Monday, January 10, 2005

Friday night we had apricot chicken with almonds and balsamic glazed potatoes. We had a friend over to play us his new album and since he is in a band and I therefore assume he is malnourished, we had him stay to dinner. (I actually assume anyone who does not cook is malnourished and am CONSTANTLY inviting people to dinner. It makes my husband a little crazy because if it were up to me we'd feed everyone we knew every day and I'd have to quit my job and then we'd never be able to afford all that food so we'd have to start charging and hey, that doesn't sound that bad. I could turn our apartment into a restaurant and then pay someone to do the dishes so Jeff wouldn't have any cause for complaint. Hmmmm.)

Anyway, the chicken and potatoes both turned out okay- the potatoes took FOREVER to cook because Gourmet magazine assumes you have two ovens and can cook one thing at 350 and another at 300. That may be a hindrance to my restaurant, in fact. However, I kept thinking I could do better. Neither dish seemed like the Greatest Glazed Chicken or even Good Potato Wedges. I felt an America's Test Kitchen urge come on and I think I may experiment with these dishes to make them good. And then I will write to Gourmet with my improvements and they'll hire me as a recipe editor! (My job is currently sucking all the life out of me. Can you tell?)

Saturday I made pizza. My husband gave me this book, American Pie for Christmas and y'all, it is riveting, riveting reading. It's all about Peter Reinhardt's journey looking for the perfect pizza and all he learns and in the back there are recipes for all sorts of pizzas, and I am going to cook each one this year. I made the first one, the classic pizza margherita, using his neapolitan pizza dough recipe and his crushed tomato sauce recipe and buffalo mozzarella from Chino (figuring local mozzarella was more authentic than imported Italian, right?) and basil from my balcony garden. I bought a new pizza stone, even, since I've broken the first two and figured this pizza deserved more than a preheated baking sheet. I heated the oven at 500 for an hour before baking and, y'all? This was the best pizza crust I have ever made in my entire life bar none EVER. It was chewy and thin and bubbled and crackled at the crust part and it was practically perfect. The buffalo mozzarella, though, was way, way too soggy and the last pizza I made, the one I got our friend Jeremy to photograph, tore in the middle because of the sogginess. But the non soggy pizzas were near heaven. This was one of the best Christmas gifts ever.

After that I made this pie (actually, I made the crust and the toffee on Friday). And it was the best pie crust I've ever made (I don't put up with store boughten pie crusts, even when Gourmet tells me to use them, and you wouldn't either if you made pie crust like mine), and the toffee was yummy, and my husband is still talking about the pie, it was that good.

To make up for my culinary triumphs, on Sunday I thought, I will make a ham! And some mashed sweet potatoes! And, like an idiot, I didn't think that maybe a 4 pound ham takes less time than the 8 pound ham the recipe calls for, and, um, I totally ruined a store bought, precooked ham. You cannot get more kitchen inane than that. And the mashed sweet potatoes were fine, except my husband took this burnt ham moment to tell me he doesn't like sweet potatoes.

How much is my job sucking the life out of me? I started this post Monday morning. It's now Wednesday afternoon. I need more pie.