While it always sounds like a joke, it definitely isn’t. There really are entire series of cooking classes devoted to BOILING WATER. As in, “He can’t boil water.” Well, kinda-sorta, but yes:
Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures — Boiling Water 101 was a class I taught for 10 years at a local school in Minnesota. This recipe was one I designed to teach a basic skill but also deliver complex flavors and serve as a touchstone for family meals or entertaining. You really need to practice braising/poaching/blanching as often as you can because wet-heat cooking is much more subtle than dry-heat cooking but so much easier. Recipes like this will change your outlook on cooking for sure. Get wet! —
DEVILED EGG DIP–Leftover boiled eggs are whirred up with typical deviled egg ingredients for a yummy, addictive dip! Lovely for those attempting to make deviled eggs, but have found the eggs are not happy being peeled. Also perfect for those just too lazy to make deviled eggs or who can’t find their deviled egg platter. Same great taste/less hassle.
Yesterday was a long day. While Easter is always Easter, it can be many other things as well. Stuff on opposite ends of the teeter-totter. There are worship services; there are egg hunts. Kids eat chocolate bunnies; adults feast on deviled eggs. Tulips adorn tables; lilies are carried to hurting friends. Children are born; others folks cross the river, as my nephew’s wife did in the early part of the day. Some are buried, as was my mom in the Easter of ’85.
French home cooks always seem to have a dozen wonderful things up their sleeves to make on the spur of the moment. Great ideas to use up leftovers come awfully naturally, as well, and they all appear to know about how to feed 6 people with a cup and a half of milk, 3 eggs, a bit of ham, and a handful of grated cheese. How DO they do it? These folks are always frying croutons, whipping up homemade hot chocolate, baking an apple tart using apples from the backyard tree, simmering cream soups or vegetable pastas, stirring up something tasty with canned tuna … or even making quiche! How is it that even carbs aren’t a problem for them? This is proven routinely by the unending ubiquitous photos of yard-long baguettes being carried home by slim citizens riding bikes down tree-lined sunny Paris streets. (Well, right now they’re limited to an hour out a day and can’t go far from home. Sigh.) Over the years I’ve been writing the blog, I’ve read and seen quite a lot about this phenomenon, but staying in France for two weeks a couple of years ago gave me a much more complete and definitely personal insight. I’m finding it all definitely useful in today’s cooking world.
It’s a cool thing to be married to a guywho says, “You don’t feel well. Tell me how to cook this new dish you’re thinking about and I’ll make dinner for us.” So there I sat and told him what to do. Thanks, God.
It’s one of the biggest challenges and conundrumsof my cooking, blogging, writing, and teaching life. Folks are so very interested in food, love to chat about it, are crazy about eating, and seem to know lots about ingredients and technique (Food Network and “Top Chef”, I guess). But somehow they often have an awesome amount of trouble getting into the kitchen and actually cooking. There are myriad reasons and I needn’t name them.
I’m about to grab Dave, shove him on a plane, rent a car, and head for northern Michigan to watch spring arrive, drink wine with friends, hunt morels, and just sit around watching my favorite lake in the whole wide world. If it’s warm enough, we’ll spend a little time in a canoe or kayak.
While we’re gone, it’s asparagus time. I wondered if you might not like a roundup of the best of the blog asparagus posts so that you have something good and fun to cook for a couple of weeks. Scroll through and see what you like. Enjoy spring cooking, get out the grill, and be well…. Catch you later when May flowers are blooming.
Still have some openings in upcoming classes, which begin next Thursday, April 16, 5-8pm at Shouse Appliance in Colorado Springs. There are two available spots each in the FRENCH CLASS, April 16 and in the BRUNCH class (we’re learning how to make homemade sausage!), April 25, as well in the rest of the series. Click at top on CURRENT CLASSES for list and registration info. Can’t wait to cook with you!
Orzo, the tiny rice-like pasta, and vegetables is a favorite combination of mine and you’ll see it on the blog a time or two. Or more. This particular comforting oh-so-green pasta dish, which is easily made vegan, seems to catapult spring vegetables such as asparagus, fennel, and baby spinach way up onto their long-awaited pedestal. It also feels and nearly looks like risotto minus the questionably constant stirring, angst, and jaw-clenching risotto seems to engender. While it bubbles away nearly untended, you can look to other occupations like pouring wine, chatting, setting the table, or if you’re like me, petting Rosie–just spayed and not too happy with it. Poor baby. She does like the pills that come all wrapped up in cream cheese for easy swallowing.
For other meals, I cook orzo separately and make a heartier dish or pasta salad, adding feta, tiny tomatoes, celery or peas, basil or parsley, and a vinaigrette. Either variation is easy to make ahead early on a warm day for a potluck or as a bed for that night’s grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or chops. You can find regular orzo easily in the pasta aisle of your B-flat grocery store, but there are also some brands that sell the whole-wheat variety, which adds fiber and protein. Try this:
ONE-PAN ORZO “RISOTTO” WITH ASPARAGUS, FENNEL, AND CHERRY TOMATOES
I rarely think about asparagus without remembering living in Germanyand seeing the piles of white asparagus or spargel that the Germans prized so highlyin the shops in Rinteln. A special spring treat grown under odd (to my eye) hills of dirt to keep it from greening up, this asparagus was thick, sturdy, slower to cook than ours, and sometimes very happily heavily sauced. Our Russian housecleaner, an asparagus afficionado herself, enjoyed horrifying me with stories of her country’s custom of letting farm stock eat asparagus — green asparagus, that is — that grew wild in the field. Not fit for human consumption, it was just animal food to her. Great for cattle or pigs. Eeeeecchhh. (Read here for a recipe for spargel.) Knowing how many years we Americans spend developing our asparagus gardens, this made for teeth-clenching mental pictures.
Here and now in the U.S., we often can find asparagus all year round if we eat Fed Ex vegetables, but it is most precious and thrilling in the spring when it is the quintessential harbinger of all the tasty freshness still to come. I adore cooking the thicker asparagus — I think it’s a bit more flavorful and even more tender as long as you peel the bottom third — but the tall, slim stalks are many shopper’s favorites and that’s what was in the story yesterday.
When the first day that truly feels like spring arrives — as it did yesterday — I’m likely to wander around wondering what to cook that feels like spring. If Dave’s in on the conversation, he’ll be talking grill while I’ll be dreaming salad. And not only will Dave be talking grill, he’ll be thinking hamburgers. As I rarely eat hamburgers unless he cooks them at home, I jumped in the car and ran to the store for low-fat ground beef and whole wheat buns.