Last night my girlfriend said she didn’t have time to bake. Which is one thing when you are trying to keep the cookie jar full, and another when there are three bakery cases. I haven’t baked for the crowds for a long, long time, but it’s like riding a bike really–you just have to jump on and forget about remembering. She had chocolate ganache in the fridge without a home; I rolled that into truffles and dropped them into a dusty coat of Belgian cocoa. I made a pilgrimage to the walk-in regfrigerator for inspiration and from that made a tart of fresh ricotta, mascarpone, lemon zest and a little sugar topped with caramelized apricots and dried cherries over a shortbread crust, cantucci with dried figs plumped with a shot of brandy and toasted pignoli, brutti e buoni (ugly and good cookies made from two parts ground almonds, one part sugar and egg white to moisten), panna cotta with caramel, and a pan roasted apple lasagna with a bruschetta crust. I could say I did it on my own steam, but it’s amazing what a handsome man stoking a wood burning oven to make pizzas at the other end of the kitchen will do for stamina. Job perks.

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