TIRAMISU

IMG_5073I found this pretty shell at an estate sale.  Like rock collections, I often see shells and coral at estate sales.  The first thing I am naturally inclined to do when I come across a shell like this, is pick it up and listen for the ocean.

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This week, however, I don’t hear the sound of the ocean when I listen — I hear the sound of people screaming about sharks in the vicinity.  That’s right — it’s Shark Week, right on the heels of Sharknado 2.  Although Shark Week has been featured since 1988, I only learned about it a few years ago.  I was sitting (i.e., propped up trying to stay awake) in a “Women’s Initiative” meeting at my prior law firm, and we were planning a luncheon, when someone piped up that our proposed date fell during Shark Week.  Huh?  Well, it turns out that Shark Week was much more interesting than anything we were discussing at the Women’s Initiative meeting, the initiative apparently being to bore each other to death.  In fact, my friend and I used to sit there emailing each other during the meetings, things like “Do you want to phone in a bomb scare or should I?”

Shark Week is an annual week-long feature on the Discovery Channel, showcasing shark-based programming, and usually runs in July or August.  According to Wikipedia, it is the “longest-running cable television programming event in history,” and is broadcast in more than 70 countries.

Here’s a shark fact for you — Do you know why sharks won’t attack lawyers? Professional courtesy.

lawyershark

Thinking of getting one of these for my shingle

So what to serve for Shark Week?  Well, the interwebs is full of cute ideas for shark cupcakes, like these:

shark cupcake 1

SugarLandCupcakes.com

Shark cupcakes 2

 mimicafeunion at etsy.com

Shark cupcake 3

ninerbakes.com

shark cupcakes 4

 The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, found at iheartnaptime.com

Or how about a shark watermelon?

Shark watermelon

 National Watermelon Promotion Board

As for me, inspired by my pretty shell and the close relationship between sharks and lawyers, I’m serving the favorite dessert of lawyers — Tira-me-sue!  Not funny?  So sue me!  This recipe is adapted from one from Gourmet magazine (sniff).  Although the recipe is pretty easy to put together, it is a little time-consuming.  Based on the comments to the recipe, I made it in an 8×8-inch pan, and had a little left over which was just right for an individual portion for a baby shark.  I added a chocolate shark fin, just for Shark Week.  :)

TIRAMISU
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Recipe type: Desserts
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups freshly-brewed espresso (or 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 cups boiling water)
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlua or Tia Maria (coffee liqueur)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup dry Marsala
  • 1 pound mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 24 crisp ladyfingers (also known as savoiardi)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  • Dark chocolate, for grating over tiramisu (optional)
Instructions
  1. Stir together espresso, 1 tablespoon sugar, and coffee liqueur in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining ½ cup sugar, using a whisk or handheld electric mixer. Beat until tripled in volume, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in mascarpone with electric mixer, beating just until smooth.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat cream with electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks. (Be careful not to overbeat to the point where it turns into butter!)
  4. Gently fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream, until thoroughly combined.
  5. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of each ladyfinger generously with coffee mixture (without allowing them to become too soggy). Line the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking pan with 12 ladyfingers, trimming edges to fit as necessary. Spread half of the mascarpone filling on top, smoothing with an offset spatula. Repeat with remaining 12 ladyfingers and mascarpone filling.
  6. Place cocoa powder in a mesh sieve, and sprinkle cocoa powder over top layer of mascarpone filling. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  7. Allow tiramisu to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, dust with additional cocoa powder, and sprinkle with grated chocolate. Cut into individual portions and serve.

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Beat egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala over simmering water

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Fold in mascarpone

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Beat cream until it holds stiff peaks

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Fold together whipped cream and mascarpone mixture

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Layer coffee-soaked ladyfingers alternately with mascarpone cream

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Dust with cocoa powder

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Shark Week dessert!

CINNAMON APPLE CRISP

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I found this piece of petrified wood – a tree that has completely turned to stone — among the specimens in a rock collection at an estate sale.  I often run across rock and shell collections at these sales, and occasionally come home with one or two.  They’re the kind of thing that when you see them sitting out, you’re practically compelled to pick them up and study them, turning them over in your hand, marveling at their markings.

What are you petrified of?  I confess that I am a little scared of technology.  OK, a lot scared.  It involves a language I don’t always understand, and changes faster than I can master it.  I recently had to face my worst technology-related fear — pomumphobia, or fear of the Apple Store (“pomum” meaning apple in Latin, and do I really have to tell you what phobia means?).  It began when I received an iPad for Christmas.  A few days later, we went to the AT&T Store to get a SIM card activated so that I could use the iPad even when I did not have access to wi-fi (if I’m using any technology-related words incorrectly, just roll your eyes, snicker, and move on).  The very enthusiastic and extremely annoying AT&T salesperson told me it would cost an additional $50/month to add it to my existing service.  So let’s see . . . that comes out to $600/year to play Scrabble and check Facebook and eBay on my shiny new toy?  No thank you. But wait, she said — let’s explore the options.  She then undertook an elaborate shell game, whereby I would only have to pay an additional $20/month, but of course, there was a multi-year contract involved, and then, of course, the “activation fee,” and oh, I’d have to give up the unlimited data on some of our family’s devices, and I’d have to perform 200 hours of community service, and bake a pan of brownies with a blindfold on.  After it was all said and done, it cost me $347 to have the privilege of only paying an additional $20/month.  It was worth it, though, if it would get me out of the AT&T store.  But noooooooo — after all that, she could not get a SIM card to work in my brand new iPad. After trying 3 different cards, she concluded that it was a problem with the iPad, and told me to take it to the Apple Store.  OK, that was fun.

So I made an appointment for the “Genius Bar” at the Apple Store.  Make no mistake — it’s called the Genius Bar to make sure you understand that they know everything and you are, well, stupid.  I hate the Apple Store.  It’s for young, hip people, and I am neither.  I don’t need the whole glossy Apple Store — I just need a Shriveled Up Apple Core store for my limited needs.

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All hail the Apple Store 

It was hate at first sight between me and the “Genius” who drew the short straw and was assigned to me.  And I have to add that I believe “Genius” was a stretch.  Next time I’m asking to see a Mensa membership card.  She was young and smarmy and had weird thick cat-eye makeup and her hair done up in a Rosie-the-Riveter bandana thing, which she was not rocking.  She had two facial piercings, which meant I could not look at her directly, or I would gag.

My Genius advised me that she was going to have to “wipe” my iPad and reload the software, to determine if it really was not working.  I just stared at the iPad.  She said, “You’ve backed up your iPad, right?  I continued to just stare at the impotent device.  She tried again — “Have you backed your stuff up to the cloud?”  I sat there thinking “I’m going to back you up to the cloud, bitch.”  Since I’d only had the iPad a short while, there wasn’t a lot on it, and of course, I hadn’t backed anything up because I have no idea how to, so I told her to just go ahead and wipe the 6 pictures of my dog and 4 apps from the face of my iPad.

After wiping the iPad, my Genius confirmed that yes, it was in fact, broken, which–Miss Smarty Pants–I already knew. But the good news was that they would replace it . . . in 3 to 5 days.  This is where things pretty much broke down.  The iPad was two weeks old, fully covered under an Apple warranty, and I am sitting in the freaking Apple Store, where there are shelves full of brand new iPads that presumably work, and my Genius is telling me I cannot have one of those, but must return to the Apple Store (and spend another 30-40 minutes trying to find parking) in 3-5 days to pick up my “part” (that’s Applespeak for “we’ll give you what we want to give you, when we want to give it to you”) from the Genius Bar.  This, I informed her, made no sense. So she repeated that Apple was fully standing behind its warranty and would replace my iPad . . . in 3-5 days with a replacement “part” from the Genius Bar, not from the forbidden retail side of the store.  And then, in her most condescending voice, she said, “Now do you understand?” as if her brilliant explanation was so crystal clear that even a toddler could understand it.  I’m pretty sure this is the point at which I went off the rails.

So reinforcements were called in, who determined it was in everyone’s best interests just to give me a new iPad right then and there.  They even went so far as to get one from off of the forbidden retail shelf.  I could almost touch it.  But just as quickly as Apple was willing to giveth, Apple taketh away, and the reinforcements said they couldn’t do that because I didn’t buy it at the Apple Store, but from (gasp!) another retailer.  At this point, I surrendered in defeat.  I took the paper my Genius handed me that entitled me to come back in 3-5 days and get a replacement “part,” and went home.

I got an email a day or two later telling me my replacement “part” was ready for pickup.  As instructed, I handed my paper to the “man with the green iPad” who told me to have a seat and he would get someone to help me.  He started to point to the stools at the Genius Bar, and with tears welling up in my eyes, I begged him not to make me go back there. So he sat me down elsewhere, and got me someone of Above Average intelligence to help me instead.  The Above Average helper handed me a plain brown box wrapped in clear packaging tape with my replacement “part” in it.  I asked him if this was a new iPad, like the two-week old broken one it was replacing, or if it was a refurbished one. He told me that I was “the first person that would be using it.” As lawyers say to evasive witnesses — OBJECTION, NONRESPONSIVE.  What the hell kind of Applespeak was that?  I didn’t have the energy to jack with him any further, and I was more than a little worried that if I went off the rails again they’d call security, so we turned it on, confirmed the SIM card worked, and I went home with my refurbished replacement part (my “Furby,” as I like to call it) that I would be the first person to use.

It’s times like this when something comforting is called for.  Inspired by the petrified wood and my pomumphobia, I made Cinnamon Apple Crisp.  You don’t need to be a Genius to make it.  As it bakes, it fills the house with the tantalizing aroma of cinnamon and apples, and it is so good warm out of the oven — comforting and familiar, and not at all scary.  It’s even better with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the warm crisp.  In the summer months, it is equally delicious with fresh peaches.

CINNAMON APPLE CRISP
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Recipe type: Desserts
Author:
Ingredients
For the apple filing:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3-1/2 lbs. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced (about 8-9 apples)
For the topping:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oats (I use Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats)
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss to coat. Transfer the apple mixture to a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, oats, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a coarse meal forms. Spread mixture evenly over apples. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until apples are tender and topping is golden, approximately 30 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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Cinnamon and brown sugar cling to the raw apple slices

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Warm from the oven, it’s irresistible

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Apple Crisp that you will be the first person to eat