This afternoon when Fiona walked into the kitchen she said “Mom, I got scared. I thought you were making that sausage and tomato dish again.” She was referring to Rougail, which is a recipe for my new book. “We, like, ate it, like, three times in one week and I don’t think I could eat it again,” she said with all her fifteen year old honesty. She was so relieved when she found out that, instead, I was making a potato and bacon omelette.
Fiona has been a very constant and lovely companion as I test recipes for my new book. As have many of my friends, willing to sit at the table and see what I put in front of them. Anyone who has ever written a cookbook and tested the recipes will sympathize, or is it empathize, with the keen pleasure of seeing a dish come together after much planning, chopping, slicing, dicing, and cooking, then sitting down to it and realizing that there is just something missing. This happened with the Rougail, and again with the Lemon Tagine. It will happen with others, too.
It’s not a disaster when it happens. It just means you have to make the dish again, even if your daughter says “Mo-o-om,” then offers to go get “kebabs” from the Turkish place down the street, for a change.
Today, though, was a great testing day. It began with chaussons aux pommes, apple slippers. “Mom, no one will mind that they look a little exploded, they’re delicious,” she said, pressing up little crumbs of puff pastry from her plate.
We moved on to the omelette for lunch (“Really good, mom,” she said as she ran out the door to go meet her friend.). Dinner was a crisp salad made with a blend of iceberg (yes, it’s amazingly delicious straight from the farm), and a new, sweet lettuce called craquerel, tossed with a hot bacon dressing, and topped with a poached egg (“Yum!”), and a tender white loaf called pain viennois. “Do you think you could make it a little less dry?” Fiona asked.
We both enjoyed the creme caramel. “But I loved the one you made the other day, too,” she said. “What is the difference?”
When I answered “Five minutes,” she looked perplexed until I explained about double-checking the cooking time, then she went back to sewing the last seam of a project she’s working on.
And now it’s late. I’m going through testing results and making notes, planning my recipes for tomorrow, re-reading pieces of text. I love this moment. It’s quiet, except for the gentle patter of spring rain outside. The candles in my office – constant companions – are burning. It has been a great day!