most of the time i cook, i do it without a recipe. this is less because i am some kind of expert and more because i have this weird chip on my shoulder where i feel like i can't really take credit for a good meal unless i made it up. despite this oddity, i spend an inordinate amount of time browsing food blogs and the new york times' dining & style pages; i've been mentally collecting recipes i wanted to try, and this weekend i decided to give them a go. i found out rather last-minute that i'd be making dinner for sam's family up in connecticut, so i fell back on a couple old reliable recipes, and tried two i've been saving for just such an occasion.
smitten kitchen, if you haven't heard of it, is one of my favorite food blogs to peek at. actually, it's one of my favorites even if you HAVE heard of it. the photos are gorgeous but feel like real life, not staged food photography, and she makes everything in her small brooklyn kitchen, which leaves me well assured i'll be able to do the same. and every recipe i've tried has been straight forward & delicious.
recipe here. mine even came out looking almost IDENTICAL to hers, until i smothered it with bacon.
i also roasted a couple of chickens - this has become a sort of 'old reliable' for me, as sam likes them so much that i've gotten pretty good at making crispy skin without drying out the meat. i stuffed 'em with a bunch of corn we picked up from the farm stand; that, and the extra meat, came in really handy the next day, too, when i made a chicken pot pie (recipe tomorrow!)
sam's sister had a ton of tomatoes that she'd offered up for use in the meal, so i pulled out this beaut i'd been eyeballing for some time now: the new york times' tomato tart tatin. my theory: finish anything with a sheet of puff pastry and it will be delicious. (again, a theory i put into action with my pot pie on sunday.)
sam, ever my fishing-lovin' man, had caught some perch and a trout the day before, so i whipped up our honeymoon soup and used the trout in place of the salmon - DIVINE. a lovely amuse bouche.
and lastly, my in-laws have a beautiful yard (it's where sam and i got married) with a couple of pear trees absolutely jammed full of pears, so i peeled a few and poached them in a sweet white wine with a bit of honey until soft. tip: i really meant to cut them in half and core them before i started poaching, but in my rush to get everything done i totally spaced it and they were impossible to cleanly cut - sam's mom did me a huge solid and chopped them up for me, but they'd be a lot easier to handle - and a lot prettier - if you cut & core them first. i served them atop vanilla ice cream with a quick caramel sauce & toasted almonds i whipped up. (i had to serve 'em quick before the hot caramel and almonds melted the ice cream, so no finished product photos.) this is a great way to use pears if they aren't ripe yet.
and that's the meal! it was a lot of food, and several dishes, but really only took a couple of hours - i find that if you mix a couple of dishes that take some time on the front end, then bake for a long time (for example, the potato roast or the chickens,) and mix those in with a couple of dishes that have some prep involved and need your attention for the whole process, but don't take much time to bake (the tart tatin and the soup,) it's really quite manageable to make a four course meal all on your own. a dishwasher helps.
thanks as always for reading, and i'm sorry i've been kind of slack on answering comments and getting back to folks lately - i'm getting back on the horse this week, i've just been a little busier than usual lately.