As I shared with you earlier, I recently took over the nightly dinner duty at our house (although the H still reigns supreme in the kitchen when he has time.) Anyway, what I didn't share was that before now, I didn't do much cooking AT ALL. As in I've easily made more meals in the last four weeks than I have in the last 35 1/2 years. Didn't have the patience, the desire, the ingredients, whatever. So I've been dealing with a bit of a learning curve. To demonstrate how much of a learning curve, I compiled a list of some of the dishes I've been making and the hard and humorous lessons I've learned along the way. All of the recipes come from either this beginner-friendly cookbook (thank you Joanna) . . . or from this inspiring magazine (thank you Jora).Shrimp and Avocado With an Old-School Marie Rose Sauce- Make sure you dry your shrimp thoroughly before dusting it in flour or else your dust will more closely resemble paste and you'll be stuck with icky, sticky, bland shrimp.
Chicken Fajitas- I used to think flour and corn tortillas were interchangeable. Not so. I discovered the H LOVES flour tortillas and DETESTS corn tortillas. So while he enjoyed the fajita filling, he had nothing to scoop it up with. Very sad.
Mini Shell Pasta With a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce- Never substitute sour cream for heavy cream. Just don't do it. But do let your kid pour the peas in the pan because then she'll eat way more and pretend they're pearls inside of oysters.
Sizzling Beef With Scallion and Black Bean Sauce- Don't count on your neighbors to have black bean sauce hanging around in their pantries. They won't.
Lentil and Spinach Soup- It's okay to lay off the blender when you make soup. Especially if you're not in love with the baby-food consistency, and particularly if you don't want it to turn a ghastly green color that your children won't touch. (Why didn't I make this when my bundles were babies???)
Meatballs and Pasta- Not as easy as it sounds. Seriously. Give yourself, like, three hours.
Ground Beef Wellington- It is possible to change your husband's childhood impression about a dish. Yay! And instant mashed potatoes and gravy are okay in a pinch.
Pot-Roast Meatloaf- THIS ROCKED! But always remember to measure out your Worcestershire sauce over something other than the bowl you're using. Yikes!
Lasagne- Carrots? Celery? Creme fraiche instead of ricotta? No mozzarella? This recipe was a bit on the froufy side. Next time I will stick to the one on the side of the lasagne box. Also, I would advise against putting a glass baking dish directly on top of a burner. It (and everything in it) will explode all over your kitchen.
Dressed Asparagus- Asparagus cooks really, really quickly! One second your stalks are as hard as rocks, the next thing you know they're mush.
Grilled Lamb Chops With Chunky Salsa- Beginner's luck is a beautiful thing. I had never cooked lamb before , but these chops came out a perfect medium rare. I'm afraid to make them again they were so good.
Broiled Trout Topped With Mustard and Oats- I'm sorry, Mr. Oliver, but you cannot put oats in a broiler at the highest setting. This was my first oven fire. I'll accept blame for trying to substitute cod for trout though. Very unfortunate.
Salmon Fish Cakes- Utterly tasteless. The H and I agreed mashed potatoes do not make a good filler for fish cakes.
Fish Pie- Yummy and incident-free!
Spicy Sausage Bean and Cheese Nachos- Don't leave your nachos in the oven to keep warm. Unless you like really mushy chips and really tough cheese.
Salmon With Green Beans and Lemon Zest- The recipe calls for this to be cooked in parchment. All I had on hand was wax paper, which works well except it's a little thicker than parchment so you need to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time. Other than that, this is THE BEST way to cook salmon. So good.
I also finally learned how to use a rice cooker, although I'm inexplicably intimidated by the food processor and the hand mixer. The H has also prohibited me from using certain knives. It also goes without saying that it's tough to cook with young children under-foot. So I'm sorry to say that as my time in the kitchen has gone up, my kids' time in front of the tube has also gone up. Not sure what to do about this. Lastly, I've learned that I really love putting a meal in front of my family that I've made. Just a great feeling.
There you have it. Guess I'll just keep on keeping on. If I learn any other helpful lessons, I'll try to pass them along.