All summer long—in between Laura and Ed’s move to Boston, Jessica and Hal moving in together and to a new neighborhood, and Laura and Ed’s wedding—we were quietly cooking from Bon Appétit. Even though we had exciting things happening outside of the kitchen, we still reviewed the magazine, decided on a shared recipe, and gave it a whirl. Our choices brought some definite surprises. We expected two of the recipes to be solid winners, and one felt like much more of a (possible gross-out) wild card. And we were exactly wrong.
This simple recipe was included in an eye-catching spread about the numerous health benefits of eating seeds. The editors did a terrific job of making you think that most of the world’s problems, including your dull skin, could be solved by a little added bird food in your morning yogurt. The pesto, which combines soaked sunflower seeds (soaking starts the germination process, which increases the health benefits), basil, arugula, honey, garlic, oil, and lemon, was a cinch to pull together in the food processor, but we weren’t thrilled with the outcome. We learned an important life lesson: not everything deserves to be turned into a pesto. The recipe wasn’t a failure, it was just boring and no amount of salt could bring it to life.
Our original thoughts on this recipe were as follows. L: “Seems completely bizarre, but could be amazing! Or disgusting!” J: “Agreed! It looks so weird, how could we not make it?” The recipe calls for using grated fresh cantaloupe in risotto, along with vegetable broth, white wine, shallots, garlic, mascarpone cheese, and proscuitto. After the downright dull June recipe, we were itching to try something daring and this sure fit the bill. The ingredients alone were so intriguing: would this be a sweet risotto? What happens when cantaloupe meets garlic? We were eager to find out. Jessica tried the recipe first and was shocked to find that she really liked it. Laura gave it a try a bit later and also couldn’t believe how well it worked. The flavor of the cantaloupe all but disappears under the vegetable broth, garlic, and shallots, but there’s still a deep and pleasing sweet note behind the savoriness of the finished risotto. The dish is creamy, hearty, and satisfying. Plus, the cantaloupe turns the whole thing orange, which is really fun.
This was probably the easiest pick of the summer. We were both looking for an excuse to test drive our ice cream machines, and what better way to start than with a classic vanilla? Bon put this recipe on the cover of its August issue, which we took as a signal that it was a guaranteed winner. Unfortunately, the results weren’t perfect. Both of us found the ice cream to be way too rich, falling on the far edge of the frozen custard end of the ice cream spectrum. Usually that would be a major plus and we are certainly not ones to shy away from indulgent desserts, but this ice cream was so thick and fatty that it was almost like eating frozen butter. Jessica added crumbled up cookies to a portion of hers, which did improve things, but not enough for a repeat.
Let us know if you tried anything good, bad, or so-so from the summer issues of Bon Appétit!