Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year 2010 In Pictures

It’s New Year’s Eve! Many recent newspapers and magazines have been filled with photo retrospectives of the year. Since most of my photos throughout the year were taken in my kitchen and at my table, here is my own personal recap of 2010 using some of my favorite Kitchen Fiddler images from this year.

There were cold beverages in varying degrees of intensity.


Salads came in a variety of textures and vibrant colors, building me up with each bite.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Poached Pear Cheesecake Loaded With Happy Memories

If you are anything like me, you have a mile-long list of recipes that you’re dying to try. In fact, there aren’t enough meals in the year to work my way through all of the recipes on my Must Make list. But sometimes life spins wildly out of control and I need to go back to an old familiar favorite to feel anchored again. My Poached Pear Cheesecake is one of those recipes that make me feel that all is right with the world again.

It’s been one of the most unusual weeks of my life, largely because of the “60 Minutes” story that aired last Sunday, featuring me and the small handful of others with a rare and extreme autobiographical memory. The filming began more than a year ago and was completed in the spring, and though the story was expected to air in the fall, we wouldn’t actually know the exact airdate until just a few days before. Fall came and went without incident, but December 19th turned out to be the big day in which the two-segment “Endless Memory” piece was finally broadcast to an audience of nearly 19 million viewers. (You can check it out here and here, if you'd like.) I was thrilled out of my mind but, not having been allowed to see it ahead of time, I was also a nervous wreck.

Yet dear friends and family surrounded me when I saw the show for the first time, and we turned the whole evening into a celebration. Julie threw a viewing party for me in her beautiful apartment, and when she offered to host the party, the first thing she did was plan a menu composed of dishes that had particular emotional significance for me. (And you wonder why we’re great friends?!) I was on dessert duty, as per usual, and I knew I wanted to do something involving poached pears.  Julie was an angel and made all of the savory party food using Kitchen Fiddler recipes, especially those loaded with great memories for me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Project X Revealed

I’ve made occasional references to a certain “Project X” over the past fourteen months, promising you that I would share more about it when the time was right. Well, the time has come, and I have some big news. I would like to invite all of you to tune into "60 Minutes" on CBS this Sunday evening, December 19th. I will be featured in a two-part story about people with an extraordinarily rare memory condition classified as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.

Some of you know about my unusual memory that causes me to remember every day of my life with intense clarity. For example, if you ask me about a random date from 1985 onward, I know what day of the week it was and what I did on that day, what the weather was like, possibly what happened in the news, etc. I have written on Kitchen Fiddler about some of my culinary time-travel experiences where my awareness of the current date—and the memories of what happened on that day in any given year—is the actual trigger itself for some very insistent cravings based on meals I’ve had in the past on that particular date.

For the past year I've been involved with memory studies at University of California, Irvine at their Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. I've been working with Dr. James McGaugh and Dr. Larry Cahill, the neuroscientists who are the first to ever study this extreme autobiographical memory condition. I'm thrilled to be part of this unusual research that is writing a brand-new chapter in the field of memory studies.

I am one of five subjects—along with Brad Williams, Rick Baron, Bob Petrella, and Marilu Henner—who participated in group interviews with Lesley Stahl and in exhaustive memory tests with the UCI researchers throughout the year. The “60 Minutes” film crew also came to a solo recital I gave in New York earlier this year, and they also filmed me in my apartment during CocoaRoar season while I was making Peanut Butter&Sea Salt Truffles. I doubt that the chocolate-making clip will make it into the finished story—I haven’t seen the piece yet—but even without that, I hope that you will tune in on Sunday night and share this crazy and exciting memory adventure with me!

Photo op with Lesley Stahl!  This was taken after our big group interview on 12/7/09.

Friday, December 10, 2010

CocoaRoar Has Its Own Webpage!

Greetings from the chocolate trenches! CocoaRoar is in full swing this month, and I have recently created a separate webpage for my chocolate endeavors. You can click here to check it out. Or you can just stay here for a moment, if you’d prefer. Either way is fine with me.

I am enjoying my time in the chocolate kitchen more than ever. I thoroughly reorganized my kitchen in November and am able to be more efficient than ever in this small space. Believe it or not, this is where the magic happens, people.

