Last night I told myself I was going to finish all my academic work today. Yeah, that did not happen. Instead, I spent the day doing different sorts of manual work. I started off the day working on a building project, sanding and staining wood for a kid-friendly potting table. After I spent a good 20 minutes scrubbing stain off my hands with scalding water, soap and lemon halves, I started cooking for a family-friend dinner night. Tonight, I knocked out two more recipes from Dining In.
This morning, the plan was to cook asparagus and the chocolate tart. Around lunchtime, my dad called me frantically.
“They don’t have asparagus at all. What are we going to do?”
“It’s okay, Dad,” I replied, taking a quick break from sanding. “I have a back-up plan. Lemme call you back once I’ve found the recipe.”
I flipped through the veggie section in my new food bible, and I impulsively decided on the turmeric roasted carrots. I texted my dad with the necessary ingredients and headed back to my building project. Crisis averted, I returned to my sanding. (The soundtrack for the building was a hip-hop playlist that my friend made for me.)
I didn’t finish all the staining (with the help of both parents– this building project quickly turned into a family affair) until the early afternoon, so I started baking the tart at around 3:00 pm. The subtitle of Roman’s cookbook is “Highly Cookable Recipes.” Even though I’ve only cooked four recipes, this tart felt like the epitome of this statement: desserts are usually complicated and require planning, many many bowls and lots of patience. This tart was simple. So simple that I honestly thought I’d messed up at some point. But no, this recipe only requires two bowls and about 20 min of actual working time. (so, yes, there was some time for the crust to bake and cool, and the filling to cool, but this dessert is still the simplest I’ve made in a long, long time.) And it tasted amazing! This tart easily ranks among my favorite desserts, perfectly chocolate-y with flaky sea salt and nuttiness from the tahini (note: tahini is also necessary for the best hummus). If I take nothing else away from cooking through 95 recipes from one cookbook in a year, I will be grateful because I found this recipe. It’s that good.
While making my new favorite vehicle for consuming chocolate, I listened to a playlist of artists/songs I’ve discovered from Bob Boilen, music writer extraordinaire from NPR. He produces Tiny Desk concerts (my favorite music series of all time and the place I find most of my favorite musicians– Tash Sultana, Julien Baker). If you haven’t seen a Tiny Desk, take 15 minutes for yourself and watch one. Anyone. They are all incredible. Artists adapt to the most intimate concert venue, Boilen’s desk, with grace and vulnerability.
After finishing the tart, I moved onto the crisis-averting carrots. Making these carrots was also incredibly simple. I didn’t even have to peel the carrots! I just tossed them on a pan with the spices, seeds and oil, and they were ready to be popped in the oven. Making the labne (I used Greek yogurt) sauce and watercress salad (if you can call watercress with lemon juice, salt and pepper a salad) was just as simple. And again, the result was spectacular. The carrots were soft, but the toasted cumin and fennel seeds added crunch and warmth, and the turmeric stained the dish a beautiful canary yellow. Everyone loved them. Even with my dad’s lambchops and tzatziki and parmesan risotto, the carrots were the star (at least for me!).
To finish out a night of wonderful food, I continued an old tradition and started a new one. I continued watching The Great British Bake Off (since I’m really bad at binging tv, I’m still watching season one and loving it! Go Richard!). Also, I started an instagram to document my year of cooking. Mostly, it’s just another way to keep me accountable for cooking through the entire cookbook (minus the seafood) and to finally learn how to use social media and take decent pictures.
All in all, it was a fun day/night with great food and music!
Cooked: 4 recipes To be cooked: 91 recipes