If you call me tonight at around 9 p.m, it’s very likely that I’ll be crying. Yes, I sometimes schedule my emotional breakdowns. People do that, right? This time, I’ll be sad because I’ll be watching the series finale of one my all time favourite shows – Parks & Recreation.
I recently binge re-watched (re-binge watched?) it and have fallen in love with it even more. I have new respect for Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) and beyond the brilliant comedy and zaniness of the series, they’ve written her as a strong female lead (let’s just ignore Season 1). I really respect that they’ve made her a competent, ethical & driven government employee who still cares about her friends and the welfare of a crappy community. Pawnee really sucks but I love almost every character on that show. I really respect Amy Poehler and although I think that Tina Fey is my spirit Comedienne (Liz Lemon FTW!), Amy Poehler is someone I’d want as my best friend. I want to be her Ann! This final season has been fantastic and it has been wonderful to see so many guest stars revisit the show. Every second of every episode is like an easter egg. Bonus points – Chris Pratt was already killing it as Andy Dwyer long before he became Star-Lord.
Amy Poehler’s memoir “Yes, Please” is also a fabulous read. I was particularly inspired by one of her mantras in the book – “good for you, not for me”. Too often we compare ourselves to other people and where they are in their lives, and get down on ourselves and what we have. I am guilty of doing that too. Additionally, we get bombarded with pressure from society or people to act a certain way or accomplish certain things for no other reason than it being expected of you. Maybe you think that I’m wrong and my experiences are unique, but that’s one of the best parts of reading a book. That specific moment when your mouth drops open because you feel like the author is speaking to you alone is an indescribable comfort. I’m a pretty liberal chick, and I don’t believe that there’s only one right way to live a life. Good for you and what you have / do / believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s for me. And just because I might do or want something that you don’t, it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong (or right, as a matter of fact). Your judgment can stay right there on your lips because my ears aren’t taking visitors. That’s my grown up way of saying ‘talk to the hand’.
Her memoir also shows what a great friend she is in real life. Seth Myers (host of Late Night on NBC) writes a chapter. He and Amy hosted the SNL Weekend update desk for a few years. During this time, she was pregnant, and a few hours before the show, she went into labour, so he would have had to host alone that night. He writes that her message was “My water broke. You’re gonna do great!” I love that. I love that she found the time to encourage a friend while in the process of giving birth, and that he was an evolved enough person to understand and appreciate it. This is about the time I should say #friendshipgoals. In that vein, I’m grateful for the friends in my life, and I hope that I can be a Leslie Knope / Amy Poehler to all of you beautiful, tropical, naïve land mermaids. I love you and I like you.
So. On to food. How does anything I’ve said relate to food? Anyone who watches Parks & Rec will know that Leslie is obsessed with breakfast food – specifically waffles from JJ’s Diner. In one episode, JJ tells her that she spent $1000 the previous year on Waffles alone. Re-watching the series made me seriously crave waffles and I tried to break out the waffle maker but it’s pretty much shot. When I celebrated my blog-iversary a few weeks back, Rabin told me that I should do a “treat yo self” (which is another terms made popular by this show) and buy something to celebrate. I’m looking at waffle makers and if you have any good waffle recipes, send it my way, ok?
Until I get my new waffle maker, I’m sharing a recipe for Chocolate Pear Hazelnut Puffs. It’s very close to a chocolate croissant (which is close to waffles…sort of…) and all in the same ‘fancy’ breakfast realm.
I found this recipe a while back at the Born in 82 Blog. Because the recipe is so simple, you can modify it to your taste, which I did. I got really into the combination of Pears, Hazelnuts and Chocolate last year – check out my Hazelnut Pear Muffins and Chocolate Pear Tarts – and decided to bring it back.
Chocolate Pear Hazelnut Puffs
1 sheet Puff Pastry
1/4 cup Hazelnuts
1 small Pear (I used Anjou)
8 – 9 pieces semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
Powdered sugar, for dusting (if desired, but recommended)
Take a sheet of puff pastry out of freezer and thaw for approx. 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast hazelnuts for about 8-10 minutes until browned. Remove from oven, allow to cool and remove skins by gently rubbing. Chop nuts.
Cut each rectangle of baking chocolate in half, and cut pear into small pieces. You will have extra pear remaining.
Flour a piece of wax / parchment paper. Unfold pastry and using a rolling pin, lightly roll out so that it is about 2-3 inches larger on each side. Ensure that you carefully pull up each corner and continue to sprinkle flour underneath to avoid sticking.
Cut into squares (I ended up with 16 squares) and in each, place a piece of chocolate, pear, and some hazelnuts. Fold the corners together to meet in the middle and pinch shut.
Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in oven for 25 – 27 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, but is very recommended.
1. Usually, you would use an egg wash on the pastry for it to brown and crisp up nicely. To be perfectly honest, I forgot about the wash. Go ahead and use the wash if you’d like, but you would likely need to reduce the baking time.
2. Rabin suggested that I used chocolate spread or chop the chocolate into finer pieces instead of the chocolate so that it would melt nicely and be ore evenly distributed throughout (what a nerd). I think it depends on the size of your puff. If you cut them on the small side, there’s really nowhere for the melted chocolate to go. I see his point though, so that decision is totally up to you.
3. Pinch the dough together to make it stick. The ones that I didn’t opened up a little unevenly, and a few opened up in a scandalous way that might offend a conservative person.
So there you have it. This will be my snack for tonight as I say goodbye to one of the strongest female characters on TV. Ron Swanson insists that there is no sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast food, so I hope these puffs qualify. Maybe I should also stock up on puffs…tissues?