I've had this recipe for Rainbow Cookies on my fridge since last year and decided to make it. Working my first job as a counter girl at an Italian bakery in Queens and accepting collect calls from the grumpy bakery owner's son, who was in jail for idiotic low-level racketeering, gave me have a distaste for Italian pastries, with the exception of a few things: Pignoli Cookies, Rainbow Cookies & Cannolis (but only the cannolis that the nuns from the San Carlo monastery on Erice, a medieval mountain town in Sicily make. God is in them.) The rest of the Italian pastries can burn in hell.
Rainbow Cookies are pretty pricey per pound and if you're going to buy them around Brooklyn I would recommend Fortunata Brother's on Manhattan & Devoe.
Making the rainbow cookies seemed pretty pricey, too. It didn't help that I had to buy 3 half sheet pans at $15 a pop from The Brooklyn Kitchen, plus 4 tubes of Almond Paste at $8 a pop! I definitely came home grumpy.
"I should have just bought them at the bakery," I said as I laid the ingredients on the counter. But the process and the end result were worth it, plus we got between 150-200 cookies out of it.
I cut the recipe out of New York Magazine from the chef of Torrisi Italian Specialties, a great Italian restaurants down on Mulberry, the walls lined with Manhattan Special: my favorite drink, espresso soda.
If you plan on making rainbow cookies, make sure you have an entire day off plus a partner with good hand-eye coordination. I am lacking in that area and Jon, who is mechanically inclined proved, to have amazing cake layering and chocolate spreading skills. Had I tried to take this endeavor solo, I assure you these cookies would not be so pretty.
When it comes down to it, "it's a lot of work, Jane," as Nonna, my Sicilian Grandma would say. There are many steps: beating the egg whites for stiff glossy peaks, splitting one batter into three for coloring, baking three cakes separately until just underdone so they stay moist, cooling the cakes then layering them using orange marmalade as glue, letting them set then spreading warm chocolate on the top and bottom. Start as early in the morning as you can.
While getting closer and closer to chocolatey soft almond cookie goodness, I was giddy. I remember saying, "this sure as hell beats last minute christmas shopping." In fact, making these cookies is what the holidays are all about: slowing down, spending time with someone you love, making something you love, then giving to people you love." These cookies put a truer smile on faces than anything you can unwrap and rip a price tag off of.
Preheat oven to 350. Beat egg whites in electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks. Add ½ cup sugar, beating until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks, then refrigerate. Beat together almond paste and remaining sugar in mixer. Add butter gradually and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and beat until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in egg whites. Divide batter equally among 3 bowls; wearing gloves,(1) whisk red food coloring into one and green into another, leaving the third batch plain. Spread each batter separately and evenly, about ¼-inch thick, onto 3 half-sheet pans, each greased and lined with parchment paper. Bake until just barely set, about 7 minutes. (2) When layers are cool, spread half the preserves onto the green layer. Invert plain layer over it and discard paper. Spread on remaining preserves, and invert red layer over it; discard paper. Wrap with plastic and top with a weighted baking pan. Refrigerate for several hours. Remove plastic and bring to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, and (3) spread thinly on top layer. Chill in freezer briefly until firm. Cover with wax paper, place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet pan and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate and return to freezer until firm. Trim edges, slice, and serve.
One of my biggest hurdles in life is that during embryonic development the organization gene turned up missing. I apply the same theory of sports aptitude to organizational aptitude: you can be born with it like a natural athlete or can practice the shit out of it, which is what I am attempting. There is a much that high school sports can teach us, aside from how to use a jock strap as a cheese strainer.
It feels like the shit hits the fan everyday and everything is scattered everywhere. Where do I start? I run around my apartment in hopeless despair and only make the situation worse.
I start by picking up all the underthings my cat traipsed around the apartment in his jaws but I don't finish because I see that I left that bottle of unmentionable prescription meds out so I run to hide it away in a cabinet (even I can't look at it) but I don't get to close the door before I notice I left my vibrator on the nightstand in the bedroom. I open that drawer and scream at the chaos of batteries and used tissues inside then notice it could use a cleaning so I run it into the bathroom and look under the sink for the gallon of bleach but I see that the cat left me a smelly gift in the litter box. I scoop that up but forget to flush because I notice an even more special gift in the corner where I dropped my toothbrush. On and on. What began as an attempt to straighten up, leaves my home looking like a perverted horror house. Think back to a more innocent time.
