My husband insists that I am a "gourmet chef." No matter how much I deny it, he and my friends have stuck what I consider to be a somewhat un-flattering label on me. I always feel like the term suggests snootiness of some sort, or looking down on folks who don't like to cook, which isn't the case. I've given up the battle and have just decided to accept the name and believe Jesse when he insists it's a compliment.
But oh, I do love to cook and bake! According to friends that we have over for dinner, I don't make "normal" food - I make fancy and unique foods. Mind you - they don't seem that unique to me, since I get them all straight out of food magazines or cookbooks, but I get bored having the same thing over and over. I had a 3-week meal rotation plan in college and while it worked and helped me gain grocery-shopping skills, I wasn't happy with it. So now I'm a Rebel and try new stuff every week, though I do try to incorporate old favorites in at least a few nights a week for Jesse's sake.
Lucky for me, I must have been born with some natural skill in the kitchen. I helped my mom in the kitchen growing up, but not much. And most of my help included setting the table, grating cheese, slicing vegetables, doing dishes, etc. I almost never planned and executed a full meal for the family. So I don't really think I can say I learned to cook growing up. I baked chocolate chip cookies and some brownies on occasion. I never made bread or pie or steak.
But I've realized in the last year that I really do know how to read recipes, even if they seem really complicated at first glance. I think I have a knack for looking at a recipe and deciding whether it will be good or not, because for a new bride, I've had surprisingly few kitchen mishaps. Jesse insists that 99.5% of my meals are successful. I'll have to relate my .5% in another post... because when I DO fail, I fail miserably!! Let's just say we won't be having scallops again... ever!
This last week I tried a new bread recipe (real yeast, rise-y bread is now one of my favorite things to make, regardless of my mother's loving eye-rolling at a hobby she can't possibly understand) from my Betty Crocker of all places. I found the same recipe on the website, though they give brand name ingredient suggestions. It's delicious, and fluffy and soft, probably because they have you roll it out and then roll into a tube before putting it in your bread pan. I usually bake my bread artisan-style on a baking stone, but the pans were new and fun. I made a second batch a few days later and rolled it up with a layer of cinnamon. It was even more delicious but could be improved with about double the cinnamon and perhaps some raisins... I've been tinkering in my head with new ways to make it.
Tonight for dinner we're having baked ravioli (a repeat favorite) with a new bread recipe I want to try. I guess I shouldn't call it a recipe because I am making it up, but here's the story:
A few weeks ago I went out with some girlfriends to a little Italian place, Pegasus on Alki and two of my friends ordered their feta garlic bread. I have never tasted anything like it. This is what I will try:
1 fresh Italian loaf with
some fresh garlic, mashed and mixed with butter with
tomato-basil crumbled feta sprinkled on top with
sunflower seeds sprinkled in around the feta.
Go ahead. Try and tell me that won't be mouthwatering. I've never thought of putting sunflower seeds on garlic bread, but I know now that I've been wrong all these years. Garlic bread SHOULD have sunflower seeds and feta.
I can't wait to try it. I'll try to take pictures and post them later...