I’ve discovered that using the food processor is a foolproof way to mix up large quantities of chocolate with infused cream, creating the silkiest most luxurious chocolate ganache imaginable. Isn’t that gorgeous?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon And Garlic

I have just finished a round of CocoaRoar for Thanksgiving, and seven hundred truffles later, I’m happily catching my breath with a pre-holiday cranberry-ginger daiquiri. When friends come to my apartment to pick up their orders, they’re greeted by the sight of large containers filled with truffles and multiple 6-pound bags of Valrhona chocolate pieces. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked how I keep from gorging on chocolate all day. But the weird thing is that while I’ve been surrounded by an obscene amount of chocolate this past week, the foods I’ve been most hungry for are cruciferous vegetables. More specifically, I’ve had wicked cravings for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon And Garlic.

I think Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap, unjustifiably so. I’ve never had an issue with Brussels sprouts, but maybe I just love miniature things, especially baby vegetables. These always look like adorable tiny cabbages to me.

Perhaps my cheerful relationship with Brussels sprouts evolved naturally because my initial introduction to them occurred when they happened to be roasted with some bacon. I am absolutely convinced that you can make anything taste better with bacon. Everyone knows that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (With or Without Smoke)

I am obsessed with salted caramel these days. I don’t see anything wrong with that, for I can think of far worse things to have on my brain.

Caramel can be cloying on its own, due to its high sugar content, but I love the way a healthy pinch of sea salt tempers the sweetness and enhances the flavor. I’m gearing up for a Thanksgiving round of CocoaRoar truffles featuring my Caramel & Sea Salt truffle, and I’m excited for an excuse to make these again. These bittersweet salty caramel delights are a major favorite among my CocoaRoar customers, and already this truffle is the best seller among the flavors I’m offering this round. I wrote about this divine little bonbon in my first month of Kitchen Fiddler and this salted caramel truffle post still makes me salivate, even two years later.

I made a Salted Caramel Ice Cream earlier this fall, in which I used an alderwood-smoked salt. It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but it was mighty powerful and not for the faint of heart. My little vial of smoked salt was a gift from someone whose presence in my life is exciting but somewhat perplexing, so I suppose it’s highly appropriate that this smoky salt’s effect in the ice cream was equally intense and bewildering.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Black Pearl Cake

Allow me to introduce you to The Black Pearl Cake. Isn’t it a beauty?

I was not a kid who wanted the same cake for her birthday each year. From the age of ten, I began using my birthday as an opportunity to try out the most elaborate and decadent new dessert to catch my eye in the previous months, but I have people in my life who make the same annual request when it comes to their birthday cake. Jorge has eyes only for my Frozen Ginger Key Lime Pie every year since he first encountered it several years ago, and Rob will have no other birthday carrot cake than mine. Cenovia, who appreciates a great black-and-white in all forms (cake, cookie, milkshake, cat, etc.), has proven consistent in asking for my Black Pearl Cake for several years in a row. I was more than happy to oblige this request for her birthday dinner last week.

This particular study in black-and-white is inspired by one of the exotic chocolate bars from Vosges Chocolates. Their popular Black Pearl Bar is 55% bittersweet chocolate that gets its kick from both ginger and wasabi plus a little crunch from black sesame seeds. This flavor combination doesn’t strike me as unusual now, having experienced chocolate paired with all sorts of wild ingredients over the years, but it seemed very daring when I first made its acquaintance in 2003.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Savory Oatmeal With Parmesan and Olive Oil

Oatmeal has always been big in my family, and like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, each of us has a distinct way of personalizing his or her bowl.

My mom always adds fruit to her oatmeal; sliced bananas, frozen blueberries, chopped apples and dried apricots are all fair game. Dad prefers steel-cut Irish oats and takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to breakfast. He mixes in protein powder for extra nutrition, granola and toasted walnuts for additional texture, and then he’ll add golden raisins as well as whatever leftover fresh fruit Mom has cut up for hers. As kids, my brother and I used our oatmeal as a vehicle for heaping spoonfuls of brown sugar, as that was the one of the few times our nutritionally-conscious mother allowed us to add sugar to our food. I loved the soft consistency of the brown sugar, reminiscent of slightly wet sand on the beach only to melt into dark rivers once it came into contact with the hot steaming porridge in our bowls.  My brother is now more of an eggs-and-potatoes man at breakfast so I don’t know how he doctors his oatmeal these days. However, I definitely have something totally new to bring to the table, for I have just discovered the joys of Savory Oatmeal with Parmesan and Olive Oil. Say whaaat?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Raw Kale Salad

