Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Kitchen Inspiration

Skillet with Seasoned Breadsticks

I’m pretty tickled to be in the kitchen these days.  On Wednesday night, I made a frittata, a terrific grated carrot salad, and a chocolate egg cream.  The food and drink were delicious, but more importantly, I felt so happy and at ease in the kitchen.  Onions were browning, broccoli was roasting, chocolate syrup was bubbling, and I was in the middle of it all and loving it.

I think it was a little surprising to me because lately, I’ve been hearing the siren’s call of food prepared by someone else.  The temptation to eat out has been almost overwhelming.  Certain things I used to do all the time, like bake my own granola, have fallen off my radar.  And once I’m out of practice at doing something, it can be really hard to get back in the groove.

I’ve also been feeling overwhelmed by the almost-constant mess in my kitchen.  Does this happen to you?  Your sink never gets quite emptied, and before you know, it’s time for another meal and another round of dirty dishes.  In a moment of miraculous sanity, I spent a healthy chunk of Sunday afternoon cleaning all the leftover dishes—the ones that remained from Saturday night’s dinner, or lunch, or…I think you know where I’m going with this.  The sight of my empty, sparkling sink was almost too much for me.  I felt both liberated from the tyranny of dirty dishes as well as somewhat bereft, like I’d lost something I expect to see whenever I walk into the kitchen.  It’s strange, I know, to feel comforted by the sight of dirty dishes.  But those dirty dishes were also weighing me down, making it hard for me to justify more cooking when I can’t seem to get a handle on the mess from past meals.

The clean kitchen was enough to shake off my apathy and get me busy at the counter and the stove.  And, as if that weren’t enough, I’ve been finding all sorts of terrific inspiration on the interwebs, from sources new and well-loved.  Today I thought I’d share a few of those things to inspire your weekend cooking.

* Dates have been on my mind lately, and lo and behold, I can’t stop thinking about this date cake.  Dates, coffee, chocolate…oh, yes, I’ll take a slice or five.  Sign me up!

* I loved this multi-book review on Cookbook Slut.  I originally found my way there because I was curious about a book named Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes, which, even without reading it, got me all rattled and worked up, probably because it just hits too close to home.  Do I want to be a professional, or do I want to ditch my job and tend a dairy herd and grow pumpkins in a pumpkin patch?  Anyway, Cookbook Slut’s review covers a host of books about people who have put food, community, and sustainability ahead of lucrative careers.  It certainly gave me food for thought!

* I really, really want to make this classy, sassy Mustard Tart from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  But for crying out loud, did no one check the recipe and realize that there’s no amount listed for the ice water used to make the dough?  To add to my woe, the water is mixed with an egg before being incorporated into the dough, so I wouldn’t even trust myself to make the pastry by feel.

Nerdy researcher that I am, I have consulted another text, Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat.  She has several pastry dough recipes that call for an egg yolk.  Her Sweet Pastry Dough, which is pretty similar to Dorie’s in its ingredient proportions, calls for beating the egg yolk with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and one tablespoon of ice water.  If I used Dorie’s pastry recipe, I’d probably mix the egg with one tablespoon of water, then keep some ice water nearby in case I need a little bit more to help the buttery dough come together into a nice fat disc.  (Or I’d just say to heck with it and use Ammie’s pie crust because she’s a pie-making goddess.  I’m shocked she hasn’t posted the recipe on her blog!  Ammie, please remedy this oversight post-haste.)

* Speaking of French cooking, I thought this post about Julia Child’s legacy, in cookbook form, was great.  I like culinary history quite a bit, and the more discussion of it on the internet, the better!  Also, I think I might be spending many more hours reading Cookbook Slut’s archives…

* I need a loaf of this spunky Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips in my oven ASAP.  Olive oil in banana bread?  Why not?  If we can make cakes with olive oil, we can certainly make banana breads with it.

* And for my last two links, I will point you in the direction of two of my blog friends.  Does anyone else find Jess’s early-morning baking utterly delightful?  I just love the idea of a new day, a clean and quiet kitchen, and the oven preheating patiently while you mix together flours and cream butter with sugar.

* Finally, Shannon is crazy in the best way possible.  She’s up in Boston making white chocolate truffles with wasabi.  Oh my.  I want one!

Happy weekend, my dears!  I’ll see you back here on Sunday.  Bring your soup spoons.


Chrissy (The New Me) said...

Our kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes 80% of the time and it kills me. AND WE HAVE A DISHWASHER! I don't know how this happens, except that we eat nearly every meal at home and it shows. Each week, I make a vow that we will start doing dishes immediately after meals and it works... for about two days. Sigh. I guess it's a small price to pay for the joy of home cooked food!

Rosiecat said...

Gah, me too, Chrissy! You'd think the dishwasher would eliminate the near-constant mess, but oh no. That would be too easy. I have too many things that are hand-wash-only, like my crockery bowls and the little plastic baggies that I reuse.

I too try to do dishes right after the meal, or even while I'm cooking, just to keep the mess at bay. But inevitably, I get tired and I go do something else. The dishes can wait while I relax :-)

Shannon said...

ooh, yes, those truffles were amazing :) sadly they are all gone! thanks for the shout-out! i recently saw a mustard tart that i want to try... maybe this one will convince you to give it a go?

Rosiecat said...

Hey, where are my truffles? Didn't you promise to Fedex me a dozen? :-) They sounded terrific.

Yes, that's the same tart from Dorie Greenspan's new book. It's a pretty involved recipe, so I'll have to save it for a mellow weekend. But I'm encouraged to hear another blogger praise the recipe! Hip hip!