In the late 1940s and early 1950s the French were watching a lot of the popular films coming out of this country. After a little while they stopped to pause and wondered what in God’s teeth was going on over here?! In these films there were men coming home from the war to find the women had taken their jobs, their wives cheating on them or leaving them for the men who weren’t even “manly” enough to go to war, and their children were completely alienated from them. We were full of cynical attitudes and sexual motivation. Absolute disillusionment. We were broken people. A broken country.
But we didn’t seem to realize that at the time.
The French called this era, this genre of film, Film Noir. Black film. These films all have elements of German Expressionism and Italian Neo-Realism. They all incorporate low-key lighting, unbalanced compositions, femme fatales, narration, hard-boiled detectives, and non-linear plot structures (a lot of flashbacks and flash forwards). They are almost always self-reflexive. Some perfect examples of these are: The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, D.O.A., The Woman in the Window, The Lady from Shanghai, The Big Combo and Out of the Past. And I just adore The Blue Dahlia. Interestingly, most all of the material for these films evolved from the pulp novels of writers during the Depression (Chandler, Hammet, etc.)
It seems that usually when we, either as a body of people, or individually, go through big changes we don’t necessarily see it until after the fact. It then is something we went through to get to where we are or where we may be going. Change is more easily understood and seen in a future want, like a New Year’s resolution, but most commonly in retrospect. Others can usually identify our changes before we do.
But occasionally we have those times they are a changin’ that we are staring square in the face. You didn’t even make a New Year’s resolution but suddenly look around and every element of your life, especially the thing that is the most secure, is hanging in the balance. Everything is changing before your eyes, like it or not.
Good, bad, beautiful or ugly – welcome to my now. My change. And right at my birthday. And no, I’m not going through menopause.
This is good. Really. But admittedly, exceedingly daunting. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I can be less reflexive and more reflective.
One change that is occurring that I am conscious of and working towards is my panic with certain fruit related issues. I know I’ve touched on it at least once in the past, but let me really explain the way this works for me:
I do like fruit.
I don’t like fruit touching other fruit.
I don’t like hot or cooked fruit, but I’m getting a little better there.
I am usually wary of fruit in my savory dishes, but I’ve come a long way with that one.
Gooey fruit, such as that in most pies, crumbles, compotes, etc. disarms me. It’s unfortunate.
Fruit FLAVORED anything is a big no.
Any citrus is exempt from all of the above.
If I so much as see applesauce, I will leave the table. That will never change.
As I said, I’m working on most of these things. As a foodie it is a major detriment to hate anything edible. I’m aware of that. But I can proudly say that I will eat anything else in the world.
As you may know, my mom is the pastry chef for Dinner at Eight. The first dessert incorporated fresh strawberries. They were not cooked but they did have some liquid that made me a little edgy. I tasted every version we tested for that meal and enjoyed each one. But not without hesitation. For this last Dinner at Eight she made a rustic cherry tart with almond ice cream. Warm, cooked cherries. I tasted the first test and second test runs.
On the first tart we used whole, pitted cherries. They looked like bloody eyeballs to me. I did have a small slice, to make sure it was up to par for the dinner party, but no more than that. And it was really good. I just couldn’t get past the cherries staring up at me. Everyone else who tasted it thought it was divine. Round two is what is photographed here and its recipe is below. We just had to chop up those cherries a bit and I was okay with it (mostly). Again, everyone else that tried it was over the moon.
We’ll see what happens with my whole fruit thing. As I mentioned, I’m working on it. And I guess we’ll see what unfolds with all of these other big, broad strokes of my life. As my friend, Brian, used to always say, “Everything will work out. Or not.”
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup + 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted & cooked a little)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375.
Toast almonds on baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Cool and place in food processor with sugar; pulse to coarse meal.
Add flour and salt and pulse to combine with almonds.
Transfer ingredients to bowl, add melted butter, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon ice cold water.
Mix until just combined.
Press dough into a buttered 9" fluted tart pan.
Chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
1 pound fresh cherries coarsely chopped (chop around pits); toss chopped cherries with 3 teaspoons of sugar and leave in bowl until ready to use
5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400
Place butter, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla extract in a bowl; mix until combined.
Remove crust from refrigerator; prick surface with a fork. Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture evenly over crust and chill 15 minutes more.
Remove tart from refrigerator; spread the cherries evenly over the tart mixture. Bake 20 - 25 minutes.
Almond Ice Cream
2 cups raw (whole) almonds
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks (large)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat over to 375
Toast almonds on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Cool and chop coarsely.
Put 1 cup of the almonds in saucepan, pour in milk and cream. Bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and cover- (30 minutes)-flavors will infuse.
Bring mixture to boil once again. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Remove almonds (with slotted spoon or small strainer) from milk/cream mixture. Whisk 2 to 3 tablespoons of warm mixture into the yolks & sugar.
Add remainder (slowly) while whisking. Add vanilla extract. Return to saucepan and cook over medium heat (stirring frequently with rubber spatula) for 8 minutes or until custard thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Strain mixture and chill for 2 hours.
Process in an ice cream maker (refer to manufacturer's instructions). Stir in remaining almonds when done.