othing specifically told me to get into cooking after our official honeymoon was over, I just suddenly felt compelled to get into the kitchen. Minus a few weeks here and there for travel and work, I have successfully met my goal of trying a new recipe every week. Meeting the goal of making every recipe delicious hasn’t been met yet…
Even with my overambitious nature, I know I’m not going to get it right the first time every time. Yet having done easy to really super ridiculously hard to family recipe has me feeling both accomplished and energized for the next one!
Recipe 1: Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Banana Bread by Ambitious Kitchen
Bill-safe banana bread! In our oven the bananas made it more like a pudding than straight-up a loaf, but eventually it just became a moist bread. Unfortunately for Bill, this was basically the first, last, and only recipe I attempted that was safe to his SCDiet. Sorry, Husband.
Inspired by our recent Maui honeymoon, I just wanted to recreate this Fish Market moment:
This recipe is meant to come from L&L’s Hawaiian, but here are my takeaways: It’s too much for the lone carb-eater in the house (AKA: Save it for a luau.), and just don’t bother with low fat mayo.
Recipe 3: Mac & Cheese by Anthony Myint via Lucky Peach
Anthony Myint developed this $10 version of mac and cheese for Lucky Peach (with a $100 counterpart), so I thought: “Hey, it’s cheap, which makes it good for experimentation, right?” -Yes, but no. It wasn’t tasty the way I think mac and cheese – sizzling in a skillet, topped with crispy crumbs and bacon – should be. But it was the perfect opportunity for me to face my latent fear of open burners. To put this together, I had three burners going at the same time, did not burn myself, and came out with a big ol’ batch of mac and cheese.
I’m definitely revisiting the world of mac & cheese recipes in the future, and this time will not be skimping with basic cheese. It needs to be all about the cheese. Sharp, smokey, strong. It’ll be nice to have a go-to potluck item that plays so well with my name, “So sorry I’m late! Here is my signature Maykaroni & Cheese. You’re welcome.”
Recipe 4: Beef Stroganoff by Paula Deen via Food Network
Well this made me feel fat. Having not “browned” any beef before (something about browning and Paula Deen doesn’t seem right), I didn’t cook the beef long enough. But it was another good beginner recipe to get me practice in working with liquids on the stove – and attempt a couple personal alterations!
For some reason I thought it’d be full-circle fun to chop up some of the wild onions in my yard and toss ’em in with the sauce. It wasn’t. Wild onions stay wild because they are small and hard, so unless you like picking pearls out of your gravy, don’t do it.
I don’t like chewing mushrooms, so I left them out of the dish. It made for a slight lack of textural diversity, and as I mulled the sauce over on my tongue, I realize it also lessened the depth and dimension of the sauce. Next time when I attempt stroganoff, I’ll still pour in some mushroom gravy, and perhaps figure out something else to add to the squishy noodles and fibrous meat.
Recipe 5: Limeade
We had buckets o’ limes left over after our wedding, and you’d be surprised how difficult it is to come across one seminal limeade recipe to follow. For starters, few recipe leaders point out how ripe limes should actually be yellow, and then there are a million and one takes on how much sugar if sugar, how much honey if honey, zesting, mint, use of heat, etc.
In the end, I made two goes of it. The first one failed because I was being lazy just throwing whole (warmed) limes into a blender only to learn that lime peels are bitter. The second was good but a total timesuck because I forgot we had a juicer (I’m not familiar with our kitchen, I told you!) and got tired of screwing the limes over our rinky dink IKEA juicer. The yield was so minimal given the strain on my hands that I just threw the last third of our limes into the yard to decompose.
(Bill later retrieved these limes and threw them in the actual compost bin because he is not sloppy.)
Recipe 6: Croissants via Fine Cooking
Here’s where I really got crazy. I love croissants. Chocolate croissants, almond croissants, Costco croissants. Did you know that croissants take three days to make? I DID NOT.
I went into this one with a remarkable degree of cognitive dissonance. I rather conveniently did not acknowledge how the recipe scrolled on forever, and how the entire process would take three days. I had only just recently gotten used to running multiple burners at once, and here I was laminating butter.
So anyway, the results weren’t actually that bad. Other people were able to eat them without dying, and I am pretty fucking impressed by myself. One half of the batch got a little botched only because our oven, like everyone else’s, isn’t perfectly calibrated to this specific recipe. If I were to attempt this again,* I’d bake both sheets of croissants in the upper racks as opposed to splitting them between top and bottom.
Also, I learned what the heck a dough hook is for.
*If I attempt this again, it will be for Christmas, and a select baker’s dozen friends will each receive one single, solitary croissant that they will have to enjoy for the rest of their French pastry-lovin’ lifetimes.
Recipe 7: Strawberry Shortcake by Connie Robinson via Fran Harder
And now we get to family recipes – NEW family recipes! On July 2nd, while at the supermarket with some friends gathering supplies for their July 4th party, I decided I should make perfectly summery strawberry shortcake. Not just any strawberry shortcake. Strawberries with shortcake biscuits like Bill’s Mom makes. Bill’s mom who is now my mom-in-law. Bill’s mom who is now my mom-in-law who is a good cook but excellent baker.
These biscuits are awesome. I have had them in Bill’s childhood home topped with honey and butter and then I would chase them with, like, two more, because they’re basically the early snack pre-food engineering for mouthfeel and flavor bursts. Perfectly buttery and crumbly-fluffy-dense, here’s an easy recipe where allowing for imperfections like flaky dough makes for a more rewarding and interesting tasting experience. You eat one of these and you’re like: So that’s what KFC is selling…
Here’s the recipe for these Harder-Robinson biscuits. Just add peakable whipped cream and macerated strawberries (add honey if you must):
Makes 6 servings
- 3 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons shortening (or butter)
- 1 cup milk
Sift flour with salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut in shortening and 1 tablespoon butter with pastry blender or two knives until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add milk and mix lightly. Turn on to floured board. Knead gently a few times and pat into sheets about 1/4 inch thick. Spread half of biscuits with butter and place unbuttered one on top. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
If you are using butter it’s easier to cut in if it’s soft. The secret is not to handle the dough too much and not to overcook them. I try to take them out of the oven when they’re cooked but just barely brown.
-The Original Mrs. Robinson