Food For Thought What Not To Say

lemon thyme madelaines

Lemon Thyme Madeleines

Does your mouth ever work faster than your brain? The words cause “a stir”. Too late to take them back the inevitable pain and confusion is regrettable. It takes courage to own the wrong and recognize the only appropriate response: “I’m sorry”.
Addressing someone who is in mourning is always difficult. The right words are often hard to come by. The truth is there is nothing you can say to make the bereaved person feel better. When in doubt about what to say a simple, heartfelt, “I’m sorry” is all that’s needed along with the touch of a hand or a hug….make that a big bear hug, please!
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Here are a few examples of WHAT NOT TO SAY. These cliches can do more harm than good.
  • He’s in a better place   (nope–alive and well next to me is a much better place)
  • Heaven needed an angel  (nope–I need him/her here)
  • Be brave  (nope–I need to experience this pain if I am ever going to be normal again)
  • God has a plan  (nope–we had plans, too)

madeleine pan

Here is more food for thought. Madeleines. Don’t call them cookies. In certain company you will regret calling them that as they really are a little bite of heavenly buttery cake. They can be sweet or savory. Lemons are very inexpensive this time of year and a sure sign of spring. A staple in my kitchen, lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Fresh and tart it adds balance to any dish and wakes up your taste buds. Next time you want to comfort someone set out a plate of these lemon thyme madeleines. You won’t have to say a word.

madeleines

like a delicate bite of poundcake

Rosemary Thyme Madeleines

  • Servings: 3 to 4 dozen small or 2 dozen large
  • Print

½ cup cake flour*

¼ teaspoon salt (use fine sea salt or table salt not kosher salt)

1/8-teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup sugar

½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Grated zest of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 oz cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Powdered sugar

Heat oven 375F. Spray the molds of a 12 to 20-piece madeleine pan with no-stick baking spray. In small bowl, whisk flour, salt and cream of tartar; set aside. In food processor, pulse sugar, thyme and zest until uniform. In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add sugar mixture; blend well. Add eggs and lemon juice: blend well. Add flour mixture; mix just until blended. Spoon batter into molds until even with rims. Tap pan a few times to level the batter. Bake 8 to 10 minutes for small madeleines (10 to 12 minutes for larger ones) or until edges are just golden brown and cakes feel firm when touched with the tip of your finger. Immediately invert madeleines on to a cooling rack. Cool pan before repeating with remaining batter. Cool madeleines completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

* To make cake flour: measure out ½ cup of all purpose flour then remove 1 tablespoon of flour from that half cup and return it to the flour sack. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your measured flour, whisk and presto you now have cake flour.

Resurrection & A New Old Recipe

lemon almond cookie cups

“Imagine the Impossible” is the byline of a new show premiering next month on ABC. Now imagine deceased loved ones returning home. This is “Resurrection”. If there ever was a show to mess with the mind of a griever then this is it.

Naturally, what every griever wants more than anything else in the world is to have their loved one back with them safe and sound. It seems that is what the show promises. The TV trailer features a mom greeting her son who died 30 years earlier. The joy on her face is like what you would imagine. It’s like her heart is jumping out of her chest as she cups his face in her hands. Don’t I wish I could do the same, but I know better.

William in NC

To suggest even the remote possibility of our deceased being resurrected from the dead creates a kind of hope that surely complicates the grief process. It’s already hard to accept and let go. This only will make it harder for those who will see the story for something other than the fiction it is.

Now imagine a delicious new life for an old cookie. For all my gluten-free readers this one is for you. Hard to believe gluten-free is so easy and delicious.  No weird ingredients or special mixes required.

Frangipane Cookie Cups

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 eggs

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 ¼ cups almond meal flour

24 whole almonds

powdered sugar

Heat oven 350F. Line 24 mini muffin cups with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add zest, eggs, honey, salt and almond extract; blend well. Add almond meal flour; blend well. Divide batter among prepared cups. Top each with 1 almond. . Bake 12 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.

Valentine Hearts & Bougatsa

Ricotta Bougatsa (Greek Breakfast Pastry)

Ricotta Bougatsa (Greek Breakfast Pastry)

Could be my imagination, could be my inability to let my son go, or maybe-just maybe, there is a loving energy between my son and me. You know those “whoosh” moments I have mentioned before. Never a believer in ESP, the paranormal or ghosts, it is getting harder to deny that such things do indeed exist as those moments keep on coming.

heart rock

heart rock

I believe it all started on February 14, 2011. I had not seen William in a few months. Very early that morning the phone wakes me from a sound sleep and it is him. “I just wanted to be the first to ask if you would be my Valentine. I hope I did not wake you.” It was such a loving, sweet gesture on his part that I responded, “Oh, no you did not wake me. Your father and I are having coffee”. Then the doorbell rings, “hang on William someone is at the door–who the hell is here so early in the morning?” Jump out of bed, throw on the bathrobe….and it’s HIM!!! He drove all night from NC to CT to surprise me for Valentine’s Day. What a gift from his heart to mine.

my heart pendant

my heart pendant

Then he died, but his loving, sweet heart keeps surprising me. It started with this heart pendant (see photo). It came from his ashes. Really, it came from his ashes. It takes my breath away every time I put it on. Second, is the heart rock (see photo above). In my deepest, darkest hour of grief it appeared as I stepped onto a path into the woods. It saved me from myself.

Sweet William's Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sweet William’s Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

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my logo

Then came the cookie which even convinced my husband that some energy is out there. I was finally coming out of my funk with the idea that I could create recipes inspired by William. The first would be a Jack Daniel’s laced cookie. The very first cookie baked in the shape of a heart. It was as if he was happy and approved of my progress. I used a cookie scoop so it should have come out round. P.S. every other cookie I baked came out perfectly round.

There are more heart signs to tell about, but I need to save them for a future life-changing story. In the mean time, I want to share this delicious breakfast-brunch pastry that I created for my Valentines–Bill, Caitlin and Sam. I got up early this past weekend and surprised them with this special treat created from my heart. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ricotta Bougatsa with berries and bacon

Ricotta Bougatsa with berries and bacon

Ricotta Bougatsa (Greek Breakfast Pastry)

1 cup (8 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, separated

1/8 teaspoon salt

12 sheets phyllo dough, covered with damp paper towel

¼ cup melted butter

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 container plain Greek yogurt

Heat oven 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, lemon zest vanilla and egg yolk; blend well. In another small bowl, whisk or beat egg white and salt to stiff peaks; fold into ricotta mixture and set aside.

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Lay 1 phyllo sheet on work surface with short end toward you; brush with butter. Top with a second phyllo sheet; brush with butter. Fold in half with two short ends meeting each other; brush with butter. Spoon ¼ cup of ricotta mixture over center of dough. Fold longer sides over filling, brushing with butter.

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Fold in sides to meet in the middle forming a parcel. Brush with butter and place on baking sheet. Brush top with butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo, butter and filling to make 5 more parcels. Mix remaining teaspoon of sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over parcels. Bake 30 minutes or until golden and crispy. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, combine honey and lemon juice in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until warm. Arrange bougatsa on individual serving plates. Top with syrup, blueberries and dollop of Greek yogurt.

Note: unbaked parcels may be made night before, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Bake as directed above in the morning.