Friday, May 20, 2011

A Trifecta

I finally got around to cooking Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach (pg 380). I like cream. I like cheese. I like garlic. Mix 'em together, and how could you go wrong? I'm not sure, but something was off with this dish. I can't put my finger on it. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I expected to. Dorie compares it to risotto so much in the intro, that I thought it would be a little wetter and loser and, therefore, just a tad lighter. This was thick and heavy and tasted stale. It needs something to freshen it up--lemon or fresh herbs thrown in right before serving, or something. As it stands, it left me feeling icky. That said, I still ate these leftovers for lunch instead of lentil soup. Poor, unappreciated soup. Should I just toss the soup now, or wait my obligatory two weeks?
Conclusion: Indifferent. Not bad, but not very good.

Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake (pg 438) has been calling to me since I bought this book (and since it's on the back of the visitandine page, which got sticky, it now conveniently opens directly to this page. Fate!) The description sounded wacky and delicious: "a simple puddingish cake, almost like fine-grain polenta, dotted with raisins and coated in caramel like a flan." Now, I've been known to scalp people who got between me and a flan, so having an easy flannish dessert in my repertoire would spare much future bloodshed.

Cold, semi-solid farina was one of my favorite breakfasts as a kid, so again, this sounded like a hit to me. Plus, it's easy, and broken down into Mom-friendly steps (meaning that, except for watching that the caramel doesn't burn, the process can be interrupted without ill effect). You cook farina in milk. Once thick, add sugar and vanilla and allow it to cool. Eat four or five spoonfuls, because it tastes like vanilla rice pudding. If you've left enough in the pan, continue on...Make caramel and coat the bottom of a cake pan. Mix beaten eggs and raisins into the "batter," add to the cake pan, and bake.

I almost had a wipe-out catastrophe inverting the cake out onto a plate. Just as it dislodged from the pan, the plate slipped a bit. I only busted up the outer edge, thank God. It wouldn't have tasted as good if it mingled with my tears while I licked the whole thing off the floor. The mess turned out to be a bonus because I was able to sneak a taste from the broken piece without actually having a slice before dessert. It's cozy (there's that word again). It makes me want to curl up with a book on a rainy day, and it's made with common pantry ingredients, so if you found yourself stuck at home on a rainy day, you'd absolutely be able to whip it together in no time.

Conclusion: Love, be it cake or pudding. Want to stick my face in it, but will wait until Matt gets home from work.

I massacred Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes for dinner tonight, but it tasted good anyway. I can only imagine how great it would have been if I actually executed the recipe.

I was out of onions, so I thought I could skip the first step, which is to gently cook onions in oil for 30 minutes. Then, you're supposed to add chicken stock, honey, and herbs, and layer prunes, then browned chicken thighs, then cut-up sweet potatoes, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Turns out that when you simmer honey and prunes for 45 minutes without any oil in the pot, you end up with an inch of burned sludge on the bottom.
 Oopsie. Still, the chicken was falling off the bone and was infused with the cinnamon, star anise, and cayenne spice. Yum.

Conclusion: Liked it. Will definitely try again, and reserve the right to upgrade to "love."


  1. I enjoyed the semolina cake as well, but I'll skip the fruit bits in the batter. I'm curious to make the rice now. Great post!

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