I used to cook ALL THE TIME.
I mean, I took a class while I was studying abroad in Italy that was called “Italian Cooking”. I have well-worn cookbooks and family recipes that were scanned in, emailed, printed out, and stuck to my refrigerator. I make a mean red sauce, really great crab cakes, an awesome meatloaf (Mom’s Recipe), the best peel-and-eat shrimp, and a really mean version of Miss Susan’s famous brownies.
I know my way around a kitchen.
But then Brad started learning his way around the kitchen. And not just OUR kitchen, he started learning his way around real, professional kitchens. With real, professional kitchen tools and real, professional sharp knives. He started using ingredients that I have never heard of and put them together in ways that make your knees weak when you eat them.
Somewhere along this real, professional kitchen line, he passed my kitchen skills. Then he lapped me.
The problem is, I eat all of this incredible food that Brad cooks and it makes even my famous risotto recipe seem lame. It makes my grilled zucchini seem amateur. It makes my lasagna sound boring.
And if I do attempt to throw the chef out of the kitchen and cook us dinner all on my own, I have him hanging over my shoulder, throwing me ideas of what I could add or how he might do it. A bay leaf here, a sautee there… how about we broil that the rest of the way?
Way to give a girl a kitchen complex.
So last night we had Justin and Suzi over for dinner. Brad and Justin planned this whole extravagant menu. The boys ordered Skirt Steaks from their meat guy at the restaurant. We shopped a little extra at the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning for the freshest ingredients.
And I insisted on having one dish that was mine. All mine.
I wanted to feel like I contributed to this party.
So the boys whipped up this amazing feast…
(and it was amazing…)
But I took dessert. And I wasn’t messing around. I was making Chocolate Bread Pudding.
That’s right. Chocolate. Bread. Pudding.
The best part is that I simply followed a recipe. Do you own The Joy of Cooking? Follow that link. Invest in it. I have never made a recipe out of it that didn’t blow my socks off.
The Joy of Cooking is my kitchen Bible. My parents bought me my copy when I first moved out of the dorms into off campus housing the summer after my sophomore year in college. I had my first kitchen and I was so excited to cook for myself every night. I remember getting that cookbook in the mail. And then I remember using it all the time ever since then.
My copy has a lot of stains, along with bookmarks and pages bent down to easily find my favorite dishes. I mostly use it for pies and cookies and cakes, but it has anything you could ever want to make. Spinach Souffle, Beef Stroganof, Rice Pilaf, Biscuits, Quiche, Gravy, Fudge, Pizza Dough… You name it.
My friend, Jamie, is also a Joy of Cooking fan, and she recently brought to my attention that it even includes cocktail recipes. By far the best? The Tequila Shot.
Well done, Joy of Cooking. Well done.
Anyway, so I skipped the Tequila shots (because that is what good sense allowed) and de-crusted a semi-stale loaf of Raisin Challah that I bought a few days ago.
I chopped that baby up into little pieces…
Mixed it up with the chocolate custard from the recipe…
Let it sit for a few hours (Read – TORTURE)… baked it for about an hour… and then let it rest.
While it was resting, I whipped up a Blackberry Whipped Cream with the Blackberry Compote that I shared on Nikki’s SuperNoVa Mom blog a few weeks ago. Super easy. I whipped heavy cream with about a tablespoon of the compote. Believe me, you don’t need any other sweetness with this super-rich dessert. The berries were the perfect fresh complement to the heavy chocolate custard.
And then I showed those boys my place in the kitchen.
Truthfully, the bread pudding disappeared so quickly last night that I forgot to take even a single picture of it. So with my terribly full and aching stomach this morning, I set myself up another beautiful piece of the chocolatey goodness so I could take a photo or two for you.
And then I ate it for lunch. Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices for your art.
So sometimes as a chef’s wife, you have to throw a few elbows and kick a few guys out of the kitchen so you can show them how its done. Because I love cooking, too, and I can’t let them forget that I also have some serious kitchen chops.
Believe me, they’ll be asking for this Chocolate Bread Pudding again.