Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah: A Guest Post for ‘Baking with Heritage’ at Food WanderingsApril 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Breads, Yeastspotting | 31 Comments
Tags: Baking with Heritage, Brown Butter, Challah, cinnamon, Food Wanderings, Vanilla Bean, Yeast
A few months ago, Shulie, from the beautiful blog, Food Wanderings, asked me to write a post for her Baking with Heritage series. I couldn’t have been more flattered, not to mention excited, since this would allow me to journey back to my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen, where she taught me to make challah from an old family recipe. This recipe was taught to her by her mother, who in turn learned it from her mother in Russia, who learned it from her mother in Russia. and so on and so forth - a precious family heirloom that is dear to my heart, and to me, the most perfect challah.
I rarely sway from this recipe, but in this case, my creative side overruled my traditional side, so this round, Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah Twist was born.
Before I link you to my post, along with the recipe, a few things I need to touch on, totally unrelated to challah, but I wanted to update you and failed to do so in my last post.
Tags: Asiago cheese, baking, broccoli rabe, Dough, garlic, mozzarella cheese, Prosciutto, provolobe cheese, rapini, Roasted red Peppers, stromboli, Yeast
One of my favorite sandwiches in the world is prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers or in Jersey Italian – prah-joot, mootz-ar-ell and peppuhs. When I was perusing through my assigned blog, Paulchen’s Blog?!, for this month’s Secret Recipe Club..I struckstromboli, and the first thing I thought of was how perfect one of my favorite sandwiches in the world would be wrapped up and baked as a stromboli. I kept wavering back and forth between the stromboli and these butterscotch brownies...because next to being a peanut butter freak..I’m a pretty heavy butterscotch user too.
In the end, I couldn’t stop thinking how melty and gooey would work well for this sandwich combination in a stromboli – so that was it..decision made. BUT, as I thought it over, I wanted more cheese…another cheese, like provolone…and definitely something green and garlicky to cut into all that rich, gooey cheese. Oh, and why not top it with yet another cheese ? Asiago, perhaps? OK, now we’ve got three cheeses, roasted red peppers and prosciutto. What about the green stuff?
Yes, I’m taking you through my actual thought process at the time.
I pondered it for a bit and then it came to me..broccoli rabe aka rapini! The slightly bitter and earthy undertones would be ideal and cut the richness of the cheese..especially sauteed in a little garlic and oil. I added some hot chili flakes to give it a kick..but that’s optional, since some don’t like food that makes their nose sweat.
Now..I don’t want you to confuse broccoli rabe with broccoli, because they are nothing alike. Broccoli is related to the cabbage family. Broccoli rabe is related to the turnip family, and it’s a leafy green with buds that resemble tiny heads of broccoli..hence the name broccoli rabe.
If you get a chance, pop on over to Paulchen’s Blog?! and check out all of her delicious goodies! To see what my fellow Group A SRC members chose from their assigned blogs, click on the blue frog below to see the gallery of links.
I’m also submitting this stromboli to this month’s #TwelveLoaves theme – cheese, hosted by Lora of Cake Duchess, Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Barbara of Creative Culinary and Yeastspotting hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast. I’m also going to submit this to Shelley’s BBD #53 -Swirly breads.
One more thing. I couldn’t get a melty, drippy, gooey cheesy photo because it was way too hot to handle (the encapsulated heat burned my fingers when I tried) and I was by myself when I made and photographed it. BUT, you should have seen all the cheesy goo dripping with each slice when I first cut it open gently, on the cutting board (It was so hot, it hurt!). It was almost seductive!
Three Cheese Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Broccoli Rabe Stromboli
Dough from Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno via Paulchen’s Blog
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 bunch of broccoli rabe washed and woody stems removed (If you don’t like broccoli rabe, use broccoli instead, blanching it first))
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
hot chili flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 or 3 large red bell peppers, roasted seeded, peeled - each one sliced flat, into 3 or 4 pieces, blotted dry
12 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
8 oz thinly sliced provolone cheese
Asiago or any Italian hard grating cheese
* If you don’t like broccoli rabe, use broccolini
1. Make the dough. Sprinkle yeast into 1 cup of tepid water in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in center and pour in dissolved yeast and the oil. Mix in flour from sides of well. Stir in reserved water, as needed, to form a soft, sticky dough.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, silky, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4. While dough is resting..roast your peppers and prepare the broccoli rabe. Cut the cleaned and trimmed bunch of broccoli rabe in half, then boil in two inches of salted water for about 3 to 4 minutes. Strain and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Strain again and blot dry. Heat the tablespoon of olive in a saute pan. Add the minced garlic and saute until soft but not browned. Add broccoli rabe a little at a time until wilted. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and add your desired amount of hot chili flakes, if using. Remove the rabe from the pan to a plate to cool.
5. Punch down the risen dough and place it on a floured board. Cover and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, to relax the gluten.
6. Roll the rested dough into a 14″ x 8″ rectangle. Cover with clean towel and let rest another 10 minutes.
7. Spread the mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, and broccoli rabe evenly over dough, layer by layer in the order listed.
8. Roll up the dough, starting at one of the shorter sides, but without rolling too tightly. Seal well.
9. Place on oiled baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Use a skewer or knife to pierce several holes through the dough all the way down to the baking sheet. Brush loaf with olive oil, them top with peels of asiago cheese (or any hard Italian grating cheese you prefer).
10. Bake at 400 degrees F for about an hour until golden brown. Let rest a few minutes before slicing.
Now to Part 16 of Bad Boy First Love. If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, Part 13B is HERE, Part 14A is HERE, Part 14B is HERE and Part 15 is HERE.
Nothing says I spent the night with my boyfriend more than walking through the door at 7:30 am, disheveled, when your parent’s know your flight landed on time the night before. Even though I was now considered an adult – the way they looked at me as they sat at the breakfast table with their coffee and the paper, still made me cringe like a 10-year old getting caught with one hand in the cookie jar before dinner.
I managed to spit out some BS before darting up to my room.
“We stopped at Dreamboat’s house so I could say hi to his family. I fell asleep on the couch”
I heard their disbelieving “Uh Huh’s” as I made my way up the stairs. Welcome home!
We were inseparable for the 4 days I had before I had to leave again, but it would only be one month until winter break, so I decided to break off the undefined ‘thing’ I had with hockey guy when I got back to school. I’d have a little over two weeks with Dreamboat in 4 weeks..and my love for him was stronger than ever..I didn’t want anyone else – ever again.
Easier said than done. As I looked into hockey guy’s sweet face and warm brown eyes the night I got back, after he welcomed me with a bear hug and kiss..I felt kind of sad. I liked him, but I didn’t want to lead him on..I was sure I going to marry Dreamboat. I told him that. He looked a tad pissed, but also slightly amused.
“You’ve only been here three months, Lisa…and you’re a kid. Making a life decision like that now, with years of college to go, is a little premature, don’t ya think?”
It was then I realized I was slowly splitting into two people. When home with Dreamboat, I was a starry-eyed teenager. At college, I had already cracked the teenage eggshell and was chipping away at adulthood – one eye and a foot peeking through the jagged edges. With hockey guy there were no intense butterflies, no walking on air, but there was a more mature kind of excitement – the kind of excitement where you get lost in a conversation and then turn a little gooey.
BUT..I stood my ground. Within two weeks..I sort of regretted it. I was back to ‘college Lisa’, where I had the uncanny ability to put Dreamboat on hold because he did not exist in my college world. I couldn’t even imagine him visiting because he didn’t fit into this other part of my life. I likened it to a lone palm tree thriving on Commonwealth Avenue in January.
I couldn’t completely understand these feelings, but somehow they made sense somewhere in my naïve and somewhat cockeyed view of life at the time.
The pull between me and hockey guy wasn’t going away anytime soon, and there were a few moments and stolen kisses when we ran into each other at various places, but I tried hard to keep those to a minimum.
I spent the rest of my freshman year studying, partying, hanging with my new friends, and packing on another 7 lbs – finally surrendering to buying some new clothes that would fit since I busted most of my zippers.
“Survival of the Fittest” What do you call the jeans in your closet without broken zippers, Alex?
It was the first time in my life clothes shopping was not fun.
When I arrived home for summer vacation, I was determined to whittle off the weight and spend as much time with Dreamboat as possible. He was no longer going to work on the pier because the job in North Jersey paid well, plus, at 21, he felt he had outgrown it. Naturally, I was happy about that.
I got a part-time job at a makeup boutique on the second floor of an upscale mall and I was floored when I was hired. A young woman, not much older than me.. who just worked there but was apparently given the authority to hire someone, asked if I knew how to do makeup and if I had ‘done’ makeup before. Sure!! On myself and my friends! But, a simple answer of ‘Yes’ nabbed me the job.
I was alone all the time..closing the boutique since I worked from 4 to 8 pm. Best job ever…especially since I had the whole day before work to spend at my friend’s pool. Barely anyone ever came up to the second floor because it was even more pricey than the first floor..so I talked on the phone to friends, lived on diet fudge soda, and avoided the escalator at all costs.. taking the stairs constantly in my quest to lose weight. My own little mall gym.
The whole time I worked there, only two people asked for makeovers. Since I had no experience doing it professionally, I ended up doing their makeup like I did my own. Thank god it was only two women because anyone who came in was going to look like me if they wanted a makeover. One asked for eyeshadow, which I didn’t wear. Umm..ok.
I grabbed some pink, blue, brown and green eyeshadow – glop, glop, glop on each lid, then blended all together with a brush, emulating what I saw makeup artists do. There – eyeshadow. She really liked it. I think she looked like a clown.
Those were the exciting nights.
After closing up..I’d push open the wide glass doors to the upper deck parking lot and there he was most nights..waiting in his car. We did a lot of fun things that summer, including a Springsteen concert..well sort of.
By that time, I’d dropped some of the weight, so I went shopping on a break and chose a pretty, pale pink, cotton sleeveless dress. Not the norm for a rock concert, but I was feeling great and was in the mood to dress up a little. Dreamboat told me I looked amazing …I blushed. The blush again. He could still make me blush and remained the only person who could do so.
Well, well, well.. much to my dismay, it turned out that Dreamboat and his friends didn’t have tickets to the concert. They planned to buy from scalpers. Springsteen playing in NJ? To many NJ natives..it’s almost a religious experience. Your chances of buying a ticket, even in a seat way up in the heavens, for less than the price of a small island…were about as great as wrestling an alligator and winning with nary a scratch.
So..we hung out in the parking lot, listening to the music blasting from the arena.
Another night in a damn parking lot.
The girl I was a year before would have been fine with that…simply because I was with him. The girl blossoming into adulthood, not so much.
I saw a door on the side of the arena open. I started walking toward it with a strange boost of confidence..not knowing where it led to, but knowing I had to walk through it. Dreamboat tried to stop me, but I ignored him. He started following me, asking over and over where I was going…but I kept walking without a response, only reaching back to grab his hand and pull him along with me.
To this day I can’t explain the feeling, but it was like I was being led by something not of this earth.
I walked right through the door, past security, past a lot of VIP suits. Nobody inside that door said a word as I kept walking, the music now deafening. Dreamboat was uttering all kinds of shit..like “You’re crazy, baby!”, but his eyes proved otherwise when we walked through a large, dark entrance with neon lights and screaming people..right into one of the aisles of the floor seats. Soon we were in the 4th row..standing in front of exactly two empty seats and Bruce.
Dreamboat couldn’t stop hugging and kissing me, beaming, yelling in my ear that he could not believe I did that..and was shocked that no one stopped us. At that moment, the roles were reversed – he was the starry-eyed kid and I was the confident adult. We got to enjoy the last hour of the show, eradicating the disappointment I felt when we first arrived and he told me neither he nor his friends had tickets.
I could have tried walking through that door 20 more times after that and I probably would have been stopped, but there was something magical and symbolic about that particular night The door was more than a pathway to Bruce Springsteen, it was a pathway to independence…leading for once, not following..and doing something I normally wouldn’t even think of doing.
When we got back to the parking lot, his friends were frantic, but not frantic enough to drop the amusing barbs..
“Where did youse two go? We thought Bruce kidnapped you”
I loved listening to Dreamboat tell them what I did, his eye sparkling..he was proud of me. I couldn’t help thinking – wow, he’s proud of me, but what I did was sorta criminal, wasn’t it? I stole an hour of Bruce Springsteen. Then again, the security guards didn’t do their job, right?
That was the excuse I used to dilute any feelings of wrong doing…not that I really cared.
Although I was still completely enamored with Dreamboat, I started to notice something that bugged me just a bit. I wanted conversation, conversation outside of lovey-dovey talk and trivial stuff, like..
“Sal bought me lunch today..nice guy. I had a hero with the works, it was awesome”
So, I’d start stretching out the conversation just to have a conversation.
“Was there capocollo on it? What kind of cheese? Oil and vinegar or garlic aioli?” TELL ME ABOUT EVERY COLD CUT ON THAT SANDWICH. OK, I never requested the latter, but it’s what I was thinking.
After too many moments where I would start chattering excitedly about something I saw on the news, a book I was reading, or something relating to a class I took in college, being cut short with a response from him along the lines of..
“Really? Wow, that’s great, baby”
“Sounds pretty cool”
“Oh, that’s too bad”
..I realized as much as I loved him, he just wasn’t a deep conversationalist. He wasn’t dumb by any stretch and in fact was extremely street smart, much more than many people I knew and know to this day, but the stuff I wanted to talk about just didn’t interest him.
