Monday, June 30, 2014


I'm on a roll.

 Jellyroll, Tootsie Roll, Rock n' Roll.

 Scoops of meat, seasoned, squished between fingers, pressed gently between the palms. Roll. Perfect rounds. Tossed lightly in seething oil, rolled around in the pan, nudged along until browned. Dunked in red sauce. Tucked inside a roll, lined up, tiny, fragrant orbs.

 Felafel, chocolate truffles, meatballs, chocolate chip cookie dough.

 Hand rolled. 

 Roll through childhood.

 Bicycle wheels, somersaults, cartwheels, sleeping bags (bedrolls), hot dog rolls. A little matchbox car pushed across the floor, watch it roll. Childhood pleasures.

 Tears that roll down cheeks at the loss of a game, or teasing, crossed eyes and a baiting remark meant to inflict pain, an arrow to the heart. Roll with the punches.

 Marbles, basketballs, softballs, a roll of the dice.

 Roll call. 

Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul. - Alexander Pope

 They roll their eyes quite a lot. At me. Because of me. For me. Sarcasm personalized, sarcasm quiet, understated but oh so loud and clear. Nothing charming about an eye roll.

 One woman, three men. Maybe it's a gender thing, a cultural thing. That eye roll. Have I said something ridiculous? Something to merit that eye roll, that smirk?

Roll up your sleeves.

 Sushi, cinnamon buns, pinwheel cookies, egg roll. The perfect jellyroll, ethereal, fragile sponge cake spread with whipped cream, pastry cream, chocolate ganache, a favorite jam, the edge lifted and tucked up into itself, press forward, softly, lightly, and roll. Sweet dough, buttered and dusted with brown sugar and ground cinnamon with a generous hand, dotted with chocolate chips, strewn with coarsely chopped pecans, the edge lifted and tucked up into itself, press forward, softly, lightly, and roll. Nori, black, sleek, shiny, sticky rice fragrant with sugar and rice wine vinegar, pressed, gooey, all the way to the edges of that sheet of seaweed, black as night. Strips of smoked salmon, strips of tender avocado, strips of crisp, cool cucumber, the edge lifted and tucked up into itself, press forward, softly, tightly, and roll. Black and white, or, more correctly, brown and beige, a large, flat square of chocolate cookie dough, a large, flat square of vanilla cookie dough. Align and press, one atop the other, the double edge then lifted and tucked up into itself, press forward, softly, tightly, and roll.

 The beautiful, intricate, swirl of a roll.

 Let the Good Times Roll

The Story of a Rolling Pin

 She had always been the taker, I the giver. As different as night and day, she had money and played poor, I was poor and played with a generous hand. I was bunking down in the Paris apartment she shared with a man, her future husband, her future ex, the first but not the last. And she decided that she wanted to be a cook, a caterer. Which required, of course, a battery of new kitchen utensils, equipment, appliances and gadgets, poor little rich girl. 

 Together we visited Dehillerin, that famed Parisian Mecca for all things kitchen. A wonderland of cooking and baking tools. "I need a rolling pin!" she exclaimed in delight as she lifted one of the long, thick professional rolling pins from a box, weighing the heft of the thing, gliding her hand up and down the smooth, silken wood the color of chocolate. "I don't have my wallet with me," she cried in mock surprise, as she rarely seemed to have money with her, I should have known better. "Will you buy it and I promise to pay you back?" I reached into my meager cache, my few francs in reserve, all I had left to my name, and pulled out the weathered, flimsy bills and handed them over, knowing that I would never see the color of thirty-three francs again.

 A year later, she and her man packed up, picked up and moved to the States. "Can you keep some of my stuff for me, just until we move back?" she asked. Cookbooks and baking pans, whisks, wooden spoons and yes that rolling pin, anything but generous as she counted absolutely on coming back and reclaiming it all. But she never did. And today, I still roll out dough in my own kitchen in France with that rolling pin, the very same that I paid for on my first trip to Paris. And I love it, my rolling pin.

 Roll out a nearly perfect round of dough, pie crust. Roll the dough up around the rolling pin, lift and carefully unroll across the pie plate. Lift and press into the dish.

 Roll me over in the clover, roll me over lay me down and do it again.

I began making chocolate truffles when I was in college, preparing them for Valentine's Day gifts for friends and as part of the candy and sweet platter I would make with my mother for her office Christmas party each year. Chocolate truffles were, and still are, considered the height of elegance, fancy, special confections, yet they are incredibly, deceptively simple to make, just a chocolate ganache with a bit of butter and flavorings. The only requirement is very high quality ingredients and very clean hands.

Makes about 30 truffles

8 oz (225 g) high quality bittersweet or half bittersweet/half semisweet chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
½ cup (125 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs (30 g) butter *
2 Tbs flavoring of your choice **
½ tsp vanilla extract

30 jarred cherries or so in syrup, drained and soaked or poached in cherry liqueur or rum, optional

Unsweetened cocoa powder, shredded coconut, lightly toasted or not, finely chopped nuts of your choice, sprinkles, chocolate or colored, crushed hard candies such as candy canes…. For coating the chocolate truffles. Your choice.

* Use unsalted butter when adding an alcohol flavoring, but try using salted butter with an extra tiny pinch of fleur de sel for a caramelly, slightly salty taste, if you so desire.

** Grand Marnier or Cointreau, Amaretto, dark rum, prepared coffee, bourbon, etc Finely chop the chocolate and place in a medium-sized heatproof bowl.

 In a small saucepan over a low flame, heat the heavy cream and butter just until boiling point (you will see tiny bubbles form around the edges and the cream will begin to steam); stir to blend. Pour the hot cream and butter over the chopped chocolate, let sit for a minute and then stir or whisk gently (so as not to splatter) until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the flavorings, the liqueur and the vanilla. Allow the ganache to cool and set, either on the counter or in the refrigerator. This could take several hours but if setting in the fridge, remove the bowl from the cold before it becomes to hard – if it does, simply let it come back to room temperature.

 Using a melon baller (I do not) or a teaspoon, scoop out a small round of ganache (the size of a large marble) and, working very quickly and lightly so as not to melt the chocolate, roll the chocolate between the palms of your hands until round and line them up on a parchment-lined baking tray.

 Quickly and lightly roll each chocolate truffle in the coating of your choice. Place each truffle in a tiny paper casing, if offering them as gifts.

 For an extra special treat and surprise, omit the liqueur from the ganache and instead soak or poach cherries (jarred cherries in syrup) in cherry liqueur or rum and roll one cherry inside each truffle.

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  1. Eventhough I dislike week beginnings, I always look forward to Mondays because I know you'll brighten up my day with your gorgeous pictures and soul-uplifting texts... You've done it again!



  2. Beautiful! And the perfect use for that jar of cherries lurking in the back of the pantry!