January 31, 2011
Learning the hard way
It's Monday night, and after a long day at work, I came home full of enthusiasm to work together with Dooley to make Chicken and Dumplings from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook . We had bought 5 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs, and got to work preparing everything. This dish is made entirely on the stovetop, and we should have learned our lesson about the large burner, but we got 'burned' again. Actually, the dish got burned. The directions say to simmer everything for an hour before you make the actual dumplings, so we went after the first 20 minutes to stir the pot, only to find, on opening the lid, that all the vegetables were stuck in a burnt gluey mess on the bottom. We were able to rescue the chicken, but threw everything else away and started over. This time we put it on a smaller burner and didn't leave the kitchen while it was simmering.
I wonder if we'll ever figure out how to use that large burner. It seems to run way too hot.
The meal was delicious, despite our difficulty. And we found that even in the stressful situation where the cooking has gone wrong, we can support each other instead of get upset. For Dooley and Doolia, that's a real milestone. It feels good.
January 30, 2011
While waiting for the multigrain bread to proof this afternoon, we watched the movie Julie and Julia. We are totally inspired by the parallel stories of these two women. And our own story that makes theirs so compelling.
So we have decided tonight to make Hungarian Stew from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. It uses 1/2 cup of sweet paprika, so I went to my favorite store in town, "By the Pound." There, I found five different kinds of paprika and selected sweet Hungarian paprika, as specified in the recipe. It cost $12.99 a pound, but for a half cup, it cost me less than $2. Gosh, I love that store!!
We got started on the stew at 7:30 pm, which was a mistake. We should've read the whole recipe more closely before we began. It takes about four hours from start to finish.
Although the prep was pretty simple, by 10:00, only half way through the broasting time, we decided that couldn't wait until 11:30 to eat. So I took the pot out of the oven and we ate it. Unfortunately, deprived of the last 90 minutes in the oven, the meat was tough, but still edible.
It would have been so good if we had waited, but I couldn't keep my eyes open and I didn't want it to burn like Julie's boef bourguignon had in the movie. So we will be making this recipe again and starting it at about 1pm so we can actually eat at dinnertime.
I also added a note in the margins of the book to cook some egg noodles--this is mentioned in the introduction to the recipe, but neglected in the actual recipe. So we forgot the noodles and just ate it like soup.
Ah well, live and learn!!!
A beautiful Sunday with sparkling clear skies, bright sunshine, and more cooking. Today Dooley and Doolia deviated a little from our quest to cook all the recipes in The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook But not entirely.
Dooley made omelettes again, and this time, he made them two at a time, rather than trying to make 5 all at once. They turned out even better than the prior attempts. He has decided that he should do them one at a time, though, hoping that they will come out 100% tender and not overcooked. It seems our stove's large burner runs a little hotter than we realized.
For lunch, I made bagels from scratch, using a recipe I found online, at http://hubpages.com/hub/Homemade_bagel_recipe_Make_great_nadrolled_water_bagels__its_as_easy_as_baking_a_loaf_of_bread. It's a little hard to join the ends into circles, and they dry out a little in the final proofing uncovered on the countertop. So next time I'll cover them with plastic wrap while they proof. But they are right fun to make and even more fun to eat. Another thing I'm going to try next time is to substitute Barley Malt Syrup for some of the liquid
Then for dinner, we were a little worn out from our weekend's efforts, so we tried a very simple dish from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook, Spagetti alla Carbonara. Wow, it's easy and out of this world delicious! We have decided that this is our quick and easy dinner for those nights when we don't have the energy to make a more ambitious recipe. Everyone, even our picky-eater youngest daughter was wild about it.
I love this cookbook because the folks at America's Test Kitchen have done all the testing of ingredients, techniques, and recipes. If you follow the directions to the 'T', you'll wind up with a fantastic dish to eat. Dooley loves it because it is teaching him techniques that he never would have had the courage to try on his own. Everything is so clearly written, fully described, and pictures and diagrammed that it's hard to go wrong. It's a real blessing.
