I’m not a religious person except when it comes to the healing power of chicken soup. At the first sniffle of a new cold, I’m usually plopping a raw chicken into a pot with root vegetables and parsley and dill; or, more recently, doctoring homemade chicken broth with ginger, soy sauce, and chile paste. Last Thursday, though, I felt a cold coming on and instead of turning to the feathered gods wearing yarmulkes in a jacuzzi, I turned to a new god, one whose soup mastery revealed itself on Craig’s birthday with celery root and pears. That god is Alfred Portale and I’m now an official acolyte, studying his under-appreciated cookbook, Simple Pleasures, the way Madonna studies Kabbalah. It’s powerful stuff.
There are two kinds of people who cook at home: the first kind chooses an elaborate recipe, buys all of the ingredients, spends hours cooking it, invites friends to eat it, spends hours cleaning it, and takes the rest of the week off. The other kind has long-range vision, makes a large batch of something and uses that batch to feed his or her family for the rest of the week. This kind of home cook–the true home cook–is resourceful, inventive, and frugal without letting that frugality show. And, lately, I’m proud to say, I’m shifting from Column A to Column B. Let me prove it to you with a bag of lentils.
When I write about pie on my blog, it’s usually for comic relief.
Apparently, my friend Morgan thought it was hilarious when I wrote about my “Patched-Together Rhubarb Pie.” It’s true: I’m comically bad at rolling out pie dough. (Though Pim’s latest post “One Pie Dough To Rule Them All” makes me think I’ll have to give that technique a whirl.)
Even when I get the rolling-out right, though, things go wrong. Case in point: the blueberry pie I made last week.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really like Anne Burrell’s show on Food Network. I Tivo it and watch it each week, and more than other current Food Network show it inspires me to cook. I’ve made her deviled eggs, I’ve made her chicken liver mousse (which didn’t come out too well, so I don’t think I posted about it) and–this weekend–after seeing her serve grilled salmon on a bed of stewed lentils, I decided to get off my couch and recreate the picture on the screen (minus the salmon). The best part is I didn’t even have to go food shopping to do it.
Hillary Clinton says “it takes a village,” but I think it takes a recipe.
What I mean is sometimes you think you don’t like a certain dish because you’ve had so many bad versions of that dish, but then suddenly you encounter a recipe for that dish that takes you by surprise and you find yourself–against your best instincts–loving that dish. And that’s exactly what happened last week, on a frigid, freezing day, when I made Heidi’s lentil soup.