Sunday, June 08, 2008

Cooking Deal Breakers

I have a few and they usually include phrases like one I found in In the Kitchen with Rosie. It was in one of those side boxes and it said "do not be intimidated by the price of the duck." I lived in Lompoc at the time and not only would the Vons have had to special order duck in general, the butcher had never heard of Muscovy duck. I've had it since, courtesy of Trader Joe's, but the biggest deal breaker for me is when I have to buy special ingredients that cost a lot of money and are only used in that recipe, by the tablespoon. At one time, I had fourteen different vinegars, which is more than a little excessive. Believe it or not, I had to go out and buy plain white vinegar because it was the only one I didn't have and I needed it for something.

Other deal breakers fall into the special equipment category. By the time I've assembled my mandoline I could have chopped most of the vegetables by using my trusty 10 inch chef's knife. Ever since I saw Wolfgang Puck peel a tiny vegetable with his 12 inch, I moved up from my 8 inch and have been quite very happy with the results. I also have a 6 1/2 inch Santoku that I use for slicing veggies and a paring knife that gets used about once a month. All by Wusthof, the classic version because it fits my hand better. The lovely Cuisinart sits in the corner gathering dust until the holidays when I tend to get fancier than usual. I rarely use the blender unless I'm making something cold, otherwise I use the stick. Much more convenient.

Since I rarely know what I'm hungry for until the day of, I'm not too good at marinating food 24 to 36 hours ahead. I like Sauerbraten and mom is German by birth so you would think I would make it more than once every ten years.
The question of how far is too far is often pondered in the test kitchens of Gourmet, which built its reputation on recipes that took all weekend and a small bank loan to produce.
That's the truth.

I only bake if I have to. It's not that it's too hard for me and it isn't that I don't suffer from wanting the trains to run on time, but it's too precise to do on a regular basis. I was really good in chemistry lab, but I prefer a freer hand when it comes to my taste buds and baking doesn't always allow for that. It probably helps that I don't have much of a sweet tooth.

Up until recently, I haven't had any food issues. Since shellfish seems to interfere with my breathing, I'm a little more careful about items with mixed ingredients. Most particularly, Asian food. They like to use dried shrimp in a lot of their bases. Before I developed this problem, one New Year's Eve I made a very fancy recipe involving lobster and a few other pricey ingredients ($200 worth, obviously back in the days when I was earning more than a living wage) and took one bite and discovered that I couldn't eat it. I hate chervil. With a freaking purple passion. Didn't know it at the time, but I figured it out when all I could think of was how to politely dispose of it in my napkin. I tried another and then had to give up. What a waste of time, energy and money. I thought I disliked mackerel, but I was able to try that four different ways before I gave up.

I don't like recipes that require you to make another recipe that's to be used in it. I do it occasionally, but I don't enjoy it. I hate cooking breakfast, it is the one meal that I prefer to either eat out or have someone make it for me. What a pain, everything has to be done at the same time or the quality deteriorates. I like both my eggs and my toast to be hot.

Excuse me while I go turn the lamb chops (my guest kicked in for dinner) that are marinating for a few hours before they hit the grill. Plus I need to go pick up some basmati, cashews, oyster sauce and a mango.


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