caramel

I hold Christmas tightly. Too tightly perhaps. It’s not a holiday. It’s not religious. It’s not a time for vacation. I hold whatever it is tightly because after the lights come down, it’s grey until April. There’s nothing to look forward to. There’s no celebration to plan. There’s nothing for the mind to stir over. I get anxious when I’m lacking something to stir over.

I’m not sure I can spend too many more years in this city, though there’s a chance I’ll never leave. I started writing this in mid-December in my laundromat, where I learned, as snow fell steadily and the thermometer read 18 degrees, that there’s no heat (or perhaps it wasn’t working for just that day). I take breaks to quickly hide my hands between my thighs until they’re warmed by my body’s heat and can hold onto that electricity for a moment so that they’re strong enough to tap keys. I blast music through headphones to keep my toes tapping and my head nodding; otherwise, my toes would pop off, and my head would explode. It would be messy.

Continue reading

October Flowers

Rose-Scented Apple Custard Tart

apple tart
This is the first thing I’ve baked for a month. The first thing I’ve baked since this dessert, which, despite its simplicity, I’d put on my “top 5″ list if I had one. It’s the first thing that I’ve baked since I tried to bridge the gap with that crisp and since fall rushed in without warning.

This space is such an incomplete collection of the things that I cook. Just because it is silent doesn’t mean that I am not in the kitchen. But this time, I haven’t even baked anything that has gone undocumented.

And though I was spending many of these days singing the gospel of “it’s still summer,” it somehow became October. And I was walking. It was sunny, and my face naturally turned to the sun to capture its warmth. On the way up my green eyes spotted a tree—and it did not match my eyes. It was a tree of fire in a row of green. I almost tripped. Was it fall?

Yes it was fall, because it was October, and I know that October means fall. But the spotting felt particularly jarring because I live in the Eastern part of the state—the area that sees warm hues last. But there it was—this brilliant, burning red. I guess it was fall. Despising anything pumpkin spiced that doesn’t make sense, I had nothing to mark its arrival, especially since I was spending most of my time convincing people that it wouldn’t arrive for some time.

Continue reading

FYI, It’s Still Summer

Saffron-Scented Summer Fruit Galette

pac man
Sorry, I don’t have many words to share today. And I don’t believe in trying to craft them when they’re just not coming naturally. I am here for a reason, though, and it is simply to deliver a call for action. For a brief public service announcement, if you will:

Well, here we are. That inevitable point when I start whining and complaining about how summer was lost. How my skin’s so snowy white you can tell it didn’t carry my bones to very interesting places these past months. How I didn’t do X or Y. How I haven’t been able to just breath and be—whatever that really means. But I’ll spare you. Summer cannot be lost. If you lose summer, it is your own damn fault. And, yes. I fully acknowledge that it’s my own damn fault.

However, I shake my fist at those who mark summer’s end with this coming holiday weekend. Please. Give me until September 21st, kay? I’ve seen local apples and pears at my farmers’ market for weeks. I’ve bought them. They’re sweet-tart and crispy and shiny and vibrant and everything that makes this born-and-raised New England girl happy. But they are demon fruit. And they’re not going to trick me. They may have tricked Eve*, but they will not get me. There will be no apple anything coming out of this kitchen. I will partake in no apple or pear pies, crisps, muffins, slaws, compotes, sauces, or dumplings—no matter how cute the word “dumpling” is. Hear that? I AM NOT HAVING IT. OK, so I’m eating apples and pears, but I am eating them raw and cold and crisp. That’s IT.

Continue reading

Table for One

puff pastry + crème fraîche + persimmons + pistachio

PuffPastryTart
I started the weekend like I do most others. At that early hour, it was bright enough for morning light to gently kiss the cold floors without forcing me to flick a light on, but dim enough to allow me to appreciate the calm. I put the kettle to boil, made myself something simple to eat, and helped myself to my table. This is a serve-yourself restaurant. There’s no waiter service at this joint. A regular, I’m entitled to the same seat every weekend. Window ahead of me, blinds cracked; wall behind. I’m the only one here, so I don’t feel too bad firing up my laptop at a place of eating to check my email, read the news. Headphones go in to block out the silence, and the hazy diners around me become invisible.

Continue reading

Hello, Love

chocolate-almond pear tart with cinnamon whipped cream

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
It’s over. The experiment is over. Winter is here.

Remember this? You thought I was crazy. You were ready to revoke my dessert-lover’s license. I may be crazy but this year, like every year, I did not have a hard time avoiding chocolate from mid spring-December. (And I’m talking real chocolate; the use of white *cough*sweetened cocoa butter*cough* chocolate was totally acceptable.)

This certainly does not (as I tried and failed to explain in my farewell post) mean that I didn’t eat chocolate or chocolate-laced baked goods made by others. I was not following some sort of regime or cleanse. I eat chocolate everyday, and I definitely indulged in plenty of chocolate desserts and pastries while out and about.

But since I did not use my hands to manipulate it—chop a big block of it with all of my might or stir it ever so carefully as it melts into velvet in the bowl of a double boiler—I was still somewhat disconnected from it. Now I am craving something rich, dark, and maybe a bit gooey like I never have before. But the process was justified. I didn’t long to bake with chocolate. I was distracted for the reasons I outlined: The fruits and the flavors of late Spring, Summer, and Fall are too intriguing and too fleeting to put on the back burner. The yearly experiment is a way to broaden my baking horizons and stray from the obvious, from the universally loved.

Continue reading

The Core

apricot-blueberry crumb tart


I love people. I take after my mother, a real “people person.” She is the chattiest, most exuberant person I know. For me it’s a little bit different. I guess I’m an introvert — a term that I think is more understood than ever before — who loves people all the same. I don’t think introversion is contrary to loquaciousness, to curiosity in others. Get me going, and I can chew your ear off (if there’s any flesh left after my mother is through). Because really, people are such curious creatures. Books filled with infinite pages. Oh, the stories they tell. Resources. There are so many people who are wiser, sharper, more learned than I will ever be. And people are just plain funny and awkward and infinitely interesting. Our little habits — the way we walk, we talk, we eat — are just so damn amusing. A boring person? I’ve yet to meet one. I know people with whom I’m incompatible. But I’m rarely bored when in someone else’s presence.

So, this medium has suited me well. At a time when I feel my personal relationships are suffering — from distance, lack of time, lack of effort, or what have you — writing about food has filled the gap a little. I’m sharing, I’m talking. Reading blogs from other people, some near, some far, each with his or her own friendly voice, has satisfied, to a degree, my craving for connection, even if I’ve never commented on that person’s blog or sat down to a meal with him or her.

Continue reading

Quiche & Crust Convictions

leek and corn quiche

I have been formatted with a love for all things eggy. It was inevitable. My mom isn’t the most particular when it comes to her food, but she is most definitely a fiend for anything yolk-enhanced. Most of her favorite egg-centric dishes are sweet: custard pie, crème brulée, and anything filled with pastry cream. It has rubbed off. I usually balk at egg-less ice cream, and I’ll take a pot de crème over a pudding any day. Eggs give desserts body, luxury, and silkiness.

At a young age, I was introduced to the savory tart that puts eggs on stage: quiche. For years, I probably thought quiche was only to be filled with bacon or ham, as my mom’s side of the family only had eyes for Ms. Lorraine. Not that I’m complaining or anything. Also, quiche, as I knew it, was tall and made in a deep-dish pie plate or a springform pan.

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers