Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bookending Bologna

On Friday, two hours before we were scheduled to leave for the train station to head up to Bologna for the weekend, Charlie requested pancakes. This kid asks for specific food so infrequently that I decided, sure, let's have pancakes for lunch.

I've had Nigella's Cheesecakelets (pg 191 of Feast) in my head for quite a while, ever since I first saw her whip them up on her tv show. Despite the name, these don't much resemble cheesecake. They have cottage cheese in them, and she says that they remind her of her grandmother's cheesecake. Who am I to argue with an individual's food associations?

There's not a ton of flour involved (only 1/3 cup), especially when taking into account that there are 3 eggs. The eggs are separated, the whites whipped, then folded into the batter.

I found these pancakes to be impossible to handle. They stuck to the griddle and were very slow to cook through, meaning that I kept flipping too-wet pancakes to try to keep the glued-on bottoms from burning. It was a hot mess. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe my pan was too hot. I didn't heat the pan any differently than I normally do for pancakes.

I managed to get one to stay intact for Charlie, and he ate it (including cottage cheese) without complaint. I wound up with the torn up messes, and didn't bother cooking the remainder of the batter. The flavor wasn't unique or interesting enough to make this recipe instead of a normal pancake recipe, especially when taking into account how difficult they were to actually cook.

Conclusion: Dislike. Pain in the ass. I may try and slip some cottage cheese into our normal pancake recipe in the future though, for extra protein, since it didn't seem to bother Charlie that it was in there.

I made sure I had all the ingredients on hand to make Penne alla Vodka (pg 133 of Feast), because it seemed like it would be easy enough to throw together on Monday, after a day of travel. It was. This was very delicious, and it tasted like home. Not my actual home, because vodka sauce was not something my mother ever made, but my neighbors did, and I used to like ordering it in restaurants. Kids need vodka too. What? haha.
One thing I found odd, and that I'm not sure I would do again, is that, instead of adding the vodka to the sauce, which is the only way I've ever seen this made, Nigella has you mix butter and the vodka in with the drained pasta, prior to adding it to the sauce. This made it much more obvious that vodka was involved, which may be why she prefers it. I don't know. I think it tastes smoother and less jarring when mixed with the sauce. Also, on Monday night, I'd pulled out Charlie's pasta prior to adding the vodka, and he inhaled his entire plate of pasta and sauce. Last night, I tried to give him the leftovers (which included the boozified pasta), and we fought about it for two hours. In retrospect, I'm wondering if he could taste the difference. It's equally likely that he was just being a pain. The majority of our meals turn into fights, so who knows.

Conclusion: Loved it.

We adults ate Dominican Chimichurri Burgers (pg 152 of The Epicurious Cookbook) last night. The intro describes this as a "messy masterpiece." Messy, yes. Masterpiece? Let's not go crazy.
The basis of this burger--ground beef mixed with diced onion and red pepper, garlic, cilantro, oregano, soy sauce, and Worcestershire, topped with a mixture of mayo, ketchup, and mustard--was very good. I know, because I had the leftover patty for lunch today, minus all the extra unnecessary hooplah. The hooplah in question is sliced cabbage and shredded carrots cooked for two minutes until wilted (huh? Why? It was still crunchy. Not sure what the point of this step was.), grilled tomatoes, and grilled onions. I don't like all that messy crap on top of my burger. The whole thing fell apart while I was eating it. It's just a peeve of mine. The cabbage and carrot was especially unnecessary. Out with it!

Conclusion: Liked it, minus the toppings.

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