Cooking, Cheese, Bakeries, Burgundy, Recipe

Cooking, Cheese

Baking During Quarantine as an Act of Faith

Serving them feels like a comfort. And making another batch feels like an act of faith.

4/10/2020 2:18:00 PM

Serving them feels like a comfort. And making another batch feels like an act of faith.

I always have a batch or two of French cheese puffs in the freezer, even if it might be a while until I have friends over.

ByDorie GreenspanApril 8, 2020When I started cooking, I would spend hours during the week thinking about what I wanted to make over the weekend, and then I would spend the weekend making it. Every Saturday I shopped along a stretch of Ninth Avenue around the Port Authority Bus Terminal, in Manhattan. In those years, it wasn’t the best part of town, but to me, an adventurous fledging cook, the small shops were as thrilling as a grand bazaar. There was a spice shop where I could buy saffron by the pinch for paella and risotto. A store where I bought handmade phyllo to make spanakopita and baklava. There was a fishmonger who sold everything that went into a bouillabaisse, including an assortment of heads and bones to make the broth, and a butcher who learned about charcuterie in France after the war. He made pâtés like the ones I saw in Gourmet magazine, and had duck confit and sausages for cassoulet; I bought the classic beans — creamy white ones from Tarbes — at a market opposite the terminal. That’s also where I got the rice for the risotto.

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Back then, I wouldn’t cook the same dish twice. If you came for dinner and liked what you had, I’d send you home with the recipe, releasing myself from the obligation to make it for you again. But that was long ago, years before I came to understand that the pleasures of cooking are as much about the comfort of familiarity as they are about the excitement of discovery. There’s joy in giving those you love what they love. And there’s satisfaction in returning to recipes you know so well that the motions are drawn from memory.

After decades of cooking, I have a treasury of dishes I make by special request or just because I know they’re someone’s favorite. There are fruit tarts with sweet crusts, plain butter cakes and spice loaves, quiches and stuffed peppers with charred edges, spicy stew ladled over buttered noodles, countless kinds of cookies, a tall carrot cake, a slim chocolate torte and, the recipe most in demand, the French cheese puffs called

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