I haven’t had a chance to acknowledge all the lovely food-related birthday gifts I was given last week for my birthday. There used to be a time when the idea of giving me something food-related for my birthday would have been absurd. “A spatula? You got me a spatula? THAT’S IT, DAUGHTER, YOU’RE OUT OF MY LIFE—NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN.” (Constance, if you’re reading this–daddy loves you. He wants you back in his life. I love the spatula.)
Now then, what did we get? Well three major clusters of food-related gifts. (I say “food-related gifts” because I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the gifts I received from people that weren’t food related. Like that large vibrating spider you gave me, grandma. Thank you.)
The first major gift: Cookbooks from Mom and Dad
Well you know they bought me a camera, but you don’t know about the cookbooks. My parents lavished me this year. What can I say, I have generous parents.
1. A Return to Cooking by Eric Ripert. I’m starting with this one because even though it was on my Amazon wishlist (that’s how my mom knew what books to buy) I didn’t really know what to expect–every time I’d seen it in the stores it was wrapped in plastic. Well. I dunno. This is the one I’m least enamored with. It’s crazy impractical. (I know this sounds ungrateful, but I love the other two a great deal—this one I’m kind of shoulder shruggy about). There are truffle recipes, foie gras recipes, and all kinds of recipes I will never make because the ingredients are so wildly expensive. However, there may be a few gems in there so I’ll flip back through it. The pages are really pretty though. I like the art.
2. The Bouchon Cookbook by Thomas Keller. Now this one’s really cool. It’s like all the doable recipes from The French Laundry cookbook multiplied and filled a new cookbook. These are recipes that are totally approachable and yet promise to be truly exquisite. Like the onion soup or the salads or the roasted chicken (there are several recipes for roasted chicken). This is a great cookbook–I’m excited to cook from it.
3. The Gourmet Cookbook by Gourmet. This is on my bed right now. I’m going to flip through it before I go to sleep. I can’t imagine I won’t like it. Gourmet is great because it marries the familiar and the exotic—every recipe has a little twist so they all seem worth making just to experience the twist. More on that once I cook from it.
The second major gift: Bundtettes from Lisa and Annette
These are so cute. They’re bundt pans but they come in a tray of six. I only have one recipe for them so far, but I’ll be cooking from them soon—so watch for that. Thanks Lisa and Annette!
The third major gift: Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate Mix from James Felder
James Felder is the nicest guy ever. You really need to go visit his website right now! He loves it when I link to him because he gets lots of hits, so do him a favor and click click click. After all, he bought me Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate Mix! Check it out—I made this last night:
What’s amazing about this mix is that the end result tastes remarkably like what you get in the story. It’s gooey and thick and filled with chocolatey gunk. I think it’s because there are reall pieces of bittersweet chocolate in the mix. Plus, you make it with milk not water. (I guess you make most hot cocoa with milk not water, but in my childhood my mom made it with water (mixed with Swiss Miss)—which is how I did it for most of my life too. I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, MOM, OK? I LEARNED IT FROM YOU.)
Now with all of that said, I have to make a confession. This kind of hot chocolate always hurts my stomach. I’m not sure why. But long-time readers may remember a LONG time ago when I made a dinner and a dessert that involved fresh homemade hot chocolate (with the chopping of the chocolate and everything) and I had an atrocious stomach ache the next day. Well this one wasn’t atrocious, but something’s going on here. Quality hot chocolate hurts my stomach. But it’s a testament to how good this is that I’m totally going to make it again—it’s worth the pain.
Thanks James and thanks everyone else! You made my birthday great.