I can’t even tell you how excited I’ve been to start Cook the Books! I really love to cook, but it has felt too hard. I’ve been too preoccupied, exhausted, and anxious. My partner is on a medication that makes most food taste horrible. I have been extremely unmotivated to cook much of anything except for pancakes, waffles, eggs, spaghetti, or bean burritos. It has been a long un-tasty stretch at our home. It is time to get it back! I desperately want back in the kitchen and I also really needed something fun and joyful to distract me. My life has been a hot, painful mess the past 2 years.
We returned home after almost 2 weeks of restful holidaying with both sides of our families the night before last. Yesterday was a terrible day on me emotionally, as I found out my dad, who is still waiting for a liver transplant, went into an unexpected hepatic coma due to toxin build-up. Needless to say, I didn’t feel much like grocery shopping or cooking.
But today Dad is doing better – he is breathing on his own again at least and his labs are normalizing. He should get his breathing tube out tomorrow. But, he is sick. Very sick. Feeling so helpless and thousands of miles away is unspeakably awful.
So, today, to distract myself, I grocery shopped and tonight I cooked. I picked something easy because I can’t really focus on detail now and I also wanted the family to enjoy my first picks.
Menu: Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger (p. 240), Broth-braised Potatoes (p.358), and Pancetta Green Beans (p.333)
Burger: The burger became famous on the menu of the café at the Salle Pleyel Concert Hall (hence the name I can’t pronounce) in a country that tends to look down on the lowly cheeseburger. But not this burger. They loved it. Burgers became acceptable fare in France!
The burger is mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, cornichons, tarragon, and parsley. I used grass-fed local beef. The tomatoes were from our garden last summer (roasted and frozen). I left out the capers because I don’t like them even a teeny bit, but instead used a comparable amount of additional cornichons because they are delicious. And fun to say. I planned on grilling them outside because it was surprisingly not pouring, but alas, all implements that might have been used to light said grill were missing or malfunctioning. So they cooked on the grill pan inside. No whoop. Still fantastic!
- The recipe also includes an onion marmalade/relish for a topping that was really nice as well, but I think any caramelized onions or onion jam would be just as nice.
- It was too nice of a burger for regular ol’ ketchup, so I used Tomato Jam (from Food in Jars) that I made this summer. (You should make it by the way… it is hands down my favorite item I can throughout the year!)
- Ribbon-sliced some dill fridge pickles (also from summer preserving).
Potatoes: The potatoes were ok, but I think the weak link in the meal. They are basically boiled potatoes except done with broth and herbs (garlic, sage, thyme, bay). Which is fine. Really. And maybe someone that likes potatoes more than I do will think differently. I prefer my potatoes roasted or baked. That being said, they would be a perfect alternative if you wanted something more than a plain boiled potato, but not as heavy as mashed potatoes. Interestingly, the Babylady* ate one even though she detests potatoes that aren’t in french fry or potato chip form.
Green Beans: No, they are not in season. I know. But they are delicious! I love green beans. I love them raw and pickled. I enjoy them cooked too, but they always seem like they are missing something. Not just salt. But something else. Tonight I realized that something was crispy pancetta. Triple win – we all loved them!
So far, I am enjoying looking through the cookbook. The recipes seem like food I would actually make and nothing is overly fussy, which I appreciate. I have tagged way more recipes than I will get to this month, but it is going to be a tasty month I think!
Briggs and I will be blogging periodically about the cookbook throughout the month. Sometime over the month cook something from the cookbook. Maybe you do one thing. Or a whole meal. Or get together with friends. Whatever you do, blog about it. Tell us what you liked, or didn’t. By January 30th we will post our comprehensive review post and a wrap up of everyone that participated.
Don’t have a blog? No worries! You can always comment on our round-up post!
*Note: The Babylady just turned 5. I should stop referring to her as the Babylady. At this point nothing else is taking hold however so Babylady it remains.