When I was growing up, there was a salad on our table every single night, without fail. My mother assembled salads that were a riot of colors and textures, in an attempt to give us as much vegetable variety as she possibly could. Though I don’t think I complained about my mom’s ultra-healthy creations at the time, I know I appreciate her efforts much more in retrospect. I was a kid who definitely preferred making my own salads at a restaurant salad bar when I could drown my lettuce in thick blue cheese dressing, croutons and baco-bits. If you had told me when I was little that someday I would be truly excited about eating a kale salad, I would have laughed in your face. However, it’s never too late to surprise yourself, for I have been eating some version of a raw kale salad all week long.

This kale craze started a week ago after I had a great play date with the Little Chef last Friday. We were celebrating the end of his school week on 18th Street, one of our favorite blocks in Manhattan.  You feel like you've hit the jackpot when you're on this singular block that contains one of the greatest children’s bookstores ever (the ever-delightful Books of Wonder) in addition to City Bakery, which proffers serious treats for kids of all ages.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fig Chutney

In my recent quest to cut down on my refined sugar intake, I am rediscovering the joys of the fruit-and-cheese plate for dessert. It’s an interesting experiment, as I’m discovering that fruit tastes sweeter and more flavorful to me now that I’m off the sugar treadmill. Pairing the fruit with a bit of decadent cheese offsets any chance of my feeling deprived.

You can’t beat a snowy round of Bucheron goat cheese accompanied by inky concord grapes, and I am partial to creamy gorgonzola dolce served alongside juicy slices of a ripe Bosc pear. I am a sucker for honeycrisp apples, utterly delightful on their own and especially so with extra-sharp cheddar or an aged Gouda such as Prima Donna or Dutch Parrano. I have been taking advantage of the end of fig season, enjoying them fresh with both blue and goat cheeses. As of this week, Fig Chutney is my happy new discovery.

This fig chutney recipe comes from the brand-new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef, by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern. I’ve been following Shauna’s Gluten-Free Girl blog for several years, inspired by her lyrical writing and evocative photographs as well as the recipes she and her chef-husband have developed together. One bookcase in my living room is devoted solely to cookbooks, and I had to issue a temporary moratorium on cookbook purchases as the shelves were groaning under the weight of all of my cooking volumes. However, I couldn’t resist buying the Aherns’ new book last month, and I’m so glad I did. If the rest of the recipes are as satisfying as this fig chutney, I think you’ll want this book in your collection too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiana Without Fuss

There are certain dishes that I love but rarely make myself, given the realities of my kitchen. I often feel I’m juggling at a three-ring circus when cooking in my little Manhattan kitchen with its tiny stove and lack of counter space. I engage in a lot of creative rearranging, usually balancing a large cutting board over the sink to create more surface space while negotiating multiple pots on the burners as well as resting on the open oven door. If a dish requires me to have several pans bubbling on the stove AND have the oven preheating at the same time, I’m screwed.

For example, I’ve always loved Eggplant Parmigiana. I think you could convince me to eat just about anything if it were smothered in tomato sauce and blanketed in melted cheese, but I’ve always had a particular fondness for this Italian classic. However, eggplant parm is one of those dishes I’ve never felt compelled to tackle at home, preferring to order it in a good restaurant where their kitchen is presumably bigger than mine. I’ll let a professional with more counter space and a bigger cook top coordinate frying the eggplant and draining it on paper towels while also whipping up a killer tomato sauce, and I assume that a restaurant kitchen doesn’t have to empty their oven of a dozen skillets and cookie sheets every time they want to bake something.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monkey Cake, No Joke

When you have a friend who has devoted an entire wall of his living room to photos and postcards of monkeys and apes of every variety—not to mention a hanging display of more stuffed chimps and gorillas than you could possibly count—it only makes sense that you should make him a birthday cake like this:

I personally have a thing for lions myself, but my dear friend Jorge truly loves all creatures in the simian family. In fact, he is the only person I know who, in all honesty, has claimed a serious need to “finally organize my monkeys this year.” No joke. His monkey wall is truly beyond the scope of what my camera lens could capture without switching it to a panorama setting. However, this photo does give you a slight indication of what’s going on.

