When I was six years old I got mumps and measles at the same time. I looked like a clown and suffered profusely. “We should dress the child in red,” said Divna, “It will help. Red will take care of it for sure.” Divna was from the villages, she came a couple of times a week to help with the house while Mom was at work. “That’s nonsense Divna,” Mom replied. “I do not believe in that kind of stuff.” Mom was never too fond of Divna, I think it was the clash of personalities. Or perhaps, it was because Divna always got distracted playing with me and never managed to complete her duties. I will never find out, because Mom is now gone and I forgot to ask her about Divna when there was still time to ask.
Regardless of how Mom fell about the witchcraft, as soon as she left for work, Divna promptly dressed me up in red clothes, head to toe, and wrapped me in a red blanket. By the time Mom came back, both the swelling and the dots have almost disappeared, and I happily sat in the bed devouring Divna’s chicken soup. Divna beamed, Mom refused to comment, and I developed an everlasting infatuation with red.
Red is a powerful color, the color of life. The color of blood and passion. The color of fire at the very center and the sunset at the very end.
Red is a symphony.
I got married wearing a bouquet of red roses and black patent Mary Janes. Red for love, happiness and good luck. And Mary Janes, well, they are Mary Janes...
When I feel happy, I bake “red” cookies and serve them on red china.
When I feel blue, I bake “red” cookies and serve them on red china.
When I feel special, I paint my nails in Chinatown Red and while the polish is drying, I look at the shiny red tips of my fingers -- it's a meditation.
When I need comfort and security, I wear my red parka.
When I need a little bit of healing, I resort to the red blanket.
And it still works.
Cranberry Thumbprints with Hazelnuts & Rosemary
* 1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1/3 cup hazelnuts, plus another 20 or so for decoration
* 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 4 oz unsalted butter, softened
* 1 large egg yolk
* 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 tsp kosher salt
Toast the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that the hazelnuts toast evenly. Remove the hazelnuts from the oven when they are fragrant and golden, and allow them to cool at room temperature. Once the hazelnuts have cooled completely, rub them with your hands or between two kitchen towels to remove the skins.
Reserve about 20 hazelnuts and cut them in halves. Chop the rest of the hazelnuts.
In a small bowl cover the cranberries with warm water. Let stand for 15-20 minutes, until they are plump. Drain completely and dry with paper towel. Chop the cranberries finely.
In a different bowl, mix the rosemary leaves with the sugar.
In a mixer fitted with paddle, beat the butter with the rosemary sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg yolk. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and beat until smooth. Add the salt and flour and beat until incorporated. Fold the cranberries into the dough.
Place the dough onto a work surface and knead until it comes together. Press the dough into log or a disk and refrigerate for about two hours, until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (325° convection bake).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Take about a tablespoon of dough and form a smooth ball. Press the ball gently with your fingers into a patty, slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. If needed, smooth out the edges of the patty with your finger.
Arrange the cookies one inch apart on the baking sheets. With your thumb, gently press a hazelnut half into the center of each cookie.
Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until they are lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about five minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack or flat surface to cool completely.
Let the cookies rest for a day before serving.
Makes about 30 cookies