Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bibbity Bobbity Boo or Treats For Evan!

In the time I worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I bore witness to the realization of more than 300 kids' heartfelt wishes. It's an intense experience- it changes a person, seeing someone's impossible wish materialize. Crazy ideas (like, I don't know, starting a chocolate company...) seem more tangible.

Last week, a wish of mine came true when I got to spend an intimate afternoon with one of my heros, Evan Kleiman of 'Good Food' on KCRW. If you've never heard of Good Food, its a local show about food--in every way imaginable, from foodie porn descriptions of the joys of cooking with lard, to insightful discussions of the social meaning of food. And Evan is the ever thoughtful host, always enthusiastic and gracious, knowledgeable but relatable, too. The woman knows her stuff. Her gnocchi, which I wept over at her restaurant Angeli Caffe, are the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. No lie. But on her show, she makes a point of having guests and experts with exceptional experiences and modest means, like people who make great meals in their tiny kitchens. Its inspiring.

This was just such an occasion! My dear friend Delilah Snell, visionary founder of the Road Less Traveled eco-store, Patchwork Indie Craft Fair, which is coming up on June 27, in Long Beach, the fabulous blog 'Project Small' and artisinal preserves company, Backyard In A Jar, taught a private canning class for Evan, and Good Food producer, Harriet. D (as I call her) is a Master Food Preserver with the soul of a mad scientist, and a tiny but lovely one bedroom apartment in Santa Ana. D asked me to come for the afternoon to help with the store, be an extra pair of hands...and because she's really my fairy god mother!

Here's D's post about the class. And here's my take on the thing- Evan is hilarious, sage, charming and real- she looks you in the eye, doesn't hesitate to give her opinion, yet offers a genuine respect to the expertise of others. And Harriet is darling- hard working, enthusiastic and self-deprecating. With a dream job.

So here's what I made for Harriet, Evan and her mamacita to take home with them: Browned Butter & White Sage Truffles with Salty Toasted Almonds, and Habanero Cointreau Truffles with Cocoa Rouge.

I used D's 'Fire' Jelly and her foraged 'White Sage' jelly as the jumping off point for these babies--I love making truffles with Delilah's preserves. Her flavors are always intriguing and complex plus the pectin in the jams, jellies and marmalades give the truffles' fluffy texture some fabulous body. And I know there's no weird chemicals or HFCS in them- they're as wholesome, local and fresh as it gets.

Of course I threw in some of my old stand-by's, too: Pistachio Cherry Chocolate with Sea Salt & Caramel (the vegan one, too!), Pine Nut Pistachio Brittle, and some Mendiants for good measure. Evan, who confessed that she's not usually one for chocolate, said that mine were some of the best she'd had! I'm taking her word for it.

In the true spirit of reciprocity that food inspires in us, Evan and Harriet sent me home with some of their creations, too.

Peach Habanero Jam. Basil Jelly. How dreamy.