Learning To Cook (SUDDENLY ENTHUSIASTICALLY): Day 4

Chili’s High And Mighty Ice Cream Pie (5-8)

Tortalacci with vodka sauce, La Bella Winnetka (8-18)

Baked Brie with jam and walnuts, What was the name of that place? (10-12)

Baked Brie Wontons, ???, (10)

Foie Gras Pralines with mango, Metropolitan (18-21)

Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Bungalow 8 (19-22)

Camembert Salad, Brasserie Ruhlman (21-25)

Calamari salad, Asia de Cuba (22-25)

Pretzel Milk, Momofuku (25-26 over all too soon).

All these things are gone. I know Tony Kushner says “Nothing is lost forever”, but I think the Camembert Salad is, indisputably, lost. Forever. There will be a day when a lot more things are gone. There is a good chance that day will be sooner rather than later.

That is how I feel about most things in life, come to think of it.

But not this. I know how to make a tomato soup with cheddar melt now the slings and arrows of outrageous be damned.

And, oh, dude, I get it. This is why cooking is a good thing to know how to do! So that you can have things that cannot be arbitrarily taken away by other people.

I can’t tell you the extent to which I now feel as though this tomato soup with cheddar melt is mine. This is fantastic. I could continue having this even if I move to Alaska. Probably especially there. How wonderful to have things that are yours.

So. That is a good reason to cook.

Then I wanted a dessert, and I found a leftover Cadbury Creme Egg from Easter in the back of my refrigerator. I ate it with a scoop of peanut butter. Like this.

cadbury egg peanut butter

We’ve got to come up with better recipes for peanut butter. I love it. What are good ones? Good ones that are not this (because, to be fair, this was kind of good for what it was, but what it was was discarded Easter candy at the back of my fridge).

I AM ON THIS COOKING BANDWAGON FOREVER, NOW, JUST FYI.

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    • Fabel

      I hope you ate the burned cheese off of the foil. It looks SO GOOD.

      • Jennifer Wright

        It was a physical struggle to stop from actually licking the foil. I think the way it was fancy was the thing that held me back.

    • Nicole B

      There’s a website that has only peanut butter recipes!

      http://peanutbutterlovers.com/category/recipes/

      • Jennifer Wright

        Crispy peanut butter chicken? Dude, that is crazy! That is going to be my new favorite food for sure!

    • Goldie

      I’m enjoying this series. I almost always cook for myself and I have that not-the-right-vinegar problem a lot (unfortch there’s not really a sub for balsamic– although I’ve heard most affordable balsamics are just red wine vinegar with sugar added). Anyway, this website is indispensable: http://www.foodsubs.com

    • Megan Nicholls

      I am so proud of you I am tearing up a little.

      *tear*

      Fried Brussels sprouts are pretty amazing. But you have to use butter, not olive oil. Butter, some shallots, and prosciutto would do it. I still advocate roasting, too. You will eat a whole pound of sprouts before you know what you’ve done.

      And for peanut butter, you absolutely have to do this. This is my favorite stir fry sauce, ever. Any veggies (or none, if you just want carbs and awesome) will work:

      http://emilylevenson.com/recipe-re-post-peanutty-noodles

    • Ewa

      Also, think about this: you can now master new recipes, cook for people you know and vanish from their lives, leaving them craving for your tomato soup with cheese, or another delicacy THEY cannot cook.

      • Megan Nicholls

        Oh my god YES. The power rush is unbelievable.

    • Jamie Peck

      Asian peanut sauce is easy to make and goes really well on noodles and salads and stir fries and pretty much anything. I can share my mom’s recipe with you if you like!

    • Jamie Peck

      Also, if you want to make grains REALLY easily, I recommend getting a rice cooker. I make my fancy hot 8 grain cereal in it pretty much every morning. You can also use it to make various nutritious whole grains like quinoa. You just add the right amount of grain and water and it does the rest for you! I put the shit in, and one blog post later, I have a hearty bkfst waiting. Sometimes if I want to be decadent I make it with coconut milk instead of water.

    • Gemma

      As a suggested variation on your breakfast from today, here is my personal favourite easy breakfast: get a slice of bread. Toast it. Cover it lavishly in peanut butter (I actually butter it first too but personal choice really) and slice it in half. Then cover one half with bananas and put the other one on top. The heat from the toasted bread makes the peanut butter and banana mix melt inside but it’s still crunchy on the outside. My favourite sandwich at this current time.

    • Lindsey

      Are you from Chicago??? Then again, you being from the north shore would kind of make a lot of sense…

    • Lindsey

      We’ve got to teach you how to use “auto-focus” on whatever camera you’re using for these pictures.

      • Jennifer Wright

        I am pleased to report that I just found that button.

        I’m learning a lot of basic human skills through this.

    • Caroline

      I see you have yet to use a blender. Change this by throwing a peeled banana in the freezer; when it’s super cold, toss it in the blender with some peanut butter. Peanut butter banana ice cream, at your service. Boom. Totally delicious.

    • lmd

      Peanut butter chocolate banana bites!!!!
      So easy (3 ingredients), and a favourite of mine in the summer.

      I use this recipe from (never)homemaker, but I just use regular chocolate chips and peanut butter:
      http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2010/06/frozen-banana-bites.html

      If you want to be extra fancy, you can sprinkle chopped nuts on top before they harden.

    • MR

      I just got home, and you’re making me hungry. :) Jamie’s right on, about the peanut sauce and noodles. Oh, and I forgot to tell you to put olive oil or butter in the cast iron frying pan before you pan-fry the filets, that is in the recipe I gave you last night. Big whoops, but I figured you already knew this.

    • Daniela

      This is a thing you could make:

      http://www.celebrations.com/content/chocolate-dipped-peanut-butter-stuffed-banana-bites

      Apparently, it’s a bit time consuming (I haven’t tried it yet), but it looks delicious.

    • Tania

      I like to make a cold Asian-inspired peanut sauce pasta salad. I don’t use a recipe because I put in what I have in my fridge and measure to taste, but I’ll write what I use anyway:

      -peanut butter (about four tablespoons?)
      -brown sugar (probably around 1-2 tablespoons)
      -2 cloves garlic
      -a big chunk of fresh ginger
      -soy sauce to thin it out (probably around 3 tablespoons)
      -a dash of rice wine or rice wine vinegar (regular vinegar won’t taste right)

      Mix those together and then add more of whatever there doesn’t seem to be enough of. I usually make this with chicken, and I find that it tastes even better when heated for a bit after the chicken is finished cooking. (I marinate the chicken for a couple of hours to overnight in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, a dash of water, a sprinkle of corn starch, ginger, and garlic.)

      And then I mix it in with whatever pasta I have on hand (usually whole wheat spaghettini) and whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand.

      And then I stick it in the fridge and eat it for lunch for a few days.

    • Corissia

      I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but when you’re making a sandwich on the stove, the trick is to cook it on a lower setting with a lid to make the cheese melt. Also plenty of flipping to keep from burning. You can do this with any cheese you want, shredded or sliced.

    • Amy

      You should try making peanut butter cookies!

    • Georgie

      Spiders!
      Melt chocolate, mix in peanut butter and Chang’s fried noodles (I don’t know if you get them in the US but even 2 minute noodles crushed up will do fine) Put spoonfuls of the mix onto a tray lined with foil or baking paper and set in the fridge.
      Actual recipe here: http://www.changs.com/recipes/view-recipe?id=0816e54ebd962999aa06f817815a4c7b&key=Tni7b3