I mean, really. With a wall like this, how could I NOT make him a banana cake with chocolate frosting, complete with cutout little ears and a sweet monkey face? Come on.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Quick Tomato Sauce With Lemon—Who Knew?

Boy oh boy, I have something fun to share with you today. How would you feel about a bright kicky tomato sauce that dances on your palate, tastes like sunshine when combined with a tangle of noodles, and only takes about five minutes to make? Yes, I just knew you’d like to know more about it.

This is the time of year when I regularly crave simple bowls of pasta adorned with tomato sauce and fresh basil leaves. I find that a good bowl of pasta pomodoro is a natural way to transition from ripe tomato season to heartier cooler weather fare. I’m not ready to give up the classic summery tomato-and-basil combo just yet, but I don’t mind turning on the stove now the way I did a few weeks ago.

 My long-time favorite pomodoro sauce is based on a recipe from Mario Batali.  It starts with a base of chopped onion and garlic cooked down in olive oil along with shredded carrot and thyme leaves, and it’s a sauce that benefits from a long lazy simmer once the tomatoes are added. I love the concentrated tomato sweetness of this sauce, especially when you use real Italian San Marzano tomatoes, and it’s certainly going to remain a staple in my repertoire for a long time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kitchen Fiddler Turns Two

Kitchen Fiddler is two years old today! 

Whether you are a relatively new reader or if you’ve been here with me since the beginning, I want to say a special THANK YOU to all of you for your enthusiasm and support in joining this online extension of my kitchen. I’ve taken great delight in sharing these favorite recipes and photos with you over the past two years, which is the next best thing to having an extended dinner party together. While we don’t always get to enjoy a meal together face to face, I am glad for a way to connect with you in your own kitchens. It gives me great joy to know that some of these favorite recipes of mine have now become your favorites too, the kind of dish that puts a smile on your face each time you recreate it for yourself and your friends.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Asian Cabbage Slaw To Start A New Season

I’ve been out of school for more than a decade but every September still feels like a slap in the face, for vacation has ended and it's time to get down to business. My Augusts tend to be rather indulgent anyway since it’s Birthday Month, and while I’m all for celebrating for extended periods of time, even I can admit that this most recent birthday month was a tad excessive. If nearly every meal in August included some form of cake, pastry, or ice cream, is it any wonder that my clothes are now too tight?? Just call me Murder She Wrote, but it’s not too difficult to figure that one out.

After the rude awakening of unsuccessfully trying to squeeze into my clothes this September, I knew I had to buckle down and make some changes. I wasn’t going to do anything drastic like permanently eliminate sugar or never eat a smidge of dairy ever again, for I don’t respond favorably under the threat of “YOU CAN NEVER DO THAT AGAIN FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!” especially when my relationship with chocolate or cheese might be put at risk. But I knew I needed to cut down on those things and make a daily commitment to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Two weeks into this vegetable-friendly eating plan, I must say that it’s been relatively easy to stick to, especially with this Asian Cabbage Slaw in my repertoire.

Monday, September 6, 2010

San Francisco Inspiration

When your job comes to an end, the best way to ease the transition is by taking a trip to a favorite place. My beloved show “South Pacific” closed on August 22nd after a 2-½ year run, and there were many tears mingling with all of the hugs and glasses of bubbly during that bittersweet final week. However, I think the prevailing sentiment amongst the company and orchestra was one of intense gratitude for having been part of this truly extraordinary production, and a few days later my sadness began to lift when I boarded a plane for San Francisco. After a summer of working hard and sweating it out in the concrete jungle of NYC, I treated myself to a week of balmy Northern California sunshine and crisp fresh air, not to mention a good dose of culinary inspiration.

I stayed at the Harbor Court Hotel, a lovely boutique Kimpton Hotel located right on the Embarcadero just a block away from the Ferry Building Marketplace, home to one of the greatest food halls and farmer’s markets I’ve ever encountered. Arriving just in time for lunch at the Thursday farmer’s market, I was properly welcomed to SF by one of the greatest sandwiches ever to cross my lips: a thinly-pounded pork chop crisped to perfection, nestled in a tender brioche roll along with slices of luscious heirloom tomatoes and a chopped fresh herb salad, slathered with spicy mayo to tie it all together. Talk about street food at its finest!