Our relationship had always been a deep red, flawless, shiny apple to me, but now there was slight nick in it…almost invisible to the naked eye, but it was there if you looked closely. When he’d brush my hair back, caress my cheek and start kissing me – that nick would disappear…for the time being.
No relationship is perfect…and without nicks, they’d seem almost artificial, so I let it go and just accepted the fact that I’d never be discussing the congressional hearings on White Water or composers/books I loved, with him…..like I could with most of my friends at school and….hockey guy.
Hockey guy. Hmmm. I wondered how his summer was going?
My luxurious job ended unceremoniously one Monday in early August, and this is where I digress a little.
I came to work and the place was already gutted. Since there were just three of us who worked separate shifts by ourselves, and barely knew each other…the word hadn’t been passed on. The owner’s daughter – dressed to the nine’s, too much makeup, her light brown hair perfectly coiffed, and her husband..a kind of nondescript looking guy, were there packing up the merchandise. She had a major amount of chutzpah and a major amount of attitude.
“Oh, you must be one of three who works for us. Do me a favor and go down to the Chinese place in the food court and get us two orders of chicken lo mein..NO MSG.. and two large cokes”
Umm..no intro? No please? Did she even know my name? Well..I guess I was still her employee so I did what she asked, hating myself for kowtowing to her obnoxious demand.
They sat at what was once was the makeup counter..now just a U-shaped block of glass and steel, and ate while she continued to bark demands at me.
“Go in back and bring out the boxes I left by the bathroom”
“Oh, sweep the floor while you’re back there”
Yes, your highness…rude bitch, rather
Her husband didn’t say a word. He seemed a little afraid of her. I figured he was castrated on their wedding day.
When I finished, I came back up front. She waved me over “Hey, I have your commission” HEY?? I couldn’t ignore that one.
“MY name is LISA”
“OK, Lisa..whatever..here’s your commission”
She stuck the tip of a perfectly mauve lacquered nail on the edge of a five dollar bill, as if it was something repulsive, not worthy of touching her skin, and slid it toward me. It was wet. The bitch had spilled her soda on it.
Five bucks commission? Well, if they didn’t overcharge for their crap makeup, maybe some would have actually bought some of it, I thought as I took the bill and turned to leave. She didn’t deserve a thank you. She called me back with a condescending edge to her voice, as if to say “Hey, we’re not finished with you yet..we’re going to milk every drop of you as our employee, dry!”
“Help us carry some of this stuff out to the U-Haul we rented” she said, as she smoothed her overly sprayed hair with one hand to make sure there was not a strand out-of-place. I grabbed two bags and a box, walked to the U-Haul and threw them in. I was fuming. I heard her screechy voice as I walked to my car..
“If you want to use me as a reference for another job, call me”
I didn’t have her number, she didn’t offer it, and I didn’t care.
That night Dreamboat was treated to a huge serving of rage and potty mouth as I told him the story, still angry and completely disgusted with myself for not telling her where to shove her wet 5 dollar bill. He stroked my hair as I rambled on..his head against the seat, facing me..taking in all of my ire with a cute smile. He always enjoyed my feisty side. Suddenly his smile faded a bit and his eyes softened. I asked him what was wrong.
“My girl is all grown up” he said softly.
I didn’t get it. I looked at him quizzically.
“I dunno..you talk different, you say what’s on your mind a lot..I guess college changed you a little”
“Is that a bad thing?” I asked timidly
“Not at all, sweetheart..everyone has to grow up sometime”
He pulled me to him and started kissing me to signal the end of that conversation. As usual, I was putty in his arms and my horrid day evaporated into thin air.
Now that I was no longer part of the work force and he had a week vacation coming up.., he asked if I wanted to go down the shore. Of course I did, especially now that I’d lost the freshman 15 and then some. I was feeling pretty good..and he knew it, since I allowed him to touch my stomach again.
We had his parent’s shore house to ourselves because his younger brother was staying with his girlfriend house a few blocks away since her parents were away for a few weeks, and Pete also had a job back home and could only come down on weekends. His parents were visiting relatives in Maryland. No..it wasn’t perfect timing…he chose this particular week to take off because he knew the house would be empty.
Staying alone together at the house was thrilling at first..but within a few days it sort of felt like we were a little old married couple. We did a lot of ‘couple’ things with his friend Andy and his girlfriend who was now his fiancé.
“I could get used to this” he said one evening as we snuggled in front of the TV after they left.
It was weird being able to spend all day and night with him down the shore. I’d never spent prime time hours walking the boardwalk with him..or lazing on the beach for hours during the day with him. I found myself watching groups of girls a few years or less younger than me doing what I used to do with my friends – chattering away on a big beach blanket, or hurrying down the boardwalk at night..again chattering away..heading somewhere and extremely excited to get there.
I missed my friends being there with me. I wanted it to be like it used to be – as recently as one year before. I wanted the excitement of going to meet him or him coming to get me after work. I wanted to feel young again. I look back and laugh now – I was just about 19, but that week..I felt old.
We went to our special beach one night.. instinctively reaching for each other’s hand as we walked toward and along the shoreline in the moonlight. We talked about the night we reconnected and my almost face plant that ripped up my knee. He pulled me into the water..knee deep, recreating that first passionate kiss after being apart a year. My whole body melted as it did on that very special night… but this time tears started running down my face mid kiss. I was going back to school in two weeks, and I was going to miss him terribly..but there was a very unfamiliar feeling pulsing against the heartbreak.
I was kind of excited to get back to school.
“It’s going to harder letting you go this time, baby” he whispered in between kisses, wiping my tears
“I know” I whispered back..and left it at that.
How could I love someone so deeply but want to leave them? Even though this new feeling was small change compared to the sad range of emotions of leaving him again..it bothered me.
His brother, Pete, came down the following Friday. Saturday morning a car pulled up in front of Dreamboat’s shore house…beeping. I ran to the couch to peer out the window.
“Geeez,,you’re like the freakin’ dogs..running to the window when someone’s outside” I heard Dreamboat say as I kept my eye on the car..the car with a girl behind the wheel. There was a sudden silence behind me, so I looked back at them.
Dreamboat remained calm, but was looking at Pete firmly. Pete didn’t say a word – they had brain waves going on. Pete jumped up and ran outside..almost in a panic. I watched him lean down to the window and say something to the girl, then watch her drive away..making sure she was gone before making his way back into the house.
“Who was that?” I asked Dreamboat while still watching Pete walk toward the house.
“Just a friend of Pete’s” he answered nonchalantly
“Oh..ok” I answered, not believing him completely. I saw ‘the look’ he gave Pete..I knew him too well. The truth is..I didn’t want to know, just like he wouldn’t want to know about hockey guy.
