January 2, 2023. Amaze yourself once a week. In the kitchen. Once a week, do something you’ve never done before. Learn to make one thing you love to eat. One of those things that’s always made you think, this is great but I probably shouldn’t try to do this at home by myself.
Which is how I thought of almost everything until six or seven years ago. That’s when I started to cook indoors. In the kitchen. I used the oven for the first time. For cooking, not for storage. With the strong encouragement of a great friend who assured me that even I could roast a chicken. She was right. I could. I still can. At this time of year, I do it almost every week. It’s always great, always Better than you can get at almost any restaurant. Always Cheaper. And always a celebration at the table, perfect for Slower enjoyment and appreciation.
Now you’re probably Way ahead of where I was when I started. But it’s equally probable that you’ve still got a trick or two left to learn. After learning how to operate my oven, my next trick was pizza. Because I love it. And because a great, fresh, crisp pizza crust is a great platform for every imaginable healthy topping. Once you try it at home by yourself, you’re addicted. You’ll be making pizza dough at least once a week. With 15 minutes of your time and a 2.5 hours of time for the dough to rise. $1 worth of ingredients gets you 3 or 4 great pizza crusts. Another couple of dollars covers it with your favorite toppings. Pizza 101 gets you started with a rolling pin. Pizza 102 is the easy Way to stretch it by hand. A modified tossing, just not up in the air. And Pizza 103 is the easy Way out. Maybe not a true, classic pizza – but just as tasty. Make Summer Tomato Pizza. Kale, mushroom garlic Winter Pizza. A Bolognese or BLT pizza. Spring Green Pizza. A killer Apple-Cheddar Pizza for dessert or breakfast. Click “Search” at the top of the page and enter “pizza” for dozens more. You have to try this. In your kitchen.
Once I realized my oven could turn out wonderful pizzas, I began to wonder about bread. Turns out there’s this truly amazing Way to make bread without kneading dough. Honest. A big, round, deeply flavorful, rustic bread with a crackling crisp crust and a soft chewy interior. Then try Walnut-Raisin. Chocolate-Cherry. Irish or Smoky Bacon. Makes your home smell like a great bakery. Makes you feel very, very happy.
To achieve a perfect combination of delight and amazement, you should make a Pudding Cake. A weird but thoroughly pleasing Way to get acquainted or re-acquainted with your oven. Part airy, moist cake. Part silky light pudding. You put a uniform batter-pudding mixture into the oven, but you get a finished product that’s two distinct layers. I just regard this as magic. Try the classic Lemon Pudding Cake. Or any of the sweet or savory versions I’ve been making up as I go: Chocolate, Strawberry-Rhubarb, Espresso, Basil-Tomato. You’re really missing out on easy amazement if you don’t try this.
Love your kitchen. Get back to where you once belonged.
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