I had dinner with a group of inspiring women yesterday, at this renowned restaurant. I could go on and on about the food, the service and the ambience, but suffice to say that it was magical and exquisite, matching every raving review you’ve read about the place.
What elevated the experience though, was the company. Sharing our stories about love, friendships and childhood, there was a common theme: at some point in our past, we chose to decide for our own happiness by breaking away from unhealthy relationships, ending jobs and challenging social expectations. Daunting decisions had to be made, and risks needed to be taken, even if it meant fending off questions from well-intentioned friends who didn’t share our worldview.
But the bigger risk lay in having our lives permanently defined by the specter of unhappiness.
Recognizing and choosing happiness wasn’t – and still isn’t – easy for me. It’s far easier to bemoan the circumstances in one’s life, to focus on what I have no control over, instead of looking at what I can do.
It isn’t easy setting boundaries and removing unhealthy friendships. Or realizing that the time has come to leave the confines of a corporate identity to forge one’s path. Or trying to define and sell yourself when you’re still figuring out what it is that you’re looking for. But as a wise farmer said not too long ago, “Nothing is supposed to be easy, you just have to make it work.”
So at different points in our life paths, we closed our eyes and leapt for the sake of our own happiness, and yesterday’s dinner was one fine example of the perfect landing. A risk-taker’s reward for daring to dream and push boundaries. It’s moments like this that articulate a lesson I know intuitively, but easily forget when life doesn’t seem to be going my way: When you choose to break free from unhappiness, many blessings follow.
Judging by the friendships forged in the few years that this blog has been around, I have been very blessed indeed.
Bomboloni & Meyer Lemon Curd
My lunchmates on Twitter chose “Small Spring Bites” as the theme for this month’s lunch date. With our Meyer Lemon trees in full production mode, it was pretty clear that any Spring recipe needed to feature this sweet citrus fruit. My vessel of choice were little Bomboloni, the smaller Italian versions of their Polish cousins, Paczki.
Based on the recipe in Gourmet Traveller. I substituted sugar for honey, vanilla paste for orange zest and melted the butter before incorporating it into the batter, as it makes for a smoother mixing process than merely dumping cubes of butter into the dough.
- 1 pound/ 450 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3½ ounces/ 100 grams sugar
- ½ cup/ 130 ml water, room temperature
- 6 teaspoons/ 30 ml milk, room temperature
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons, 45 grams unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
- Vegetable or corn oil, for deep frying
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, bring together 3½ ounces/ 100 grams of flour, yeast, half the sugar, and water. Stir the ingredients and mix until smooth. Cover with a plastic wrap and leave to rest in a warm place until the mixture is foamy (about an hour).
- 2. Add the milk, egg yolks, vanilla paste and salt to the mixture and use a dough hook on low speed to incorporate the ingredients.
- 3. Slowly add the rest of the flour a few tablespoons at a time. Add the melted butter and mix for another 4-5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- 4. When ready to cook, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and let it warm up a little before rolling it out, about 15 minutes.
- 5. Roll out the dough to half-inch thickness and cut out rounds with a 1.5-inch diameter cutter, discarding the scraps.
- 6. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy-bottomed saucepan to 350F/180C. Deep-fry, without crowding the pan, turning each disc once or twice for even browning, until puffed and golden.
- 7. Drain on paper towels and roll in sugar before serving with meyer lemon curd on the side.
Meyer Lemon Curd
Based off the recipe in Flour, my version omits vanilla and adds lemon zest to emphasize the heady citrus notes of meyer lemons. This makes 2 cups.
- 1 cup meyer lemon juice (about 7-8 lemons)
- 1/2 stick/ 57 grams unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup/ 150 grams sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1. Combine lemon juice, butter and cream in a saucepan, place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil.
- 2. In the meantime, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks in another heat-proof bowl until well blended. Whisk in the sugar to the eggs and egg yolks.
- 3. Remove the lemon juice from heat and whisk it into the sugar-egg mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, until all of it has been incorporated.
- 4. Transfer the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and return it to medium heat. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling, for 5 to 8 minutes (I took 6 minutes), until the mixture thickens.
- 5. Immediately remove from the heat and strain the curd into another bowl. Stir in the salt and lemon zest.
- 6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Don’t forget to check out other spring bites from fellow lunchers: