This is the time of year that becomes difficult to cook. You muster your strength to again survive the harsh cold of winter (this one being especially challenging), knowing that spring is just a few short weeks away. But wait. March 20 doesn’t instantly bring a new season of fresh produce. Plants are still seedlings, barely yet being transported from greenhouse to ground. It’ll be another month at least before we see the first stalks of asparagus make their way to the Greenmarkets and still longer for those first stalks of rhubarb and ripe strawberries.
For the longest time chestnuts have been somewhat of an anomaly for me. I love their subtle, nutty flavor, but have enjoyed them in dishes at restaurants, never at home. During the holidays, supermarket shelves are packed with canned and jarred chestnuts, begging you to “buy me!”.
Cooking is a labor of love. It’s about feeding people, bringing friends and family together and celebrating life. On a typical weekday night, life doesn’t allow the time for a 5-course meal, complete with sides. Generally a quick skillet dish or sauté will do. On the rare occasion, maybe a quick braise or homemade soup. During the week I live for speedy dishes and quick fixes. After a long day of work, I want to cook, eat and be in my pajamas in front of the TV as quickly as possible, before bedtime calls and a new day begins. But when I have time, on weekends or holidays, I like to take my time. Make a sauce from fresh tomatoes, not canned, take the extra time to whip some butter or churn some ice cream. The thing that makes a meal truly special, truly memorable is always in the details.
For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m a procrastinator. A pretty big one. I very much enjoy being part of Secret Recipe Club, though I almost find the four week window to explore your assigned blog, pick a recipe, make it and write to be too much time. This month it certainly go the best of me. Healthy-Delicious was my assigned blog for this month. I’m a huge fan of Lauren’s blog and have been since I was introduced to it via SRC a few months back. After learning my assignment I quickly went her site, fantasizing about all the awesome recipes I could try. And then I stopped. Moving got in the way. First my old kitchen was too boxed up to make anything. Then my new kitchen became so filled I couldn’t even get inside. Time was quickly ticking away. I managed to find my knives, a few pans and set to work to see what I could come up with. Lauren’s Chorizo Quesadillas with Chipotle Cream was listed under One Pan and Quick Weekday Meals. I can truly attest to you that even with only a quarter of a kitchen this recipe is possible and delicious.
This month I was assigned to Fried Ice and Donut Holes, a blog that I discovered last month when I was first invited to join the Secret Recipe Club. Secretly I was hoping it was a blog I’d be assigned in the near future. Why? Well, first off, the fabulous author of Fried Ice and Donut Holes is Melissa as well. So instantly I knew I’d like her. With all Melissa’s I find good food and creativity always follow and this was no exception. So many great recipes to choose from! Right away, I zeroed in on her Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, a dish that I’ve struggled with a lot in the past. At this point I’ve probably made at least half a dozen variations from super easy to super challenging, from stove top to crockpot, but nothing has tasted just right. My husband had been ignoring my craving for Indian take out for the last few weeks, so I figured if I made it, he would be forced to enjoy.