Imagine a sitcom called “That’s My Lebovitz.” It takes place in Paris at the chateau of an emigre American pastry chef who loves to shake his rolling pin at old French women and humor the visiting American nebbish (played by me) who insists on learning things about Paris and baking and taking pictures of his food. Each episode begins with the pastry chef trying a new recipe and at the end, when the nebbish learns a valuable lesson, the nebbish declares in a sing-songy voice: “That’s my Lebovitz!”
This week’s episode–”Toffee Trouble!”–begins when the nebbish rings the doorbell.
Lebovitz: Go away! I’m making toffee butternut crunch! Look at this picture from my website, it’s going to be delicious.
Adam: Lebovitz, you crank, let me in. I have a class tomorrow with a teacher allergic to gluten!
Lebovitz: So switch classes.
Adam: I can’t switch classes. It’s my masters thesis class.
Lebovitz: Then switch teachers.
Adam: Lebovitz, that’s impossible. I’m breaking down the door.
[Adam breaks down the door. Lebovitz is wearing a feather boa and a tiara.]
Lebovitz: Damn you, look what you’ve done. I have a photo shoot in an hour. Is my tiara on straight?
Adam: Listen, that buffy torternut crunch…
Lebovitz: Buffy torternut? You mean Toffee butternut.
Adam: Oh, bless you. Buffy Torternut was my girlfriend in high school.
Lebovitz: Yeah right. Like you went to high school.
Adam: How do I make it? My teacher who’s allergic to gluten loves candy.
Lebovitz: I have the recipe on my website. Read it there.
Adam: But I’m here! And we only have an hour–
Lebovitz: Very well. I set up a station over there for you. Start by toasting your hazelnuts.
Adam: Hazelnuts? I thought this was ALMOND toffenut.
Lebovitz: Well I’m out of almonds. So toast your hazelnuts.
[Adam stands over a fire.]
Adam: Ahh, ok we’re toasty.
Lebovitz: No, you fool, the hazelnuts on that tray. Put them in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.
[Adam does. They come out looking like this.]
Lebovitz: Now peel them.
Adam: Peel them!? How do I do that?
Lebovitz: Did they teach you nothing in law school? You rub them together in a towel ’til the skins come off.
[Adam attempts this. He makes a big mess.]
Adam: Ok, done, what do I do next?
Lebovitz: Put them in a food processor.
Adam: They’re in!
Lebovitz: Now pulse until chopped between fine and coarse.
Adam: Is this coarse?
Lebovitz: I’d say it’s fine.
Adam: Finely coarse?
Lebovitz: Coarsely fine.
Adam: What next?
Lebovitz: Spread half of the nuts in a pan. Now make the toffee by putting water–
Adam: How much water?
Lebovitz: 2 Tbs. And butter–
Adam: How much butter?
Lebovitz: 1 stick. And sugar–
Adam: How much–
Lebovitz: Oh Jesus. Let me just do this part.
[Lebovitz makes the toffee. Pours it on the nuts and adds chocolate chips.]
Adam: What next?
Lebovitz: In two minutes, spread the chocolate around and add the rest of the nuts.
Adam: And then?
Lebovitz: That’s it.
Adam: You mean that’s it?
Lebovitz: That’s it. It cools and you have candy for tomorrow’s class.
Adam: I don’t believe you.
Lebovitz: Ok, then don’t believe me.
[Adam stands with his hands on his hips. Time passes.]
Adam: Yeah right that this is it. I’m sure there’s another step.
[Lebovitz is silent.]
Adam: I suppose you think you’re making a point by being silent. I suppose you think I’ll break off a piece of this now-cooled candy and try it myself.
[Adam breaks off a piece of this now-cooled candy and tries it himself.]
[It is delicious.]
Adam: It’s delicious.
[The photographer arrives.]
Lebovitz: Ok you need to leave now!
Photographer: Monsieur Lebovitz, the white tigers are in the back.
Lebovitz: C’est bon. (to Adam) Leave you foolish American!
[Adam grabs his candy and scurries out the door. He pops his head back in and says to the camera...]
Adam: That’s my Lebovitz!
Canned laughter. Theme music. Credits.
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Favorite Food Sites:
- 101 Cookbooks
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- Serious Eats
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- The Food Section