Ignorance was bliss in this case..and ‘knowing’ would make me sick to my stomach.
One night back in North Jersey, two days before I was leaving for school, we sat in his car silently…looking at the Manhattan skyline..and each other. I saw his eyes glistening a little in the darkness. I reached over and rubbed my fingers around the side of one…I felt wetness, definitely tears. I hugged him, trying to kiss away those tears..but he pulled back a little.
“There’s something I need to tell you..I wasn’t honest with you about something” he said..his voice quivering..the first time I’d ever heard him sound like that..and the first time he didn’t try to hide the fact that he was crying.
NO NO NO, I thought..I don’t want to know!! I knew what he was going to say and I desperately wanted to plug my ears with cement.
“Don’t” I said, shooting daggers at him with my eyes..although my voice belied that anger via choking.
It was like he didn’t hear me..”That girl..the one that came by the shore house that day…”
NO! I tried to say it..but it wasn’t coming out. I guess I was going to have to hear it..it was too late.
“…when we worked on Tom’s house (his boss’s house down the shore) in early November..I took her out a few times..I knew her from the neighborhood, she lives there year round”
I heard myself shouting..but everything was spilling out uncontrollably….”WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME?? I DON’T WANT TO KNOW..WE PROMISED EACH OTHER WE WOULDN’T TELL!!!”
He wrapped his arms around me…tears were running down his face now – his cheek was against mine..so he was soaking my face too. Hmmm..a change of pace for once.
“Baby..I hated lying to you when you asked. If you hadn’t asked, I never would have said anything!”
Now I was crying. I hated that he had given me this cross to bear. I had to think of him with another woman..and now..I had to know more.
“Did you sleep with her? Did you see her more before I came home for the summer? Are you going to see her again? DO YOU LOVE HER?”
Part 17 – the final part..coming soon.
Tags: #BreaingBread, Arugula, Bacon, Bread Baking Society, Cheddar Cheese, Cheese, eggs, focaccia, Roasted Peppers, Yeast
There’s a new bread challenge in town. It’s called the Bread Baking Society (Twitter handle @Breaking_Bread – hashtag #BreakingBread), - founded by Lora from Cake Duchess, Marnely from Cooking with Books and Shulie from Food Wanderings. This month the bread they asked everyone to bake is focaccia, and of course, I wanted to take part. Thankfully I got it in on the last day, last-minute of the month. Once again, there was humidity, but not as bad as last week. Then again, no braiding or shaping of focaccia – just dimpling (awww) – so humidity foiled. Ha!
Of course, there was free creative reign, so the variety of focaccias linked up, sweet and savory, is pretty amazing, from sweet potato to southern charm.
I made a Focaccia McMuffin. I call it that because it’s bacon, egg and cheddar. What makes it kind of cool is, the eggs are in focaccia wells. I scrunched up 6 large pieces of tin foil into 3-inch balls, coated each one generously with olive oil, then stuck them into the cheese and bacon filled dough before rising. When fully risen, I pressed them down again, and baked the focaccai for 20 or so minutes, then removed the tin foil balls – giving me perfect wells to crack 6 eggs into, which I did. I put the focaccia back in the oven for 8 to 10 more minutes, and voila, six perfectly cooked eggs, in six bacon – cheese bread squares (when cut), per person.
Oh, I had to make it pretty, so before baking the focaccia, I topped it with some roasted red peppers, arugula, more bacon – and a few drizzles of olive oil. The eggs were treated to a sprinkling of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chopped chives, once cooked in the bread. Now seriously, who would not want this for breakfast (or anytime of the day) ?
Finally, I used Nick Malgieri’s focaccia dough in this recipe, which Lora also used. BUT, due to the humidity, I had to add an extra cup of flour. I also took down the salt because of the bacon. I’m sure Nick wouldn’t mind..he’s a pretty awesome pastry chef and guy. He left a comment on THIS post back in 2010…thanks to Meaghan from The Decorated Cookie, alerting him to the post. I was pretty thrilled – I’m such a fan girl when it comes to my favorite chefs.
By the way – please excuse the poor photos. Ego Lights never do well with yellow or white. Yellow (cheese and eggs) in this case, not to mention I really rushed it – didn’t take the time it deserved.
Bacon, Cheddar and ‘Eggs in Wells’ Focaccia
Basic focaccia recipe adapted from How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri, with my revisions
Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved
6 individual servings
1 1/3 cups warm tap water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I ended up using 1 more cup due to humidity)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
6 to 8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed
10 slices cooked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese for the egg wells (a teaspoon per well)
2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced (optional, or add your favorite vegetable(s)*
arugula leaves (optional, or use your favorite greens)*
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium or large eggs
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
*If you don’t want to add greens or veggies of any sort, top with extra bacon and cheese. Herbs would be nice too.
101/2 x 151/2-inch jelly roll and parchment paper
1. In a small bowl,water sprinkle the yeast over the water. Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir.
2. In large bowl, combine the flour and 3 teaspoons of salt; whisk together or mix together on low speed in your mixer.
3. Stir the yeast, water and olive oil into the flour and salt until you have a dry dough. Slowly add the 1 1/3 cup of water while mixing, until you have a soft, but slightly raggedy dough. You may or may not use all the water.
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
5. When dough has doubled, fold it onto itself, then flatten it on a floured board. Scatter the cheddar cheese cubes and pieces of bacon all over the flattened dough. Fold it over a few times, adding flour as needed. Use a bench scraper because you will run into stickiness. Keep folding and kneading until the bacon and cheese is disseminated throughout the dough evenly. If bacon and/or cheese pops out during kneading, just shove it back in. Let rest, covered for 5 to 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
6. While the dough is resting, oil the jelly roll pan, then cut a piece of parchment to fit. The oil will keep the parchment paper down. Flatten the ball of dough onto the parchment lined pan and spread it as best you can until it almost reaches all four corners. If it resists, let it rest a few minutes, then start pushing and spreading again. Tuck in any cheese or bacon that pops out.
7. Make 6 tin foil balls..about 3 to 4-inches each, and coat each one with olive or any oil, generously (I used spray olive oil) Press each tin foil ball into dough, deep..two on each row, equally apart.
8. Cover pan with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
9. Prehaet oven to 425 degrees F. Once risen, press the foil balls down again (they rise with the dough), then dimple focaccia and drizzle with olive oil. Top with bacon, pepper strips, and arugula.
10. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven..keeping oven at 425F, and pull out foil balls. Sprinkle a little shredded cheddar cheese in each well. Crack each egg, one at a time, into a ramekin or small bowl, then slowly and carefully pour each egg into a well, until all six are filled.
