Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slim has an interview tomorrow, so whatever happens, I wanted to celebrate tonight with a good dinner. I'd been eager anyway to try the 3-hour roasted chicken from Chocolate and Zucchini anyway, so it seemed like a good excuse. I have a little Le Creuset pot that seemed to fit the bill (it calls for a covered earthenware casserole) but when I got to the market, they only had Perdue roasters! Half the time they only have Bell & Evans - frustrating when I wanted to make a cheap dish for a pot-luck! - so I was preditably furious. It kind of killed my enthusiasm for the meal (I'm also going to do an olive oil mashed potato, some sauteed green beans and lemon pots de creme) but I must say it smells pretty good. Now that it's cooled down, the herbs have pulled a bit of a Lazarus, so I was actually able to use a spring of Greenpoint-grown rosemary for once.

I don't read a lot of food blogs, but I like Chocolate and Zucchini. I don't often cook from it - we just have different taste sensibilities; mostly I like things too rich - but I love the warmth and charm of the author's writing and I do get a lot of ideas. And when you consider that English is her second language, well, it's even more impressive. Hers is also one of the few blog success stories I can really get behind (besides my own, of course!) since the kind of natural vitality she brings to her food writing is uncommon - despite the proliferation of food blogs - and it's great to see genuine talent rewarded.

When I think about it, I wouldn't say there's one single recipe source whom I consider infallible - according to my own tastes, I mean. Obviously Cook's ILlustrated is perfect according to their own standards, but when one's definition of perfection varies, you're SOL. Basically I'd follow them into battle on the 123s of savories, but more often than not we're just looking for different things in sweets. I find their brownie too cakey and their date-nut bread too dry and I'll be damned if I'll pre-sautee apples for a pie. I use Bittman for general reference like everyone but use it more as a jumping-off point, as he'd intend. Joy is kind of all over the place, obvs.

Amanda Hesser's and Ruth Reichl's recipes are both fantastic, but they're both a bit remote to be kitchen friends. Laurie Colwin's tone and general attitude are my all-time besties, but her sketchy recipes can be bizarre in the extreme and I must admit that the succotash I made from More Home Cooking was pretty inedible. I like a lot of Beat This especially sweets, but my tastes in savories are actually lighter - after all, Ann hates olive oil. Ina is reliable - I cooked everything from Barefoot Contess'as first book, laregly on the unassailable strength of her takeout shop before she was on TV - but as anyone knows, can be horribly rich and decadent. Her croque monsieur, for example, had a ton of gratuitous cheese in the bechamel and was almost inedible! I like Sarah Leak Chase, but there's a reason she co-wrote Silver Palate Good Times; look out for lashings of liqeurs and cream. Obviously I read Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson like any good cookbook reader, but I don't cook from them.

Lately I'm pretty hipped on Simon Hopkinson. We disagree about the composition of an onion tart, yes, but I've had great luck with his lustily described-salads and vegetable preparations and have discovered that I trust him implicitly.

I don't write about food a lot here, because it's boring, but if I can manage to take a few pics with Slim's camera, well, we'll be in business.

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