I’m not just full. I’m sated. Satisfied. Pushed to the limits in both the kitchen and dining room computer table before being returned safely to a now-expanded comfort zone.
When we last left our hero he had decided to take a week and prepare a series of dishes from his favorite food blogs. He would choose dishes from blogs he enjoyed reading for their own sake, while savoring the opportunity to experiment a little.
He also resolved not to add bacon to everything. But more on this later.
And, candidly, I couldn’t be happier with how well things turned out. I have some comments and pictures to share, as well as a fridge full of leftovers that you are all welcome to stop over and sample.
Osso Bucco from Cookingforengineers
I have prepared about five recipes from this blog, and each has turned out, I assume in exactly the manner the author intended. I think Michael, the blog’s author, would be sincerely flattered by that statement. I get the feeling that these recipes are tested and perfected quite methodically, and personally I prefer a smaller range of thoughtful recipes to a larger base of sloppy ones.
This was no exception. I mean, the method here is a classic braise, and the recipe basically writes itself.
Those poor little calves.
Risotto with sage and butternut squash from Abadeeba
Please consider the name “Marvin.” To me, it’s one of the few men’s names that manages to be simultaneously masculine and stylish. Precisely the reason I enjoy this blog.
I was initially taken back by the recipe. Not only does it contain butternut squash, which I guess is all the rage, it uses a combination of beef and chicken broth.
And you will note the recipe contains bacon. I swear I didn’t notice this until the evening I prepared the dish. Honest.
Of course I didn’t think it was appropriate to leave it out.
I did, however, substitute carnaroli rice for arborio. While It tends to absorb a little bit more liquid and requires a slightly longer cooking time, it tends to take on luxurious white sheen when fully cooked. Confession. This is the “risotto rice” I had on hand.
Banana Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes from Cupcakeblog
My friend Anna turned me onto this blog last year, and while it seems to have sense gone dark, the original posts are still up. This was the one that caught my eye.
Preparing these cupcakes made me confront a few shortcomings. I’m not that good at preparing pastry cream (coagulates too quickly) and I’m not that great at executing the “cut the cupcake open and scoop a dollop of pastry cream inside” manoeuvre.
I am not so good at frosting things.
And, of course, when it comes right down to it, I am not that great at following directions. Note the recipe called for “caramelized bananas” on top. My co-workers were nearly treated to “oxidized bananas on top” before I did some last minute surgery.
That said, these cupcakes were wonderful.
Mac and Cheese Paella from HuggingtheCoast
Have you ever been ADD’ing around the Internet and then just… stopped?
I don’t mean stopped as in “Not clicked somewhere else,” I mean, stopped. Cold. Your hands fall the table, your mouth just opens and the tongue falls out and you just stare for a while?
This is basically the reaction I had when I saw “mac and cheese paella.” Orzo pasta in a zesty bechamel spiked with seafood, peas, peppers and sundried tomatoes.
And plenty of pimenton.
Chickpea, Corn and Crunch Salad from thepinkpeppercorn
Okay, I will be sparing in my praise as to not once again embarrass this blog’s author. And while I can’t wait to try her cinnamon ice cream or braised pork with cherries, the point of the week was to step outside my comfort zone a little bit and so I tried her impromptu crunch salad.
I have never been a fan of the plain chickpea. Maybe it’s the word “Garbanzo,” maybe it’s some bad salad-bar memories, I don’t know.
But this salad really… WORKS. Any strange chalkyness of the chickpeas is perfectly countered by the sweet crunch of the corn. There is a green hint from the celery and a nice tang from the onion.
Oh, a bonus. This dish took like two minutes to throw together. I added sun-dried tomatoes just for fun.
Veggie Pot Pies from Dishing up Delights
I’ve come to really enjoy Esi’s blog. Her style is deceptively casual- when you read her recipes you can tell she brings a lot of skill and creativity to what she does… and she really knows her stuff. I also dig that she makes it a point to buy local, high-quality ingredients wherever possible.
I tried her veggie pot pie. This is the first time I’ve ever cooked with fennel. Just by looking at the bulbs I assumed the taste was somewhere between celery and onion. How little I know.
This is something I really do intend to keep making. It’s comforting, modular and flexible, and since I do end up cooking for my non-carnivorous friends, it it always useful to have a few of these recipes handy.
Panade with Chard and Caramelized onions from Orangette
Must. Not. Add. Bacon.
Why did I not know what a “panade” was until last week? Leftover bread sliced and arranged in a pie pan, topped with… stuff, usually veggies and cheese. I should be so lucky to be a French peasant.
I should add that I do have one happy and sentimental chard memory, of picking it in someone’s community garden plot two summers ago in Burlington, VT. I took this when she wasn’t looking.
Okay. We now return to regularly scheduled bacon.