Have you ever cooked something that just turned out like crap? Well, I have...and it hasn't been pretty. Once, for a dinner club that Significant Eater and I belong to, it was my turn to cook. I did a Venetian dinner and everything came out great...everything, that is, except dessert. It was a Venetian dinner, and desserts were Pinza di Pane (bread pudding) along with a polenta shortcake with dried fruits and pine nuts...a Marcella recipe - MARCELLA, mind you. Well, they both sucked - big time. Dry, mealy and basically inedible. Now, I'm not faulting the recipes, mind you, but here's my TOTD - try something out on yourself before you try it out on your friends. Much laughter ensued, and to this day, those desserts are still the subject of derision. Never to be lived down. Fortunately, everyone was quite lubed up by the time dessert rolled around, and we just enjoyed more cheeses and wine instead.
Which brings me to my latest gaffe. We spent the weekend with some old friends, and is my style, I always bring along some goodies - and try to help prepare a meal or two for our hosts. I brought along a big sampler bag from Kossar's (see my previous post), along with a challah bread,a big hunk of Nueske's bacon and a pound of Intellegentsia Ethiopian. I had in mind preparing a breakfast of French toast (using the challah) and bacon - how bad could that be?
I haven't made French toast in ages...but it used to be a staple breakfast. A couple of slices of bread, dipped in eggs mixed with milk, a bit of vanilla, some cinammon and pan-fried in a good knob of butter. Along with some great maple syrup or maybe some powdered sugar..all is well. This time, however, I decided to soak the bread for a bit longer and then cook it on a sheet pan in the oven. Oy - was it ever bad. Dry, crumbly, stuck to the pan...everything French toast shouldn't be. Just awful. Of course, our friends tried to make me feel good by saying, "no, it's delish, just pour some syrup on it" and all that, but it wasn't, and here's the proof...
Made me think back to that Venetian dinner, and my inedible bread pudding. And what is it with me and bread? Bread puddings, to be precise. And what about my tip of the day (TOTD) - I had never tried this method before, and obviously should be listening to my own advice. Julia always said that cooking and baking were all about the art of camouflage. But there was nothing to be done to this to make it look (or taste) any better than it was. Well, nothing that is, except serve a lot of the accompaniment, which is really hard to screw up. Made everyone happy...even those who pretended that the French toast was good. I wouldn't know - I didn't eat a bite.
Oh, and I helped with dinner that night - Bucatini all'Amatriciana. Got raves. Cooked it many time before. So from now on, I'm following my own advice. And so should you.