Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dagger Quick

A long time ago and far, far away, we were much younger and had two small boys.  Occasionally we wanted to get away from it all (doesn't every parent?) and escape for a random weekend. We were lucky enough to convince one of the kids' teachers to take on the task of staying with them while we were off pretending to be adults. 

That teacher was one Brian Eames, who continues to educate, inspire, enlighten and motivate kids.  He is married to the fabulous Jesica and they have three amazing boys.  Guess all the times they babysat Eric and Andy didn't dissuade them from the challenges of male offspring.

I won't drag this out (for once).  It was Brian's dream to write a children's book and so he did.  (Do you know the odds of writing a book and getting it published Just ask Kathryn Stockett, whose best-selling/now-made-into-a-movie book "The Help" was rejected 60 times).  Brian didn't have that problem.  Simon and Schuster decided that "The Dagger Quick" was worthy of publication.  Go Brian!

It was my great pleasure to host a dinner here recently to celebrate Brian's achievement.  It was a hot summer night, so I went with beautiful, cool salads and and easy menu that we could all enjoy while sitting around and basking in his success.  It was a lovely evening and I think my dessert was the perfect ending.

(As an aside, this recipe is from William Poll Caterers in NYC.  It was reprinted in the NY Times by Alex Witchell in her column "Feed Me.")


1 cup egg whites (from about 7 extra-large eggs)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 5 – 7 lemons)
1 cup light corn syrup
3 cups heavy cream
Candied lemon peel for garnish (recipe follows)
Softly whipped cream for serving, if desired

Bring 2-inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a double-boiler. In top of the double boiler, combine egg whites, confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice. Place over the boiling water. Using a large balloon whisk, whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, airy and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add corn syrup and whisk just until smooth. Remove from heat.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and add heavy cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk until thick enough to hold stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Place in dessert cups or bowls and refrigerate until ready to serve. These can be made a day ahead and will hold in the refrigerator if covered with plastic wrap.

Top with candied lemon peel and (if desired) a dollop of whipped cream before serving.

Yield: about 9 cups (18 to 24 servings)

In the interest of full disclosure, I was the recipient of some fresh shiso leaves the day I made this, so I cut them into a chiffonade and  used them aa a part of the garnish on top.  You could substitute fresh basil, or you could just omit anything green altogether.


2 large lemons
2 cups granulated sugar plus more for coating

Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemon in vertical strips. Be careful to remove only the zest and not the white pith underneath, which is bitter.

Place the lemon strips in a saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then drain off water. Do this three times, then pour into a strainer to drain peels.

Place 2 cups of water into the pan and add 1 cup of water. Whisk to dissolve sugar, then add peels and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until peels are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Drain peels and let cool.

Place enough sugar to coat peels into a small bowl. Add peels and toss to coat. Remove peels one at a time, shaking gently to remove excess sugar and place on a baking rack to set up. When dry, store in an airtight container. They will keep for a week or two.

You can use them as they are, or slice into julienned strips. 

*  I served this with Raspberry-Filled Shortbread and it was a perfect partner.  Will post that recipe next.

*  Brian was kind enough to sign our copy of his book.  He wrote "For Liz and Henry - who showed us that great sons can be raised."  I cannot imagine a greater compliment.

*  Thanks to all of you who read this blog.  It's been two years now.  I appreciate all of you.

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