As though I didn’t already have a big enough grin on my face, I followed this soul-satisfying sandwich with an equally mind-blowing cupcake from a neighboring food stand. This outstanding little creation was studded with cocoa nibs, filled with fresh huckleberry jam and topped with a violet-infused icing. Welcome to San Francisco indeed!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top Ten Highlights of Summer 2010

10. Farmers markets teeming with heirloom tomatoes, bundles of fresh herbs, and every variety of zucchini and squash imaginable.

9. Restaurant Week in NYC, especially at places that don’t condescend to their diners by offering a dumbed-down menu. The Red Cat was so lovely I had to go back twice, and the sage-infused panna cotta at Maialino was a revelation. (Why did I not have my camera that day?)

8. Endless glasses of iced earl grey tea and cold-brewed iced coffee, which definitely took the edge off of the extended July heat wave.

7. Going to Museum Of Modern Art with my parents an hour before the museum opened for a members-only preview of the special Matisse exhibit. It was a rare treat to have the museum practically to ourselves, giving us the luxury of space to absorb Matisse’s delicious canvases without fighting to see through the crowds. When the doors opened to the general public, swarms of people made a beeline for the Matisse rooms while we repaired to the Terrace 5 Café for cappuccinos and the most exquisite croissants with apricot jam that I’ve had this side of Paris. (Why didn’t I have my camera that day either?!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Birthday Cake Week

It’s Birthday Week for the Little Chef and me, and it should surprise nobody that I have spent a lot of this birthday week baking decadent cakes. But lest you think that everything that comes out of this fiddler’s kitchen is a starry-eyed triumph, I must disabuse you of that notion. I do try to share my most successful dishes with you on this blog, presenting them at their most photogenic whenever possible, but sometimes my best efforts are a total flop. While my baking efforts haven’t been exactly unmitigated disasters this week, I do know that my kitchen rhythm is just OFF. I’ve been making stupid mistakes in my baking, such as forgetting to add key ingredients to the batter, only to realize the omission after the pans are in the oven. The perfectionist in me is smacking her head against the wall, but the chocolate/whipped cream/caramel-loving side of me is still pretty happy.

The Little Chef’s birthday was first, and we got very excited looking through some of the hilarious posts on Cake Wrecks, the website devoted to professionally decorated cakes gone horribly wrong. We were inspired to try our hand at decorating, and with two little Wilton cake decorating tips and some disposable icing bags, we were ready for action. I made a basic buttercream and we practiced on a piece of waxed paper while the cake was in the oven.

Writing with icing is harder than I thought it would be, but we both started to get the hang of it. I was impressed with Mac’s icing-printing, and I found that my icing-cursive resembles my good little 5th grade schoolgirl handwriting.

We both enjoyed making icing dots. I created a small lattice, and then we played tic-tac-toe. (The Little Chef won.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake At Its Finest

I don’t think I’ve ever met a version of strawberry shortcake that I didn’t like. I love it in its most classic form: a tender biscuit split in half horizontally and filled with sliced berries and softly billowing whipped cream. I’ve made variations on berry shortcakes too many times to count, and I find myself experimenting with each new batch. Sometimes I invite blueberries and raspberries to join the fun, thinking that strawberries shouldn’t have exclusivity at this summer dessert party. I often brighten the berries with grated lemon zest, and I recently made a delightful version in which I tossed the strawberries with a bit of lavender sugar. I’ve spiked the cream with Grand Marnier, whipped it with crème fraiche for a tart contrast to the sweet berries, and I’ve made it like this and that. As long as there are berries, some kind of biscuit-type base and a generous amount of whipped cream, I am a happy camper. But my latest version is a Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake, and I have to admit that this is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

The shortcakes themselves—a sweet variation on a classic biscuit—are easy enough to make. Some shortcake recipes call for a variety of dairy products to bind the dry ingredients together, producing a base that could range from flaky-layered biscuits to tender-crumbed scones, and I’ve even seen recipes that incorporate finely chopped hard-boiled egg yolks into the mixture. But this recipe plays it clean and straight, requiring only chilled butter and some cream to transform ordinary flour, sugar and baking powder into extraordinary little shortcakes.

