After reading my weekly The City Cook™ Newsletter, I did a little reality check, and thought it might be a good time to add a few notes about being a home cook everyday.
Since I love all things having to do with food, sometimes I forget not everyone is like that. Even if I’m just cooking for myself, I’m still having fun with it. Usually when I go to the grocery store, I consider it a challenge, a hunt for ingredients I can do something interesting with. I look for specials and what’s fresh and looks good, and then I start formulating a plan. Some of the time when I’m cooking for a client I might have a few things in mind, but generally I shop for them the same way I shop for myself. Sometimes I show up at a client’s house, open the refrigerator, open the freezer, and wait for inspiration! Usually it comes, but sometimes not, then I scramble, look at a few recipes, and pray for an idea. When I don’t get one, I fall back on what I’m sure will work. I have one client I know will be ecstatic with any kind of quesadilla and any kind of croquette. And now you know the reason I always have a well stocked pantry (wherever I cook), it gives me flexibility and the ability to be off my game a little!
Do I have failures in the kitchen? You bet I do. I have my share of throwing things out or converting them into something else, such as a horribly failed chicken dish that I made into tortilla soup because it already had tomatoes in it. Or like last week, I tried to make deviled eggs for a client. They were the last thing I was making before I was gone for the day. All I can say is she had reheated soft boiled eggs this past weekend. I couldn’t believe I had screwed up something so simple! None of that ever discourages me, because I expect failures to be part of the process.
Here’s an excerpt from The City Cook™
Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of the America’s Test Kitchen — the PBS program, Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Cook’s Country Magazine, the new America’s Test Kitchen radio program, and dozens of fabulous cookbooks makes a compelling case for not trying to cook everything. He says you can never become a good cook unless you develop your own repertoire of recipes. We each need a repertoire of a about 25 dishes (not menus) that we know by heart, cook without a recipe, and can happily cook and eat over and over again. This doesn’t stop us from experimenting and learning new dishes or chasing a recipe that will duplicate a memorable restaurant meal. But a recipe repertoire it is the core of our cooking confidence and it is the means to being happy and successful in our kitchens.