I had great plans for our holiday weekends, my friends. We were all going to kick it off by making homemade hamburger buns that we could use right away, or stash in the freezer until the weather cooperates. Really, nothing should have been simpler. Most hamburger buns are an enriched white bread, which is ridiculously simple to make, and rolls are so much quicker to bake than large loaves. Because isn’t it funny how in this day and age where so many of us grind our own meats for our signature burger blends that we’re generally still getting those buns from a bag or bakery?
This is me admitting defeat. You see, all summer I have been discussing this “queue” of recipes that I have auditioned and photographed, but never told you about. They’ve sat on my hard drive like a to-do list, taunting me, certain that I’ll never get to the bottom of it. Every time I swear I am going to bang them all out in a week of daily, brief posts, something better comes across our counters and I must discuss that first. Like bourbon peach hand pies. Or a dimply plum cake. You understand, don’t you?
This all started with Homesick Texan. No wait, this all started with last year’s orangettes, to this day one of the most popular posts on this site. No wait, this all started with a lifelong (can you say that? when you’re just 31?) love of grapefruits. My favorite way to eat them is the same exact way my mom showed me, halved in a bowl with each section loosened with a arched, double-serrated grapefruit knife. First, I’d pop all of the sections into my mouth in probably under two minutes flat. But then, then came the “grapefruit soup,” I’d call it. Mom would help us scrape all of the residual grapefruit bits into the bowl, then squeeeze every last bit of juice, discard the empty shell of a peel and this, this my friends is the best grapefruit juice you’ll ever drink in your life. You must drink it straight from the bowl. I could live on it, and it alone.
Sometimes I cook things even though I have significant doubts that they will be in any way delicious. Why is this, how is this so, you ask? Because I live in a mental place I affectionately call Hope. I wish to be surprised. I aspire to be wrong from time to time (though not, as Alex can but probably will not argue, because he is polite, too often, and certainly not if it would make him right) because if the sum of the parts that together comprise the world as I know it is all there is, I’d be kind of bummed. I’d be kind of bored.
It has been over a year since I sounded-off about my mild irritation with Michael Chirello–salient takeaways included that I found him fussy and often in excessive use of needlessly pretentious ingredients–and I’ve spent most of it feeling bad about it. I mean, he cooks honestly; he uses as good ingredients as he gets his hands on and he’s not afraid of adapting old stand-bys to make them more feasible for entertaining. These are all good things. I will not now nor ever abide throwing fistfuls of carefully cultivated gray salt into boiling pots of pasta water, but I’d rather pay attention to someone who cares enough about the nuance in flavor that they create than someone who acts like it doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately, we’ve had another setback. A significant one, one so bad I have had to something that crushes my spirits and raises my shackles and throw the entire dish in the garbage. And the error was so easily avoidable, I just… can’t let it go. I hate throwing away food.
Salted. Browned butter. Caramelized. Rice Krispie Treats. Surely, you can’t hold it against me. Who could resist? These are some of the most enchanting words in the dessert lexicon. I am weak within the earshot of them. And if you can imagine my husband–in his predictable but lovable answer to everything–whispering in my other ear that chocolate chips would really make these babies sing (fine, he doesn’t talk like that, but guess who has the last word here? nya-nya!), you can pretty put together the story of how we ended up with this.
Oh, hi. Did you miss me? Are you hoping for a new you’ve-got-to-make-this-omg recipe today? Well, I’m sorry, because apparently the flan was just the beginning of a string of cooking failures. It’s a shame because I was really excited about this one. First, it was quiche, and real women, you know, eat quiche. Second, it had two pounds of mushrooms in it, and I have a mushroom story (no, not that kind!) I have been meaning to tell you for a year, and this would have been my perfect chance to share it. Third, it was a Thomas Keller recipe, and although I may not be his number one fan, I hear that the man can really cook. Finally, it was called “over the top” and if there is one thing I can’t say no to, it’s a dish a simple as quiche made into something absurdly involved.