January 29, 2011
Having eaten a wonderful Saturday breakfast of omelettes and hash browns, and read the recipe for multigrain bread in The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook,, Dooley and Doolia are baking bread!
It takes several hours due to proofing the dough, but oh my goodness, it's worth it. I have a bread machine and have made multigrain bread many times, but it has never come out this tender, this flavorful.
We decided we wanted to make a double batch, and measured out the ingredients for two batches (in separate containers, luckily) and then I realized that one batch makes two loaves. And then when the single batch was ready to go into the loaf pans, I learned that we only have one loaf pan! Must've lost the others when we moved. So one loaf went into the pan, and the other went onto a baking stone so it came out more like an artisan loaf. The recipe says you have to let the bread rest for at least 3 hours after it comes out of the oven and oh, it was hard to wait. But we did, and I can honestly say it is the best multigrain bread I've ever tasted.
It's Saturday and ala Julie and Julia, we're making something from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.
Spurred by his recent success in the kitchen, Dooley is making omelettes for everyone today. And eldest daughter is making hash brown potatoes (from American Favorites, another Cook's Illustrated cookbook, currently available for only $17.50--buy it!.).
And I get to sit by and watch. This is a FIRST in our marriage. For the past 23 years, I have been the one bustling about in the kitchen on Saturday mornings. I don't know what to do with myself!
So the potatoes turned a little blue because daughter didn't cook them right away, but aside from the color, they were DELICIOUS.
The omelettes were terrific, although Dooley tried to cook them all at once and the outside of the egg was a little browned, and he wanted blond eggs. They tasted wonderful, though, and I felt downright pampered.
January 25, 2011
Home from the hospital
Dooley was discharged from the hospital today, after 20 days in-patient. He is immensely better, and we embark on our cooking quest ala Julie and Julia. We're making something from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.
Our first recipe and Dooley's first cooking experience was a double batch of Hot and Sour Soup. There's a lot of fussy cutting involved, cutting bamboo shoots and pork chops into matchstick sized pieces, but with the two of us working side by side, it went quickly. The soup turned out SOOOO good. And just the right combination of tart and spice. Dooley is hooked. And so excited about our new adventure!!
January 18, 2011
Why "Dooley and Doolia?" Healing and growing in the kitchen
Why "Dooley and Doolia?" As a present to myself this Christmas, I bought "The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, and a set of DVDs for the show's 10th season (2011). I am very excited about the recipes in this book, and have made a plan (a quest, really) to make almost every recipe, ala the book/movie, Julie and Julia. This cookbook has over 600 pages, so I'm not setting a time limit for myself, though. I shall refer to myself as "Doolia" in this blog.
So when hubby ("Dooley"), working on recovering in the hospital, was trying to identify some activity that we could do together to help him continue to recover and help our relationship get back on track, I suggested that he join me on my quest. Dooley has never cooked a thing in his life before, beyond heating up a can of soup or TV dinner in the microwave. So I was so surprised when he enthusiastically said, 'yes!'
So you might wonder why we decided on "almost every recipe" rather than every recipe. Firstly, I won't eat clams, mussels, squid and the like. Secondly, our condo complex doesn't allow either charcoal or propane grills on the property. Fire hazard, you know. Too risky.
We see the benefits of this new endeavor as this: 1) We will spend time in the kitchen together which will give us extra face time to chat and be together. 2) Our relationship will improve. 3) Dooley will learn to cook. 4) All of us will eat a healthier, more diverse and nutritious diet. 5) Dooley will get out of the house to grocery shop. 6) Our diet will include more meat and vegetables, and fewer carbs. 7) It gives hubby something to look forward to every day. 8) Each day's cooking is a short-term project with the instant gratification of a delicious meal. 9) Clean-up is easy and everyone can participate.
So this blog will follow our progress as we cook our way through the book and hopefull into a better, closer relationship, and a healthier Dooley.