Hello there. It’s been a little while – a little longer than I like or realized. Time seems to have gotten away from me: I don’t know how I passed so many hours so quickly and every week it’s hard to believe that another seven days, fourteen days, month has passed. Not only are the days getting shorter, we had to turn back our clocks and lose another hour of daylight – and now we’re getting to that time of year when everything seems all crammed together – hallothankshanukkchristmasyears – and days fly by in a blur.
But my, I’ve been having fun. I went to Vegas for my brother’s wedding. He got married! To an amazing woman! And they came out dancing to P.Y.T.!
I tried to find a good photo of them dancing to P.Y.T. but none were up to snuff – I had to make do with the sweet image above. I met my new sister-in-law for the first time at my own wedding weekend, which was a pretty great party, if I do say so myself.
Don’t you wish you knew what song we were singing? I do.
It could have been something by Michael Jackson, which would just be so appropriate for so many reasons. Did I mention that in October Dan and I also had a belated-30th-birthday-housewarming-PhD-and-MSW-completion-party? And not just any party – but an Off the Wall party?
MJ released that album the year I was born: 1979.
I wasn’t the only one celebrating her 30th birthday after the fact. My dear friend Allison had an even more belated party and she called the fete her “Delicious Reawakening Celebration.” She set a beautiful table and invited her best friends to bring meaningful, delicious dishes to share with wine and love under the stars.
Doesn’t it just look magical?
Over the years, Allison and I have washed down more cheese and crackers with more red wine than I care to remember. In fact, we’ve eaten such a quantity of cheese and crackers that we have developed a very specific favorite – we love a semi-hard Spanish goat cheese crusted in rosemary, aptly named “Rosey Goat,” paired with a specific rosemary flatbread cracker that I only know to get at one place. In a quest to make more of my own foods from scratch, I’ve lately been tackling crackers and flatbreads (so easy and worth it!) and there was nothing better to make for Allison’s Delicious Reawakening than my own rosemary flatbread:
Allison wasn’t my only friend with reason to celebrate – Jen and John bought their first house this year. Even though Dan and I had already seen the new place (we enjoyed a panini party there before the boxes were even unpacked!) we were happy to join a larger group of friends and family for the official housewarming party on Halloween. Jen has a real talent for baking and loves a good theme, so when I found this Thomas Keller recipe for Halloween cookies, I knew they would be the thing to bring to her shindig.
That’s the only whole cookie I made, and don’t look too close or you’ll see that it’s barely holding together. This dough was so finicky – hard to form and, once baked, ready to fall apart in a second. The cookies are really good (especially that white chocolate ganache filling) but next time I’ll just stick to circles and leave the fancy Halloween cookie cutters for the bakers at Bouchon.
Should I continue? Because there is more. I helped organize fundraising events in celebration of the 35th birthday of Charis Books and More and in one amazing 24-hour period met Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Pearl Cleage, and the Indigo Girls. More importantly, I got to feed them. Gloria (who, I learned, wants to get a tattoo on her back for her birthday but is scared it’ll hurt too much) munched on a piece of cheese and half a cookie, saying, “Who knew I’d be eating dinner here?”
Alice can’t eat wheat so I got her Peace Cake‘s gluten-free thumbprint cookies. She said, “Well, what does a wheat-free cookie taste like?” Taking a bite, she smiled – and tucked the second cookie into her bag for later.
Perhaps that bite is what helped her main this beatific visage while denouncing violence, torture, oppression, and complicity through her poetry.
Can you believe I also marched in the Pride Parade? I was right behind Baton Bob (so named because you’ll see him around town marching or roller skating while masterfully twirling his baton):
It was a good month.
Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 substantial sprigs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Sea salt, preferably course or flaky (such as Maldon)
Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.
Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Make a well in center and then add water and oil, gradually mixing into flour until dough forms. Knead dough gently four or five times.
Divide dough into three pieces and with a floured wooden roller, roll out one piece (keeping the other two pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper. You want a 10-inch round shape – it should be thin and its shape will be imperfect, which is perfect!
Lightly brush with additional oil and sprinkle rosemary leaves and salt on top, pressing each gently into the dough. Transfer dough (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread to a rack to cool and repeat these steps with the remaining two pieces of dough. (Do not oil or salt until just before baking.)
Break into pieces. Consume with a hunk of cheese and a box of wine, in the company of good friends.
Thomas Keller’s Better-Than-Oreo Cookies
Adapted from The Kitchn
For the chocolate sablé dough:
12 ounce butter
8.5 ounces sugar
13.4 ounces all purpose flour
Pinch baking soda
4.5 ounces cocoa powder
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together using a paddle on medium speed. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter and sugar mixture until combined. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies into shapes (at least two of each shape as these are sandwich cookies) and place gently onto a greased cookie sheet. Refrigerate the cut cookies for 20 minutes. Bake at 325°F for 12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes before gently using a thin spatula to remove cookies and place on a cooling rack. Let them completely cool or else they will likely break.
For the white chocolate ganache filling:
7 ounces heavy cream
7 ounces white chocolate chips (or a solid piece of white chocolate, chopped)
1 ounces butter
Place white chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the heavy cream just to a boil and pour over the chopped white chocolate; stir until smooth. Add the butter and stir until incorporated. Allow the mixture to cool, then transfer the mixture to the bowl of electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment (if you have it, which I don’t), whip until light and the mixture holds its shape. Refrigerate until needed.
Pipe or spread the filling onto one cookie and top with another. Makes 6 to 8 cookies.