Well Chickens, I sadly do not have good news to report.
I wanted to be able to write about the delicious dinner I whipped up the other night for Charming Suitor, who has been under tremendous work-related stress lately, not to mention the ghastly cold I might have shared with him.
I wanted to be able to write about how, at the end of a long day, he came home to a wonderful and comforting meal.
I wanted to give you all the recipes for this festival of yummy, so that you could make it for your own sweeties when they were having rough days.
But sadly, I cannot.
I cannot write that post because your Polymath went four for four on the mediocrity scale.
Here is the menu I wanted to tell you about:
Jamie Oliver's Milk-Braised Chicken
Lemon and Butter Rice Pilaf
Broccoli with Almonds
Butterscotch Pudding with Salted Caramel Topping
First the chicken. CS and I have recently acquired a Chicken Monger. I cannot think of another way to decribe him. Like cheesemonger, but with chickens. And eggs. Farmer Paul pasture-raises his birds, all organic, and gathers their eggs (with almost irridescent orange yolks), and once a week heads on into the city to deliver. He comes in on the train, which is around the corner from CS's office, so on Friday mornings they meet on the street like some weird drug drop, only with chickens and eggs. We are now ruined for even the priciest organic birds from the store, and forget about finding eggs this good except at your local farmer's market. These chickens are just chickenier. The eggs are eggier. We have been enjoying them tremendously. So when I saw that Jamie Oliver, who I like very much and whose recipes have always worked for me, had a milk-braised chicken dish, I thought it would be a great way to highlight this week's chicken delivery.
I was wrong. The bird was tender enough, and the flavor was not terrible, but there was nothing special or wonderful about it. The milk braise did not create a special texture or add any extra deliciousness. All it really did was create a weird curdled and thin sauce that was not worth spooning over the meat nor sopping up with bread nor moistening the rice...
Speaking of moistening the rice...lets imagine what I assumed would be an easy dish. The zest of two lemons was used in the boring and bland chicken. Not wanting to waste the rest of the lemon, I thought I would make rice in the rice cooker, with fresh lemon juice replacing some of the water, and a little bit of butter added. How bad could that be? Apparently, pretty bad. It was awfully gummy. I think if I had used zest instead of juice it might have been fine, I am not a chemist, but I imagine that the acid in the lemon juice ate away at the rice and made it gummy. And then the butter made it greasy. So we had greasy and gummy lemony rice on the side of our sad chicken.
Chicken and rice, even when they work, are pretty much beige on white, and make for a very visually stunted plate. And I do believe strongly in the five major food groups. (I think they ought to be changed to bread, chocolate, wine, bacon and cheese, but for the moment, I use the ones everyone else does.) I had a bag of broccoli in the freezer, so I didn't pick up a veggie. But when I opened the bag, totally freezerburnt.
Now you have heard your Polymath tell you before that there is always room in the dessert compartment. And CS is a pudding/custard/creme caramel kind of guy, so when I saw the recipe for Butterscotch Pudding with Salted Caramel Topping in one of my Tasting Table e-mails last week, I knew I had to make it for him.
I made the caramel topping and set it aside. I made the pudding, using Farmer Paul's wonderful eggs. I spooned the pudding into individual cups and topped with the caramel and put them in the fridge. Were they awful? No. Inedible? Didn't I say the words pudding and caramel? Of course not. Will I make it again? Nope. The salted caramel did not really enhance the pudding, and despite my having put the pudding through a sieve, it still had a weird grainyness, and not nearly enough butterscotch flavor. Which was fine because the caramel would have overpowered any extra flavor anyway.
I have decided in order to salvage the day, I will offer up a prize to the person with the best failed recipe story. Just post your tales of kitchen woe in the comments section before 11:59 pm CST on Monday, and I will announce the winner next week.
What will the winner receive? How about a Cooks Choice Bowl Baker, for making your own little individual baked goods in the shape of small bowls, so that you can make things like brownie bowls for ice cream, or shortcake bowls for berries and cream, or even cornbread bowls for your chili. It even comes with a how to DVD of ideas and recipes.
We're having friends for dinner tomorrow night. I'm making a Thai-inspired braised short rib, potato gratin with prunes (sounds weird and is AMAZING), and Dorie Greenspan's Tourte de Chevre, a goat cheese cheesecake that I am going to serve with fresh figs as a sort of merged cheese course and dessert.
Pray for me. If it works, I'll share recipes next week. If it doesn't, I may have to burn sage or sprinkle holy water in the kitchen.
Yours in (less than) Good Taste,