Monday, February 21, 2005


Dried Plums with Cognac and Walnuts

Last night, I was out with my adorable (boy who is a) friend when we were stopped from entering a bar because I (yes, I know this is silly), didn’t have any ID. In lieu of my having proof I am not 20 or younger I was asked trivia questions presumably designed to determine my age (in retrospect, what would have worked best would have been for me to have said “If you want to discuss trivia, I’ll be inside.”) Well dear reader, in case you are ever in Silverlake, and find yourself face to face with the trivia obsessed bouncer at 4100 Bar, here is the answer key: Dynamite was invented by Nobel, Samuel Beckett was never James Joyce’s secretary, Walter Mondale was the VP under Carter (who was President when I was THREE…exactly how does knowing this prove I am legal to drink?) And Brandy is a liquor distilled from wine or other fruit juices, that is aged in wood. Cognac is a type of brandy made in western France, while Armagnac is type of brandy from Gascony. Now, speaking of cognac, here is a recipe from my amazing cousin Claudia who makes these every year for the holidays and lights up my world.

3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons honey
30 Dried Plums
30 walnut halves
¼ cup Cognac

Melt the butter in a pan over low heat, when melted add the honey and stir until it is incorporated. Add the walnuts to this mixture and stir to coat. Remove from the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile, make a small incision in the dried plum (aka Prune), big enough to fit the walnut piece. When the walnuts are cool, stuff the dried plums with the walnuts. In a shallow container, with a lid, layer the dried plums and add the cognac. Allow the mixture to sit in the fridge for 4 days, stir daily. Serve at room temperature.

In 2001 The Food and Drug Administration granted the California Prune Board permission

to use "dried plums" as an alternative name to "prunes." The CPB requested the name change
after research showed that the name "dried plum" offers a more positive connotation than "prune."

The name "brandy" comes from the Dutch brandewijn , meaning "burned (distilled) wine."

Since Laura Bush fired 11-year White House chef Walter Scheib earlier this month, his replacement

has been sought under the kind of secrecy accorded Cabinet appointments or Oval Office scandals.
Scheib, hired from the Greenbriar resort in West Virginia by Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1991,
brought modern American cooking to the White House after a long reign of French cuisine initiated
by the Kennedys. He survived the first Bush term but not the second. Pastry chef Roland Mesnier
was replaced last year. Scheib told the New York Times that his sin was failing to "satisfy the
first lady's stylistic requirements." - NYTimes

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