“A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.” – Sir Thomas Moore
I was looking at the paper – the food section – yesterday, and all the stores have ads for flowers and chocolate. But who in their right mind would want to get flowers if they could have sweet, beautiful strawberries instead? Who would want an anything-less-than-perfect chocolate truffle if they had the choice of a great Tuesday morning (Valentine’s Day) breakfast . . .
. . . things like baked thick-sliced bacon rubbed with cracked pepper and brown sugar (this is so easy you don’t need a recipe – but it saves a clean-up headache to line the pan with aluminum foil.) After about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, keep a close watch on it – the sugar will carmelize and then blacken in the blink of an eye.
. . . things like Ecuador’s incredible blueberry juice – Colada Morada – the recipes for which vary from family to family. Most contain blueberries, blackberries, and pineapple. Some add naranjilla juice, babaco (champagne fruit), strawberries, and even raisins.
. . . things like the freshest Ciabatta Rolls from Pajama Baking Company on South Pearl Street – sliced, toasted lightly, buttered and coated with local honey.
. . . things like a cup of robust coffee mellowed with a little steamed milk – that extra touch.
. . . things like what we tested yesterday at the office – a seasonal riff on Far Breton:
FAR BRETONA far is a custardy cake, like a clafouti but with a smoother texture, like a flan. You can try many fruits – pear and almond, cherry, even apple, but the brandy-soaked prunes and raisins are typical of Brittany, where they serve it for breakfast or dessert. We tried it this week with blueberries. INGREDIENTS 1 ¼ C whole milk ¾ C table cream 3-4 large eggs (depending on how custard-y you want it to be) ½ C sugar 5 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled ¼ t vanilla extract 1/8 t salt ¾ C all purpose flour 1 C small pitted prunes (6 oz) ½ C water 1/3 C raisins ¼ CArmagnacor other brandy … and Powdered sugar DIRECTIONS
- Combine milk, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in blender jar. Blend 1 minute. Add flour and pulse just until blended, scraping down sides of jar. Cover and chill in jar at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
- Combine prunes, ½ cup water, and raisins in heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until fruit is softened and water is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour brandy over fruit. Using long match, ignite brandy. Let flames burn off, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer fruit to small bowl. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment. Butter paper. Dust with flour, shaking out excess; put on baking sheet.
- Distribute fruit evenly in bottom of pan. Reblend batter until smooth, maybe 5 seconds. Pour over fruit.
- Bake cake on baking sheet until sides are puffed and brown and a knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
. . . and a kiss!