Sweet Deceit

Dark as sin, tender, moist, intensely chocolate, this cake will seduce your taste buds.

Beautiful in its simple Bundt elegance, a silky crumb, cuts like butter. But there is no butter in this cake, my friends.

A mysterious, unusual, ingredient infiltrates the traditional ones, blends seamlessly into the smooth batter, sheds its brilliant arrogant hue and enhances the gustatory pleasure.

Appearances can be deceiving, as you know, even a glorious chocolate cake can NOT be what you think.

Deception is woven into the simple innocence of our daily lives, and, so often, we trip on the lies and get hurt.

Those who smile, sympathize and promise, then stick a sharp knife deep into your soul when you turn, filled with belief and hope.

The false friends disguised as true ones, eyes lowered in humility, fingering their rosary beads in the light of the Lord. Flaky friends, only amused by the novelty of all things and people, seeking constant entertainment, forgetful of promises and responsibilities.

Those who parade their enviable lives, lavishing compliments on all, but in reality chained into a stale status quo that has shriveled their personalities, annihilated their dreams, reduced them to mechanically functioning beings.

So many, sadly, who languish in those ‘lives of quiet desperation’, staring wide-eyed at the invisible ceiling in the endless nights, aching with suppressed passions that are never to be expressed.

The secret ingredient deeply concealed inside, never to be released.

But then there are cakes.  Their secrets can only make you smile.

This beauty is delicate but assertive, solid but yielding, hiding its benign, ordinary/not ordinary curious ingredient.

Here is the recipe.   Thus the mystery shall be revealed.   Happy Baking!

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Dolce inganno

9 ottobre 2017

Torta misteriosa.

Nera come il peccato

Tenera, intensa,  cioccolato puro.

Ma non lo è.

Nel cuore morbido nasconde il suo segreto. Un ingrediente strano e insolito ha penetrato tutte le fibre del dolce, si è amalgamato, fluido, nella pastella e ne è istantaneamente diventato parte integrale. La sua tinta  brillante, anche arrogante, è sbiadita fino al completo annientamento.

Trucco riuscito.

E così tanti i trucchi, i raggiri, gli intrighi che ci abbindolano tutti i giorni della nostra vita.   Con gli altrettanti falsi, i manipolatori, i ladri meschini che ti derubano dell’innocenza e della fede nell’umanità.

Coloro che si occultano dietro l’imponente coltre della religione per raggirare con destrezza i poveretti che non guardano oltre le coroncine del rosario in continua attività.

Au contraire, poi ci sono quelli che si vantano della loro vita spregiudicata, te la sbattono in faccia, beffardi, che spesso e volentieri ignorano le loro responsabilità, ma si fingono persone dalle idee moderne che non è altro che un patetico eufemismo per il menefreghismo più assoluto. Che facciano quel che gli pare, tutti gli altri, chiunque siano, purché li lascino liberi di dedicarsi ai loro self-indulgent comodi, che poi forzeranno tutti ad accettare come normalità.

Ma normalità non è, e mai lo sarà.

Esiste il bene, esiste il male. E la linea di separazione è chiara come il cielo di giugno.

I falsi felici, sempre sorridenti (a denti stretti ma bianchissimi) che prodigano di complimenti quelli con cui si sono incastrati, ma, ahimé, purtroppo ridotti ad esseri rimpiccioliti, tristi, abbattuti, uomini infinitamente soli, uomini che bruciano di passione crudelmente imprigionata. Quello il loro ingrediente segreto, mascherato magistralmente dal manto di falsa allegria.

Per fortuna che ci sono i dolci: i loro segreti sono molto meno traumatizzanti.

Ottima questa adorabile torta. Nella ricetta sarà svelato l’ingrediente misterioso. (In inglese, sorry).

My Happy Place (sempre)

27 agosto 2017

No, non mi nascondo in cucina. Mi presento sul palcoscenico.

Sono io il regista e l’attrice.

Chiudo il sipario sul mondo maledetto, tiro fuori la mia batteria. Stampi, stampi, il mixer, il burro, la vaniglia, le uova, la farina e tanto zucchero.

Il cuore è bloccato, ma il forno è caldo. La rabbia ti sfregia, ma la teglia dorata scintilla. Socchiudi gli occhi, tesa ma forte, risoluta a non farti schiacciare dal peso dei doveri, degli eventi, dalla tirannia delle emozioni.

Il cioccolato è fuso, il burro dolcemente malleabile, lo zucchero di canna ti si scioglie fra le dita.

Addio a te e a te e a te.   Sfigati tutti.

I dolci non tradiscono, le torte s’innalzano, vette leggere e stimolanti. Il profumo è aromatico, vibrante. Il piatto da portata giallo attende, liscio e lucido.

Non mi arrendo facilmente io.

Faccio un dolce, ergo sopravvivo.

(E scrivo, of course).

Eccovi la ricetta di questa fantastica e americanissima Torta bianca e nera (in English – fatevene una ragione).

My Happy Place

 

My happy place.

Temporary, fragile.

My kitchen, my cakes.

Shutting out the scary world for a while.

Flour, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla. They smile when you reach for them and place them on the table. We are ready to go, they announce with glee, welcome back, rejoice, you’re baking!

Indeed I am. The kitchen is my oyster. The oven is preheating, the pan is carefully buttered.   The music is playing, the haze of comforting numbness is softening the impact of reality, the one that stings.

You are gone, and you and you and you.

I inhale the scent of cinnamon. Cakes don’t betray you.   They will rise and perfume the air, be soft and tender and warm. They will taste like that is all you need to carry on. And sometimes it is.

