It’s been a little while since I wrote something. Mainly because I’ve been a tad embarrassed after failing my own challenge in a such a great fashion. I don’t know if this comes as a surprise or not, but it turns out that “easter resolutions” are as flaky as any other resolution.
Honestly, I have no idea how Julie did the whole “one recipe per day” thing (if you’re reading this and have no clue what I’m talking about, just read my last post. Or embrace this as a kinda of surreal experience. Both are fine by me!), but clearly I couldn’t do it. Or come even closer. So my new resolution, let’s call it Pre-Summer Resolution, isss…never trust movies!
But, in all fairness, I did cook a little from Anna Jone’s “The Modern Cook’s Year” . And by little I mean that I’ve cooked the exact amount of three recipes. But hey, if that’s good enough for the Piglet’s competition, it’s good enough for me, right?
So, to start things off, the “No chicken soup” is amazing. Specially if you add some chicken. *cue gasp*
I’m kidding. I mean, if you’re into chicken soup, you can obviously substitute the suggested tofu but it is truly beautiful on it’s own. The broth is sweet and sour and it has both heat and acid notes. Anna says it’s the perfect thing when you’re feeling low or heartbroken and I couldn’t agree more. It’s that good.
I also tried the “Early spring stew with baked ricotta”, which is a wonderful combination of roasted baby new potatoes, baked ricotta and a mix of spring vegs, happily swimming together on a delicious and olive oil scented broth. It was actually my first attempt on baking ricotta and it was love at first bite: the texture is so decadent and the lemon zest makes it also kinda vibrant. If you never tried it, you should stop whatever you’re doing and go make it. It’s dead simple as well: just place a tub of ricotta on a baking tray, drizzle over some olive oil, lemon zest (be generous), season it with salt and pepper and bake for around 40m at 180ºC. And then prepare to be amazed!
Last but definitely not least, I tried the “Bay and lemon-laced crème caramel”. I have to confess that I have a love-hate relationship with flans and well, crème caramel is just the slightly pretentious cousin of flan. The hate part is easy to explain: generally I find them overly sweet, it’s the dessert that’s always available both on hospital beds and school cafeterias, and there’s no flavor or texture contrast. But I do love that childish image of swallowing it all at once, with no hands and with sort of *slurp* sound. (Which was a very innocent image until I saw a certain Canada video, but that’s another story).
So I decided to face my hater side and try this recipe. And it was actually wonderful! The lemon and bay flavors are subtle but totally there (first time using bay on a non savory area!) and they match the vanilla notes perfectly. The texture is light and yet decadent enough to leave you satisfied. It’s the perfect ending for a sort of heavy meal (we had beef tacos before, which I’m sure the french wouldn’t aprove), because it has a fresh and yet cosy feel about it. Plus if you’re scared with the idea of making crème-caramel, rest assured that even though I failed to follow the baking instructions enormously (really!) they turned out great anyway. So kudos to Anna Jones for such a bullet proof recipe.
The main downside of the book, for me, it’s that most of the recipes have several steps and multiple ingredient lists, makes them less appealing. Also, and this is strictly personal, the sort of “paragraph-length” instructions make me anxious. I’m pretty sure I will somehow forget or skip part of it and the truth is that I actually do. And even though that’s totally on me, it does kind of turn me off a little bit when I’m considering to actually cook something.
But, to wrap things up, I think Anna Jones is not only a lovely writer, but she’s also a brilliant cook. I love how everything about her recipes feels new and not “something that have you read before with a twist”. She really focus on giving you the most flavorful experiences and she breaks everything down on simple, easy steps. The pictures are beautifully yet candid like and I love all of the flavor maps that you get in each season – the soup one is particularly brilliant!
So my advice is: skip all the resolutions but buy the book. Because it’s brilliant. Because it’s beautiful. And because even if you don’t really cook from it, it will give a really sweet illusion that you will.