Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fancy and Fast Monday Night

I am and have always been an advocate of cooking without a book.  I love to read cookbooks and troll Pinterest for inspiration  as much as the next guy;  I have just always believed that the best cooking is done by feel.  Once you know the methods and techniques, you really don't need an exact recipe for almost anything.  Baking is an obvious exception because of the science involved.  Even though I can throw together a pretty great dinner quickly, I was in a bit of a rut in the Fall.

I decided to give Blue Apron a try.  Over several months,  the food is was very good on average (some was even excellent).  The best part of the process was that it encouraged me to use some new ingredients that we really liked (I never even knew a watermelon radish existed). And it did get me out of the rut, but it isn't a perfect fit for us.  I still have to go to the store for breakfasts, lunches, and the picky-eater's dinner.  So the major benefit of not having to go to the market was lost on me.  Also, I am pretty experienced cook, but I would categorize most meals as having a difficult cooking level with a minimum of 30 minutes active cook-time. The recipes are written to suit people varying experience, so they have you do a lot of steps that are probably not needed (like having you quarter a lemon and chop its zest instead of just zesting it to begin with).   I finally did begin to incorporate my own short-cuts.  I began feeling tied to the kitchen and BA selected meals.  It limited my spontaneity--sometimes I just didn't want we had for dinner but didn't want it to spoil, so I made it anyway.  I am now on a break from BA and back to my own no-recipe method.  It feels so liberating to once again be a free-agent, so to speak.  I really loved cooking my way again last night.

We don't always eat like this (in fact, we are usually meatless on Monday), but I saw a rack of lamb on sale and snapped it up.  It was so easy to make this traditional meal using time-honored techniques.  The whole thing took 25 minutes, including lots of down time.  I started by heating the oven to 425.  While it heated, I quickly peeled and cut potatoes and put them in a shallow pan to boil. Meanwhile I quickly cut green beans and a shallot and seasoned the lamb:

And then I walked away to set the table and help with homework. That's what I had been missing with BA.   About 10 minutes later, I put the lamb in and then I walked away again to get the mail.  When I came back, I pulled the potatoes out and put them right in the serving bowl and threw the beans in the same pot to blanch.

I mashed to potatoes right in the serving bowl with a good blob of marscapone, salt and pepper.  I was ready to pull the beans out in a hot-minute.  I dumped the water and threw the shallots in with a small amount of butter to caramelize before putting the beans back in.  Within a minute, the lamb was finished as were the beans--all before the potatoes ever cooled! It made Monday feel extra special even though it was easy and came with no special instructions at all!!!! Truly, it was esier than having all the ingredients shipped to me with a recipe!

No comments: