In Week Four, we learned how to manage a fussy recipe. Fussy recipes are the kind of recipe where it seems simple, but upon closer examination you discover there are steps within steps and a lot of cooking you have to do before you actually begin cooking the finished dish.
The recipes this week included Broccoli and Kale Salad plus Ultimate Blood Marys from Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten.
BROCCOLI AND KALE SALAD.
I love a good salad, and Ina has an incredible collection of main dish salads that incorporate tons of flavor and texture. My expectations were very high for this dish, and I was also excited to see a recipe that was chock full of greens and topped with soft-boiled eggs.
Assembling a salad should be simple, but like I mentioned above, there is some fussiness to this recipe. You must make the Caesar salad dressing, make the croutons, blanch the broccoli, chop the kale, and boil and peel the eggs. All of that has to be done before you step up and assemble the finished dish, which constitutes a fussy recipe in my book. However, learning to manage fussy recipes is an important skill to hone, and I welcome the challenge.
I chose to do all of the fussy prep work on one day, and then assemble and serve the salad on another day. This is a beautiful way to take some of the overwhelm out of an involved recipe and leave yourself some margin for other things.
Once the salad was assembled, my flavor expectations were exceeded. I found this dish to be incredibly satisfying. The crunchy baby kale and crisp-tender broccoli were hearty enough to stand up to the sharp Caesar dressing and Parmesan cheese. The soft-boiled eggs added a pop of protein and made this dish satisfying and filling. The best part? Those salty, craggy, homemade croutons! I could nibble on those all day.
I heard some negative feedback from some of you regarding this recipe, and that makes sense. This salad might not be The One for every palette. Negative experiences in the kitchen are perhaps the most frustrating because of the time and resources you put into the process of cooking. You want to enjoy the finished dish! Don’t lose heart. Sometimes a recipe isn’t for us, and we carry on, knowing time spent in the kitchen is never a waste.
ULTIMATE BLOODY MARYS.
I love Bloody Marys. It’s like brunch in a cup, and I could not pass up the opportunity to give Ina’s new version a try. I know this drink isn’t for everyone, but as far as Bloody Marys go, this one is a winner. I’m not sure I can pinpoint what makes this version sing, but my advice is follow the recipe exactly as written, and enjoy the nuanced combination of tomato juice, wasabi, Old Bay, Worcestershire, and lime juice. This drink is going in my keeper file for sure.
As a side note, the recipe specifically says not to make these ahead because the spices will be “too much.” I tasted the leftovers the next day, and while not as fresh as the one made on the same day, I did not notice any marked reduction in quality.
WHAT I LEARNED.
There is nothing wrong with fussy. Good things sometimes take time, and part of what makes homemade food taste better than store-bought food is the time we put into carefully creating a finished dish. Granted, I don’t want fussy recipes every time I cook, but a little fuss is not a problem once you know how to manage it well.
This week I was also reminded of how important it is to fully make a recipe exactly as written before you begin to tweak it. The Caesar salad dressing might sound off-putting if you have never worked with anchovies or egg yolks, but it is only through trying these ingredients, trusting the source, and tasting it to realize there is a reason and method behind everything an author asks of us in the kitchen. When we choose to go off script, we are no longer making what they created.
I hope you enjoyed this week as much as I did. Below is a video summery of this week’s recipes…