Unemployment sucks. It’s not fair that you work and build a career over many years and by the stroke of a pen or “brilliant cost-cutting idea,” POOF! It’s gone. Prada to Payless overnight. Nope, not fair, not one tiny bit! Waa-waa-waa. There. Feel better? Everyone in this situation caters their own pity party eventually. And it’s perfectly ok to do so for a little while. You have to process the crap in order to get past it and move forward. But, swimming in it ‘til your fingers get all pruney? Even you wouldn’t want to be near you. At some point you need to suck it up and “Snap outta it!” Yes, it sucks, but now what? What’s your next step forward? That’s a hard question to answer, even harder to actually do once you’ve answered it.
But do it you will because the fact is, there really isn’t a choice. My aunt calls this “putting on your big girl pants.” Naturally, I think of it as time to put on the “big girl shoes.” Sure it’s daunting and scary as hell, but tackling something really hard always is. Know what? It makes you feel pretty damn good too. Like walking around in a pair of five-inch Louboutin’s as though you came out of the womb with them firmly in place (sorry Mom). So get your waa-waa-waa on for a bit, then take a deep breath, strap on them “big gal shoes,” and get ready to kick the crap to the curb and conquer the world!
These two recipes may seem daunting, but they really aren’t hard at all. What they are is impressive as hell to your guests. However, do not tell them they were easy. Just smile sweetly as they continue to believe you are a kitchen goddess. It makes them feel good.
Make-ahead chocolate soufflés
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) Serves 6-8
Soufflés scare most cooks. We’ve all watched the scene in Roman Holiday when Audrey Hepburn pulls her perfect soufflé out of the oven and watches it sink into a big cheesy turd. These little babies will put that fear to rest. You make them as individual soufflés rather than a big one and bake-off only as many as you need (and guess who gets to have chocolate soufflé for breakfast the next day?). Plus, they get made ahead and frozen. When you are ready, you just pull them out of the freezer, pop them in the oven, and voila! Accept the applause, you Rock Star!
5 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 tablespoon softened, remaining butter cut into ¼ -inch chunks)
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 Tbsp for coating the dishes
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarse
1/8 Tsp salt
½ Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau work nicely)
6 large egg yolks
8 large egg whites
¼ Tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
Optional toppings and add-ins: fresh raspberries, Clementine sections, dried apricots or cherries, crushed pretzels, salted peanuts or other salted nuts, crushed candy canes, Reese’s pieces or other small candies, whipped cream or whatever!
Coat 8 one-cup ramekins with1 Tbsp butter, then coat inside of dish evenly with the 1 Tbsp sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.
Melt chocolate and remaining butter in medium bowl set over pan of simmering water. Turn off heat, stir in salt, vanilla, and liqueur; set aside.
Bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 Tbsp water to boil in small saucepan, then simmer until sugar dissolves. With mixer running, slowly add this sugar syrup to egg yolks in a thin stream — you don’t want sweet scrambled eggs. Beat until mixture triples in volume, about three minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture. Clean beaters.