I'm back from New York, and soooo glad to be back in my own kitchen. It's tricky cooking in someone else's house, even if that someone else is your own mom. I spent 20 minutes searching the cabinets and pantry over and over for vanilla. Eventually I found it in the refrigerator. Like I said, tricky. I cooked a few recipes from her copy of Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof while I was there, but not enough to warrant a real trial of the book. For what it's worth, I'm not running out to buy my own copy anytime soon. Many recipes are for meats that are too expensive to make on a regular basis. It is a book for entertaining, so I get that, but I'd go broke if I really tried to cook out of it consistently for a chunk of time. On the flipside, there were a lot of other recipes that were pretty uninspired. Roasted kale. Spinach with feta. Hard stuff to get excited about. The couple of recipes I did make--I don't remember the actual recipe titles, but I made a mustard marinated steak, shrimp with fennel, and salmon with guacamole on top--came out fine, but weren't fantastic, and were not, in my opinion, good enough to serve company. Salmon with Guacamole is a remarkably tasty combo, so it scores points for that, and was mine and mom's top-rated dish of the bunch.
Anyway, I've returned to Naples to find that it's hot. Really hot. And electricity is too expensive, so AC during the day is not an option. Fortunately, I get a nice sea breeze during the day, so it's not too bad until I have to lock up the heavy metal security shutters at night. This place heats up fast when I turn the oven on. Now I understand why Italians take riposo from 1-3 (or 4, or 5, depending on who you're talking to), and don't start cooking until 7-8 pm. It's too stinkin' hot to cook.
Oven avoidance, merged with my overwhelming desire to eat as much of the beautiful produce as possible makes my next book a logical choice. An additional reason is that I wanted to cook from a book that I'm not certain is a winner. If the recipes suck, I need the space for the four books I bought in the US. I didn't plan to buy four. Whoops. Don't judge me--I haven't been in a bookstore in a year!
Drumroll please! My next book is....Meatless, by Martha Stewart.