She's going to kill me, but i HAVE to open this post with this particular photo. It still cracks me up more than 18 months later.
Anyone who has ever toured New Orleans will recognize this square in the French Quarter. I was there in the spring of 2008 for a culinary conference. Early one morning, I went for a walk with my friend Jill O'Connor, author of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids (Chronicle, 2009), and we happened upon a tarot card reader setting up shop on the square. I walked right by and continued yammering, only to realize a few minutes later that Jill had deserted me.
She'd pulled up a chair to hang with the tarot lady. I slowly strolled over, but eventually left to snap some photos, including the one of Jill having her cards read above. When I came back to fetch her, I heard the tarot reader say, "Your husband will be taking you on a trip."
Jill replied, wide-eyed: "We're going to Italy next week!"
The best part was when Jill pulled out her purse and asked how much she owed, and the tarot lady said: "However much you want to pay."
Jill offered her a ten and stood to leave.
The lady stopped her: "I'd rather have a twenty."
I just laughed.
I love people like Jill. People who grab life by the throat and just squeeze it mightily, getting every bit of juice out of their time on the planet. She's a funny gal, that Jill O'Connor, and saucy, too.
So when she asked me to test a few recipes for her book on baking with kids, I didn't hesitate. The boys and I made Banana Split Pancakes with Strawberries and Nutella, Sunbutter Blossoms with chocolate kisses, and Hunka Chunka Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. She even quoted my kids in the book, which is just as colorful and beautifully designed as its grown-up predecessor.
I will leave you with an ever-so-slightly adapted recipe for Jill's Holy Moly! Strawberry Jam Roly Poly, a tender pastry that's a cross between a scone and a shortcake. I loved it because it was rustic and not very sweet -- the perfect foil for a thick pour of warm jam and, if you happen to have any, a small dollop of whipped cream. I hope Jill will forgive me for using a little whole wheat pastry flour. She's not the whole wheat pastry flour type, but I figure since I posted that photo of her and told the story about the tarot reading, I'm already in big trouble so who cares.
p.s. Jill will be in San Jose, at Hicklebee's bookstore, signing copies of her book and handing out samples this Friday, December 11th, from 7pm-8:30pm. (I'll be there, so don't get in my way.) Details are here.
p.p.s. Thanks to Lisa H. and two more mystery donors for their contributions to my food bank fundraiser. We're up to $200 smackers. Hey, buddy, got a fiver?
Recipe for Jam Roly Poly
Aadapted from Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids (Chronicle, 2009)
This oh-so-tender, rustic-looking pastry uses a brilliant technique: you grate frozen butter directly into the flour and mix it in with your hands. Keep in mind that without the jam "sauce" on top, this pastry is not very sweet, so don't skip it. This is a perfect treat to make with little kids. Just grate the butter yourself.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
2/3 cup ice water, or more if needed
3/4 cup strawberry jam, or jam of your choice
1 tablespoon milk
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling (or substitute granulated sugar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and fit a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat.
Sift the flours, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the frozen butter directly into the flour mixture, and use your hands to lightly fluff the ingredients so the butter shreds are coated. Place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Drizzle the ice water into the flour-butter and stir until you have a soft, shaggy dough. You may not use all the water, or you may use a few spoonfuls more.
Liberally coat a work surface with all-purpose flour and dump the dough onto the flour. Have a bench scraper handy. Knead the dough quickly, five or six times. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 9x13-inch rectangle and spread 5 tablespoons of the jam over top, leaving a jamless 1-inch border. Use the scraper to help you roll the pastry, lengthwise, into a jellyroll. Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush, if necessary.
Pinch the ends shut, seal with a little water, and transfer the roll (seam side down) to the prepared baking sheet. Patch any holes with flour. Brush with milk and sprinkle liberally with demerara sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until pastry puffs and turns golden brown. Cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then use two spatulas to transfer to a rack for 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut into 8 slices.
Thin the remaining jam with a little water and warm in the microwave. Spread the pastry with the warm jam, or pass alongside.