This week, we'll be looking not just at this past Sunday's treat from my mother's kitchen, but also, our celebration of American Labor Day, the week before!
Let's begin with Labor Day. Or, actually, the say before.
While my father and I assisted in our own clumsy way, my mother really was taking the idea of Labor Day and turning it on its head. See, this is supposed to be a day of rest. But, no, there was no rest for my mother as she prepared this glorious feast of grilled chicken with buttermilk gravy, brown rice seasoned with homemade pesto, fresh corn-on-the-cob and a remarkably good salad of broccoli, tomatoes and chick peas! Hooray for the chick pea!
As if this wasn't enough, the meal was followed by one of my favorite desserts. Profiteroles!
A profiterole, known in the U.S. as a cream puff, or, in France as a “choux à la crème,” is a delicious pastry shell filled with rich French pastry cream. The shell of the cream puff is formed from choux paste which is piped onto a baking sheet and then puffed during the baking process. Choux paste (Pâte à choux) is the term given to a type of pastry dough which contains butter, water, flour and eggs and puffs due to its high moisture content as opposed to a rising agent such as yeast. This process has been employed by bakers since the mid Sixteenth Century.
The hollow pastry balls are filled with pastry cream (sometimes whipped cream, ice cream or even a savory Pâte can be used). The profiterole can be topped with a glaze of chocolate or caramel, powdered sugar, fruit or other frostings. When a group of profiteroles is assembled into a pièce montée, it is called a croquembouche. Croquembouches are often served at weddings and on Christmas in France.
As you can see, a thick topping of chocolate ganache made these all the more delectable.
The following day, Labor Day proper, was not as labor-intensive, but still very tasty. Hamburgers, homemade guacamole and roasted potatoes were the star. And, the chick pea salad made a reappearance. Thankfully, so did the cream puffs!
I think that was a grand way to spend Labor Day weekend, and I know Bertie and I appreciated it quite a lot.
The following weekend was just as festive, but for no particular reason other than a good meal to share.
As regular readers know, as a good Italian boy, I am partial to my mother's tomato sauce, but that's because it's the best. Her homemade sauce and meatballs on a bed of farfalle was just what I needed to brighten up the week. Meanwhile, a mouth-watering salad of mozzarella, tomato and avocado was the ideal co-star.
Since the heat of summer is unrelenting, we cooled off with hand-made lemon ice cream adorned with macerated strawberries and lemon zest. A new cookie recipe debuted as well. I'm a fan of ginger cookies and my father discovered a new preparation. That's where his involvement ended. My mother whipped up a batch of these soft, caky cookies, alive with the flavor of ginger and given beauty and a little extra crunch with colorful sugar.