11. Place pan back in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still jiggly, like a sunny side up egg.
12. Remove pan from oven, sprinkle all over with remaining shredded cheddar cheese (the heat will melt it), and salt and pepper each egg. Add chopped chives on top of them too, if desired. Serve immediately, cutting the focaccia into 6 squares, each containing an egg. Gently reheat leftovers, as not to overcook the egg.
Now to Part 12 of Bad Boy First Love. If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, and Part 11 is HERE.
Once again, he read my mind.
“Wanna get going, honey?”
Ahhh..he was good. I was called sweetheart so many times that night, he had to mix it up with honey.
Honey, sweetheart, baby…it didn’t matter. He could call me dingbat, and I’d be putty in his hands.
After a half hour of goodbyes, we were finally alone. My head was still filled with the cacophony of ‘youse guys’, ‘dose guys, ‘deez guys’, ‘dem guys’. One guy even called a toilet a ‘terlet’. Sounded more like a bird than a porcelain waste station.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked these people, they were real. No airs, no BS – I was just a little overwhelmed and intimidated that first night. Within a week, I was as comfy as a kitten in a quilted basket – talking almost as fast as they did. Unfortunately, the girl I connected with, the bride-to-be, broke off the engagement and relationship, so I never saw her again, and Coco was a hurting puppy for a long, long time. He fell hard for one of my friends later on, but unfortunately, she just adored him as a friend. which I’ll get to in another part.
Also, through his friends, his ‘bad boy’ was confirmed. The stories they told me were scary, but again..thrilling to me, because that ‘bad boy’ thing was my weakness. The knife to his leg was nothing compared to the other stories they weaved. I could take up 8 pages telling all of you. He’d almost been arrested a few times, once for almost killing a guy who was attacking his cousin so violently, his cousin ended up in the hospital for weeks, with all kinds of injuries.
Truth be told, he didn’t like to fight..it’s not like he got his jollies kicking ass – he was just very protective of friends and loved ones. and if someone or someone(s) were bullying or attacking them, as one of his friends would say, ‘fuhgeddaboutit’.
The ironic (although his friends thought it was funny) part of the story was the that the perpetrator ended up in the same hospital, across the hall, and soon they were talking and buddies.
That being said, my relationship with Dreamboat was better than ever – it was almost gross in its saccharine salacity. We saw each other at least once every weekend, because I had to hang out with my friends too (You know..the old ‘friends come before guys’ teenage rule/mantra), but we’d also sneak in weeknights (school nights for me – my curfew was 11pm.. and work next day for him), as in, I’d sneak him into my bedroom once my parents were fast asleep, or I’d sneak out after he dropped me off by 11, just to spend more time with him. When we weren’t together, we were on the phone for hours, even though he wasn’t a phone person.
I showed him where I used to stack my pillows against the window, put on his favorite radio station, and cry myself to sleep missing him. He laid down on the pillows next to me, the cool night air caressing us as he wrapped me up tight in his arms. Like clockwork, Stairway to Heaven came on – our first kiss song. It was almost all too surreal – he was lying next to me in my year long ‘mourning’ space for him. Now it was a space of love, joy and content, especially when I could smell him on my pillows after he left.
He finally told me he loved me on a chilly autumn evening in early October as we kissed in the Beetle, parked on the side of a dead-end street overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Just as he said the words, “I love you, Lisa” my diamond stud earring caught on the shoulder of my sweater when I wrapped my arms around him - ready to make this moment as perfect and disgustingly romantic as possible - and popped out, hitting the floor of the Beetle somewhere. They were a gift from my grandmother – they were very expensive – I loved them..I couldn’t lose one of them.
I was bent over in seconds, blindly running my hands all over the floor of passenger seat, hoping to feel the sharpness of the stud against the flattened, coarse carpet.
I’d been waiting desperately for the ‘I love you’ moment, and when it finally came, I was scouring the floor of a Volkswagon Beetle – now scraping my fingers across the rug, bemoaning the possible loss of an earring.
Like I always say, it figures, This is my life to this day. Welcome to it.
He opened the door for light as we searched diligently. I sat up quickly to really dig between the seats – forgetting about the dashboard.
I slammed my head against it hard. I saw red spots for a moment, and then my eyes started to tear because it hurt like a bitch. Dreamboat started examining the area.
Dr. Dreamboat is in the house again!
I started to panic.. ”Is it bleeding? Is there a gash? Does it look like I need stitches??”
I couldn’t believe how perfect the first ‘I love you’ moment was turning out!
Dreamboat smiled “No, sweetheart, it’s just a bump..you’ll be fine”
I loved him so much. Oh, wait, I could tell him that now.
“I’m not dunking my head in the Hudson River and I love you too”
There, I said it. We had a good laugh at my Hudson River barb, then romance and mushy talk followed.
I completely forgot about my earring.
As he rubbed my head, he told me he had known he loved me for a while, but wanted to make sure it wasn’t rushed – such serious words. That made me love him even more, so I said it again, and again, and again..I think I must have said it like 10 more times that night, just to hear him say it back.
I was and am such a sap.
He found my diamond stud a few days later, and presented it to me in a box with a beautiful, thin gold chain with one simple, matching diamond stud attached to it. I’m not a bling girl, I like delicate, understated jewelry, so it was perfect. I still occasionally wear it to this day.
My senior year was amazing, mostly because of him. I was so happy, you could stick a needle in my eye and I’d tell you not to worry about it. The year before – my miserable junior year, I never would have thought it would turn out this way. My glass is half-empty most of the time.
There was only one problem…the more I snuck out during the week, staying out or ‘in’ super late..on school nights, the more exhausted I was, and I couldn’t get up for school no matter how loud my mother screamed or how hard she tugged at my blanket. I was late to school about twice a week.
My mother thought I was doing drugs, and wanna know how I found that out?
I opened my eyes one morning to see my freakin’ guidance counselor sitting on a chair in the middle of my bedroom, surrounded by dirty clothes I’d thrown on the floor the night before, and a half-eaten plate of crusty tuna salad teetering precariously on the edge of a table next to her. I almost wanted it to fall on her lap.
I rubbed my eyes several times, I MUST be dreaming. This was crazy! Teachers and any ‘school employees’ weren’t supposed ever see your bedroom, much less be in it!
I was going to kill my mother.
To make matters worse….I’d fallen asleep in my bra and panties – too tired to take off the bra and put on a T-shirt. I pulled my blanket up to my chin. She didn’t even leave to let me put some clothes on. I know…woman to woman, but when you’re in High School, teachers and guidance counselors aren’t human beings – they’re just teachers and guidance counselors. For instance, if you saw one out shopping, or picking up a pizza, living their life outside of school, it’s almost like spotting an alien shopping or picking up a pizza. Just plain weird.
Once I convinced her I wasn’t on drugs, could barely drink alcohol without puking, and there was no one or no situation at school that was upsetting me, she started veering into other areas. Pregnant? Sick? Oh, come on now…I finally stopped her..
I‘m up all night doing the Rumba with my boyfriend, OK?
But I didn’t say that.
“I have a boyfriend and we stay on the phone for hours late at night, plus I talk to my friends too”
Ha! Like I was going to tell her I was sneaking back out after he dropped me off at 11pm, or sneaking him in, after my parents were asleep – usually within minutes once they knew I was home.
She accepted that explanation..her faintly lined face softening, human for a brief moment. She let out a sigh – “Young love, I remember it well – BUT, you need to get up on time for school. so cut the phone calls short, ok?”
I agreed, waited until she left, then tore into my mother for embarrassing the hell out of me.
My father later solved this problem by taking my phone out of my room at 11 pm each night. I’d gotten away with it, and continued to sneak with him, but I made sure I got up on time every day…standing under a blasting, ice cold shower for a few seconds to shock myself wide awake. Worked like a charm, but those few seconds were hell.
So, except fot that minor fork, well, knife rather, in the road, my senior year was happy and breezy.
One day in January, the Beetle met it’s maker, it just died and was beyond repair. Hey, he got almost three years out of a junkyard mess he restored into working condition, not too shabby, but I still think she died of a broken heart. I stole her man.
Now that I had my drivers license and full use of my parent’s cars, I would drive to him, then let him take over the driving because I liked it that way. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have, but like I said in the previous part, teenagers in love don’t usually think rationally or weigh the possible consequences of their actions.
When prom time was approaching, I didn’t bring it up because there was no way I thought he’d want to spend the evening with a bunch of High School kids. I was too nervous to ask him to take me, I was either going to skip it, or maybe go with a guy friend – but I couldn’t even fathom that… Dreamboat was the only man I wanted to go to prom with.
Remember that scene in Pretty In Pink where Annie Potts talks about the girl who missed her prom – going through life feeling like something was missing – every.single.day..then realizing it was all because she didn’t go to prom? That scene haunted me when I thought of not going.
Lo and behold, he brought it up one Saturday night on our way to see a movie.
“Hey, isn’t your prom coming up?”
I started twirling a strand of my hair – a nervous habit, “Yeah…but I don’t think I’m going to go..it’s stupid anyway”
He kept driving..awkward silence..not once taking his eyes off the road. He finally spoke..
“Why skip it? I’ll take you”
My heart did a little flip..”Really? You wouldn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds?”
He smiled “I’m hanging out with a 17 year old now”
I laughed….he had a good point.
So, he took me to my prom. He looked just as hot in a tux as I imagined he would, when I conjured up images of of our future wedding.
I was a little worried he might experience some snootiness from some of my insanely wealthy classmates, but the opposite happened. The guys were drawn to him..maybe because he was older and tough, and the girls couldn’t stop telling me how gorgeous he was.
I couldn’t help thinking that these girls would love a piece of him, but would never marry him. He wouldn’t be able to give them the lifestyle they were used to and had no plans of giving up. They’d end up marrying wealthy men with similar cultural/religions backgrounds. or investment bankers with roman numerals following their name.
Soon summer was upon us and I graduated – FOR REAL this time. It was a bittersweet time in so many ways, but what hurt the most was that I had so little time left with him. I was leaving for college in Florida in the Fall. I had applied early, my junior year, and only applied to one school in the Northeast because I wanted to attend a college in a warm weather state, near a beach. All the schools I applied to, outside of Boston, were in So-Cal and Florida. Not the best reason to choose a college, huh? I was thinking more sun and fun than academics.
My priorities were about as straight as Lombard Street.
Then, I chickened out, I couldn’t be that far away from him, so I changed schools at the last minute. Boston was still a 4 hour drive, but only a 45 minute to 1 hour flight before 9/11 and all the security. It actually turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, because I think Boston is one of the best cities to attend college in, but I’ll get to that later.
He was going to work on the pier again that summer, but wasn’t going down until mid-July, so we could spend lots of time together before I went to our place in Florida with my friends, mother, sister and her friends, for 2 weeks. Me, and two of the three friends from the summer before, rented a bigger, better apartment in the same apartment complex we stayed at the previous summer, for the last three weeks of August, so although I wouldn’t see him for 2 weeks, it worked out perfectly, or so I thought….
I need to stop here because several people have told me I’m shortening the memories to finish my story, stuffing an elephant into a sausage casing, so to speak, diluting it – the Cliff Notes of my first love.
I deleted the second half of this post, the end of the story, because it was a bunch of quick paragraphs finishing everything up, no substance – no meat. By forcing it – I’m cheating myself and cheating anyone who’s enjoying it..so, there is going to be a Part 13 – BUT, I can absolutely guarantee 100%, Part 14 is the definite end.
Tags: baking, Bread, Bulgur Wheat, Cucumbers, Feta Cheese, First Love, Jacques Pepin, Lemon, Mint, Olive Oil, One Pot Bread, Parsley, Tabbouleh, Tomatoes, Yeast
I’d like to preface this post to thank everyone for all the thoughtful, sweet comments and emails about my situation. You’re all the best.
Back in 2009, I watched Jacques Pepin mix, proof and bake a bread in one pot on one of his shows on Create TV, which I recorded and saved on DVR. I idolize the man, I think he’s an absolute demigod in the kitchen. Most everything I learned, in a high-end, culinary sense, is from him and he has been an incredible inspiration to me since the age of 13. I will get more into detail about what I learned from him and how he changed my life when it came to cooking, in another post, one most likely dedicated to him..with one of his amazing creations.
So, on that day in 2009, I watched him mix, proof and bake a bread in a non-stick pot. I knew I had to try it, it was too easy. I wasn’t sure the bread would turn out as crusty, with an artisan like crumb, as it looked, because it went against everything I’ve learned about artisan bread baking over the years, plus it was made using commercial yeast.
Well..here we are in 2012, and I finally got around to making it. I was wrong, this bread is as close as you can get to a wild yeast like bread. without a starter or sponge. I think it has a lot to do with the overnight – 10-14 hour – rise in the refrigerator, or maybe it’s just Jacques Pepin magic?
Once I made the bread plain…and loved it, I knew I had to play with this blank canvas of crusty, lovely crumbed, perfection. The possibilities were infinite. I could just add cheese and it would be wonderful, as one person in a forum about this bread, did, but I was feeling more ambitious. After eating some tabbouleh one night for dinner, it hit me – why not a tabbouleh bread? All the flavors of tabbouleh in this wonderful loaf, including the bulgur wheat..but would it work? Would the soaked wheat be too heavy for a decent rise?
