The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I’ve been cooking up a storm.  I can’t seem to stay away from the kitchen.

Friday night it was chicken parmesan, a first attempt with a simple recipe that ended up lacking.  The three of us sat in front of our plates, with squinted eyes and pondering looks, trying hard to figure out what was missing.  Basil?  Oregano?  Crispier chicken, battered in egg?  Garlic?  All in all, just more “oomph?”… The answer is all of the above, and then some.  It wasn’t a failure by any means and we happily devoured our meal, on a quest to satisfy our hunger.  Sadly, this recipe didn’t warrant any pictures.  The pictures would probably wind up being just as bland as the dish itself.  However, the next day, I scrambled to find a spectacular chicken parmesan recipe, one that would kick this one (which shall rename nameless), in the toosh.  One that would make us all happily sigh in relief, pride, and bliss, that we had created something truly delicious.  Something worth making again.  Alas, I came across this and I can’t wait to try it.  I think I foresee a “Chicken Parmesan Redux” in the near future…

now, picture this, happily laying on a nice bed of thin spaghetti, and feast your eyes...

Sunday morning, we brunched on the ever delightful “Boozy Baked French Toast,” from Smitten Kitchen, (using Baileys and Frangelico).  I suppose you could use something other than challah but honestly, what’s the point?  When it comes to French toast making, it is my firm belief that challah is virtually unbeatable.  Ok sure, maybe brioche or sourdough could be close contenders, but as far as I’m convinced, challah is the King of the French toast breads. This was our second time making this little gem of a recipe and when we woke up Sunday morning (at an unmentionable hour), we were quite spoiled by the effortlessness that our brunch preparation required.

Coffee?  Check.  Bacon?  Check.  Preheat oven?  Check.  Put french toast in oven? Check.  Remove from oven, lightly dust with powdered sugar and generously douse with maple syrup, and voila!  Hello brunch.  The best thing about this recipe is that you make it the night before, so that in the morning, you literally just have to bake it and then you’re done.  It’s that easy.  Not to mention, the recipe is a cinch as well, and you can get creative about which booze(s) you would like in the mixture.  Plus, if you are a little hungover, the booze can always help you with that ; )

Sunday evening we again, opted for something rather simple.  After all, Sundays are meant for luxurious amounts of lazing around and one would not want to overexert oneself.  And seeing as how we did need to eat and didn’t want to venture outdoors, we made Martha Stewart’s Tomato and Sausage Risotto.  It was good, I will tell you that.  The tomatoes were wonderful, the sausage gave it some body and it was surprisingly very creamy, considering it only had 1/2 cup of parmesan and 2 tablespoons of butter in it.  Also, since it contains spinach, you don’t have to feel bad about not making any sides to go with it, and you’re getting your greens.

Monday afternoon was a 3-layered caramel cake, from The New York Times, adapted from Virginia Willis and Scott Peacock… This was my first 3-layer cake and the layers were surprisingly thin, the cake sweet and buttery, and the icing, a mad science experiment.  After making salted caramel before, to go in a mixture of cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar, for icing (for another cake I’ve made, that has won my heart), I have discovered that making caramel is one of the most nerve racking but exciting things for me in the kitchen.

This icing was high maintenance. While it was sugary, intensely caramel flavored, and tasty, it was not something I would struggle through again.  I decided that the amount of work does not equate the desired flavor.  I prefer my mom’s caramel icing (with brown sugar, butter, cream and confectioner’s sugar) so much more, and it’s easy too.  This was pretty involved and because sugar can burn easily and because this continued to harden so much, so quickly, it was difficult to work with.  It finally draped over the cake nicely but resembled more of a caramel candy rather than an icing, in my opinion.  So next time, I would either make my mom’s icing or do a brown sugar based glaze instead.

As for the cake, it was good but not right with caramel icing (or icing of any kind), because to me, it was too dense and buttery – resembling more of a pound cake.  Maybe it would have been better in a loaf or bunt pan with a little less flour, and served with a light lemon glaze on top of it or a side of fruit.  I have another recipe for caramel cake that I will try some other time.

I feel a little like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, eating my way through my recipe binder.  I would wager I’ve got somewhere around a couple hundred recipes in there.  This could take some time, but as of late, I’ve been pretty ambitious!  I might have to limit my recipe hunting though.  If I continue adding to the book every day, I’ll never make it to all of these recipes!

Hmm…I’m somehow a little bit hungry after writing all this.  Perhaps I should write on a full stomach next time…


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