Monday, September 22, 2003

Friday night was, as it was the week before, bread baking night. I made the honey cracked wheat bread from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone (which is an odd title, since Deborah Madison says she prefers using bulgur instead of cracked wheat, and you can use honey or molasses, so what I made was really Molasses Bulgur Bread, which I suppose is less tasty sounding). Man, is bread dough sticky. I am counting the days until Christmas- my constant hinting to my mother and Jeff ("So, Mom, when exactly did your mother buy you your KitchenAid? Was it a Christmas present?" "Uh, did my mother give me the KitchenAid? I think maybe she gave us money, and we used it to buy it..." "But a KitchenAid would make a GREAT gift from mother to daughter, wouldn't it??") combined with a sale at Kohl's has lead to a cobalt blue future for me. My sister is jealous, but as I said, is she baking bread and making pizza dough every week? "No, but I would if I had a KitchenAid." Sorry. You have to prove it first, I think. Those suckers are pricey.

So anyway. The for now still hand kneaded (kned?) bread turned out really well. It didn't rise as high as I wanted it to, but Jeff liked it much better than last week's sandwich bread. I like it, too, but more with Better N' Peanut Butter than as a sandwich bread.

I almost don't even want to write about Saturday night's dinner. It is too awful to bear. It was Date Night, "Date Night!"- complete with its own sound effects. We went to see the amazing Lost In Translation at the Arclight during the Date Day portion of Date Night. Then we came home and were going to have a wonderful meal of roast duck and potato puree with walnut oil from The Cook And The Gardener.

The roast duck, y'all. A Very Good Roast Duck, according to Amanda Hesser, who felt she had finally arrived as a cook when she could roast a duck successfully, and who can cram it. I am NEVER AGAIN using one of her recipes where she has you use a roasting pan to make a pan sauce because the roasting pan barely fits on the stove and is just not shaped right to make a pan sauce. I am also taking some of the blame since I took out the liver (not the heart, I tossed the heart, I couldn't bear it) and cooked it in butter and chopped it up and then squicked out. The liver squick plus the roasting pan made the pan sauce fail to happen. I can totally eat foie gras that someone else has made delicous. I can't do liver that I pulled out of a bird my ownself.

Anyway. The duck itself, after 65 minutes and plenty of basting, was nowhere near mahogany or even kind of browned, but it was definitely done. Jeff said it was like good roast beef. Uh, thanks. I hate you, date night duck. I blame Amanda Hesser while Jeff blames the bird. I also blame myself, my oven, and Amanda Hesser one more time.

But then, the potato puree was amazing. So I can't fully hate her, just her roasting pan pan sauce ways.

Sunday I wowed Jeff with my omelet skillz- he had not had one of my omelets since I'd perfected them (and it is a classic omelet I make. I think. Dammit.), omelets being my Jeff's away and I don't want to wash too many dishes dish. He was suitably impressed. Then we went to stock up for our dinner party next week at Ikea, or as I think of it, Swedish Hell. I always get stuck behind some Ikea-addict tools who are discussing the designers by name and arguing the merits of a dresser designed by Dagmar Hammerskjold or whatever. Dude. It's pressboard. Chill. However, their $3.99 six pack of wine glasses can't be beat.

Then, Sunday night, to get right back on the horse and prove myself after the Duck Disaster, I went for potatoes roasted in duck fat. This redeemed the disaster because some of the duck went to tasty use, and because I used a recipe for rosemary roasted potatoes from the notorious Zuni Cafe Cookbook. She has you simmer the potatoes first, and then toss with rosemary and olive oil (or duck fat). Oh, man. Like mashed potatoes with a crispy delicious shell.

Also, my Sunday night ritual of making salad dressing and mayonnaise for the week. I used Deborah Madison's recipe from VCFE, and it made a much paler in color mayonnaise than I am used to. However, it held up better in a sandwich- sometimes handmade mayonnaise, out of the refrigerator, breaks down at room temperature. And she has 9 million variations. I may have found my mayonnaise.

The salad dressing is an eternal quest. Let me ask Jacques Pepin why, exactly, if his dressing in a jar from Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home holds up so well in a jar in the refrigerator, as he claims, was it solid when I went to get it this morning? Hmm? I'm going back to whisked vinaigrette next week.