Last night, I did something that I absolutely dread: I cooked a recipe out of a cookbook.
This may not seem terrifying to the rest of you, but there’s something about cooking while reading while measuring while stirring while pouring while flipping that completely destroys any normal cooking ability that I have. I think it’s the reading part that gets to me.
Baking something out of a cookbook? No problem. That’s normal. I can’t just stand there in the kitchen and decide, “You know, I think I’m going to put this flour together with this cocoa powder and see what comes of it!” Baking is more science than art, and for that you need a recipe. Sure, you can fiddle with the recipe as you go or modify it later to your liking. But baking is simple and straightforward: stir things together in bowl, bake. Throwing “reading” into that mix doesn’t make too much of a difference.
Cooking, however, is different for me.
I’ve always been the kind of person who cooks in the same way that I play piano — by ear. Now, I don’t have the incredible palate that my mother has, where she can visualize a meal and all of its ingredients in her mind and know exactly how everything will taste together before she’s even bought the groceries. But I know what goes together and what doesn’t. And I usually make our meals out of whatever’s in the pantry at any given time, a practice which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to following a recipe out of the latest issue of Bon Appetit.
Weirdly, I own a massive collection of cookbooks (again, not as large as my mother’s collection which — at last count — numbered 258 tomes). But instead of using them for their intended purpose, I read them like you would novels. And I suppose that somewhere in the back of my mind, I ferret away little chunks of cooking knowledge that present themselves when I’m poking aimlessly through my pantry and trying to figure out what I can make with a can of butterbeans and some leftover baby spinach.
That said, I am determined to start cooking with actual recipes. And to that end, I chose a very easy porkchop recipe with a caramelized onion sauce (a Rocco di Spirito recipe) and a side of creamed spinach (my mother’s recipe). And I have to say, I was impressed with the results.
I don’t know if it has more to do with the fact that I’ve finally got decent appliances and cookware (I love you, All-Clad) or that I’m a calmer person in general than when I first started cooking in college, but everything turned out exactly as planned.
The recipes are after the jump. Yes, they’re ridiculously easy. But for someone like me, they were quite an accomplishment. Continue reading Porkchops and Spinach