Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting along in the kitchen

Peter made an incredible butternut squash risotto on Sunday night, based on this recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. He's made risotto before, but this was really execptional. The creaminess was just perfect, which I think is the hardest part to get right, and his finished product looked a lot like hers. Always a good sign.

This got us chatting about Ina Garten, specifically how much Peter loves her recipes. She's precise, gives very clear, detailed directions that he loves to follow, and, as Peter said, she never skimps on the "good stuff," like good cheese, saffron, or chocolate, just to name a few of their shared favorite ingredients. This approach is totally in sync with Peter's. The two of them get along in the kitchen very well.

But Ina and me -- we aren't so close. For all the reasons that Peter loves her, I find her a bit stiff and stifling. I want a recipe to give me an idea, and then give me permission to shuffle it around to my heart's content. I want to get the most that I can from my ingredients, and this often means using less than a recipe calls for. I want things that are fast, and not too fussy.

Because we have such different styles, I'm constantly grousing at Peter for using too much of an ingredient I wanted to hang onto for a while longer, or for moving along too slow. He takes it all incredibly well, but I know he thinks I should be following the directions more closely for better results.

For now, we decided I might be more of a Rachel Ray, which I think is fair. But I'm sure there are other recipe-writing soul mates that exist out there somewhere, for all of us. How wonderful that we get to keep browsing cookbooks and blogs, hoping to find another match.

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