HALLIE EPHRON: Happy Holidays, everyone!! This last week of the 2014, we're regifting! Each reprising a favorite blog from the days of yore. Lest auld should be forgot.
Here's mine... on food, of course.
HALLIE: Sharing my favorite foods is one of the guilty pleasures of writing. In THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN, Evie Ferrante has my passion for Chinese
soup dumplings. Evie's boyfriend (aka Mr. Wrong) is all about steak. Which, by the way, I
also love, but given a choice between soup dumplings and steak? No
When I eat at the aptly named Gourmet Chinese Dumpling
House in Boston's Chinatown, I order rack of those succulent babies just
for me. Anyone who encroaches on my share gets stabbed with a
Often I find myself writing about fondly remembered foods -- the ones I
can no longer get. In THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN, it's jelly donuts. When
Evie returns to the little the grocery store near the house in the Bronx
where she grew up, she discovers that the kind of jelly donuts she remembers are still
there...along with a man who could easily learn to love soup dumplings.
Sadly, my favorite jelly donuts have gone the way of the dodo. They came
from a Van de Kamps next to the Thriftimart in Beverly Hills -- back when Van de Kamps was just a bakery and Beverly Hills was just an upscale neighborhood.
memory, those jelly donuts were light, puffy, powdered sugar-coated
cakes. Literally jam-packed, front to back, every bite risked spurting
some of the filling out the other end. The filling was in a league of
its own, thick and tangy and intensely raspberry -- not that pallid,
sugary-sweet, gelatinous stuff that finds its way into jelly donuts
these days. And there was none of that palate-coating greasy finish that
today's donuts deliver.
Though I love to cook, I'd never attempt to make my own jelly donuts.
I'm not good with yeast or deep fat. And forget soup dumplings.
Fortunately, I've discovered a great recipe for another
gone-but-not-forgotten treat -- chewy, caramel-colored hazelnut biscotti that were once but are sadly no longer available at my local Italian
bakery. This recipe is a close approximation.
3 c. whole hazelnuts (or almonds) (skin on)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 T soft unsalted butter
2 beaten eggs
2 T vanilla
1 beaten egg mixed with 1T water for egg wash
Preheat oven 350
1. Roast nuts
-In a single layer on a cookie tray in the oven - check after about 8
minutes but keep roasting until lightly browned and (if you are using
hazelnuts) the skins are coming loose.
- Dump them onto a dish towel and roll them around to rub off most of the skins (if using almonds, leave the skins on).
2. Prepare dough
- Cream the butter with the white sugar in large mixing bowl.
- Add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and blend.
- Add beaten eggs and vanilla and BEAT with mixer on low speed until dough holds together.
- This makes a VERY STICKY DOUGH.
Fold in the nuts.
3. Make 2 logs of the dough
- Put dough on floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each piece into a log.
- Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
- Brush each log lightly with egg wash.
4. Bake 30 minutes OR until ***firm*** to the touch. (Go by touch, not time)
5. Remove from oven. Cut diagonally into biscotti. Turn each piece
sideways (cut side up) and return to 300 degree oven to dry out and
crisp--about five minutes.
My question: What are your "lost" food favorites, and have you been able to recreate them?
THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN is the story of a young woman, Evie Ferrante, who reluctantly returns
the house where she grew up on the waterfront in the Bronx in order to
deal with the chaos left behind by her gravely ill, alcoholic mother. She
renews a friendship with Mina Yetner, the 91-year-old woman who lives
next door. Mina helps Evie figure out the meaning of her mother's last
message: Don't let him in until I'm gone. And Evie helps Mina figure out whether she's losing her mind.