Thursday, May 1, 2014

MoonPie's Tiramisu

Today is La Fête du Travail or Labor Day in France.  It is always on May 1.  So while the French girls have the day off, I will be travaille-ing in here in Durham.  Actually, they have two weeks off (to recover from their stay here??), but other Frenchies have today off and then they will faire le pont or make the bridge by taking Friday off, too.  I am hanging on until June 6 when the year officially ends for me.

May 1 is also the day to give lilies of the valley to your sweetie.

photo from

My grandmother loved these flowers and grew them behind her house.  She also wore perfume made from them.  I quizzed my students today by showing them a picture of these beautiful little flowers, but not one single 7th or 8th grader knew what they were.  A couple of them even guessed tulips or buttercups.  They simply must get out more often.

Why do the French offer these flowers to their loved ones on May 1?  According to my source, the website 1jour1actu, Charles IX started the tradition in 1561 by offering a sprig of the bell-shaped flowers to all the ladies of the court.  Beware-- don't eat them.  They are poisonous.  One 8th grade boy knew that, even if he didn't know the name of the plant.

What would taste good on May 1?  Something with fresh vegetables.  No muguet mixed in.  How about risotto with asparagus?  While on the subject of fresh asparagus... IronWoman invited La Brune, Mlle de Tavel, MoonPie, the Ex-Ex and I over for dinner while the Frenchies were here.  Wow.  Kir royale (crème de cassis and sparkling white -- champagne, par exemple) for apéritif.

Fresh goat cheese with fig jam (MoonPie brought that to IronWoman and she shared it with us!)

IronWoman's hubby being entertained by Mlle de Tavel's adventures in English...

Grilled steaks and scallops, along with oven baked baby asparagus and onions.

We had two desserts, mousse au chocolat (honestly the best we've ever made, or at least that I've helped make- light and really fluffy) and MoonPie's tiramisu.  I am not sure I got the story straight about how she has such a great recipe... Italian relatives?  In-laws?  It doesn't really matter.  She calls it une recette presque française-- an almost French recipe.

She has been dubbed MoonPie because she bought a huge box of them one of her first days here. IronWoman's husband thought it was hilarious that this French woman would buy those things to take home to the land of croissants and macarons.  Go figure.

We had great fun while they were here.  My house is eerily quiet without my two guests upstairs.  The cats are lost without La Brune.  And I am back to thinking up what to serve for dinner without their input.  All good things must come to an end, so they say.

We played a game after dinner.  Cards Against Humanity.  Well, we didn't really play it.  We just read funny answers out loud to each other.  To test the girls' English.

I haven't made this recipe myself yet, but I ate my fair share of it.  MoonPie wrote down the recipe for us. Tiramisu literally means pick me up, pull me up, lift me up in Italian.  This dessert will do it for you. Trust me.  Make it yourself.  Not as complicated as I thought!

MoonPie's Tiramisu

Cocoa powder
3 eggs
6 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 jar of mascarpone
1 or 2 boxes of boudoirs (also called biscuits à la cuillère-- she found them at Harris Teeter in the fruit section, not with the cookies or imported stuff; the closest we have to this is ladyfingers, sponge-cake like cookies)
1 c. warm brewed coffee
White sugar
Some alcohol (marsala is best, but amaretto or rum will be fine also)

Put the sugar in a bowl.
Separate the eggs.  Put the yellows in the bowl with the sugar and the whites in another bowl with a pinch of sugar.
Beat the yellows and the sugar until it turns light yellow.
Put the mascarpone in and stir.
Whip the egg whites and salt until it looks like mousse.
Add the whites to the yellow-sugar mixture and stir very cautiously.  Fold in gently.
Add 2 tsp. of alcohol.  Stir.  Again, gently.
Add some sugar to the coffee, along with 1 tsp of alcohol.
Dip the boudoirs in the coffee briefly and arrange them in a dish.
When one level of boudoirs is complete, put the mousse mixture on top so that the boudoirs are covered.
Make another layer of boudoirs (reheat the coffee, if necessary- it needs to be warm).  This layer can be wetter than the first- so that they seem to float on the mousse.  Cover with the mousse mixture.
Put the whole dish in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving.
Just before serving, add the cocoa powder to the top.
It's ready.  Enjoy!

Bon appétit, Bonnes vacances, Bonne Fête du Travail, and Happy May 1st to all!

No comments: