December, 2006 Archive

Friday, December 22, 2006

hazelnut truffles

hazelnut truffles

I confess that I roll my eyes a bit at the overhearing of some new truffle recipe. I don’t mean to over-simplify them — yes, fabulous chocolatiers from time to time find new ways to flavor, construct or adorn these decadent orbs of Awesome — but it all simmers down to the same thing: they’re just firm ganache, and ganache is just melted chocolate mixed with cream.

If you, like us, feel that tiny truffles are nothing short of the most transcendent and uplifting vehicle for chocolate consumption, you should make them because they’re ridiculously easy. Plus, unless you’re buying yours at $2.50 apiece, they’re pretty much always better homemade.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

parmesan black pepper biscotti

parmesan black pepper biscotti

Short and sweet today, like me after my morning latte — bah! If you are feeling positively sugared out but you still have days of office baked goods and well-intentioned gift bags to go, I offer up this antidote: parmesan black-pepper biscotti. Oh, it’s indulgent but in a way that is precisely 180-degrees from the half of the coconut lemon bar I did not just scarf down. (It was homemade! From scratch! I have principles, you know.) Bright and sharp, accented with mini ka-pows of black pepper, it pairs so well with red wine, eating it without may leave you with a distinct Chianti-tinged longing. Or it would if you’re a wino like me.

Please, take us both to a cocktail party, stat!

parmesan black pepper biscotti

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

marzipan

marzipan

Some people — like my husband who claims it “tastes like medicine,” — fail to see marzipan’s charms but you won’t find any of these misguided souls on my side of the family. My mother loves marzipan, and not those little food dye brushed animals and fruits; she does not wish to eat miniature sculptures, just rolls and rolls of marzipan swaddled in bittersweet chocolate.

Whenever she makes it into the city, my mother gets her beloved Marzipan Rolls from the esteemed Li-Lac Chocolates, a place so old, my parents went there back before they were married in 1968. (Don’t you love making jokes about how old your parents are? It’s like clinging to that last thread of evidence that you could possibly still be young.) Li-Lac is one of those Village gems, a place that’s been making chocolate the same way since 1923, from a big copper kettle in the back, on marble countertops, by hand and with minimal brouhaha. There’s no color-schemed boxes lined with velvet or gold, nothing is ever pre-packed, and yes, you can actually buy one piece at a time for those of us that love quality but fear quantity. Two years ago, after the rent on Li-Lac’s Christopher Street location of 81 years was tripled, they moved eight blocks north to Jane Street, which has really only made it easier for Alex and I to sneak down there. We love the place so much, we gave out boxes of their round flavored truffles as wedding favors. They were better than the cake, but shouldn’t that go without saying?

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Monday, December 18, 2006

robert linxe’s chocolate tart

miniature chocolate tartlets

Over the years, I’ve made endless desserts for family gatherings: orange-chocolate bundt cakes, flourless chocolate cakes, chocolate caramel cheesecakes, bourbon-pumpkin cheesecakes, apple pies, peach pies, fruit crisps and crumbles, fresh fruit tarts, lemon bundts, but the only things that our families simply never shut up about in the days, months and years after are those that specialize in cocoa. Thus, for our Hanukah dinner I figured I’d cut out the middle men, so to speak — the flour, the baking powder, fruits and cheese — and just give people the big old pile of chocolate they want, namely in the form of Robert Linxe’s Chocolate Tart in Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful Paris Sweets.

Have I ever mentioned my love of Robert Linxe? He’s the man behind the unparalleled La Maison du Chocolat shops, and look, if you’re going to eat just one piece of chocolate before you die, might I insist that it be one of his plain truffles? Sure, they’re about $2.50 each, less than an inch in diameter, and not in any way laced in gold or diamonds, but there is no greater format for chocolate intake than these little cocoa dusted, crackly exterior-ed bits of the heavens above. Back when I had a roommate whose boyfriends liked to shower her with absurdly priced gifts, one suitor brought her a 1-lb box and I’m not sure my relationship with chocolate has been the same since. (In all honesty, I’ve had his original recipe bookmarked for years but I’ve been too intimidated to approach a recipe with such lofty expectations.)

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

short ribs bourguignon

short ribs bourguignon

Living in a 660 square foot apartment makes in impossible for us to host Thanksgiving dinner, which is too bad because you just know I’ve got that meal all planned out in my head, from the cornbread-chorizo stuffing to the turkey recipe and root vegetable gratin, ready and waiting for the day we get a dining room table! (Also, a dining room. Details.) We also can’t host the major Jewish holidays or but when we asked for the less-popular or significant Hanukah, we were deemed acceptable hosts so long as we don’t poison anyone, so for the second year now, we’ve run with it.

potato latkes

We started with basic potato latkes last night, another Food & Wine recipe from the latke-vodka party feature. (I had made the zucchini latke the day before.) After reading countless articles and blog entries about the glories of deep-frying in peanut oil — it’s supposed to be lighter, have a less-greasy after-effect and a very high smoking point — I used it for the fritters this year, draining them on layers of paper towels and now consider myself converted, too. Although potato pancakes are not deep-fried per se, you need a good slick of it in the pan to get that golden brown, crispy effect so there are many rules that carry over, such as the need for a very hot pan. Despite it’s declining popularity, I’m still partial to non-stick when I cook fritters, at least for the time being as I love the guarantee that they’ll slide right out of the pan even if they land in a oil-free spot as our stove is perennially unleveled.

presents!

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