Monday, February 15, 2010

Judith Jones Inspired

Recently, a dear friend gave me a copy of Judith Jones' new book "Cooking for One". At first, I admit I was somewhat off put by the book. After all, my love of cooking stems mainly from being able to share what I have created with friends, family and random strangers. Cooking for people is how I tell them I love them, that they mean something to me. Judith Jones takes this love and shows you that its just as good to show yourself a little love. Sometimes, there's no reason to have leftovers for the entire week. Sometimes, a little bit of something really good is all you need.

Tonight I tried Judith's recipe for a single cheese souffle. Having never made a souffle of any kind before, I approached the situation with a certain trepidation. I read and reread the recipe about 5 times and made sure all my ingredients were prepped and ready to go. My cheese grated, my single serving souffle dish at the ready and all of my ingredients measured out. When I set the souffle in the oven to bake, I waited with baited breath. Would it rise and brown? Or would it fall and fail?

While the souffle baked in the oven, I put together a simple green salad of baby spinach and cucumber with a mustard vinaigrette and kept my fingers crossed. After 18 minutes we had the rise but not the browning so I reset the timer for another 5 minutes. When I heard that final beep I was shocked at what I saw. It looked JUST LIKE THE PHOTO!!!! I knew I had to capture a picture and wanted to set one up just like the cover of Jones' book. Unfortunately I should have had it ready to go a bit sooner b/c by the time I managed to get the photo just the way I wanted the souffle had already started to fall a bit. But overall, it kept its light and airy texture with just the right amount of gruyere to make it rich but not overwhelm it. For my first attempt at a souffle, I'd say we had a great success. I can't wait to comb through the book for my next attempt!

Other successes in recent weeks include some pretty damn amazing blueberry muffins that use a little homemade blueberry jam to increase the punch of blueberry flavor:

Greek butter cookies: Light crescent shaped cookies flavored with brandy, vanilla and almond with finely chopped almonds and covered in a heavy dusting of powdered sugar:

A hearty minnestrone soup made with a few slices of Niman Ranch bacon and a rind of parmesan for a burst of flavor. A simple meal to warm the soul on a cold snowy winter day:

In the upper right hand corner of the soup picture you'll see what was perhaps my most exciting discovery to date. Fresh homemade bread. For years, bread was something that others did - proofing and yeast was something I thought beyond my pay grade. But after trying this recipe for honey whole wheat bread I am unequivocally hooked. There is no greater pleasure than kneading dough and lifting up the towel to see it rise gloriously.

Next up will be Judith Jones recipes for classic french baugettes. Stay tuned for photos and updates!

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