The type of cookie you'll make twice

Though these are a Passover dessert, I can't imagine anyone who would not like them. Unlike the packaged Manischewitz macaroons of my youth, these are decadently sweet, full of texture and color.

I first made them last year, when I was living in Montreal. The first batch was devoured so avidly - by Passover-observers and coconut lovers alike - that I was compelled to whip out another for my family before heading back to New Jersey for the holiday.

These may be perfect for Passover, but I'd gladly eat them year-round.


When you make chicken soup...

'Twas the weekend before Passover and my mom was in menu mode. Cookbooks, magazines, and newspaper clippings cluttered the counter, the messy piles burgeoning as the week went on.

Though guests were limited to immediate family this year, my mother was still plagued by the usual planning predicaments: which of of the three flourless chocolate cake recipes she should make - with almonds or not? - and should the charoset have dried fruit or just nuts. Clasping recipes she cornered me in the laundry room for consultation. Almonds sound good, as does some fruit in the charoset, and let's have fruit for dessert as well, while we're at it.


Working woman

Gosh! It's been a week already since I've been here last. Don't think I haven't been counting the days. While this may look like a legitimate post, I must assure you it is nothing more than saving face, a quick hello, and a lame excuse.

The truth is I'm pooped. Today marks the end of my first week on the new job. It's really gone swimmingly so far; I'm settled, productive, and almost accustomed to waking at seven to make the potholed trek from New Jersey to Brooklyn. At the end of the day I am thoroughly exhausted, feeble as a floppy doll, incapable of writing so much as an email.

That means while I have spent a great deal of time thinking about food (mainly baked eggs and polenta) I have approached the stove only to taste what others have cooked for me. While that's fine and dandy, I do miss fending for myself, and I'm so looking forward to next week when the shock of adjustment fades and I will no longer end my days so depleted.

Thanks for bearing with me.


A knish, the most delish

I said goodbye to Montreal on Saturday, an unusually spring-like day, the kind that wheedles out dogs and babies and makes you wonder where all these people hid all winter. It was a kind that made saying goodbye difficult. I had racked my brain for things to do on my last full day. What did I love most about the city? What would I miss most? Not for lack of loving or for potentially missing, but I could think of almost nothing. I felt uninspired, or just full, as if I had extracted everything from the city that I could, as if there were nothing left for me, no more that I could possibly take.

That was, of course, until I drove away, seemingly abandoning the optimism of spring. Fleeting satiation gave way to a hazy realization of untapped potential.


Two jobs, and one wonderful dinner

Happy March!

Montreal is looking more like April than its usual blustery brand of March. The only remaining snow are the banks crusted into nooks where sunlight cannot reach. People are walking the streets in sweatshirts and sunglasses.

Yet despite this wonderful yet curious turn for the best I woke up yesterday in a bit of a funk. I had neglected to turn the "on" button for my alarm when setting it the night before and therefore woke up a mere fifteen minutes prior to my anticipated departure time. And this was not just on any old day, but on my first day on a new job - as a waitress in a graduate student restaurant-bar on McGill's campus.

No, this isn't exactly what I wanted to be doing, but with my nebulous plans this job seemed like it would be a-okay. Until I walked in, with a puff of optimism, and I realized it would be just that, just okay, just passable. I think the deflate I felt was actually detectable. I'm back. Here. Again. It was actually my first time there exactly, but I had spent my summer working in a similar environment, an experience I now fondly think of as amusing. Walking into the basement restaurant, grim and shabby, the dull routine of it all, the rush, the fabricated importance, and the aching feet I came to dread over the summer seemed all too imminent and unbearable.

I turned on my perky-eager face, looking for the good in my scary boss, irritated and unhelpful, and made it out of there thirty bucks richer and otherwise not so much worse off. A really wonderful thing happened next, though. I was offered a job, eh, an internship, but still, a paying position, one that doesn't make me recoil, and one, I think, that will be very good for me.

This is, of course, good. The job excites me, the prospect of something new inspires me. But it is also bittersweet. So very not long after I left, I will be returning to New Jersey. And so very not long after I became settled again in Montreal, I will be saying a final adieu to the city and the people I love here.

The night I broke the news was filled with relief, quiet excitement, and a very successful dinner. As the apprehensions of actually leaving begin to sneak into my consciousness I'm wishing that every night would be so lovely and easy.

Penne with White Beans and Sage

I owe the pureness of this meal to my grocery shopping boycott. Trying to save money, I hadn't gone in about a week, and refused to once I learned that I would be leaving town shortly. The result, you see, was serendipitous. Concerned the dish would be plain, I overcompensated with olive oil. Adding glug after glug of olive oil until the beans seemed right, I didn't actually measure the amounts. Because the ingredients are few it's important to use quality; you will taste every one. I had sage leftover from the butternut squash risotto, and I found it to be particularly appropriate, but a number of fresh herbs could also do the trick.

2 cans white beans
about 1/4 c - 1/2 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 branches of sage leaves, chopped, about 4 tbsp
1 lb penne rigatoni pasta
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan

Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Meanwhile, chop the sage leaves, twisting a bunch together and slicing thinly, and mince the garlic. Drain and rinse the beans.

Heat a large frying pan over low heat. When hot add a few drizzles of olive oil, enough to generously coat the pan, and then the beans, stirring to coat all well in oil. In a minute or so add the garlic and sage, mixing well. Keep the mixture heating over low heat, adding olive oil in drizzles occasionally until the beans are hot and flavorful, and the mixture has become slightly thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta when it has cooked. Return it to its cooking pan and drizzle with olive oil or melt 1tbs butter to coat lightly.

Serve in a shallow bowl, adding pasta, then a generous spoonful or two of the bean mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil and serve sprinkled with Parmesan to taste.

Serves 3 -4.