[This post and the one coming are a bit belated. I have had them kicking around for a while on my Desktop and decided I should just post them and move on! So don’t get confused when I refer to it being Monday.]
I have been in a bit of a cooking funk lately and getting through the days either on frozen pizza or chips and salsa (except for the few magnificent times Andrew cooked for me!). It’s been hot, I’ve been tired, home-sick, friend-sick and generally aloof feeling. The only thing I’ve wanted to do is lay in the hammock with the dogs and watch murder mysteries. (If you like PBS mysteries, you’ve gotta watch the new Masterpiece episode, titled Endeavor. It is a fun take on the Inspector Morse mysteries, featuring the Inspector as a younger detective constable – first name, Endeavor. Endeavor is gangly, unkempt and probing – in other words, DREAMY.) I guess sometimes, life’s just like that. But after 2 weeks (maybe 3…) of letting everything go to seed, I think I’ve cleared the badlands.
So this Monday, I set about making one of the recipes I’ve wanted to try for a while: 40 Clove Garlic Chicken. I know what you’re thinking – FORTY cloves of garlic?? But the cloves are cooked and roasted so slowly and for so long, they become more akin to yummily flavored butter in the dish. You can buy a container of garlic cloves already peeled at Whole Foods, which I definitely recommend.
I used both Alton Brown and Ina Garten’s recipes for this dish, combining and altering as I saw fit (these two are my go-to chefs when I’m in a funk). Alton’s is much more basic, with fewer ingredients and fewer steps, but I was intrigued by the Barefoot Contessa’s use of cream and white wine. I basically used her recipe, but baked the whole thing in the oven after sautéing – because I don’t have a Dutch Oven. I am not even sure I know what a Dutch Oven is. But I want one.
Anyway, the recipe came out very well, was easy and different. I think it would be excellent with a side of asparagus and some crusty bread. (I rarely make sides myself – who has the time! After all that main dish cooking, I just want to sip my wine (maybe smoke a cigarette, shhh) and watch the sun set.)
And now I want to tell the bacon dip story, because it somehow relates to how I chose the 40 clove chicken recipe. At least, I think it does.
Once, I made Swiss and Bacon dip for a Super Bowl party (yes, the football one). Okay, we mostly watched the Puppy Bowl and then 20 minutes of the game and then … we might have switched to Twin Peaks or something, I can’t remember (there were some delicious watermelon cocktails involved). Anyway, I made the bacon cheese dip because it seemed like a traditional recipe for a Super Bowl party. You know, dipping and all. It was SO GOOD. Not something I would eat myself, really, but I just knew it would please the heavier appetites.
I placed the bowl down on the table in front of a bunch of these heavier appetites and went into the kitchen to fix myself a fizzy drink . When I came back out, one gentleman, an international graduate student, was exclaiming and making very expressive faces while holding a chip with my dip on it. “Wow, you are quite the cook, Emily!” he said in precise, but lilted English. “Oh, I just followed a recipe I found online,“ I told him. He looked concerned and thoughtful when he replied, “But how do you CHOOSE which recipe? “ Hmm, I thought, good question. It really is an elaborate process of studying ingredients, methods, reviews, available tools, cost, thinking about the entertainment situation, people served…. and then some kind of vague, tasty intuition that this recipe “will work.” I didn’t have an answer for the man. “Aha!” he said, “This is what makes you a cook!” Maybe, I thought. That and my heavy reliance on cheese and butter when cooking for other people!
I wish I had pictures, but I don’t.