Aren’t they pretty? I think so.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

My dad came to visit this past Saturday, which I think was officially the hottest day of the summer. It was a brief visit but I was so excited to have him here, and I planned an itinerary that allowed him to take in more culture and great cuisine in 36 hours than most people do in a month. He arrived late Saturday afternoon when I was home between performances, and I made my killer Summer Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese which we devoured with lots of bubbly. On Sunday I introduced him to A Voce Columbus, my favorite restaurant discovery this summer, and we went to Sarabeth’s on Monday morning when there were no weekend brunch crowds to battle. I decided that Sunday was “Bring Your Father To Work” Day, for I got tickets for Dad to see my matinee of “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center followed directly by my evening concert with Harry Connick Jr. at the Neil Simon Theater. Talk about a jam-packed day! But brunch reservations and theater tickets aside, the one thing I did to truly prepare for his visit was make Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee.

I’ve written in the past about my dad’s coffee devotion. From the time I was a little kid, the man sought out great coffee beans before such a thing was commonplace. While my friends’ parents all drank coffee made from pre-ground beans in a can, one of my happiest childhood memories is the sound of Dad’s Krups grinder whirring away at any time of day or night, immediately followed by the most exquisite coffee aroma wafting from the kitchen as he made his rich brew in a French press pot. My dad and great coffee are indelibly linked in my mind.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Quickest Zucchini Saute

How are you all holding up in the heat? I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to ward off severe heatwave-induced crankiness, and I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. However, one of the few things that this brutal summer heat has to recommend for itself is that it coincides with zucchini season. And that means that you can make yourself a Quick Zucchini Sauté over and over again, and you’ll only have to turn your stove on for three minutes to make it.

It is the ideal summer dish, one that won’t cause you to break a sweat. It’s pretty too, for the zucchini are cut into pristine little matchsticks: pale in the centers but tinged with dark green on either end. These matchsticks are practically perfect already, but once they spend less than a minute in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and garlic, they become quite special. And when these tender-crisp zucchini are crowned with a scattering of slivered almonds and chopped fresh mint, the whole dish truly sings.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Grapefruit Ginger Coolers For A Heat Wave

If I may just state the obvious, it is unbearably HOT. I am subsisting on cold soups and endless glasses of iced coffee these days, and I’m sure that many of you are doing exactly the same thing. I shouldn’t bother to apply make-up anymore because it melts down my face the moment I step out the door, and I have resorted to sleeping on the couch in my living room because that’s where the air conditioner is. Since I don’t know when the heat is going to break, I must not delay a moment longer in sharing this Grapefruit-Ginger Cooler with you.

In honor of my brother's birthday today, it makes sense that I should post a cocktail recipe. As I have written in previous posts, Peter is a true artist, not only with a pen and brush but also with a cocktail shaker. I’m not just a biased big sister saying this, for my brother has had new customers come into his restaurant, order two cocktails and leave a hundred dollar bill telling him to keep the change for “this was the best martini I’ve ever had in my life”. In short, the man knows what he’s doing behind the bar.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Apricot Sorbet For Kids Of All Ages

I think of apricots as the blushing baby sisters to peaches and nectarines, all of them stone fruits that reach their peak at various points throughout the summer. Peaches become more glorious as summer progresses, growing impossibly succulent by the time August rolls around, and nectarines follow a similar curve. But in the same way that little ones have an earlier bedtime while their older siblings are still out on the town, rosy apricots bow out by late June or early July. Since apricot season is rapidly coming to an end, I am especially happy that I had a chance to make Apricot Sorbet with my Little Chef this week.

I had a movie date to see “Toy Story 3” with my nephew Mac (aka The Little Chef), an event we both had been looking forward to with great anticipation, and we hit Whole Foods together to get snacks before the movie. En route to the chips aisle, I was stopped in my tracks by a lavish display of golden apricots. When I casually mentioned that we could buy some apricots to make sorbet, my suggestion was greeted with a very enthusiastic “YES!!!” from the Little Chef.

So that is why we took two pounds of dewy apricots—as well as two pints of fresh raspberries and a large bag of Pirate’s Booty—to the Ziegfeld Theater in midtown Manhattan on Friday afternoon. In this day and age of cookie cutter multiplexes, it is always a thrill to see a film at the historic Ziegfeld, New York City’s last single-screen movie house with a monster sound system. Mac actually gasped with delight when we walked into this majestic theater with its plush black-and-red velvet décor, out of his mind with excitement that we were seeing this eagerly awaited movie on such a mammoth screen.