Cooking bender

I’ve been on a cooking bender the last couple of weeks.  A few things have contributed to that fact.  One, cooking for someone else is really nice.  It’s great to be able to show love through cooking and nurturing a person (Food is love!  Eat your feelings!).  Also, when someone else eats your cooking, s/he is usually obligated to say something nice about it which satisfies the inner first-grader-performing-in-a-talent-show (Look at meeeeeeeeee!).  I’m also going away for 9 days so it’s nice to have home-cooked meals before enjoying the hotel’s mini-kitchen’s finest.  Finally, I think it saves money although it’s sometimes a little hard to tell when looking at the grocery store final total.

So, what have I been cooking?  Thank you for asking!
I have started cooking from Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.  Ottlenghi is a great London chef known initially for his insane vegetarian dishes, although he himself will eat meat.  The cookbook was released in 2012 and was a pretty big sensation.  There were a lot cooking groups and articles focused on the book.  So, I showed up to the party about a year later, par for course.  It’s a great book.  SMS gave it to me for Christmas and he didn’t even know that I had really wanted it for quite awhile.  Or maybe he did know, but in a he-knows-me-so-well-he-didn’t-even-have-to-be-told type of way rather than a I-left-heavy-handed-hints-on-post-it-notes type of way.
Ok!  Are you still reading?  Here’s what I’ve cooked from the book.  First, the baba ghanoush recipe is outstanding.  There actually isn’t an official baba ghanoush recipe, just a write-up on how there’s no consensus recipe for “real” baba ghanoush.  But never fear!  On the next page, there’s a recipe hidden within the “Burnt Eggplant with garlic, lemon & pomegranate seeds.” I’ve been roasting the eggplant on aluminan foil directly on low gas burners and it has been really, really outstanding.  Yum, yum, yum.
I’ve also made Chicken with caramelized onion & cardamom rice.  This was pretty good but I felt like there was something missing.  It may have been time because I thought it tasted better the next day.    I’m not sure.  I would give this dish four stars and I can’t quite describe why I can’t give it 5.  I have a similar feeling for the Open kibbeh that I made.  I described to our dinner party guests Emily and Zac as an Israeli Shepard’s Pie because I am culturally sensitive like that.  Finally, I made a modified shakshuka.  This was pretty awesome as a egg and tomato dish with a heavy helping of mixed-in greens.  Next time, I’ll leave the eggs a little runny but that’s simply operator error there, not the recipe’s fault.
Last night, we went to a Hail & Farewell for the CO and others leaving this early Summer.  It was a pretty awesome pig roast with a potluck for the sides.  I brought Amy’s amazing corn pudding recipe.  I was a little sad that I now know it’s delicious because of the butter and cream fat content but still, I can’t argue with tasty!  I also brought a chocolate cake that is super dense and delicious.  I made it at home and quickly realized that leaving it here would be a waistline disaster so I brought it to the potluck and had a few slices to bring home.  Yay!
Finally, I trotted out my Chicken, carrot, ginger quesadilla recipe.  Unfortunately, SMS thought it would be a more Mexican dish…I think it was the quesadilla.  Don’t appropriate that word for another cuisine flavor combination around a born-and-raised SoCal guy!  The quesadilla filling is binded by a ginger, soy, rice wine sauce so that really, it tastes like chicken wraps from P.F. Chang’s rather than a dish you’d get at Alberto’s.  It is also delicious, but I think I will crack open my Rick Bayless book and make some awesome Mexican food although this will have to wait until post-Misawa.

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