The Recipe Club

Food & Friendship Blog

More From Good Morning America

A few months ago, we had the amazing opportunity to have our book and our Recipe Clubs featured on Good Morning America. Taryn Brill from GMA reported on our Brooklyn Recipe Club meeting, during which we shared our stories in an intimate gathering:

Laughter was a main ingredient during the GMA Recipe Club meeting with Taryn Brill.

Laughter was a main ingredient during the GMA Recipe Club meeting with Taryn Brill.

We were honored when Diane Sawyer spoke enthusiastically about our book and the Recipe Clubs.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer

But not every member of our Recipe Club had an opportunity to tell her story in that wonderful segment. So we’re delighted to share this one from Lauren, who discovered that a simple tale about food could encompass all the emotions of a life-long relationship:

Salt of the Earth Cousins

Lauren (left) and her cousin Leslie (right) today... cousins who survived a chocolate cake fiasco.

Lauren (left) and her cousin Leslie (right) today... cousins who survived a chocolate cake fiasco.

My cousin Leslie and I became fast friends when she came from Ohio to stay with us for a summer when I was 13 and she was 16. We wrote meaningful letters full of angst and dreams, had long phone conversations. We visited each other in the various places each of us have lived, and lived together for a period during college. We were each other’s bridesmaids, and are godmothers for each other’s children. I love her parents as second parents, and I know she feels the same about my single mother. We helped each other through her daughter’s premature birth (she’s almost 10 now) as well as her father’s death, and this year, my mother’s death. The two of us used to meet annually for a weekend in the Berkshires, between our homes in Boston and New York. We’d talk till all hours, till we couldn’t keep our eyes open, catching up on all the details of our lives, and all the people in them, replaying memories, laughing till our sides hurt.

Leslie being two and a half years older, at first took sort of a motherly attitude towards me, and helped to cultivate my free-thinking, feminist education. She passed along to me her copies of Siddhartha and the Golden Notebook. When I once complained that I was lonely, she said, “You’re going to be alone a lot in your life; learn to enjoy it.” Which gave me permission to enjoy being by myself, which I have ever since. Later, we got on more of an equal footing, which meant we argued more. But something that characterized our relationship from early on was our willingness to make the best of things. No money to go out? Fine. We’ll have a great time gabbing over a pot of tea. No pears for a pear tart? Fine. We’ll use apples.

We also challenged each other to be strong, think for ourselves, live authentically. And argue. Leslie loves to argue! If she doesn’t like you, she’ll let you know—which didn’t work out too well with a couple of my boyfriends. She’s also a gossip and a busybody and she can’t keep a secret to save her life. She’d probably say I need to lighten up and gossip a bit myself, that I’m too standoffish and mistrustful. In recent years, these tensions caused a deep rift between us. For a few years, we barely spoke except at family functions. But what amazes me is that I could be fuming mad at her, but if I hear her voice on the phone, or see her, I feel a natural affection and concern for her. It is a simple fact I love her. That doesn’t waver.

But this is supposed to be about food, so when Leslie was 18, and I was turning 16, she was living with my family and waitressing at a fancy French restaurant in downtown Washington. She managed to talk the chef into giving her the secret recipe for his amazing chocolate torte, and though it cost a chunk of her wages in eggs and chocolate, she attempted to make this cake for my birthday. She whipped and melted and beat and baked. Finally, she removed two flat brown pans from the oven. “What happened?” she cried. “They didn’t rise!” “Let them cool,” I suggested. “I’m sure they’ll taste fine.” But when they cooled and we both took a taste, we spit in disgust. Awful! She’d used salt instead of sugar. Leslie started to cry. “What’ll I do? What a waste!” I don’t know what possessed me but I said, “C’est la vie!” and picked up one of the cakes and threw it at her. She was so surprised, she screamed. Then she picked up the other cake and threw it at me. We picked up the pieces and flung them at each other. In minutes, we had chocolate smeared on our faces and clothes, chunks of it in our hair. The kitchen was a disaster. And we were laughing hysterically, having the time of our lives. It didn’t even phase us when my mom came home and yelled at us. We’d made do as always, finding the sweet in a salty situation.

Lauren & Leslie’s Chocolate Torte

Source: Little Michael’s Restaurant

Makes 3 – 8” round cakes

  • ½ lb. butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted in double-boiler
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 12 egg whites (kept cold until needed)
  1. Whip butter until white. Add sugar. Beat until creamy. Add yolks, 1 at a time. Add melted chocolate. Fold in walnuts. Change mixture into a cold bowl.
  2. Whip egg whites in large cold bowl. Fold into chocolate mixture in thirds.
  3. Butter sides (not bottom) of pans ; line bottoms with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.


  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee mix
  • 1 teaspoon coffee
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ¼ cup packed, unsifted confectioner’s sugar
  1. In double-boiler over low heat, melt chocolate, butter and coffee. Cool completely.
  2. In a mixer on low speed, beat sour cream, vanilla, salt. Gradually beat in sugar, scraping sides of bowl with spatula. Add chocolate and beat on high speed 7 minutes until smooth.

Serving suggestion: serve with fresh whipped cream.

2 Responses to “More From Good Morning America”

  1. Gail Says:

    Just finished your book. Once I started it, I just couldn’t put it down. The tears are still flowing. Just wanted to express to you both what a wonderful, wonderful book you’ve written

  2. polhemus Says:

    Thank you, Gail! We are so pleased that you loved the book.
    –Andrea and Nancy