cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Autumn Falls Early--so the menu reads

Adieu adieu a toi ma soeur! Tu es mon meilleure amie, mais au meme temps l'epine dans ma pied! Ah je t'aime, et j'espere que tu ca sais. J'ai vu cette pomme tomber a la terre, c'est jusqu'a Automne, et l'heure de dire au revoir.

As my sister R's days of summer wane, and the sentiment of a new school year draws near, I begin to realize I shan't be seeing her again until nearly July. And it unsettles me. But a year is nothing. However, I am now beginning to feel that this is the beginning of how things will come to pass. It is unrealistic to imagine spending every holiday with family year after year. Unrealistic to imagine always returning to my parents house for summer holiday. Yes, when we graduate high school we are told we are 'off to the real world' that is college. That phrase is a wash. The truth is, there is nothing 'real world' about college. Paid dorm, meal plan, residence life community and staff, packages from home--I remember doing this all before, it was at girl scout camp. The American college is boarding school for the big boys. For how long are you 'on your own' really? Thanksgiving holiday, winter holiday, spring holiday--one is never away from home for more than 3 months! The American college is summer camp with beer and the guise of self-enhancement. But when will I not be back at my parent's every summer? When will my life not be seasonal? I'll answer that rhetorical prose for you: it's not a manner of when or a snap of the finger, but rather a progression. Seeing my sister off to the airport on her way back to school is a turning point: I will miss this Christmas, she will most likely miss the next, and then the next? Who will be absent two years from now? What will I be doing--perhaps back in Paris? There are none yet in the know. Holidays are not religious for me, I view change as a necessity, and yet the thought of missing something I've done for the past 21 years wraps me in a chill. Regardless of it all, change is good. Frightening yes, but what can we say is not. Excitement and fright are cousins often mistaken for one another. Instead of a mournful departure, make it bitterly sweet. With a four course meal. The farewell menu reads: Autumn Falls Early. A preview for transition. In the poetic version Autumn represents change, "turning over a new leaf" literally eh? It always represents moving on, which is simultaneously a thrill and a moment of lament. This dinner is for Fall, to make up for all the Autumnal meals we shall be missing with each other; life happens around the table. So apple, maple, honey, and nuts--fall flavors to usher in the excitement of a season we love to hate.

Lentil Soup with Saucicon


Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Brussels Sprouts in a Maple Glaze


Warm Honey Vinaigrette with apples and chevre


New Hampshire Pie & Apple Crumble

For me, lentils exude the idea of October. The aroma of thyme is a premonition for the holiday season a few months away, a sort of tease that fills the house with the idea of Thanksgiving. This lentil soup is Ina Garten's and is found in Barefoot in Paris. Lacking in a few of Ina's ingredients, I substituted kielbasa with turkey sausage, and added tarragon as my second herb (its French lentil soup ain't it?) Perfect starter for the lighter main that followed.

To sneak in the last bit of summer into the meal, we do seafood: sea scallops seared in maple for the autumnal tie in. Lightly pan-sear the scallops on each side, and reserve glaze to sauté the Brussels sprouts in. The salad course is warm: frisee leaves with tart apples {here come the apples, you know 'the fall harvest'} crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey vinaigrette courtesy of Michael Chiarello {At Home with Michael Chiarello}. Wine cuts in here, whites {well the main is seafood} For dessert, apple crumble--the September fare--and New Hampshire pie.

Scallop Maple Glaze
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch cinnamon & cloves
Honey Vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tbsp diced shallot
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Now I know you are wondering what this "New Hampshire Pie" is, I always do when there is no mention of ingredients in the title. The inspiration for this was found in Laura Brody's Maple Seven Layer Bars (in The New England Table). My pie is of similar ingredients, however, there really isn't any maple in it. From the beginning I faltered, (I can never stay with a recipe) I made a thin pie crust of oats, rice flour, and butter, that was pressed into a 9 inch cake round. Baked until golden, the crust was then smothered with toppings and baked again until bubbling and brown. The pie emerged rich and crisp with a creme brulee style facade. The pie is so named for no particular reason, (as the state food is a pumpkin, and the mother recipe was found in the Vermont section of the book), I just felt it should be dubbed such. Perhaps a premonition that many New Hampshire-ans would find it tasty. I have never been to New Hampshire, but as the state boasting the largest percentage of French-Canadian immigrants and descendants in the nation, I think I might like it. Indeed if anything then a possible future home for the Salty Cod Bakery.

New Hampshire Pie:
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp zanthum gum
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350. Combine the flour, oats, soda, gum, and sugar. Add melted butter, and stir until incorporated. Using fingers, press firmly into bottom and sides of a buttered 9 inch cake round. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until golden. Leave oven on. Layer in hot crust first 1 cup of butterscotch chips, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup peanuts, and 1 cup shredded coconut. Drizzle with 5 tbsp spiced pear syrup (just use maple). Poor 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over top, sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for additional 20 minutes.

R I will miss you, but as Autumn and a bitter sweetness, so do our varying departures. Excitement of the year ahead out ways the sadness, for we have years and years to relay back and forth all the findings of each impending year. Paris may be this particular year, but I will have you to talk to for all the years when Paris is just a memory. Fall is here and we are moving on, and I must say, I very much like the taste.

A bientôt

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