JAY When's the latest time you were out there?
SAM (trying to remember) Seventy... eight.
JAY Well. Things are different. First, you have to be friends. You have to like each other. Then you neck. This can go on for years. Then you have tests. Then you get to do it with a condom. The good news is, split the check.
SAM I don't think it could let a woman pay for dinner.
JAY Great. They'll have a parade in your honor. You'll be Man of the Year in Seattle Magazine. Tira misu.
SAM What's tira misu?
JAY You'll find out.
SAM What is it?
JAY You'll see.
SAM Some woman is going to want me to do it to her and I'm not going to know what it is.
JAY You'll like it.
SAM (grimly) This is going to be tougher than I thought.
I mentioned once that I like things Italian (food, music, shoes, biscotties, limoncello, amaretto, sambucca). Manolo's recent post about the Tiramisu reminded me of this simple, uncomplicated and luscious dessert, made of ingredients that have absolutely no quarrel with each other. Not just the coffee, or the nutty flavour of Italian soft cheese (robustly tastable even in the low fat ricotta), or the cream, but allso in the associations that come with this dessert: the fairly uncomplicated city of Seattle which served as the very fitting background for one of my most favourite, uncomplicated, romantic comedies: Sleepless in Seattle. When I stayed in Seattle for a few days some time ago, my cabdrive would inevitably go along the lake, the driver would gesture with uncomplicated pride; This is where they made "Sleepless in Seattle". There, you see, is a floating houseboat, the kind you see in the movie. A couple of friends who showed me around the city reassured me that the floating houses were actually securely anchored and unlikely to shift or drift away in case of a gale-power storm.
Here is my recipe for a simple, uncomplicated, low fat Tiramisu
which I had developed for the sake of my friend Sue:
1 angel food cake mix
1 pound of Low fat, fresh, ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence
I cup Splenda sugar substitute + one tablespoon sugar
1 cup cold strong espresso coffee
Rum, coffee liqueur, amaretto or cognac*, each or all together
half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
cocoa powder or grated chocolate
Half a cup of Half and half cream
Prepare angel food cake, substituting coffee for the water they recommend in the preparation instructions.
Divide batter into two small cake tins. Bake. Chill.
Prepare cheese filling by mixing cheese, cinnamon, half and half, splenda, sugar, vanilla essence
Douse the two cake layers with the alcohol of your choice. Be generous but be careful not to over-saturate the cake.
Assemble the cake: one layer of cake, spoon half the cheese mixture, place the second layer of cake, cover with the rest of the cheese mixture. Lightly sift cocoa powder over the spread cheese mixture. Or carefully scatter the grated chocolate over it (or do both, if you wish to make it a bit extra rich). Place in the fridge for 6 hours at least, to allow all the flavours to blend in.
Since it is a low fat cake I don't recommend serving it with whipped cream except for the very thin among your guests or family members (my husband and son qualify but they don't like tiramisu) or those who answer yes when you enquire whether they would like the additional, and in my opinion, gratuitous, calories. The cake is so good it can stare down even Mr. Henry's super-rich recipe.
*Cognac, btw, goes very nicely in cakes that incorporate ground nuts in them, like peanuts, hazelnuts, or allnuts. I'll try to find the recipe I have for it. Learned it from my mother, whose cakes have never been great except this one which she made with peanuts (since wallnuts were quite beyond our budget in those days. She used to make baklava and tishpishti with peanuts, for the same reason).
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Thursday, July 05, 2007