I Wanted to Love It

September 18, 2008

Are you a bread pudding person?  I finally have to admit that I think that I am not.  Sadly.  Because it seems that anything involving such a decadent combination of eggy bread, thick heavy cream, a couple nests’ worth of eggs and a small mountain of sugar should be a hold-the-presses sort of affair.  But instead, I’m just left thinking, “meh.”  I want to like it.  Really I do.   But, instead, I end up thinking how I could’ve traded in the same list of ingredients for a couple delicious bowls of ice cream and a stack of French toast (byo maple syrup, though with this particular bread pudding ingredient list, you could always just douse the French toast with Frangelico; just an idea!).


Bread pudding just seems like it should be such a good idea.  So comforting and rich.  So beautiful, especially just out of the oven when it’s swollen and golden and fragrant.  But I think it’s the culinary equivalent of skinny jeans or mini-skirts or knee-high gladiator sandals: just not for me.  Luckily this particular bread pudding was the end to a nice, lazy dinner with two of our friends who we haven’t seen in too long.  So there was much catching up, slide-showing, Cubs game watching and, yes, wine drinking to make up for the non-show-stopping (at least for me; everything else seemed to think it was fine) dessert.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Midway through making this soup, I thought about giving up: throwing in the towel and tipping the entire pot into the trash.  Let me explain.  First, I’m not crazy about black bean soup to begin with.  I always get the feeling I’m spooning something that is meant to be scooped up with a salty tortilla chip.  Something made for dunking, not slurping.  But I found a recipe that looked hopeful (because (a) it included chipotle chili powder, which I happen to adore, and (b) it included canned tomatoes, which promised to remove the soup from the chips-n-dip category, and (c) called for bacon, which is all I will say about that) and took a chance.

And, then, halfway through, the pot looked like chili.  Identical, in fact, to the chili I made while we were in Canada.  And while that chili was very good, if I’d wanted chili, I would’ve made chili.  And I got to thinking that a ruined dinner, or even just a so-so dinner, was no way to start a week—which is always how I feel about Sunday night: on the verge of a brand new week, with no idea how exactly it will unfold.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Putting the Pesto to Work

September 16, 2008

You might be wondering what I did with yesterday‘s sage-and-walnut pesto. While it was arguably good enough to eat by the spoonful, I did not do that, you will probably be relieved to know. Instead, I used it to perk up a grilled cheese sandwich of sorts, which was just about the only thing I wanted to eat on Sunday, after two whirlwind, wedding-hubbub-filled days, one of which was apparently the rainiest in Chicago history. And we all know that a grilled cheese sandwich on a rainy day is truly one of life’s kindest treasures.


But it wasn’t just any grilled cheese, I’ll have you know. It had the standard bread-and-cheese components, sure, but even those were dialed up a notch from yesteryear’s slices of Wonder Bread and American cheese: I used a hearty multi-grain loaf and whisper-thin slices of Swiss cheese. And I continued to gussy up the once-humble sandwich by liberally slathering the slices of bread with the sage pesto I whizzed up earlier that day and by scattering some shredded roast chicken leftover from the other night (which just so happened to have been roasted with several sage leaves slipped under its skin).  The end result was perfectly gooey and pure comfort.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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See-Sawing Between the Seasons

September 15, 2008

As the late summer has slipped into a very autumnal mid-September, I find myself selecting recipe after recipe that allow me to sit on the fence. I don’t want to give up on summer just yet and the continued appearance of summer produce at the farmers’ markets, the occasional sunshine-soaked day and the fact that I still haven’t started my job at the law firm all combine to convince me that I don’t have to give up—not just yet. But there are other things—the early sun sets, the chilly evenings and my daily desire to pull out my sweaters and scarves—hurtling me toward fall.

As my brain see-saws between the two seasons, my palate does the same. One minute, I am craving a light, tart sorbet and the next minute I am hankering for pumpkin, baked into something sweet and tinged with baking spices that must have been born in the fall: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, clove, ginger. And, well, it’s all rather confusing.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Guess what?!? It’s time for another All Photos Friday! Sorry, folks, no upside-down cakes, quality control or vacation photos here today. Just a series of step-by-step photos of the creation of a summer squash gratin (which is, by the way, a perfectly delicious way to savor late summer produce in a heartier, fall-ready format). I’d write more, but my friend Brynn (yes, that Brynn!) is getting married this weekend and I’ve got very important bridesmaid (oh gosh, I just realized I am a bridesmatron; I do not know how I feel about this) duties (for instance: manicure + pedicure). So, until Monday, enjoy this installment of All Photos Friday, which could just as easily be called Knife Skills Friday. Or Someone Buy This Woman a Mandoline Friday. You can click through on the photos to Flickr for captions, but the photos are pretty self-explanatory.

(Click “more” for the photos and the recipe.)

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