The Hungry Engineer

Good Food Day

26 May 2008

Have you ever had a day where you cook several different things, and they just all seem to turn out really well? In my mind, I count these as good food days. Yesterday was a good food day.

I have this notion that my husband and I aren’t going to keep ourselves from snacking, so I need to try to keep healthier things around the house to snack on. To that end, yesterday afternoon I made hummus. There’s a recipe in the June issue of Cook’s Illustrated (you can get to the recipe here but it looks like it forces you to register), and with it, I was able to turn out some pretty respectable hummus. I tried to follow the magazine’s suggestions for ingredient sources when I could, and it seemed to work out well. In particular, the tahini I procured (Joyva) seemed to make a real difference. Though it was an absolute bear to recombine the oil that had separated from the solids, it imparted a rich, nutty flavor and an interestingly bitter edge that made it well worth the effort.

One of the things I would very much like to get better at is baking, particularly ~bread~ baking. I read through Alton Brown’s discourse on what he calls “the straight dough method” in his I’m Just Here for More Food cookbook. After theoretically absorbing the particulars, I elected to make his focaccia recipe. (I poked around on AB’s site and on the site, but didn’t immediately locate a recipe to link to.) The results were fantastic. My focaccia came out nicely browned, smelling faintly of olive oil, and having an amazingly rich flavor. I’m thinking that I’m a bit of chopped rosemary away from the super-yummy bread that can be had at Macaroni Grill.

Now, I could happily have munched on focaccia for dinner, but since friends were coming over, I figured something more substantial was in order. Enter the Creamy Tomato Pasta Sauce (also from the June Cook’s Illustrated) served with the reliably good (and good for you) Ronzoni whole wheat pasta. What I love about Cook’s Illustrated is that they walk you through their trial-and-error process as they’re working to perfect a given recipe. They begin with a fairly traditional pasta sauce preparation and make subtractions and additions of ingredients as needed to achieve the intended flavor. What came out of it was a recipe that features (among other things) sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto. The sauce had extremely well-balanced flavor - just a bit of cream, but not enough to drown out the tomato tang. This is a recipe I’ll certainly be making again.

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