We were very excited this week to receive our late Christmas present to ourselves: a new stove (click the photo for a full-sized view). Sure, it is not the stainless steel, gas burner, professional-size stove I would like to have one day in my dream kitchen, but it is definitely an improvement. The burners on the old stove all slanted in to the middle, so I could not saute anything evenly, and the broiler smoked so badly that it gave my dogs anxiety attacks. The new ceramic cooktop is so nice to cook on, although I am paranoid about cracking it, because of course it costs as much to repair as it does to buy a new one (another sign of our throwaway culture).
The first thing I cooked in my new oven was Spoonbread (recipe from Cook’s Illustrated American Classics). Spoonbread is like a souffleed cornbread that definitely looks impressive, but even though it is a Southern specialty and I’m a Southern girl, I still prefer good old-fashioned cornbread. I made this for Sunday breakfast along with scrambled eggs and chicken and apple sausage links.
Best Recipe of the Week
I committed so many sins. I used dried lemongrass instead of fresh. I didn’t have shallots, so substituted leeks and garlic instead. I had the wrong kind of mushrooms, also dried. I omitted the cilantro and serrano chiles altogether. About the only ingredients I got right, besides the chicken, were the coconut milk, Thai red curry paste, lime juice and fish sauce. But it didn’t matter, because Cook’s Illustrated Thai-Style Chicken Soup (from the January ’07 issue) was still incredibly delicious. We’re talking “drink the broth down once you’ve eaten all the good bits” delicious. And it was an incredibly simple recipe that would probably taste even better if I got more of the ingredients right.
Recipe Failure of the Week
I swear, I followed the instructions exactly. And the Creamy Sweet Pea Soup (recipe from The New Best Recipe) looked gorgeous in the pot, with an emerald green color and a thick, creamy texture. But when I got to the step where I was instructed to strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer, something went wrong. Maybe I didn’t blend it enough; maybe my interpretation of the word fine was a bit too literal. But the beautiful, thick soup came out a watery, dull green, blah liquid that I just didn’t want to eat. And I ended up with little pea skins everywhere like the scene of some sort of bizarre massacre. Did I really want pea soup this badly? The answer is no.