I wasn’t taking any chances. After deciding not to add my homemade tabbouleh to the bread batter, since cucumbers and tomatoes could make it really soggy and also affect the rise, I decided to add just the bulgur wheat, herbs, lemon zest, green onions, and leave out the cucumbers to serve along with the bread. I felt tiny grape tomatoes would make a great topping, especially once I decided to create a design on top with the mint and parsley – the tomatoes being the fruit growing on the branches of my little trees, stems, bushes, or whatever you want to call them. Let’s just call it free-form.
Not only did the bread turn out, but it.is.incredible, and, it tastes like tabbouleh. The bulgur wheat adds chewiness to the crumb and also binds it so you can use it as a sandwich bread. When it’s plain, it’s more of a ‘rip off a hunk’ type bread than a sandwich bread, which is not a bad thing, but this little discovery with the bulgur wheat made me giddy, and of course I had to make a sandwich, pictured further down..
Oh, did I mention the crust? I think I did briefly, but please let me ooh and ahh over it for another second. It’s crisp, crunchy, and flaky, like a bread baked in a steam oven on a stone. I do think it’s magic, because, how do you get such an amazing crust from a batter bread.. mixed, proofed, and baked in a non-stick pot?
That being said, the decorative topping adds a nice texture too…a light crispy bite jam-packed with herbaceous flavor (that sounded so Grateful Dead, didn’t it?) complimented by the roasted tomatoes – a sweet, slightly juicy, concentrated punch, both enhancing the already perfect crust.
OK, a slight caveat..there is one thing you must have to make this bread..a 3-quart non-stick saucepan like THIS, or THIS or, for more money, THIS, to make the magic work. People have tried mixing the dough in bowls then baking it in loaf pans, and all kinds of methods to get this bread as it should be, but although they may get something ok, it will not be this bread. The whole point is everything being done in one non-stick pot..so not using it kind of defeats the purpose, not to mention, the amazing crust!
I know..it sucks to have to buy something for one use, but, you can cook in it too, so technically, it’s not a ‘one use’ item. However, trust me when I say you will be making this bread at least once a week, whether it be plain or with additions, because it’s simple, wonderful and convenient. Mix it up at 2 am if you like..as long as it gets the 1 to 1 1/2 hour room temperature rise and the 10-14 hour refrigerator proof, you’re golden.
I changed the basic recipe just a bit for my tabbouleh bread..using a whole packet (2 1/4 teaspoons – .25 oz) of yeast to insure a good rise with the bulgur wheat, and increasing the salt. You can also play around with the recipe..maybe using bread flour or decreasing the water, etc, but I think it’s pretty perfect as is. Be creative, add whatever you want to his basic recipe, sweet or savory. As I mentioned above, the possibilities are endless! My next ‘endeavor’ will probably be baby spinach leaves and gruyere.
‘One Pot’ Tabbouleh Bread
Adapted from and Inspired by Jacques Pepin’s One Pot Bread Recipe, with my revisions.
2 1/4 cups tepid water
3-4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package Active Dry Yeast – .25 oz
4 cups AP Flour
1/3 cup bulgur wheat (fine to medium grain)
1/3 cup boiling or very hot water
I very large handful parsley leaves
1 small to medium handful mint leaves
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 lemon, zested..then juiced for olive oil dip
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh black pepper
grape or teardrop tomatoes
3 or 4 chives (optional for ‘stems, if making design)
1. Boil water, then add bulgur wheat. Let soak abut 20-25 minutes, until the wheat has absorbed all or most of the water.
2. Coarsley chop the parsley leaves with the mint leaves. I chopped mine too fine..you can barely see them in the bread. This is for aesthetic purposes only, so it’s really ok if you chop them finely.
3. Pour the tepid water into the pot. Add the kosher salt, yeast, and flour.
4. When you start to mix the bread batter, stir in the bulgur wheat (if any water remains, strain it out), lemon zest, parsley, mint, and thinly sliced green onions. Mix thoroughly. Cover and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes, at room temperature.
5. After room temperature rising, lift off cover and stir down the risen dough. Cover again, tightly, and place in the refrigerator overnight 10-14 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 450F. Remove risen bread dough in pot from refrigerator. Top with grape tomatoes (keep whole if very small, slice in half if not that small), parsley leaves (no thick stems), mint leaves, and strips of scallion or chives (for stems if you want to make a pretty design).
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes (40 was perfect for me).
7. Combine the cup of olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper, then add some lemon slices to it. Dip slices of the bread in the lemon olive oil, if desired. Serve with sliced cucumbers and more tomatoes or make that awesome sandwich above – or eat it/serve it any way you want – it’s amazing without any of the above.
Once again, it’s my Bad Boy First Love memories/memoir/whatever. If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, and Part Ten is HERE.
The rest of that summer was phenomenal – and every moment with him was electric – my legs still turned to JELLO every time he looked into my eyes.
He would occasionally tease me, calling me ‘little girl’, ‘kiddo’ or ‘half-pint’, the latter always met with a “Yes, Pa?” I had to know..so I asked..
“Did you watch Little House on the Prairie as a kid?”
He tried to keep a straight face “Naah, a baby sitter made us watch reruns of it – I played with my toy trucks”
My friends had to leave a week before Labor Day Weekend, (I knew this before we even rented the place, but I wanted to stay through Labor Day in hopes I’d reconnect with Dreamboat and have that extra week), so I had the place to myself. However, there were two casual friends from school that came down and one stayed with me for 2 nights, plus two close friends were staying in Ortley Beach, not to mention the local girls, so I was never alone. That said, I did relish some ‘alone’ times late in the day or early evening, and I would separate from whoever I was hanging with, for a bit, just to take a walk to the pier to see him, always picking him up a Sunkist soda and a bag of Doritos – his favorite mid-work snack. There were always girls there..watching…waiting. I got used to hearing..
“Damn, he has a girlfriend” or “#$%^! He has a girlfriend”
..when they would see him pop out of the booth to hug and kiss me, or take a break to go for a walk with me. I also had a few remarks thrown my way, but I don’t think it’s possible to clean them up for this blog. Let’s just say ‘bitch’ was a mild one. Some girls can be very evil when they want something bad enough. They never said anything when he was near me, and I never told him. There was no need to, my happiness being with him made those remarks disappear into thin air.
Of course, once my friends left..there were the slumber parties with Dreamboat. I finally Rumbaed- two days before I was leaving. I had already chosen him as my dance partner weeks before, and there was no one else I wanted that first dance with. There were many firsts that summer..first love, first Rumba, first time on an upside-down ride (with Dreamboat’s arms wrapped around me, but I still hated it..we’re meant to be right side up), and loads of brand new experiences, emotions and feelings I could fill a page with – but I won’t. It had been the best summer of my young life.
When Labor Day Weekend passed, it was time for me to head home. He would be home in two weeks. I cried anyway, because two weeks seemed like an eternity – but, at least I was going to see him again. I was getting a ride a home with the friends staying in Ortley Beach. but then I canceled….wanting to stay until the last possible minute so I could spend one more night with Dreamboat.
