Whether it’s excitement over the arrival of spring or merely a renewed personal appreciation for food after a seriously queasy first trimester, I’ve been cooking like *mad*. Here’s what’s been happening in the Priss & Vinegar kitchen:
Being pregnant means I’m often inexplicably wide awake at 3 a.m. Brilliant. Catching up on news, meal planning and otherwise dicking around on my iPhone make these wake-ups ever so slightly less miserable. I found this unfussy recipe for tagliata during one such bout of sleeplessness and immediately added it to my supper recipe queue. Paired with Cooks’ Illustrated parmesan polenta, this dish is everything Sunday supper should be: effortless, comforting, and easy to scale for an unexpected crowd.
Leftovers are kind of a problem in our house. I loathe eating the same thing two days in a row and the Little Lady seems to have inherited this embarrassingly wasteful habit. So when faced with over a pound of leftover flank steak that the Hus-b had grilled beautifully, I decided it was time to wage war on our leftoveritis. Topped with homemade tomatillo-avocado and pico de gallo salsas mimicking those from one of our favorite takeout joints, Green Chile Kitchen, cubed tagliata became steak tacos I was actually delighted to eat. The following night? Thinly sliced tagliata and poached shrimp became surf & turf Vietnamese-style Summer Rolls that my entire family (Little Lady included) devoured happily.
Toddlers and kitchens are not generally considered an ideal pairing, but I love to cook and my kid loves to be with me so combining the two is just not optional in our household. It helps that the Little Lady has been cooking with me since infancy, first while snuggled in her Baby Bjorn carrier and now sitting at my hip or atop a kitchen step stool. She is great at stirring dry ingredients (Martha Stewart’s basic pancakes are her specialty), greasing baking dishes with softened butter, and “decorating” holiday sugar cookies. This past week, we made baked fusilli and cheese (loosely based on this Gourmet recipe) and she did a fantastic job of whisking bechamel sauce (with plenty of oversight and instruction about what could and could not be touched on the hot stove). Does it take longer to cook with your kid? Of course. But when you have the time, it’s a wonderful way to include your child in something that will (fingers crossed) eventually become a shared passion.
Between my parents’ and my in-laws’ meyer lemon trees, our fruit bowl is often an embarrassment of riches. The Smitten Kitchen recipe for lemon bars (which is itself a reworking of the Barefoot Contessa recipe) is just about the most perfect lemon bar recipe we’ve ever come across. To note, the quantity it produces is *massive* so have your elastic waist pants or hungry friends at the ready.
Toddlers can cook, part two: last night’s supper featured pan roasted pork tenderloin with rosemary and garlic, so I put the Little Lady to work picking rosemary. I showed her where the woody stem was and told her to make it “naked.” She felt so grown up helping and I got ten minutes of supper prep time without hearing “Mommy up!” a single time. Lovely.
Other recipes we’ve been digging as of late:
- Cooks’ Illustrated Basic Cornbread. I loathe this word but it is unfortunately essential to describe such fantastic cornbread: MOIST.
- Chow Peanut Sauce. Toddlers seem to like “dipping” their food so the Little Lady really enjoyed eating her summer rolls with this “peanut butter sauce.” (It’s all about marketing with this kid. We also tell her that chicken apple sausages are “breakfast hot dogs” and dried apple rings are “apple candy.” Shhhhhh.)
- Smitten Kitchen Scrambled Egg Toast. We’ve made this for brunch guests the past two weekends in a row to universal praise. Honestly, every recipe we’ve ever used from Smitten Kitchen has turned out beautifully. We’re kind of obsessed.