Tracy Torres Wurzer, owner of the French Bee Bakery, shares her favorite Valentine’s Day recipes.
It’s all about the relationships.
I religiously shared this sentiment with my children as they were growing up. Whatever they accomplish in life, the only thing that really matters is the relationships they build and develop along the way. For me, food has been at the heart of nurturing relationships. Food is more than nourishment. It is how we communicate affection, express creativity, provide comfort and create memories. What I love most about owning the bakery is the opportunity to not only meet new people every day but the chance to foster meaningful relationships with our regular customers while creating wonderful sweets and savories. The simple pleasure of enjoying a dessert together while sharing conversation keeps us connected. I chose the following recipes because they are the ones I like to entertain with during this month of love and friendship. They are romantic, while being comforting as well.
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Although my focus has been to create a cozy space where others may come together to enjoy one another’s company, I was surprised and overjoyed that the bakery returned the favor to me. One day, while happily observing the customers around me nurturing their own relationships, my future beloved walked through the door. Simply ordering a freshly brewed cup of coffee, he took a seat in the bakery, and there began our own love story.
The bakery is a magical place for me. It was started at a time when my and my children’s life was in transition, but now through the love and kindness of family and friends, it serves as a daily reminder that all dreams are possible. I offer these recipes to you so you may create and entertain for your loved ones. May these not only satisfy your taste buds but delight as you sit around the table with the people most meaningful to you.
“We’re not an ‘authentic’ French bakery,” Wurzer says. “We’re a ‘from-scratch, homemade’ boutique bakery. They’re family recipes updated and made with fresh, local ingredients.” But oh, what treats they are. In the bakery, pastries galore—a variety of shortbread bars, cookies, pies, tarts and brownies—enough to tempt anyone toward the sweet side. The shop is also a popular lunch spot. Daily quiche selections, sandwiches, soups and salads round out the menu.
Opening the bakery was a lifelong dream for Wurzer. She had worked in development, but food was her passion. She started catering corporate box lunches to test the waters, “And it worked,” she says. The bakery opened more than three years ago, and Wurzer received a big assist from her four children, who were all in college at the time. “As a result, they all have their favorite treats named after them,” she says with a laugh.
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¾ cup olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, red wine vinegar, pomegranate juice and brown sugar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Mixed Green Salad
4 apples (I prefer Gala) cut in
½ inch cubes, skin left on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of baby spinach
1 cup of kale
1 cup of mixed greens
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
½ pound blue cheese crumbles
½ cup pomegranate seeds
Freshly ground pepper
In a large bowl, toss the greens with the apples and pomegranate vinaigrette. Top with the pomegranate seeds, blue cheese crumbles and pecans. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
4 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut in half
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
2 cups whipping cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss red peppers in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread cut side down on baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Roast peppers in the oven for about 25 minutes; or until the skins are charred and completely wrinkled. Rotate baking sheet if necessary. Remove from oven and cover tightly with foil. Once cool enough to handle, discard skins. Sauté onions and carrots in butter and olive oil until tender. Add roasted red peppers, stock and cream. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Purée the soup until smooth using an immersion blender or in a standard blender. Season with salt and white pepper.
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons butter, cold and diced into ¼-inch cubes
¾ cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In food processor, place flour, salt, cayenne pepper, butter (you may need to add more butter, a little at a time), Parmesan cheese and rosemary. Pulse to form a smooth dough. Roll out dough on a floured surface to quarter-inch thickness. Stamp out 20 hearts with a 1½-inch fluted, heart-shaped pastry cutter. Place dough hearts on parchment-lined baking sheets, a quarter-inch apart, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake until golden brown, approximately 8 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
9 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
Unsweetened cocoa for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter sides and bottom of a springform pan, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment and dust with cocoa. Slowly melt chocolate and butter together in a heavy pan over low heat, then cool. Whisk egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar over a double boiler until it reaches 145 degrees on a candy thermometer. Transfer to a mixer and whip until cooled. The yolks will be at a ribbon stage, meaning that when you lift the whisk over the mixture the batter should fall slowly forming a ribbon that will hold its shape for a few minutes. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and sugar mixture and blend thoroughly. Whisk egg whites with remaining ½ cup sugar until temperature reaches 145 degrees. Transfer to a mixer and whip until it forms medium peaks. Fold whites into chocolate/egg yolk/sugar mixture. Remove 1/3 of the batter, cover and refrigerate. Pour remaining batter into prepared springform pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Allow to completely cool, then top with remaining batter. Refrigerate until firm. Unmold from pan and decorate with whipped cream or powdered sugar and fruit, as desired.