I've been spending a little more time in the kitchen lately. There are many forces at play in determining how much I cook -- um, actually, in determining how interested I am in food. Period.
Sometimes I can't stand that I have to spend time planning, prepping, shopping, chopping, slicing, dicing, opening, pouring, stirring, folding, mixing, measuring, dredging, frying, sauteing, simmering, baking, boiling, broiling, tasting, slurping, sipping, dripping, flipping, licking, wiping, plating, serving, eating, and cleaning up.
At other times, I'm totally into it.
I don't know how many times each winter I need to shout from the mountaintops about Chili All Day. Perhaps I won't be satisfied until everyone on the planet has had a taste. I made it during the holidays after watching Julie & Julia and was, therefore, compelled to dry the stew meat (above) prior to putting it in the pan.
Because I do cook this "all day," I think next time I'll hold back the mushrooms a bit. I like my 'shrooms to keep some texture and color rather than blend in.
This is a day or two later -- it just keeps getting better and better and better -- leftovers for lunch at work!
Did I roast the stew meat for Chili All Day one time last year? or the year before? I kind of think I did, and it's quite possible I even blogged it, because the other thing I can't get enough of is roasting.
I made Crispy Smashed* Roasted Potatoes again last night to accompany Black Bean Cakes. The bean cakes is one of the recipes Maddy dog-eared in the Emeril Legasse 20-40-60 cookbook she gave me at Christmas. I made my own "Creole Seasoning" (minus cayenne pepper, so I might get kicked out of the club), but did not say "BAM" at any time during the cooking. When the directions said to "carefully transfer them to the hot skillet (the cakes will be delicate)," though, I was definitely channelling Emeril -- hunching protectively over the tender little cakes, picking them up and gingerly moving them -- I could see him in my mind and feel myself mimic his movements exactly! It was kind of funny.
The bean cakes were described as "crispy and crusty on the outside, but oh so tender and creamy on the inside" -- they were all that! I didn't realize 'til things were well underway that the description also fit the potatoes. Our entire meal, which also consisted of tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa, was a study in contrasts.
The next time I make the bean cakes -- and they were so completely wonderful, there is no question -- I may try to dry the beans somewhat after their quick rinse. I think the patties would be ever-so-slightly easier to handle. We'll see.
For the record, I got myself to Zumba class on Saturday morning. The studio is closed this week and I just had to get one in before yet another week off. No doubt, I was bowled over by the tidal wave of holiday cookies and chocolate, chocolate and cookies, cookies, chocolate, keeping cake, and pie. I actually fared pretty well through it all, but holiday is over and it's time to buckle down.
*This batch was more like Crispy Broken Roasted Potatoes. I never realized before how important the first cooking time is; if they aren't boiled to the point of smashability, they'll just break apart under the pressure. (How did yours turn out, Sharon?)