Beat me, scare me, bite me, slap me, torture me, o unpredictable life.

I slip into my happy place and the aroma is marvelous.

I bake, therefore I survive.

(And I write, of course)

Recipe for this awesome, sweet, solid all-American Marble Pound Cake available here.

Celebrating in Armonk!

Grazie to all my wonderful students for celebrating with me the last Summer Class of Italian Language and Culture at the North Castle Public Library.

Lots of delicious homemade food, stories to share, and laughter: another successful year!

I will fiercely miss you, carissimi studenti, for the next two weeks.

But we will start all over again on September 5th!  New students are welcome, as our beginners course also resumes.

Ci vediamo a settembre.

Buon agosto a tutti!

(I contributed the Blueberry-Yogurt Bundt Cake, recipe here)

Cakes

Because they make me happy.

Reverse the tears, dull the anxiety, turn on Rihanna, Biagio Antonacci,  Thomas Buttenshøn, 21 Pilots.

Take out the cake pans.  Like this adorable Beehive Bundt mold.

Flour, sugar, butter, they don’t hurt you.  Malleable and ivory, the butter whips into creaminess and sweetness and dreams of comfort and kindness.

Make the cakes, turn off the clamor of the world.

Tender, golden, velvety, small but great.

The mood is soft and gentle again.

Never underestimate the power of cakes.

Easter: Reborn in Hope

Be merry, be bright, be hopeful!

A day of sun, blue skies, gently-flowing rivers and church bells.

Easter once again, bursting with all that is to come, all glorious and tingly and promising.

We rise again to seize the day.

Happy Easter to all!

Buona Pasqua, amici presenti e passati, a voi tutti un augurio di pace e serenità, di un futuro azzurro come il cielo di primavera,  scintillante e privo di nuvole.

Sono ancora qui, sempre innamorata della vita, nonostante tutti gli schiaffi che mi hanno colto di sorpresa.  Da chi non avrei mai immaginato.

Ma sono forte, io, scrivo, insegno, e mi perdo nella gloria della cucina.  Viva i dolci!

 

Carnevale Celebration in Armonk!

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Yes, of course we celebrated Italian Carnevale, at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk!

And you thought we just conjugated verbs in our Italian Class.

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Don’t you love the beautiful Venetian mask that one of my students brought?

Grazie to all my lovely students for bringing so many treats, including espresso!

I provided the Frappe,  using my mother’s delicious recipe from Modena. Frappe are fried ribbons of dough, traditional sweet of Carnevale.

Click here for the recipe!

Snowing? Let Me Hide in the Kitchen

I don’t want to hear that you like the snow.16711990_1378313948895290_4648212179890978446_n

The frigid, messy white stuff serves no purpose (unlike rain).

Probably one of the punishments we are to expect regularly from the heavens, for our less than exemplary behavior. Sure, I will recite the mea culpa to that, but I will rise in fury every time the New York’s blue sky fades into that threatening light gray to white.

Nothing but the ghostly sheet of death on our lawns, our streets, accumulating copiously on our parked cars, creating a forbidding wasteland.

Can’t go out – work, shopping, whatever – because unless you have one of those monsters SUVs (that regularly block your vision of the road when you’re driving, so hate that) with all-wheel, 4-wheel, or whatever the hell it’s called, drive, you take your life in your hands if you venture out.16587373_1378089615584390_4399470399935565463_o-1

Sure, there will be the show-offs who’ll say no big deal to drive in the snow, you just need to know how to do it, take control, yada yada blah blah blah. Not buying it, people. They are probably more terrified than me but prefer to look brave and take their chances. But it’s their call.

Rant done.

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Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

So I stay home. I pour a glass of wine, put on a warm sweater, then my pretty apron (from my small collection, yes, I’m a sucker for designer aprons), and sharpen my chef’s knife. And butter my Bundt pan, measure flour, sugar and cocoa, pull out a juicy onion from the fridge and a bottle of golden extra-virgin olive oil.

Dinner and dessert on the way.

Live in your kitchen, my friends, when life is inclement!

The blows, small and enormous, are always lurking, malevolent, behind the corner. You fend them off as best as you can, you toughen up, reject useless tears that solve nothing, swallow your pride, ignore the unfair words, then shut up altogether because it’s best.   Sure, the restlessness is still churning inside your heart, the endless worrying corroding your soul, but you take a two-second Zen moment, simply to keep the peace. I choose my battles thoughtfully, dear friends, and so should you.

I also choose the kitchen as my refuge. My trusty iPhone and the Echo partner up to provide the musical background, as eclectic as my personality.

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Cardamom Pound Cake

Melt the butter with coffee and chocolate, stir the thick, velvety mixture, inhale the heady scent, let it cool, while you sift the dry ingredients into a pretty stoneware pistachio-green bowl. The little things matter.  Perhaps more than the big ones. They keep you sane, steady on the path of the life that was handed to you, the one you didn’t select because you didn’t know what the hell you were doing.   Sure, we live for others (all women, mothers, do), so we try to keep the crazy to a minimum. Calm and nurturing, selfless and immune to hurt feelings.

But it’s all good.

I have a kitchen, apples, freshly ground cardamom, sweet butter and a batterie de cuisine to rival a Parisian pâtissier, and thousands of wondrous recipes in cherished cookbooks (or on Google). Or, mostly, in the treasure grove that is my memories and my imagination.

I suffer ergo I cook.

Sure, go skiing, o adventurous ones, just watch those trees.

Long live Bundt pans, cardamom and bittersweet chocolate!

(Recipe: Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake)