The holidays lend themselves to Projects, with a capital P..…writing greeting cards, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, tracing your hand and transforming the outline into a turkey. They are fun, yet seemingly productive tasks and I’ve always found the nature of this self-inflicted work to be immensely satisfying. So much so, that it is not unusual for the occasional onlooker to point out my undertakings as a bit “neurotic.” To this, I say, “Me? Neurotic? Pish Posh!…. Now, where did I put the tacky glue?”
This love for projects is not a new development. It’s an inherent part of my being. A firmly established component in my biological code. One Thanksgiving, when I was about seven or eight, I even embarked on the project to create a proper mascot for the holiday. In Santa Clause fashion, I grabbed a sack, filled it with gifts and spent two entire afternoons making a Turkey costume for myself out of construction paper. I proceeded to attend dinner in my new getup, hoping that the concept of a Thanksgiving, gift-giving, Turkey character might catch on.
While I no longer sport the tail-feathers and tights, the holiday season still provides motivation to embark on even more projects than usual, even when they are not at all holiday related. The smell of productivity and pine is simply in the air.
This is when being a part of the food community becomes dangerous. These people are FULL of projects and I’m beginning to think I might fit right in. There are constantly contests and competitions held by companies, promoting the use of their products. While, I’ve never been inclined to participate before, (I don’t truly expect to ever win anything) there has been anxiety-causing shortage of projects in my life ever since I moved and started a new job. So, I jumped onboard the contest bus for the simple opportunity of the venture itself.
The challenge involved using at least three of the company’s products to create one verrine (a fancy name for a shot-glass portion of parfait), one tart and one plated dessert. So, turkey costume style, I shut myself in my room for two afternoons and fashioned a couple recipes. So, here is my weekend project……
The first (The Verrine) is a chocolate/pear mousse layered with vanilla-pear gelée, ginger-almond cookie crumble and topped with white chocolate whipped cream.
The second (The Tart) is a dark chocolate shell, lined with sweet pistachio paste and filled with rosewater custard, served with a lemon coulis. (Had I a dehydrator, or foresight, I would also serve this with a candied rose pedal)
….By the third, I began to lose my gusto. I’ve found that when one starts to lose their gusto in Dessert World, they turn to Panna Cotta. My definition of Panna Cotta is milk Jell-O pretending to be a fancy custard….still this is what I made, although I didn’t love it enough to takes its picture….
The third (The Plated Dessert) is a duo of dark chocolate panna cotta and nutmeg spiced rum panna cotta paired with coconut joconde cake and pineapple compote.
Now that my recipes are submitted and the reclusive, yet satisfying, weekend of project-ing has come to an end, I am already looking forward to find my next endeavor, the next egg to crack, and the next dessert to eat.