When I'm cooking or baking, I like to challenge myself by taking on new recipes. But I took that to a whole new level last weekend when I tried not one, not two, but FOUR new recipes in a single day.
In an effort to become the perfect housewife, I channeled Ina Garten's carefree Hamptons lifestyle and made my husband three meals from Ina's recipes. I used Ina Garten's "Make It Ahead" cookbook for two recipes but found the others on Food Network's website; that's the channel where Ina hosts her cooking show, "Barefoot Contessa."
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and asparagus with a side of salt-and-pepper biscuits
My husband is not a fan of eggs in any form other than scrambled, so I knew this would be the best approach to trying a new breakfast dish on him. I wasn't sure if roasted asparagus would go with the scrambled eggs because asparagus seems like a vegetable you eat only at lunch or later. But surprisingly, the whole meal went together really well. The roasted asparagus is sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and it was the perfect complement to scrambled eggs.
For the biscuits, I took advantage of Ina's "Make It Ahead" cookbook and made the biscuits the night before. In the morning, the only thing I needed to do was top the cut biscuits with egg wash, salt and pepper and bake them in the oven. So simple to make and so worth the effort!
Would I make it again? Yes. This dish was so easy to make on a lazy weekend morning, and it's a great twist on "basic" breakfast dishes.
Lunch: minestrone soup with a French baguette to dip into the soup
I made this minestrone soup with a few tweaks -- not because I didn't like the original recipe but because I used too small a pot. I thought my Dutch oven was big enough to fit in butternut squash, onion, celery, carrots, spinach, pasta and vegetable broth, but the spinach and pasta didn't make it. I pushed my poor Dutch oven to the limit. But the soup was just as delicious without the spinach and pasta.
Would I make it again? Absolutely. It's a basic recipe and great for freezing for later when you don't feel like cooking. This recipe is great for a novice, as all you need to do is chop up the veggies and simmer everything together in a pot.
Dinner: zucchini-and-goat-cheese tart
This was my biggest challenge of the day. Making the tart was simple enough and similar to the biscuit dough I had made the night before, but there were so many steps with this tart that it was tough to muster the energy to make it for dinner. What should have taken maybe 45 minutes felt like it took two hours to make it from start to finish.
I have never owned a mandoline, but my husband had one that hadn't been touched in years. We cleaned it and tried to use it since we needed to slice 1.5 pounds of zucchini into thin rounds for the tart. But we discovered the mandoline's blades were misaligned, so every slice was off-center and a different thickness. And by that point, I just wanted the tart to be done (I was getting to the point of being hangry).
But I will say, after all was said and done, the tart was delicious. The tart was really decadent and buttery and worth every calorie but definitely something that should be eaten only for a special occasion.
Would I make it again? No -- unless someone requested I make it, and I had half-a-day of free time to take my time and make it. But if someone else made it, I definitely would be eating it. To me, the effort going into the tart isn't worth the work, even though the reward is delicious.
My takeaway from the day: My husband loved every dish I put in front of him, so it was definitely a success to cook these meals for him. But my kitchen and dining room table were a mess at the end of the day, and I felt like I had eaten more glutenous foods in one day than I had in a long time. And a lot of butter. But to feel like Ina for a day was worth it.
What famous chef should I take my inspiration from next time? I want to try and cook like another specific chef for a day soon. Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
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Email ThisWeek copy editor/page designer Abby Armbruster at firstname.lastname@example.org.