M. Andrew Gordon

Thoughts from a Weekend’s Cooking

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking dumplings on Friday night, baking a variety of muffins and scones on Saturday, helping to cook an impromptu birthday dinner with my girlfriend, and then finally catering a 25-plus person brunch on Sunday.  It was also an unusual stretch which saw me cooking in three different kitchens: my own, Lena’s parent’s kitchen, and my aunt and uncle’s kitchen.

Since I was relying on a handful of tried-and-true recipes pulled from cookbooks and internet sources, there are few original recipes for me to share with you here.  I do, however, have a series of thoughts from that much cooking that might be worth mentioning here, as one of my goals with JustAddBacon has been exploring the background knowledge behind cooking, because a little bit of knowledge can carry you a long way in the amateur kitchen.  Before I go on, though, do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of this lemonade “concentrate, mix it with champagne (or, equally as delicious, club soda, if that’s your bag) and read on:

New England Lemonade

  • 2 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 15 lemons
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup honey

1.       Combine lemon juice, syrup, and honey.  Whisk well until combined and refrigerate until cold.  Stir again before using.

To serve with champagne: add one tablespoon lemonade concentrate to champagne flute, top with champagne.

To serve with club soda: add three tablespoons to Collins glass, add ice, and top with chilled club soda.

Thoughts from a weekend’s worth of cooking:

  • Chinese-style dumplings are not terribly difficult to make from scratch.  Sure, rolling out each dumpling’s dough takes some extra time but it seems worthwhile to me when you eat them.  Depending on the circumstances, those are going to be in the rotation for cocktail parties for sure.  Recipe here.
  • If you ever want to bake scones, I’m not quite sure why this is, but use turbinado sugar instead of white granulated sugar.  Perhaps it is like switching between table salt and kosher salt – bigger crystals yield less weight per volume measurement (and why some chef’s demand that all measurements be by weight).  But the cranberry-pecan scones I made from a recipe on Epicurious.com, which I have made before, were incredible and that is the only difference I can think of.
  • Tom Douglas’ coconut cream pie recipe is just damn good.
  • Traditional champagne cocktails using sugar cubes soaked in Angostura bitters is a classic cocktail for a reason: it’s acidic, sweet, refreshing and full of interesting flavor all in one.  I am a fan of bitters to begin with, so that certainly helps, but this is a cocktail that I wish was easier to find at local bars.  Even with the rise of cocktail culture in recent years, the champagne cocktail(s) is something that seems curiously under-represented among even serious cocktail bars.  To me, it’s the cocktail equivalent to the session beer: a thirst-slaking drink that can be imbibed with near-disregard because of the lightness and relatively low alcohol (when compared to most cocktails).
  • Even if you know a kitchen well and have spent countless hours there, you don’t know it all until you stand behind the stove and spend some time trying to prepare a meal.  The kitchen at my aunt and uncle’s house is a place that I have spent a lot of time (hell, I could spin tales about the building of the house itself), but until Sunday I had never really cooked a meal there.  It’s a much different experience when you’ve got three pans heated, something in the oven, and you’re trying to chop herbs for a frittata.
  • ·         Sorbets require a particular balance between sitting in the freezer and the refrigerator.  The former simply makes flavored ice; the latter gives you cold syrup.  This isn’t wholly surprising, really.
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