Tuesday, April 3, 2012

From Passover to Kitchen Disasters

This post veers from left to right and backwards and forward, so bear with me.

Some friends invited us to their Seder this Friday and I am so excited, this is my second Seder in 15 years and I love them. I don't follow any particular religion, but I enjoy learning about other religions and wouldn't mind it if my kids gleaned something from these experiences because they won't be getting anything from me, sadly.

While our friends are very open and honest about the fact that they are a bit lazy when it comes to the details (the husband is Jewish and the wife is Catholic), they still want their children to appreciate the meaning behind the holiday.

I wanted to bring a dish that was appropriate as well as kid friendly and I immediately thought to ask Jenny Rosenstrach if she had any dish suggestions. She was kind enough to send this one to me.

We meet again, Toffee

Pretty, right? Well, I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat when I saw it... and not in a good way. I have a PTSD thing going on with making toffee after a pretty disastrous attempt on my behalf about 15 years ago - the same year as my first Seder. Whoa! This idea is sounding bad already - do you think history can repeat itself? 

Fifteen years ago a work colleague asked if I would cat sit for her while she and her husband traveled to New York for the holidays. They owned a beautiful flat in Nob Hill which featured a newly remodeled kitchen. Coming from my dinky two bedroom apartment that I shared with a roommate in the Richmond District, this place was like the Taj Mahal. But then when I saw the kitchen, the Rolodex in my head started to spin with recipes that I just had to make in that kitchen.

Their kitchen featured a new wooden floor, a Viking stove, gorgeous gray marble countertops with brand new appliances from their recent wedding. I am pretty sure the tags has been taken off the stove about three weeks prior to my arrival. After they left for their flight, I pulled out my a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that I brought with me and decided to make chocolate toffee for Christmas presents. I imagined myself wearing a clean white apron, bopping along to music on the stereo while happily bagging treats all day. I had plans that night to meet some friends at the Red Room (RIP).

As I read through the recipe, I realized that I didn't have a candy thermometer. "Meh," I thought, "It doesn't seem like that big of a big deal. Rather fussy if you ask me," I said to myself. I knew how to bake for god's sake, so making candy seemed the same. I mean, how hard could it be, really?

I got to work and as the sugar started to boil, I watched it like a hawk trying to figure out what they meant by the color description "Honey Amber." It went from the color of honey to dark brown so fast that I grabbed an oven mitt and the pan and poured the boiling sugar onto a buttered cookie sheet that I had placed on the counter. The heat from the toffee warped the cookie sheet and it tipped over onto the new stove and quickly oozed its way into the burners and down the new cabinets, spilling onto the new floor. I freaked out and  screamed dropped the pan of boiling sugar and it crashed to the floor, splattering burnt sugar all over the kitchen (fortunately I was spared). I didn't need a candy thermometer to know that the sugar had hit the hard ball stage by the time it reached the floor because I could not get it off.

Sobbing from this potentially expensive mistake, I started soaking some of their beautiful new dishtowels from their wedding in hot water and slowly sponged the toffee off bit by bit. I spent the next six hours working my way around the kitchen, picking, sponging and pulling toffee out of areas I didn't know it could reach - under the fridge, behind the toaster, inside the stove burners, it was everywhere! After that I ordered take out and cancelled plans with my friends at the Red Room. I just sat there, stunned from the days events and watched the cat and counted the hours till they came home. Fortunately the only items I had to replace were the pot, the cookie sheet and some dishtowels.

Needless to say toffee and I don't have a good relationship.

In case I have a panic attack prior to making the matzo toffee, I offered to make Matzo s'mores as well. Surely I'll win Dinner Guest of the Year if I bring fire, sharp pointy sticks and gooey marshmallows for small children to play with. I can just see our invitation being revoked for next year.

For Easter we are sticking to the favorites: Baked ham, asparagus, rolls and deviled eggs. Who says I am not a stickler for traditions?

No comments:

Post a Comment