I was really pushing it, since school was starting the next day. I had already packed up and dropped my stuff off at the local girl’s house, for my last night with him.
I remember their Mother, who was from Germany, making us schnitzel for dinner that night, before Dreamboat picked me up. It was the best schnitzel I ever had – to this day
My parents had their number if they needed to get in touch with me. You better believe they used it when I wasn’t home by midnight.
When Dreamboat dropped me off – smack dab in the middle of a teary, passionate, goodbye kiss..I heard my father’s voice. Uh oh. I looked up, and saw my parent’s car in their driveway.
Deja ‘effin vu.
It was 3:30am. They had spoken to the girl’s Mother when they called looking for me..and although she was a very cool woman, she told them the truth – I hadn’t left for home yet, I was out with my boyfriend.
My father didn’t have to say a word, I knew I messed up again. I obediently got out of the car and just kind of stood there. The local girls and their Mom had already helped my parents pack up the car with my stuff, so they were outside witnessing the melee. Their Mom, in her cute German accent, felt terrible..I did too.
“If I had known she did not have a ride home, I vood have happily driven her”
Dreamboat was still there..window down, with an amused look on his face. I couldn’t blame him, everyone was talking at once. I just stood there like the village idiot, a goofy smile on my face as I watched him watching everyone talking about what I did. I snuck over to him one more time for a quick kiss. He said he would have driven me home. – we would have left right after he got off work..why didn’t I ask?
You see, I had planned on calling my parents the next morning, claiming I fell asleep and missed my ride, then going in late to school. I told no one this.
My father’s voice boomed before I could answer him..
“Let’s GO, get in the car, NOW!”
I guess this wasn’t a good time to introduce them to Dreamboat.
I gave him another kiss, told him I’d explain when he called, and ran to the car. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t upset..I was too damn happy for any of those emotions.
This time, the ride home was pleasurable. Don’t get me wrong – my parents were tearing into me like a Thanksgiving turkey, but I was smiling, my eyes closed..head back against the seat, reliving every moment with him. Their angry voices berating me were distant whispers in my ‘Dreamboat’ state. I briefly broke out of my zone to apologize sweetly over and over, then dove back in.
My father wondered if he had picked up the wrong daughter.
Yes, what I did was pretty selfish, but I was a teenager in love. Teenagers, in general, do stupid, selfish things, usually without thinking about the consequences to others, but teenagers in love can take it a step further.
I knew everything was going to OK when my father started extolling the virtues of cruise control.
I made it on time to my first day of senior year, sleepless and in the same clothes I wore the night before. There was no time to do laundry and it was too hot for Fall and Winter wear – BUT, like I’ve mentioned in earlier parts..I could still smell him on my clothes, so I didn’t mind – gross or not.
He called that night, when he got off work..
“How was your first day of your SECOND Senior Year?”
This had already become ‘our’ joke, or his joke, rather.
Two weeks later, the first Friday night, there was the Beetle, parked in front of my house..with a beep. I flew down the stairs, into the car and into his arms. We were so into each other, it was almost disgusting..well..to other people, I’m sure.
We spent the whole night mushing it up on a lookout on the Palisades. The Hudson and East Rivers were our new Barnegat Bay and Atlantic Ocean. However, if I fell and cut myself again, I wasn’t walking into either. There was no way he could convince me that floating bodies, oily gunk and garbage was good for wounds.
The next night, he took me to his town, since one of his friends had just gotten engaged, and he wanted to see and congratulate him.
When we got there, after a 40 minute drive, I couldn’t believe how inner-city like and almost sinister it was. The streets were narrow and dark, most off of a well-lit avenue – well-lit except for several neon letters not working on most of the shops, bars, etc. There was lots of graffiti too. He lived on a steep hill where the houses were so close together, you could hear a person next door burp.
The initial engagement celebration was in a parking lot with a huge ledge to sit on. The guys were tough, the girls were tough..I was completely intimidated, but mesmerized at the same time. This was a complete culture shock for me. Some of these guys were baby Sopranos in the making, but not guidos, just really tough guys. Now I understood where Dreamboat got his grit.
“Yo, D..’bout time ya got here!” *loud slapping handshake with extremely hard back pats*
This went on with every guy there, with an introduction to geeky me, in between each one. A kiss on the cheek from every one of them – like they’d known me forever.
“Nice to meet ya, sweetheart – heard a lot about ‘cha” Hmm…I guess sweetheart was just something he grew up with – not just maturity.
I don’t think I said more than 10 words the first half hour we were with his friends. I’d never felt so scared, overpowered, dorky, and shy – all at once. I clung to Dreamboat like velcro. I couldn’t help thinking how uncool I was compared to these people – they were all self-assured, loud, rambunctious and again..tough. Any of the girls could have taken me down easily, simply because I could tell not a lot of things scared them. There was no witty repartee going on here – just pure, ruffian, good-natured, ribbing.
Brush the inside of both slices with the lemon olive oil, then layer butter lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese and cucumbers. I really like feta cheese – can you tell?
A very pretty, petite girl, with long, wavy, dark hair, came up to me. With all the introductions, I couldn’t remember who was who, but suddenly recalled she was the bride-to-be. She had a high, sweet voice, like the the C key on a piano, but it was peppered with that tough accent Dreamboat and his friends had. It didn’t fit. Regardless, we started talking, and soon I was at ease. She reintroduced me to her fiance when he came over to us, who wasn’t just Dreamboat’s friend, but his best friend. His name was Jimmy, but everyone called him Coco because when they were kids, they teased him, singing Jimmy, Jimmy Coco Puff, since Jimmy rhymed with shimmy.
A lot of these guys, and some of the girls, had nicknames, except for Dreamboat..or at least I hadn’t heard one yet.
The bride-to-be was also named Lisa, and I clicked with her almost immediately – but I also wondered if I could ever really fit into this part of his life. This was a whole new Dreamboat, a whole new part of him I hadn’t gotten to know yet. It was a strange feeling..an amalgamation of unease and a voracious excitement of what was to come. I was completely overwhelmed by the atmosphere, the people. and the nicknames I couldn’t keep straight;
Tony aka Cannelloni – his last name sounded similar, but with different consonants
Mike aka Mitts – Had a fantastic glove when they played softball
Kevin aka Kooky – He was kooky
Tina aka Tuna – They just thought it was funny to call her Tuna, swapping the i with a u
..and many more. They were coming at me from all directions – a blur of nicknames and really fast talking.
Suddenly, I needed to be alone with him in the worst way.
Well..I guess there will be a Part 12, but, 12 is a lucky number, right? Once I started writing this memory, I knew the finale wasn’t going to make it in. Stay tuned!