Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Maple-Pecan Cookie Recipe
The final leg of our tour was Geneva, Switzerland, a place with which I have a love-hate relationship. On the positive side for Geneva is a cool lake for summer swimming, and, after a eucalyptus sauna at Les Bains de Pâquis, for winter cold-plunging. On clear days, visible snowy-peaked mountains hover in the distance, and give Geneva a ski-resort feeling, enlarge the small town, and illustrate that there is a world beyond its confining borders. There’s a fantastic women's consignment shop, where the rich wives of the city’s bankers discard their gently worn designer garments, and where, in 2002, I purchased a gorgeous pair of high-heeled slouchy red leather boots for a mere thirty dollars that I still wear. I love a few food-related spots here: an Italian trattoria that may serve the most flavorful Italian food I’ve eaten outside of Italy, a dingy but amazing Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant, and a grocery store, Manor, where one can find all the fresh seafood available, an abundance of French and Swiss cheeses, and, for an American, luxury items like duck tenderloins, champagne, and decadent chocolates in every form. And there’s even a cafe on the upper floor with a view of those lovely Alps.
These things about Geneva I will miss, and I am even a little sad knowing that I will not create new memories in these places with my Swiss-from-Geneva soon-to-be-ex-husband. It was a challenging end of our tour, with him there, performing with us, his presence reminding me of our time together in that city, but I was surrounded by wonderful friends, also dancing in the project, and they kept me laughing, and helped me to make it through the few days without suffering a meltdown of women-in-dramatic-French-films magnitude, and with a bellyful of foie gras and fresh oysters to boot.
Our participation was requested in one of the events planned in Geneva: a debate concerning the legacy plan for Merce Cunningham, and whether the dance company should fold, as planned, after a two-year world tour, or continue. We had a show the previous night, so it was difficult to wake up and bare the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures to head to Carouge, one of the only architecturally charming sections of Geneva, but, after our talk, we were encouraged when we noticed platter after platter full of oysters waiting for us, along with tiny toasts topped with homemade foie gras, and cheese plates that included Gruyère, the Queen of Swiss cheese (perhaps of all cheese, in my opinion), and a perfumy one with black truffles embedded near the rind.
We drank a Sicilian white wine, freed the oysters from their shells with forks, and sucked them down, one after the other, a few drops of lemon the only ingredient necessary to create a delicate meal in a mouthful. These Prat ar Coum oysters grown by Yvon Madec in the north of Bretange may be the perfect oysters. They are cultivated in a place called Abers where the sweet water of the river meets the sea, an area that is dry in low tide. A balanced combination of American East Coast oyster brinyness with French oyster cucumber/watermelon flavor, they exuded sensual subtlety as well as the magnetic pull of the sea.
Cheerful and corpulent, Francis Tressens, the oyster man, is known all over town as a seafood connoisseur; he also cultivates his own biodynamic garden, and is familiar with all the hidden gem restaurants in Geneva. Wanting to retire from years of restaurant work, but still very passionate about food, he sometimes teams with Emmanuel Delaby, a young and talented chef, the maker of that foie gras, and the chef de cuisine at Flux Laboratory, the art gallery that hosted us.
Unable to resist, I bought some of Emmanuel’s Sauternes infused foie gras to take home to my parents and sister for Christmas. I love knowing the person attached to the hands that make or cultivate my food, and when I eat delectable bites of this rare treat over the holidays, accompanied by a glass of champagne, and surrounded by family, I’ll remember the good things about Geneva. Bad thoughts be banished; I’ll be dreaming foie gras induced dreams of oysters disguised as dancing sugar plums. Sugar plum oyster dreams, foie gras, champagne, and good family; what more does a girl need? Happy holidays, everyone; I hope that you all feel as fortunate as I do, challenging times or not.
This recipe is a variation on John Cage Cookies, and comes to me courtesy of Laura Kuhn, director of the John Cage Trust. It was created by the Dia Beacon kitchen staff, who, in early 2009, participated with the John Cage Trust and transformed their cafe into a macrobiotic eatery.
1 1/4 cup ground pecans
1 cup ground oats
1/2 cup whole oats
1/2 cup white spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
16 or so pecan halves
Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together. Mix both together. Roll into small balls and press a pecan half into each. Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 13 minutes.
Note from Banu: I usually make my cookies a little large, and therefore increase the cooking time by a few minutes.
Similar recipes from A Hungry Bear Won't Dance: Raspberry and Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins Recipe, John Cage Cookies Recipe, Sweet Potato-Pecan Drop Biscuits Recipe