I saw a beautiful fruit tart today, but I didn’t buy it. Though one brief glimpse of its light crust, glistening white cream & assorted seasonal berries and our whole intense love affair came rushing back.
It’s the mid 1970’s. The place: Patrick Terrail’s West Hollywood restaurant Ma Maison. An old house on Melrose converted into the most innovative, modern French restaurant of its day. It was so very French and so very Hollywood, and when those two worlds collided on that patio of Astroturf and umbrellas, it was magic.
Big Hollywood deals were made, infamous fights broke out, and occasionally I was lucky enough – if someone with more money was paying—to be there, enjoying the food. That’s where it began – an infatuation that would turn into a stalker’s obsession. They had me at crème anglaise.
I was there a lot with Jackie Mason, which sounds so random, sort of like my celebrity dreams, but he was a friend of my dad’s and we went as his guest, or vice versa. Often, when we were at a meal with Jackie, he would do his bit:
Gentiles never finish drinking, Jews never finish eating. What do you think Jews talk about for breakfast? Where to eat lunch. At lunch: "Where should we have dinner?"
Like the perfume of freshly squeezed orange juice or the whisps of flavor that float on the air when chicken soup is simmering, the smell of melting chocolate and almonds softens my resolve not to eat just one of what I am planning to make: chocolate rocks.
They couldn't be easier. Or more forgiving. Or more interesting to experiment with. Caramelize some whole almonds, and hide one inside. Chocolate rocks are prefect for hiding things. A raisin. A hazelnut. Dried cherries or cranberries. Minced orange peel. Before you put them in the refrigerator, sprinkle them with fleur de sel. Or roll them in grated coconut. Cinnamon dust. Star dust. Whatever you have. And the best of all is that they take just minutes to make.
The day after Christmas I went to the supermarket and the Valentine's candy was already out. I have already had a handful of wine orders asking what to pair the wine with for a special Valentine's Day dinner. I have to say I am impressed by the early excitement this holiday is already showing. Let's face it, we all love to celebrate, so why not embrace it.
There’s no denying it, a heartfelt dessert, is one of life’s sweetest ways to say I love you. Offering confectionery to your beloved on Valentine’s Day has been a tradition celebrated and expressed by lovers since the Middle Ages.
Sparkling hearts, winged Cupids and dreamy white doves have always reigned supreme as traditional symbols of Valentine’s Day commemorations, however, for me, chocolate is synonymous with the celebration of this love-filled holiday.
Of course the best Valentine’s Day treats aren’t the ones you buy; they’re the ones you make yourself. This Chocolate Lover’s Cake with Raspberry-Chambord Sauce will remind your sweetheart just how much they mean to you. The cake’s fudge-like center and rich chocolate taste are the perfect ending to a day basking in the glow of love.
I love parfaits. They are such pretty things to make, with all kinds of possibilities from what ingredients you are going to layer to what glasses you will serve them in.
For these, I used our small stemless champagne flutes. I thought they made a perfect parfait, because they are just 4 ounce glasses and so the desserts were not huge, they were just right.
This parfait is made up of two creamy puddings – one chocolate, one peanut butter. It's topped off with whipped cream.
You can make the puddings early in the day and refrigerate them and then assemble the parfaits later. Or you can even make the parfaits a day ahead.
Chocolate is the dessert of choice on Valentine's Day, be it candy, truffles, cakes, or cookies, we crave chocolate. There is good reason: Somewhere along the line in history, dating back to Aztec times, chocolate became known for its stimulating effect, and was believed to be an aphrodisiac. Chocolate eventually becoming equated with the holiday of love because its exclusivity made it the perfect gift to show one's appreciation. It's no surprise why so many people love chocolate, it has been a part of our Valentine's celebrations for hundreds of years. Valentine's Day wouldn't be what it is without it.
The best way to enjoy chocolate, in my opinion, is in its purest form. Give me a bar of good-quality chocolate and I will be extremely happy. Many people love such desserts as chocolate cake and brownies, but those sweets don't always give chocolate due justice. A simple dessert that showcases chocolate in its top form combines just a few ingredients: melted chocolate, eggs, and cream, to create a spoonable chocolate cloud called mousse, the French word for foam. This is a dessert your Valentine will swoon over.
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