February is the month for comfort foods and sweet cherries. Cherry pie, chocolate-covered cherries and Black Forest cake are all good, but a flaky warm croissant stuffed with fresh cherries and thick cherry jam can be better. A croissant named for its special crescent shape goes way back in history and is still a favorite in French bakeries and as a continental breakfast in America.
On Thursday morning - Valentine's Day - I enjoyed a croissant and cup of coffee and, despite the lack of fresh Tahoe snow, I was still in heaven. It was a special day that brought back good and bad memories on the South Shore that came with love, loss, challenges, and change this month of February.
At 7 a.m. Groundhog Day, my sibling, Simon the senior Brittany, and I got on the road to Sacramento to pick up Skyler, my new, 9-week-old, tricolor blue merle Australian Shepherd puppy. As a night owl, this feat was challenging - a foreshadow to changing my serene senior life as I once knew it. Snacking on cookies and chips (I wish I had made a batch of croissants) to keep awake and deal with the twists and turns in the mountains was a prelude to my pre-puppy lifestyle.
When our eyes (his are currently hazel) met for the first time - it was puppy love. The long ride home back to the Sierra was better than expected. The docked tails of both boy dogs were wagging fast. All was calm. My 200-mile drive to sedate the dogs worked like a charm. Everyone was dog tired. Then, the 3 p.m. vet check also was lucky. My rocky raccoon eyes from lack of sleep widened when Skyler (13 pounds of fluff) received an "A" for the hands-on physical exam. Exhale.
Cherry Almond Croissants
1 tube refrigerated croissant rolls
8 tablespoons cherry jam
8 tablespoons fresh cherries, pitted, chopped
8 tablespoons almonds, sliced
Cherries, fresh and whole (for garnish)
Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Pop open a package of rolls. On a flat surface, unroll the pre-cut eight triangle-shaped dough pieces. Put a tablespoon each of jam, cherries and nuts on each triangle (the wide end). Roll into croissant shape. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Serves eight. (Pair with a pat of European-style butter or cream cheese, and fresh cherries to make these croissants even more decadent and eye-catching.)
These croissants taste sweet and hearty with the cherries and nuts, both of which are heart-healthy foods. In less than 30 minutes, eight croissants greeted me fresh out of the oven, much like when my eyes met the eyes of my new Aussie. I knew it worked. And this Valentine's Day is one that I will cherish - much like semi-homemade croissants. And when I enjoyed my croissant and coffee, I recalled months ago someone told me that I'd have a new pooch by V-Day. I felt at peace once again with the warmth of a tasty light breakfast, two dogs and a cat.
Motto: Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something different to warm your heart and soul can be a welcome surprise that can titillate the senses.
- Cherries like blueberries are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants.
- Anything chocolate such as ice cream and truffles is a super mate with cherries.
- Cherries can lower risk for heart disease; February is Heart Health Month.
- As the story goes, George Washington chopped down his father's cherry tree and admitted the deed when questioned: "I can't tell a lie, Pa."
- Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is-www.calorey.com.-