Seeking Perfection (and Cake)

Theres a new NYT column from Yotam Ottolenghhi titled: Eat Your Sugar in which he speaks to the wonderful experience of sharing food with another human being. That “moment of bliss that you see when someone bites into something sweet and delicious for the first time”.

I know exactly how he feels. It’s the same joy I get when I enter into a sweet experiment and then offer my creation to friends and family. Watching the recipient close their eyes and smile as they taste notes of love that were part of its preparation are one of the most rewarding experiences I can testify. It’s on par to how I feel when I get inspired by something and then set about making it my own.

IMG_0433.JPG

A month ago, a friend sent me an Instagram pic of an insanely gorgeous crepe cake. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Layers of cream and marmalade between whisper-thin golden crepes. Having made marmalade recently, I thought this would be the perfect foil, and so a sort of experiment ensued. I made a pastry cream steeped with ginger and saffron, prepped a tower of crepes, and gathered my blood orange marmalade. My expectations turned ever so slightly to disappointment as the resultant cake appeared less glamorous than I’d anticipated.

IMG_0440.JPG

And yet, I served it anyway; with minimal apologies, because it was made with love and some damn fine ingredients, to say the least. The response was no less than sincere appreciation and enjoyment.

It’s only through tactile experience that we learn what works and what doesn’t, as well as how to improve upon the task the next go-around. We also learn that perfection is not necessarily the endgame and that expecting perfection can be a bit misguided. Sometimes things are a bit messy; just like life. I can’t think of a better metaphor.

But not to worry! I’ll leave you with something delicious:

FullSizeRender.jpg

Take these cookies, sub in half brown sugar, fold some melted chocolate into the dough, as well as a healthy handful of dried cherries, and sprinkle generously with Maldon or fleur de sel before baking. Bliss is guaranteed! (just ask MKN)

IMG_0458.JPG

Enjoy, and much love,
J

Temporary Indulgence.

Write. just….write. Tasking myself in this art that is my therapy, can be challenging. Writing sometimes feels like a beast; words don’t readily reveal themselves, and yet there is a fluidity in movement, in ideas, in form and inspiration; so much activity that begs to be shared.


It’s easy in the kitchen, creating; weaving beauty into the flavor and fabric of the food I make and share with loved ones. This past month has been full of inspiration from the farmer’s market parcel that arrives at my doorstep weekly. Urban living doesn’t preclude me from wanting to enjoy local, seasonal foods. There’s a fair amount of diversity in the PNW, and it’s relatively easy to eat within the seasons, though I do get smitten by the pomegranates and Fuyu persimmons when they hit the local brick and mortars. Disassembling a pomegranate to unearth those sweet and juicy-jeweled orbs is worth a bit of splash along the counter and apron.


And the persimmons! I give each one a daily squeeze until they’ve got just enough give before my teeth into their glossy skin and inhaling the succulent flesh beneath.


I’ve been incredibly indulgent with them, eating one nearly every day. It’s such a short season. And I need little excuse to bake. With a party on the calendar, I readily offered to bring dessert. As usual, inspiration comes when I am out on a run, or in the mountains, away from the daily grind. There is such clarity in those moments of pure movement, fresh air; it primes me for new genius. Last Friday, for example, I was in the woods when the idea of a persimmon frangipane confection came to mind. Simply an adaptation of the pear and almond tart from this post  I’d made a while back and have served more than once, to welcome recipients.


Pistachios have also been my jam lately, and the exotic persimmon pairs well with their distinctive flavor. A few mini-tarts with some pistachio cream and fresh persimmons seemed the next logical creation.


For the pastry cream, I just borrowed M.S.’s pastry cream , omitted the vanilla bean, whisked in 1/2 cup finely ground salted pistachios and proceeded with the cream. I used about three persimmons for the almond tart, two thinly-sliced for the mini tarts with pistachio cream.


What makes these desserts so comely is the love behind them. Made with good intention and beauty, they are an extension of gratitude and sweet indulgence to be shared with good company. Let this ignite your passion to create and serve beautiful food. (And for those with more exacting inclinations, I promise to include recipes next time).


Enjoy, and much love,

J