Monday, May 28, 2012

 We started the morning yesterday by making tart dough and setting it to chill. Or, she did, I should say. All I did was dictate instructions. She carried out every single step from slicing butter to setting up a bowl of icewater and carefully adding a tablespoon at a time to the food processor. She even gathered the dough into a ball, wrapped it, and set it in the fridge. Tart dough by Q!
I think she misses school. She needs things to learn, things to accomplish.
 After she and daddy went off to the river to cool off the dogs, I set to work  on the cake I'd been yearning to make, a Persian love cake that I fell in love with on Marie-France Thorisson's site, Manger.
Let me just say that there is something extremely satisfying about making a cake from scratch. Separating the eggs always reminds me of childhood (my grandmother always made her mayonnaise from scratch). And the brilliant yellow of organic egg yolks is one of the wonders of nature.
For this cake, the airiness of stiff-whipped eggwhites folded gently into the dough is essential to the ephemeral nature of the cake.
 Once the rest of the family returned, Mike set to work adorning Q's tart dough with layers of Cabrales blue, baby arugula and sauteed onions.
 Meanwhile I set the Moroccan saffron threads to steep in heavy cream, and began the hard labor of hand-whipping cream and confectioner's sugar into frosting.
 During this process, as you can see, I became fascinated by the beauty of the elements. I mean, just look! It's like a painting. I don't know how long it's been since I whipped anything by hand, but I have to say, it has its gratifying qualities!
 Chocolate mint and pink roses from the garden for garnish.
Mike's savory tarts came out of the oven smelling heavenly.
 And my Persian love cake? I changed a few elements about it, substituted candied violets for candied rose petals, added chocolate mint and a grating of lemon rind across the top.
 I was more than a little nervous, since this was the first time I'd tried this recipe, but the result was a revelation. The cardamom in the cake, the rosewater and saffron in the icing, the pistachios...the result of this combination of flavors is like a sonnet in the mouth. Truly a recipe not to be missed.
 And all this preparation? For an artists' garden party at our friend Sandy's house in Boulder.
 Q's punk face, rocking out to music in the car on the way up the Boulder turnpike.
 I actually lived in this beautiful house under the Flatirons when I first moved to Colorado. I was recently divorced and feeling rather lost,  trying to find a place to live in the mountains. Sandra Bierman, a wonderful artist, had been a friend of my mother's in Woodstock before she and her husband moved to Boulder, and although I didn't know her at the time, she was kind enough to put me up, feed me, and introduce me to the neighborhood while I got myself back on my feet. I still remember this house with its gracious kitchen, its lovely, peaceful balcony, with such fondness.
 So it was nice to bring my family back for one of Sandy's gorgeous parties. Sandy is such a consummate hostess. The potluck spread was extravagant, organic, and superb. I think everyone who came put in as much time as we did with their dishes.
 Sandy and me.
 The banjo player was a dead ringer for Zack Galifianakis. Actually it might have been Zack Galifianakis ;)
 Q was instantly enamored with Sandy, and spent much the afternoon following her around, calling for her, leading her by the hand, and generally interrupting her hostess duties.
 Q had been determined to enter the "silly hat contest"...
 ...and overcame her stage fright to stand up there with the grownups and wait for judging.
 Lucky for her, she won "most creative hat"!
 The gorgeousness of Arapaho Avenue by the foothills - such a beautiful part of a beautiful city.
I do miss Boulder sometimes!


  1. Hi Maia I just saw your post how lovely! Your persian love cake is so beautiful and your party looked like so much fun! You are all glowing with happiness especially Q! I love Boulder, I've been there a few times - it's such a fantastic place. Love from Médoc! mfxx

  2. A fitting cake for this gorgeous setting. Congratulations Ms.Q on winning the hat contest!