Dinner for David

On Sunday night my friend Patsy hosted a dinner to remember our friend David Jordan, on the second anniversary of his death from ALS. I used to work with David at DOJ, and when his illness eventually confined him to his home, I joined a group of friends who would gather with him on a regular basis to play bridge. We played bridge with David until the very end, even though someone else had to hold his cards and his speech became so labored that is was difficult for him to bid or tell someone else what card to play for him.

Bridge nights were a full blown social event, including dinner, wine, and the latest gossip. I always brought baked goods. Failure to take in enough calories can be a concern for ALS patients, so while David was still able to eat solid food, he was able to freely indulge in anything I brought over.

For this dinner, I decided to make the Buttercake Bakery Marble Cake and Profiteroles with Pistachio Ice Cream and Hot Fudge Sauce. For the profiteroles, I used a cream puff recipe from my mother's 1978 edition Betty Crocker's Cookbook. The recipe is extremely simple. You bring half a cup of water and a half a stick of butter to a boil on the stove, stir in half a cup of flour over low heat until the dough forms a ball, and then take the mixture off the stove and beat in 2 eggs. You drop the dough in balls onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until they are puffed and golden. After they cool, you cut off the tops and scoop out all of the soft dough inside, leaving only the outside shell. My mother used to make this recipe when I was growing up, and I have made it many times over the years. Sometimes I go to the trouble to cook a custard filling; sometimes when I'm lazier I've filled them with instant pudding or ice cream.

The pistachio ice cream recipe I used just might be my favorite ice cream recipe of all time. It is unbelievable in combination with the Warm Chocolate Souffle it was paired with in Bon Appetit. But for a dinner for 15 hosted at someone else's home, I didn't want to deal with making souffles and thought that profiteroles were a much more sensible solution. I was planning to bring along a bottle of chocolate syrup, but when I noticed that the expiration date on my bottle of Trader Joe's Midnight Moo was long past, I decided to make my own chocolate sauce. The recipe I found from epicurious.com was outstanding. It made a thick glossy sauce that was black as night.

I miss you, David. I hope I did you proud.