Secrets, Memories and Lies: A Book and A Menu

Joseph-Beth and WEKU host a book club discussion in the store’s Bronte Cafe each second Tuesday of the month.  Last night’s discussion featured one of the most intriguing books I’ve read in the past year:  Julian Barnes’ Booker Prize-winning The Sense of an Ending.  A mass of jumbled relationships ranging over half a century recalled by a completely unreliable narrator; the book has been the subject of speculation by everyone from the New York Times to dozens of blogs.  I don’t intend to de-mystify any of it here.  Let me just say this review, forwarded to me by someone from the discussion last night, is the best one I’ve seen:

But the discussion did prompt lots of thinking, and even a dream or two last night.  Is everyone as much of a mystery to themselves as Barnes’ narrator?  How much of memory is a wished-for but unknowing revision of events?  What are the subtle clues, or even the overt ones, that we miss or ignore each day that might explain our own daily activities and relationships.  

As a book club discussion piece, you can’t beat it.  I think a menu of food that holds its’ own secrets would be a fun way to incorporate the book’s theme.

Goat cheese/pesto/sundried tomato terrine with crackers:  Use a hand mixer to soften goat cheese with a small amount of butter.  Line a small, 4″ or so, round dish with plastic wrap.  Place a layer of toasted pignoli nuts, then one of goat cheese, then one of pesto, then goat cheese, sundried tomatoes in oil, then goat cheese.  You can use the sundried tomato pesto and basil pesto from the grocery.  If you need more layers, continue adding alternating the sundried tomatoes and the pesto.  Refrigerate for several hours.  Unmold onto a place with the pignolis on the top.

Frittata or Omelet:  a must-have once you’re read the book.  Fill with something delicious.

Bundt Cake.  This marble recipe is from Food and Wine.

  1. Nonstick cooking spray
  2. 2 teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  3. 10 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), chopped
  4. 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly cool (not cold) and cut into chunks
  9. 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  10. 1 cup light brown sugar
  11. 4 large eggs
  12. 16 ounces full-fat Greek yogurt
  13. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  14. 3/4 cup nutty granola without fruit
  15. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust it with cocoa powder.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chopped chocolate. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until very smooth. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy, 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat for 10 seconds longer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the yogurt and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, until just incorporated.
  4. Scrape two-thirds of the batter into the chocolate and fold until no streaks remain (the batter will be very thick). Scrape half of the chocolate batter into the pan and smooth the surface. Dollop the vanilla batter into the pan and swirl with a knife. Scrape the remaining chocolate batter into the pan and swirl a few more times. Sprinkle the granola on top and lightly press it onto the batter.
  5. Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes. Invert the cake onto a plate and let cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
For music, I’d go with a mix of The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, early Rolling Stones, British Invasion stuff.
Have fun and if you figure how why A—- ——–d, let me know.