Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Take My Cookbooks...Please!

Over the last few nights, I have been overly elaborate, filling the sink with dishes and our plates with, well, some dinners that didn't live up to the hype.  On Friday, I made boeuf bourguinon from a NY Times recipe recommended by a friend.  What I forgot was that her mother cooks this for her, and all she has to do is swan to the table and chow down. Me, I went through three hours of blood, toil, tears, and sweat for what was, in the end, a very expensive, quite nice--nice? after all that!-- stew.  (There are no photos of the boeuf, I collapsed in a swoon as soon as it was done.)
  Next up was a quiche Lorraine, to use up some of the bacon that I bought for the boeuf.  Just fine but another recipe-following experience.  Trying to track a recipe down was quite a trip.  Every cookbook spitefully told me that, of course, a real quiche Lorraine involves no cheese at all.  No cheese? No thanks.  Experts be damned, I threw a ton of Gruyere in that sucker and topped it with some grated Parm.
  This brings us to last night.  After a couple of sort-of French meals, I woke up (yes, I think of dinner the moment I awaken) with a craving for spice and pork.  Looking up a recipe in 600 Curries, an exhaustive and intelligent cookbook, I found an off-beat Pork Vindaloo that resembled in no way the vindaloos that I have had on what remains of East 6th Street.  That's when I should have realized that what I was craving was an inauthentic vindaloo and just winged it.
  But no, I made a paste out ten or so ingredients, cooked that to dryness in the pan, added the pork and coconut milk and cooked it for the requisite time.  It tasted raw and harsh--not spicy-good, just harsh.  I added more coconut milk, cumin, and curry leaf, and had to cook it for ages to reach a level of acceptableness before serving.  I'm sure the fault lay in me, as I had to do a last-minute substitution on the pepper front, but I was bummed nonetheless.
  Tonight, I'm using the beef leftover from the stew, and making a pasta sauce out of it.  And I won't be opening a single cookbook to do it.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.