Archive for the ‘All Recipes’ Category


Sunday, September 30th, 2007

        An aristocratic coffee cake, souvenir of a run through Brittany in 1985. Every bakery had it in the window, temptation was our constant companion.

        Our premiere gastronomic experience in France’s scrubby but enfolding West was a dinner in the pre-Laura Ashley precincts of Chez Melanie near Pont-Aven, where the great bec fin Curnonsky holed up during the ’39 war. Like gung-ho philatelists eager to fill their album blanks, we had to eat here, amidst the faience and ferns. And a success it was, a soothing retro meal served by kindly coiffed Bretonnes adept at greasing the wheels of hospitality for such pilgrim foodies as Cecily and me. Suave local ham, mussels and rice, roast duck in brandied juices, ripe cheeses, flan with custard sauce, well, it was Mr. Liebling’s heaven.



Combine 2/3 cup of water, 1 package of dry yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of flour, mixing all together nicely with clean hands which will become very sticky in short order. Let the mixture rest for half an hour.

Then on a floured board with a floured rolling pin roll out the dough in a very long rectangle with a short side in front of you, after which you spread the bottom, or closer, two thirds with 6 tablespoons of quite soft butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar.

Now fold the top third down and the bottom third up over that (Who’s on Third, interrupts Costello here), place your dough on wax paper, put it on a plate and and chill it for an hour. Repeat the rolling-folding-chilling procedure three times, without adding butter and sugar.

Finally, flatten the pastry in a 6 or 7″ buttered pie pan and bake it at 425° for about 20 minutes, with a good prayer along the way, until it’s quite golden. Cool, unmold and sprinkle with sugar.


Sunday, September 30th, 2007

        This classic makes for easy appeasement of sweet teeth.

        And meanwhile I’m thinking of the clues that were thrown in my path to help with the construction of this book: a newspaper article about old Berlin that reminded me of uncle Moriz (the actor not the pianist), a monoplane that flew over our deck as if to ignite memories of sixty years ago, a sudden olfactory sensation awakening a delightful sniff of yesteryear . . . and everyday, it seems, I hear that waiter at Pop Ernt’s chewing the consonants in his piscatorial spiel, c. 1939.


In a 9″ by 14″ by 2″ pan combine 10 tart apples, peeled and sliced (or cherries, rhubarb, any fruit or combination of fruits you desire) with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon to taste; flatten the top.

Next, combine 1 cup each of flour and packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup of butter, then stir in 1 cup of oatmeal and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the seasoned fruit and bake all at 350° for 45 or 50 minutes, until the top is “golden brown” and maybe even a tiny bit black here and there.

(4 – 6 servings)


Sunday, September 30th, 2007

        The bustling old Vanessi’s in theatrical San Francisco’s especially theatrical North Beach was heaven on earth, garlic in the air, a cimbalon player twanging in the bar, tall-toqued chefs cooking everything from omelettes to Chicken Valdostana before your eyes, maitre d’ Modesto in his big bow tie sending mellifluous commands across the crowded room, such as: Due tagliatelle burro dolci!

        And it was a fourteen-hour heaven: we’d go to Vanessi’s for minestrone lunches, Caesar salad late lunches, Valdostana dinners, post-opera banana fritter festas after Valhalla burned, Samson demolished some expensive real estate or Gilda sang her last, virtually post-mortem, from Sparafucile’s sack.

        . . . And was that Jack Kerouac at the next table, thinking about his “rhythmic yawps of expostulation”? And Lawrence Ferlinghetti would have been dropping in, the same poet who, in 2001, was lunching up the street at the U.S. Restaurant not many feet from a San Francisco/Sicilian mural conspicuously including himself, in a dining position, I think . . .

        At whatever hour, you found yourself swept along by Vanessi’s tailwind of exhilaration: I don’t mean you ate fast, you just felt good. It was art, life, pleasure, gossip, beauty, conviviality. And oh, that chicken.

        Modesto recently revived his heady brasserie at Broadway and Kearny (at least for a while), complete with the most delicate cannelloni of my life plus this puffy dessert which we’ve simplified a bit, thanks in part to that faithful servant the won ton wrapper. Alas, the new incarnation lacked magic, or good p.r., and failed. Modesto was even so naughty as to die.


Make a filling by mixing together 1/2 pound of ricotta, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cocoa, a tablespoon of orange liqueur, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon peel and 2 drops of vanilla.

Then open a package of square won ton wrappers. Spread 2 teaspoons of the above goop onto wrapper no. 1, leaving a little space at the sides, run a watery finger around its edge and place wrapper no. 2 on top of the first one, carefully pressing the two together at their edges to make a pillow.  Repeat the process until you have as many units — three, say, to a customer — as you need for one sitting. This much can be done in advance, in which case the “ravioli” should be covered until cooking time.

A little before dessert time, heat 1/4 inch of canola or vegetable oil in a large flat pan. When it’s hot but not smoking, slide in several of the stuffed ravioli, one at a time. Don’t crowd! Fry them until they’re puffed and golden on one side, then turn them to achieve the same effect on side 2. After frying a batch drain it on paper towels and keep your puffy pillows warm while you fry the next set. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar before serving — which sould be as soon after frying as possible.

Note well that these ravioli may be eaten with your fingers.  Another interesting option is to plant them like pennants in a wavy crater of ice cream.

(6 – 8 servings)