There's nothing quite like a holiday show to give you the Christmas Spirit. Having just attended the delightful All Wrapped Up (where my friend, Lynn Paulson was the amazing music director - brag, brag - I'm not prejudiced - If you had a super-talented friend wouldn't you like to announce it - in print?). I was finally ready for Santa Baby and The Holly and the Ivy. What I wasn't ready for was Winter Wonderland and Let it Snow. (and I live in Minnesota - why?)
And after intermission - it snowed. Yes, only 3 inches. And yes, heavy, wet, greasy snow - the sort of snow that is stunning to look at - it coats all in a white-furred embrace and shimmers in the dusk. The sort of snow that gives a woman who has "driver's anxiety" even when not driving, even in the summer - pause.
A friend - Mark Paulson - Lynn's talented husband and /colleague/artist/all-around kind and fascinating person was driving. I do plan well around my anxieties! We had parked in a lot and when figuring out the payment for the day, the parking lot yelled at us to "stop loitering." Twice. Now, I grew up in New York City and a parking lot has never spoken to me - much less admonished me - twice. So, the day began with amusement - "the parking lot voice." And got better - with a show that charmed.
And then I got into my friend's Miata for the slippery drive home. If you know anything about Miatas - you know they are four inches off the ground. Three inches of snow expected. Four inches. Hmmm. Worrisome for someone with car/snow-phobia.
Yes, we got home. Yes, Mark told me amusing stories (hitching a ride in Glacier park and getting in a truck with some armed-drunk-people and their 90 year-old mother who smoked all his cigarettes and came on to him when he was - all of nineteen). And more. Telling a playwright stories during an anxiety-ridden drive is ingenuous. My friend knows how to calm.
Once home, I thought about this.
Juliet's Kisses (Baci di Giulietta) Cookies
These cookies hail from - where else - Verona. And come Christmas, the bakeries in Verona are filled with them. But you don't have to celebrate Christmas to know that these tender, soft-crisp sandwich cookies laced with chocolate in the middle are meant to please - all. The recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma book Savoring Italy written by Michele Scicolone.
1 cup (8 ounces, 250 g) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (2 ounces, 60 g) confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar, icing sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rum (can be omitted - use 1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract if you prefer)
2 cups (10 ounces, 315 g) all-purpose flour
2 ounces (60 grams) semi-sweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter, confectioner's sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Then, beat in the rum (or extract). Stir in the flour 1/4 cup at a time and beat till well-blended. Cover and chill until firm. -about one hour.
Tear off 1 teaspoon of the dough at a time and form into a small ball. Place the balls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on baking sheet. Bake until firm - about 12 minutes (mine took 14 minutes - you want them to crisp - so a bit firm but not browned. And they will crisp as they cool. Taste to see - tasting is the fun part.) Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Place the chocolate and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the top of a double boiler. (You can try the microwave - if you are really good about not burning). When water in the bottom is simmering (and not touching the top), stir the chocolate and butter together until they combine. Remove top from boiler and set aside to cool a bit (until it is spreadable - 5-10 minutes).
Spread a small amount of chocolate on bottom of cookie (I put a small puddle in the center and that worked).
Place a cookie top on top - pressing it a bit to ooze the chocolate - until it is a sandwich and place it on the wire rack to set. Let cool on the wire rack (10-15 minutes).
Can store in an airtight container for a week (or in the fridge as I am doing!).
And so our oven is on, the heat is on, the Christmas lights are on and still there is a chill in the living room.
Oh! Pip-a-doo knows where all the vents are.
I am thrilled and humbled to announce that Under a Midsummer Moon has been selected as one of two plays to receive a grant by Playwrights in Our Schools to be developed in the winter of 2012. And where will it be developed? Park City, Utah. I skiied there. Before snow-phoia sent in. It snows a lot. Every day in fact. You have to smile.