I played basketball in high school and when I stood at the foul line, all eyes on me, I took a deep breath and focused just on that one shot. I forgot about all that happened in the game before and everything that was ahead. I dribbled once, bent my knees and took my shot, and didn't forget to follow through with my arms. It kept me right there, not rushing ahead and I made more shots that way.
Applying this to organizing my life helps. Task at hand: burn old photos from vacations with ex-boyfriend. Follow-through: finish them off until the are charred bits that disintegrate into thin air. You don't need scraps of paper soaked in lighter fluid near the candles of the shrine to your new boyfriend, do you? Done. Move on.
You can only do one thing at a time. So when you feel scatterbrained and like there is so much to do, breathe and think to yourself I can only do one thing at a time. Do this one task, finish it, then move on. Getting anxious about everything you have to afterwards is only going to make what you're doing less fun and you won't do the best job. Organize in the moment. One miserable task at a time!
Food anxiety is an affliction resulting from the unrealistic perception you may not have enough food to feed everyone. Making a pound of pasta for two people is a manifestation of this. It also happens when you are worried you might make your guests ill, like when you serve raw oysters or undercooked meat. The sound of vomiting or groans of diarrhea only make this feeling worse.
Severe stomach pain and the words, "I think I'm having a heart attack," rush Jon and I the hospital where sonogram results revealed an evil bunny had taken residence in his gall bladder.
I began to feel extreme food guilt. Was it the Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Avocado? The Bolognese Sauce?
"Nonna's last lasagna might be my last lasagna!" Jon said.
Gall bladder stones develop over time and I had only been force feeding him high fat foods for little over a month. Isn't that how it works when you fall in love? You feed the person and yourself until you are both overweight and unattractive to each other and then you join a gym?
A few people noted that avocados, notoriously high in fat can trigger gall bladder attacks and we'd had avocado for breakfast as part of a meal for the record that I did not prepare.
None the less, leaning over his gurney I had that big eyed "I'm sorry I did this to you," look on my face.
"It's all your fault you evil guinea," Jon said and we both broke into hysterical laughter that made his pain and my guilt worse.
This, along with, "You're still handsome even though you're in a wheelchair," and, "I don't even know where my organs are," and, "Your teeth can fall out, your organs can't" are among the demented comments we made while nervously waiting his fate.
Well that fat party is over. It's quinoa and bean sprouts from now on (well or him at least.) And he wasn't even allowed to keep the evil bunny. Food can hurt.
Becoming close to organized is a lofty goal; not a complete disaster area is more what I'm going for. It's hard. The propensity to be neat is learned and genetic. If you're OCD, God bless you. If you were taught how to properly scrub a floor and bleach fumes smell like roses to you, then you're probably 100% Sicilian.
I am not and didn't get the clean gene. My Mom says she rather had spent time with us than clean so she had a cleaning lady, Linda who is like family. I can respect that but it doesn't help me now!
I followed suit and have a lovely cleaning person when I can afford it, and it sure helps with the nitty gritty, but organizing my life would mean she would have to climb inside my brain and do some major tweaking. And I'm just not ready for that.
It's basic physics. The Law of Entropy states that the universe naturally moves from a state of order to disorder. This can be demonstrated when I hang up all my clothes. The time it takes to organize my closet compared to the time it takes me to throw everything on the floor again when I get dressed makes cleaning seem like a waste of time. My clothes want to be in a heap on the floor; the universe tells me so.
That said, the brain feels calmer and works more effectively when things are organized. And when you have a million things to do plus a trillion loose ends to tie, lists help. It's just scary when you write: "find old list" on your new list.
By now I would be in a mental institution if it wasn't for google tasks.
Despite this handy tool, I have the tendency to write things on random pieces of paper then throw the papers on my desk. The desk I took so long to organize is once again a disaster. Then when a guest comes over, I just take everything on the desk and throw it into a bin. Looks clean, but it's an illusion. I do this when my laptop looks like a patchwork quilt of icons. I make a "Desktop" folder and dump everything in there. It's bliss, but just a cover up.
The new solution: dry erase markers on my mirror. That way I can makes lists (like in google tasks): Greenpointers, Ugly Art Room, Morta Di Fame, Polo & Life. They are all in one place and right in front of me, easy to read and fun to cross off. When I think of something I don't have to open the laptop. It looks cool, too. Don't pay attention to the evil dragon in the corner.