15 November 2006

I heart Ruth Reichl

One of the prized wedding gifts (thanks, friends at the House of Love!) that I lugged back to Brussels from Vermont in my bulging bags was the big fat yellow tome that aspires to contain every recipe you'll ever need. It's called the Gourmet cookbook, a compilation of the best of the best from the Gourmet magazine.

The reason that this was the one cookbook I chose to put on our wedding registry is that the chief editor is Ruth Reichl. I will follow her recipes to the end of any yellow brick road, because her funny and food-infused autobiographical books (Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires) have made me believe that she is someone who knows and loves tasty food. Must be some sort of calculus in there: honest words sine cotangent derivative root blip blop blippety (can you tell how much attention I paid in calculus?) equals honest food.

Since bringing it home, I've been trying to make something from the Gourmet every day. (I kind of wish the title weren't so posh. There are no pictures, and while it has fancy schmancy dishes, it also has the basics. I'd even say more of the latter than the former.) I usually eat my cereal in the morning while poring over it to decide what delectable foodstuff I am going to prepare in the afternoon or evening. Even on the days I don't actually make something, I still fantasize about making something.

Here's a partial list of what I've made so far. Almost all of it yummy, only one thing burned (in my defense, instead of being labeled with sensible numbers that are actual temperatures, our oven has a preschool-style knob labeled from 1 to 9). Almost everything was made with substitutes and uncertain equivalents due to not being sure if French and/or Flemish labels were what I was looking for. For instance, baking powder proved difficult to find. Had to make do with flour that includes certain rising agents that I hoped were basically baking powder. Also, haven't been able to figure out which cream product is most like half-and-half.

(Ooh, while we're on the topic of why it's exciting but mostly frustrating to cook in a foreign country: it's fall, and I'm craving pumpkin, cranberry, and maple syrup, and I can't find any. I did find one store that sells cranberry juice, which is good, but not the real thing. I found a place selling "pumpkin soup" and snapped it up excitedly, but it was really only squash soup. Tasty, but disappointing when one was hoping for glorious pumpkin. I want to make pumpkin maple pie, and I want to make cranberry sauce, I whine, stomping my feet. Will it help if I whine louder?)

Raw apple muffins: This was the first thing I made because I had to try out my cool new silicone muffin forms. Squishy silicone is so much easier to carry in one's luggage than large muffin pans. M liked the muffins very much, and it was cute when he called them magdalenas.

Coconut macadamia banana bread: This is what burned. But it was still tasty, and I brought a loaf to Barcelona and everyone liked it, even my sister-in-law who doesn't like bananas. The silicone bread pans, also carried in my luggage, were the reason I endeavored to make bread, and they work great except it's much more dicey to carry a wobbly rubber, instead of rigidly metal, thing full of mushy dough to the oven. Much more likely to do backbends when you least expect it, risking the deposit of said dough over kitchen floor.

Beef(less) stroganoff: I just left the meat out of the recipe, didn't have to change a thing, and the mushroomy-ness and the sauce was deeelish.

Roasted cauliflower with garlic: Yum for roasted vegetables. Easy as pie. (But pie is not easy.)

Chipotle sweet potatoes: Though I continue to go pumpkin-less, at least the African markets in our neighborhood carry sweet potatoes, and I made them spicy and good.

Fresh mushroom soup: Made this week, the first night by myself after flying back from Barcelona alone (M in Strasbourg). I think I could eat this soup every night for a month, it was that yummilicious. I will make it again for M when he's back, and I will make it again after that.

Sesame spinach with ginger and garlic: Was kind of a no-brainer, and I could have made it without a recipe, but still. Glad it's there.

Tahini sauce: I bought tahini at the Oxfam store today, and so wanted to cook with it. This fit the bill, and was so rich and creamy put over my rice and vegetables that it was almost too much. Next time, maybe I'll eat it more like a dip.

OK, that's all folks. It's time for bed, and I'm still so stuffed from the tahini-rice-vegetable thing I made that I'm not even getting hungry from describing food. Tomorrow I fly back to Barcelona, for the second weekend in a row, and I'll meet M there, who is flying back from Strasbourg, at his grandmother's apartment, where we're staying for just two nights before flying back to Brussels. Dizzy yet? He flies to Guatemala on Sunday, so we just have time for relaxing on Saturday before it's goodbye again, blech. Although in Barcelona we barely have time for various meetings regarding the apartment we're buying and renovating, the good news is I have a little surprise up my sleeve...

1 comment:

Dave said...

I love Ruth Reichl's books too! Sounds like you've made some yummy food...