Soup seemed like the clear winner in the March Bon Appétit, but as we flipped pages and texted about the recipes that had caught our attention, we opted for a different direction. It felt like it had been too long since we’d tested a dessert for our monthly challenge, and neither of us has much experience with homemade pudding, so we decided to give the bourbon-butterscotch pudding a whirl. With brown butter, bourbon, vanilla, and heavy cream as the star ingredients, it was hard to imagine this could be anything but delicious. It was indeed a very special treat, but we both had issues with the texture…
So many of my favorite recipes, along with what I think and know about cooking and creating a meal, I learned from my mother. My mother, who worked full time throughout most of my life and somehow still managed to make my family breakfast every morning (chocolate milkshakes with Breyers ice cream, whole milk, and Carnation Instant Breakfast were my fave), pack our lunches every day, and make a homecooked and delicious dinner almost every night. How did she do it? I have no freakin idea, which is slightly troubling when I imagine my own hopefully family filled future. But she did, and it was awesome. And since I keep taking every opportunity to learn her secrets, like when I went home last week and had her supervise me through two chicken dishes, I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
Every time I’ve made this risotto, I’ve thought it was ridiculously good. It’s warming and creamy and comfy. I’ve been reluctant to share it, though, because it’s more than a little humble. It’s not restaurant risotto. There’s no “perfect bite” to the rice. There’s not a lot of variety in the texture. It’s definitely something you’d only eat at home—and that might be the best part of the whole thing.
I feared that this recipe might be too homey to recommend, but then I realized that the hominess is exactly what I love about it. The self-critical part of me said this isn’t blog-worthy: too-soft rice, peppers that aren’t crisp, imprecise cooking time, etc. I worried that anyone who tried this would think I didn’t know from good, true risotto. And then I got over myself.
I actually made this dinner a month ago, for Valentines Day. It was perfect February food–a rich hearty ragu over creamy polenta, and fresh super green salad to lighten things up. I decided to write about it today in the hopes that winter is finally on its way out (I am not happy that the snow I just escaped in New York has followed me home to Virginia–where is the early spring that dang groundhog promised us?!), and that this is the last point in the year when heavy non springy foods will sound even remotely appealing. Fingers crossed.
When I was thinking about what to cook for Valentines Day, I knew I wanted to make something that felt special but that would be easy enough to not drive me crazy on a weeknight. I also knew that I wanted to go for something more homey than fancy, because I was being taken out for a mystery dinner the following weekend and was pretty sure it would more than fill my fancy quota (we ended up going to Annisa, and I was right–it was absolutely fantastic). I decided to try my first slow cooker recipe, imagining doing all the prep the night before and then being able to just quickly put together a salad and polenta, and save my energy for a fancy dessert. My plan mostly worked, but this isn’t the speedy just dump a bunch of things in a pot, wait several hours and have a perfect dinner recipe of my slow cooker dreams.
Ed’s been out of town for a couple of days, which has presented a few problems. First, I miss him (aww). Second, I can’t eat anything too good or he’ll get jealous (same goes for him). Third, I’m falling behind on all of the shows we watch together (though he had no issue with me watching the three-hour finale of “The Bachelor” without him). Instead of devoting myself to pining, I’ve decided to make the best of the situation and do a few things Ed’s not too keen on.
Number one on the list: breakfast for dinner. I love breakfast at all times of day, but Ed will only eat it in the morning. I’ve had english muffins after 7 pm for the past three nights and it’s been glorious. I’ve also been indulging in my favorite online pastime: watching other people’s wedding highlight films. Ed was fine with this habit before we chose a videographer, but now he thinks it’s a little ridiculous that I still enjoy watching trailers for strangers’ weddings. Maybe he’s right, but I think of it as wedding research…and I find some of them to be quite moving (like this one, which starts with a sweet toast from a southern dad. Gets me every time). Because Ed’s out of town, I can watch with abandon instead of sneaking them while he’s in another room (which doesn’t work anyway—he hears the swelling indie music and my sniffling and starts teasing me). Also on my list of Ed un-approved activities: baking brown butter brownies with walnuts, which I knew he wouldn’t like.
Confession: these were actually my first made at home fajitas, so I can’t speak from experience to general fajita fussiness. But these sure aren’t fussy, and my sister–much more of a fajita connoisseur, both in restaurants and at home, than I am–assures me that they are in fact easier and less messy to make than the average. We actually ‘pinned this recipe during the same week, and she beat me to making it. Which worked in my favor, because I got the benefit of her wisdom and the tweaks she was thinking of for the next time she made this dish, which she’s already planning on. All good things, I thought.
You might have noticed that we kinda like Smitten Kitchen here on butter poached. I have a feeling that many of you also like the site and its friendly, talented author, Deb Perelman. So maybe you, too, were a little excited this fall when the blog made its hardcover debut in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I, for one, had a big ole heart drawn around November 13, the date Deb came to Washington to sign books at the National Press Club’s book fair.